Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Random Thoughts 05-24-05

(Note: If you don’t like poker, skip to the bottom where there are some “Random Thoughts”)

Sometimes, it’s just not your night.

I’m sure that a lot of my current state of mind has to do with the 284 consecutive days without seeing the sun (OK, that was just a rough estimate. It’s more like 6), but yesterday was just a lousy all-around day.

I work a 9-5 job that I generally enjoy. Yesterday, I did not. Leaving work, I nearly got into two different accidents when people tried to change lanes without looking – once on the interstate, once on a 1-lane road. But it was all forgotten once I got home, because I had something waiting for me that I’d been looking forward to for weeks…

Paradise Poker’s Masters Week. Yes, I realize how sad that sounds.

Anyone who had already registered for the Paradise Poker Masters II event this Saturday also got a free entry into five tournaments running this Monday-Friday at 7PM. First place got a WSOP package, 2-10 got an entry into the Masters III event in a few months.

As part of the WSOP package that I won back in April, I got a Masters II entry, meaning that I was entered into all of these freerolls as well. Of the 1550+ people registered, maybe 500 showed up, so I had a pretty decent chance to do some damage, especially with Paradise’s rules for players who are not actually active. (They’re forced to fold to any raise, meaning that you can often buy blinds without a hand). At one point, there were 8 inactive players at my table, and one player who was active but not very good. I bought off blinds for almost an hour, knocking out 8 players and adding almost 7000 in chips.

When I finally got moved to a fully active table, I switched back into normal mode, only playing premium hands and doing some serious damage to those around me.

With 102 players left in the tournament, I was #1 overall with 58,000+ in chips. #2 had about 33,000. I had been playing absolutely perfect poker, never outdrawing people, slow playing when necessary, and bluffing at just the right times. Then came the last four hands of my night.

I’ve spoken here before about how I wonder if online poker is fixed. I hate to bring it up, because it makes me sound like a sore loser. But after last night’s 4-hand stretch…

I was in the Big Blind with A-10 suited clubs. There was a raise from 800 to 3200. One call, and I did the same. The flop hit 3-10-6 rainbow. I checked, the original raised moved all-in for about 4500, and only I called. He had K-10. The turn hit a king. Bye-bye 8000 chips.

The next hand, I had 10-10 in the small blind. After two callers, I raised from 800 to 2400, and both players called. The flop hit 10-A-7, and I bet out 4000. One guy folded, the other moved all-in for about 12,000. I called – he had A-10. The turn was a blank, the river was an Ace. Bye-bye 15000 chips.

Next hand, I had K-10 suited spades on the button. There was a raise from 800 to 2400, which I called and so did the Big Blind. The flop hit K-10-2. One guy checked, one bet out 1600, and I raised to 4000. The Blind folded, and the other guy moved all-in for 6800 or so. I called, and he showed pocket 8’s. The turn was an 8. Bye-bye 9000 chips.

Finally, I was one spot behind the button and got A-8 suited diamonds. There were three callers at 800, and I decided to keep it cheap to the flop. Five players saw the flop with 4900 in the pot. The board showed Kd-Ac-7d. I hit top pair and 4-flush. After two checks, one guy bet out about 3500 chips. There was a call, and I raised to 12000 – scaring away the blind and one of the other players. The first bettor raised all-in for almost 25000 chips (I only had about 27000 left), and the other caller re-raised all-in to about 40k. I called.

The first bettor had A-7 off-suit, and had flopped 2 pairs. The other guy (who had me covered) had K-J off-suit – just a pair of Kings, and was basically drawing dead. All I had to catch was any 8 or any diamond, and I was back on top of the pile. And if not, I needed to avoid another king or running Q-10 to stay alive.

The turn was the 3 of clubs. The river was the King of spades. Not only did I not hit my hand, but the guy who was “basically” drawing dead ended up taking the entire pot (almost 100k) and knocking me out.

I finished #100. #1 overall with 102 left, and I finished #100. And I still look back and can’t figure out where I played a hand incorrectly. Maybe that’s my problem – I play the hands the right way, but I can’t get away from them. Maybe I should play more hands, if only to take more chances and try and outplay people.

Or maybe I should just give up the game altogether – play on Saturday in the Masters, play in July in the WSOP, and then walk away.

Yeah, like there’s any shot of that happening.

Random Thoughts while preparing for “Kurtopalooza III: Revenge of the Geeks”

n No, I haven’t seen the new Star Wars. No, I don’t want to know about it. No, this does not make me any less of a geek. Actually, wait…

n NBA Draft Lottery tonight… what are the chances that the Knicks magically end up with the #1 overall pick, just so they can blow it on Andrew Bogut?

n Ugly basketball game last night. Yes, I actually watched part of it. Anytime a team relies on Shaq & Dwayne Wade, and they get that kind of performance out of them, it doesn’t look too good for them…

n Speaking of good TV… This show looks to be possibly the greatest reality show ever. I wish I’d known it was being cast – I’d be a shoe-in as one of the geeks… (Yes, I’ll look past the fact that the trailer starts with the words “From the daring mind of Ashton Kucher”, simply because the women involved actually say stuff like “I think my IQ is probably about 500”) I can’t believe no one thought of this before The W - freakin’ - B.

n All this talk in Boston about Edgar Renteria being a waste of money, and being washed up, and that he needs to be benched in favor of Hanley Ramirez… STOP! It’s a 45-game sample from a guy who has never played in the AL before. He’s used to the small-ball, speed game of the NL, not the “take some pitches, wait for the 3-run home-run” style of the American League. Renteria will be fine – he’s not getting benched, he’s CERTAINLY not getting traded, just relax.

n 2-for-2 on DocSports.com… take a look later today when my second article will be posted. Here’s a scary thought – apparently my first article (Super Bowl Odds – Post Draft Adjustments), where I said that there was no way in Hell that the San Diego Chargers should be 30-1 to win the Super Bowl, had a bit of influence with the good people at www.BoDog.com (the preferred sports betting site of DocSports). Within a day of my article, BoDog dropped the Chargers from 30-1 to 8-1. The Vikings also dropped, and the Eagles (who I picked as my most overrated team) went up from 11-2 to almost 7-1. I guess my words do have some pull - too bad I couldn’t get anything in on the original lines…

Meh, I guess that’s all I got today. Thought I had more. Maybe later this week.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quick Thoughts - May 19th '05

Wow, what the hell have I been doing for the last eight days? Somehow I completely neglected to update this site – my apologies. I’ve just been mired in a slump of epic proportions over the last week or so – work, sports, family, dogs - life in general is starting to wear me down. Ever get the feeling that it’s just not meant to be? Yeah – me neither…

Quick Thoughts while trying to remember where I put the Prozac…

(Sorry for the downer of an intro. I’m just riding a ridiculous string of bad luck, bad health, long days, and no sleep. I’ll try to make it up to you as we go along.)

n Thank you Jason Giambi! Striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning last night to finally put a stop to the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak. Phew – it was getting scary there for a while. Now all of us Red Sox fans can turn our attention to where it really belongs - complaining about the team, the management, the philosophy, the stadium, the fans, oh wait a sec…

n Thanks to all of you who clicked the link to my Super Bowl early season lines article with www.docsports.com. My next article will be sometime next week on the Over/Under for team wins in 2005. I was surprised to hear that I had received a huge number of hits for a first time writer with the site, and I would have to assume that most of them came from those of you who either read my post with the link, or my AIM away message. Either way – thanks.

n So, is David Wells just unable to pitch in the first game after a long layoff? You know, like Opening Day, the first game off the DL, etc…

n More examples of bad things happening to bad people – good to see Barry Bonds might never play again.

n Wow. I’m not sure how to react right now. I’m listening to “Dennis & Callahan” on WEEI radio, and they saw fit to allow longtime caller Frank From Gloucester to speak directly to Larry Lucchino. This is an absolute train wreck…

n Gee, Pedro Martinez has to have a start pushed back a couple days? I never would have expected this from a guy with a history of shoulder and hip problems, coming off statistically his worst season ever – a season in which he never missed a start and threw more innings than in any of the previous five years… Boy, who saw this coming? (Trying not to laugh…)

n The NBA is headed straight for another lock-out, and I can’t say that I’m surprised by it. The league needs to address a lot of issues – most notably an age limit and the new era of stars pouting their way out of town (see Vince Carter & Tracy McGrady). David Stern has never actually lost a labor dispute, but if he sticks to his guns on the age limit, he might be in for a heck of a fight, and it’s not one that he’s going to win.

n I’m still working on getting a short 13minute video project that I created up on the web. My web host isn’t exactly friendly, but they control my domain, so I have to abide by their rules. One of their rules is “Don’t put 300MB files up on your site for streaming or download”, and I can’t say as I argue with that. I’m working on a way around it – as soon as I know, you’ll know.

n MLB Trade rumors are flying around Roger Clemens returning to either Boston or New York. Everyone says it’s not happening, but I’ve got to think that if Houston could get a good young prospect (preferably a first baseman) in return, that Roger could be shipped. Interestingly enough, Philadelphia has one of the best first base prospects in all of baseball (Ryan Howard) being held back by Jim Thome. They’ve got the payroll space, and they could really use some more pitching… No, this isn’t happening. But maybe in a 3-way deal…

§ Here’s what I think could happen (and I don’t think it’s a good deal for Boston, but what the hell – it’s all speculation and conjecture until Jayson Stark breaks the story anyway…) Clemens and his albatross of a contract to the Sox, Hanley Ramirez to Philadelphia (Jimmy Rollins’ contract expires after this year) and Ryan Howard to Houston to replace Jeff Bagwell, who’s shoulder is probably going to end his career. Sure, it’s only a 3-month rental for Boston. But if it means A) Keeping Clemens out of New York, and B) giving Boston the inside track to back-to-back World Series titles, then I’d look past the loss of Ramirez. The Yankees could offer 2B Robinson Cano to Houston (Craig Biggio is just about done, too), but I think Howard is a better prospect. The Astros don’t need a shortstop – otherwise they could deal directly with Boston.

n I’m preparing for my NFL Season Preview post, which I hope to get posted before I leave for Las Vegas in July. Otherwise, it’s going to get pushed to early August, which might not be such a bad thing either. Posting once training camp starts could help me to stay away from predictions like “If Barry Bonds, Jason Schmidt, and the great new closer Armando Benitez can stay healthy, the Giants can make it to the World Series this year”. Oops.

n Anybody want to sponsor my trip out to Vegas in July (or my return trip in August)? I plan to play in the poker rooms in town when I’m not playing in the WSOP – might not be a bad investment for you. Here’s how I see it working out – you invest in me with cash (say, $100). I play poker with it. Anything I win, you get your $100 back and we split the profits 60-40. If I lose – oh well, it’s no worse than the stock market anyway. I think this could work out well…

n Star Wars update – I’m amazed at how smooth my ride into work was this morning… guess everybody’s sleeping in or calling out entirely after Star Wars’ debut at 12:00AM…

Quote of the Week

From WEEI’s whiner line earlier this week (if you’ve read my AIM Away message recently, you’ve probably already seen this):

“When the Red Sox cut Mark Bellhorn a paycheck every week, do they spell ‘Mark’ with a backwards K?


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Cashout Curse

Psychological Warfare. That’s what this game is all about.

There’s a theory that floats among serious Internet poker players. It’s called “The Cashout Curse”. Essentially, it’s the belief that if you cashout a large amount of money (usually any amount larger than that of your last deposit), you will be the victim of a string of Bad Beats the likes of which most people could not withstand.

Like I said – Psychological Warfare. When you win a little and take it out, you feel good. Most players leave something behind to continue playing with; this is not money that the poker sites are willing to lose to withdrawals. A Bad Beat usually results in the player who is beaten getting angry at the other player for winning while not playing correctly. Most players who suffer one or two bad beats a day can take it – two or three bad beats an hour, however, can result in a long stretch of bad play and bigger bets to recoup losses.

The poker sites rely on the suckers who think that they are just getting outdrawn, not outplayed, because these are the people who will continue to deposit money; they “know” that they are the better player – they just got unlucky on a couple straight hands. Or as was my case a few weeks back, eighteen straight.

My friends – I am a perfect sucker.

Over the past week, I’ve been playing low-limit satellite tournaments, most of which are of the rebuy/add-on variety, and have a prize pool that includes seats in larger tournaments as well as straight cash prizes. My ultimate goal was to win a second World Series of Poker entry, which I have been told I can sell to any other Paradise Poker player for whatever fee I desire. I had planned to keep the additional $1400 in trip money so as to guarantee that I could spend my 10 days in a nice hotel and not the airport Howard Johnson’s, and then sell the $10,200 WSOP entry (and the $600 Paradise Masters II entry) for about $7500, thereby giving another player a discounted chance at the bracelet, and giving me enough to pay off my car.

I came close – I finished 3rd in one WSOP tourney, and 4th in another. Unfortunately, both of them awarded only one WSOP seat. Then I decided to try other tournaments, as well as returning to the 1-on-1 matches that I had completely dominated only a month ago.


The first rule of online poker is: be aggressive. If you’re unsure of the strength of your hand, then bet, because you’re probably not going to win with a check, and almost definitely not with a call. I’ve stuck to this rule pretty religiously, and it has paid off handsomely (see: WSOP entry). Unfortunately, it has also gotten me into trouble in larger pots when I am playing a weak hand or bluffing completely. There’s a fine line between being “pot committed” and just being plain stupid, and I walk that line with almost every hand I play. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.


I was late into a very big (read: $2200 to 1st place) tournament Sunday night, and I was #1 overall with 25 players left, holding almost 15% of all chips in play. I got A-2 suited in the big blind, and with two callers, I took a look at a cheap flop.

It hit 4-A-6 rainbow, but in first position, I checked. The player in last position bet $1200 (blinds were 300/600), and I re-raised to $3600 (I had started the hand with a little under 20k in chips – he had about 14k and was #3 overall). The middle position player called; so did last position. The turn hit with a 7 in the fourth suit, and I bet out $2000. The middle position called all-in for about $1800, and the late position player went over the top all-in for about $9000 total.

Now I had a decision to make. If I call and I’m outkicked (which was likely the case), then I fall from #1 overall to near the bottom – I think I would have ended up at #23 of 25. If I go away, he probably takes the chip lead, and he’ll be able to act before me until our table is broken up.

But if he doesn’t even have the Ace and I call and win, I’m a dominant chip leader, and I probably have a stranglehold on first place (and $2200).

Having poured over $5000 into the pot already, I was pretty committed to the hand, so the correct move was to call and hope he was bluffing, but I couldn’t do it (remember, the other guy had already gone all-in as well, albeit on a short stack). I folded.

Middle position showed K-Q of hearts, so he had just an Ace/King high. Late position showed…

Pocket Queens. The river was a 10, and I would have won the hand. Late position guy ended up winning the whole tournament, while I had to settle for 5th (and about $250).

Anyway, back to the original topic of this post – the Cashout Curse. After Sunday’s 5th place finish, I was up a couple of hundred bucks for the day, and decided to quit. I cashed out about $150, leaving what I had started the day with ($350) in my account. Unfortunately, as I’ve written before, the wonderful people at Neteller (my 3rd-party banking group for poker earnings/losses) require that all cashouts be held for up to 3 days to ensure that they are legit. Of course, while the funds are being held, you can re-deposit them back into any site without having to pay the standard 9% fees…

I spent yesterday afternoon/evening frantically trying to avoid ridiculous outdraws from every direction. During one tournament, I was outdrawn at the same table with KK three times in only 10 hands. Once to A-3 offsuit (Ace on the flop), once to J-7 offsuit (straight on the turn) and once to 9-4 suited (he flopped a flush – I hit a set). In all three cases I either went all-in or pushed the other person all-in while I was ahead (twice before the flop; the 9-4 all-in called a massive bet pre-flop, and then obviously called my all-in after the flush hit).

I finally gave up on tournaments and went to a 1-on-1 head’s up table, getting outdrawn with AA against J-4 offsuit (?!?!) when a set came floating by on the river. Finally, as the clock rounded 1AM this morning, I was at a 1-on-1 table pondering an 8-8 against a moderate re-raise. I decided, “screw it – I’m tired” and moved all-in for about 800 chips (the blinds were 30-60 – I had raised to 120, he re-raised to 300). He called…

… With a 7-2 offsuit. (A.K.A. the worst possible starting hand in hold-‘em).

“Guess I was pot committed” he typed. No, no you weren’t. Not when there are only 2000 total chips in play, and you have to put in 2/3 of your stack to call when you’re holding the worst possible…

… The flop hit 7-2-A. The turn was a 2. The River was a 10. I threw something against a wall and went to bed, all the while muttering “Goddamnit – I know I’m better than these friggin’ fish.”

I’m a victim of the Cashout Curse, and I’m the perfect sucker.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Quick Thoughts - May 9th '05

Quick Thoughts while wondering how many time I’ll hear

about “The Brawl” in the next two weeks…

n I can’t believe how many people are saying that the Pistons vs. Pacers series is a nightmare PR scenario for the NBA. Really? A Nightmare? The NBA has become a league built around street thugs with a good crossover and people whose “street cred” sells sneakers – this is the best thing that could have happened for the league. The TV ratings will be enormous for this series, if for no reason other than morbid curiosity. And it will afford David Stern the opportunity to tout the “toughness” of the league, now that two teams whose seasons were essentially over in November have each advanced a round in the Playoffs.

n I’m fairly confident that the Pacers will steal at least one game in this series, now that the NBA has given its official endorsement to the Reggie Miller farewell tour. They should just start each game at 10-0 Indiana, considering they’re going to give at least that many extra free throws to the Pacers during the course of the game anyway.

n It was nice of the Celtics and Rockets to show up for those Game 7’s.

n I find it interesting that that the two teams whose members were most outspoken about the horrific officiating so far in the postseason are the two teams who lost Game 7’s – and neither team got a single call after speaking out. And people wonder why I despise the NBA…

n Game 6 of Celtics/Pacers – this is what I wrote in my AIM Away Message immediately after the play – “12.9 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, and Paul Pierce just forced his way out of Boston”. I don’t think he’s coming back next year, and neither is Antoine. Boston’s got a good core of young players, with Al Jefferson looking better and better every game. I think they’ve got to ship Gary Payton out of town or else tie his hands together behind the three-point line, and get Pierce out for another shooter and some picks. Anybody can score in the NBA – Paul Pierce doesn’t really make his teammates that much better. He’s just not a #1 guy.

Damn, did I just start a “Quick Thoughts” post with five straight NBA items? I must be slipping…

n Somebody break up the Yankees! They won a series!

n Spent the weekend playing cards, yelling at the Celtics and Red Sox, hanging sheetrock, and drinking beers while watching the Derby. Couldn’t ask for much more than that.

n The Houston Astros… wow. 16-0, and the opposing pitcher homers off of you in the eighth inning. The fact that Hampton homered is not noteworthy. The fact that he was allowed to bat for himself LEADING-OFF the bottom of the eighth is testament to just how bad the Astros offense is this year. If they’d been able to do anything against the Braves’ starter yesterday, he’s out by the 7th.

n Naturally, I forgot to start Hampton in a fantasy league yesterday, but somehow remembered to start Joe Mays. Wonderful.

n Such an up-and-down weekend of poker. Up overall, thankfully. But man, what a roller-coaster…

n Actually finished fifth in a big tourney last night. Should’ve won – got bluffed (badly) off a big pot; had A-2 with 5-A-6-8 on the board. Other guy moved over-the-top all-in and I folded thinking I had a bad kicker. Turned out he had pocket queens. Cost me a lot in prize money too; the difference was $2100 for first, $350 for fifth.

n Good to see Tennessee picking up Jason White – that’s a team that could use some insurance at QB. Billy Volek looked good as a back-up last season – at least until he remembered that he was Billy Volek.

n Finally, a personal note. I’ve been “picked up” by Doc’s Sports; a sports gambling website. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll stop blogging on Xanga and BlogSpot, but maybe that my posts will become a little less frequent. If you’d like to see my first article for them, click here (note: may not be work-safe, as it is a gambling site)

n Oh, one last thing. I’m still working on that “Big Project”, or at least working on getting it posted to my personal web domain. It consists of two very large files, so I’m arguing with my web host about allowing me to post it without exceeding my bandwith… stay tuned.

Quote of the Week(end):

From the Kentucky Derby pre-race show…

And just in case he (Bellamy Road) doesn’t win, I’m sure Mr. Steinbrenner can have him turned into a couple of nice mitts for his some of his high-priced Yankees players…”

-- NBC Announcer

What are the odds that announcer is no longer with NBC?


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm working on a big project... hopefully I will have it posted by this evening.

Stay tuned...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Quick Thoughts - May 2nd '05

That was, quite possibly, the most boring weekend I’ve experienced in about eight months. Seriously. Did anything happen?

You wanna know how bad it got? I worked on Saturday, a short contract job for about 4 hours. During that time, I actually stopped to watch…


I feel so dirty…

Quick Thoughts while trying to buy a cheap TiVo online…

n Yes, that’s it. I’m breaking down and getting a TiVo. Since I don’t own a VCR it is pretty tough to record stuff that I miss while I’m out. Of course, the fact that I rarely leave my house aside from work and poker nights (where the TV is always on) makes me think that the TiVo might not get used too much.

n Ho-hum – the Heat and Suns swept their first round series. Luckily, this is the NBA, so the rest of the first round probably won’t end for another 247 days…

n Minnesota relief pitcher Juan Rincon was just suspended for using steroids. I think there are going to be many more pitchers suspended than anyone expected, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are relievers. These guys have to come into a game with only a few minutes to get loose, and are expected to throw 90-100 mph for only one inning before shutting it down until the next day. These are exactly the type of players that need the most muscle strength and flexibility – otherwise their arms would fall off after a couple of years.

n Actually, not all relievers are expected to throw 90-100. Just look at Keith Foulke. He seems to be doing just fine lobbing the ball underhand at about 65mph… Watching Foulke come into the ninth inning of a game right now brings back memories of Ugueth Urbina – it’s either a 1-2-3 ninth without any drama or else the Sox are gonna lose the game – very little margin for error there. My head hurts just thinking about it…

n The Patriots signed Doug Flutie this weekend, prompting my mother to wonder if this meant that Tom Brady was going back to the bench. Um… no.

n Speaking of NFL Quarterbacks (actually, non-NFL Quarterbacks)… Jason White was dismissed from mini-camp by the KC Chiefs, and probably won’t be asked back. This is the same Jason White that won the Heisman a couple of years ago, and finished second last year, right? I mean, we’re not talking about Gino Torretta or Andre Ware here – this guy actually can play. Nevermind the two surgically repaired knees – pocket passers in the NFL don’t need to worry about their knees (unless they’re named Mike Vick, and he’s not exactly a pocket passer). This guy deserves a shot. My guess is Denver, Tampa, Seattle, or maybe Miami…

n It’s May, and the Baltimore Orioles are in first place in the AL East. Hmmm – shouldn’t Jeffrey Maier (#4) be graduating from Wesleyan University right about now?

n Looking more and more like I’ll be staying at Terrible’s Hotel & Casino for my WSOP experience. Off the strip, about ¾ of a mile from the Rio (where the tournament is being held until the final 3 tables at Binion’s), and cheap. Works for me…

n Also, I’ll be bringing the ‘ol laptop (providing it’s still functional) out to Vegas and I’ll try to run daily updates of my progress in the tournament. However, I’ve already been told that any players finishing in the money are required to sign non-disclosure agreements, so if I stop updating all of a sudden, either I’ve cashed, or I’m dead. Hopefully, not #2.

n Do I really have to talk about the Celtics? Really? But I don’t wanna…! OK, fine. Here goes… This is probably going to be the only 7-game series of the first round, and it’s the one series that absolutely NO ONE wants to see go for 7-games. It’s boring, poorly played basketball by two teams that have no business in the NBA playoffs. And I’m a Celtics’ fan! If there is a God above, this series will end in a 3-3 tie and both teams will be eliminated, giving the Heat a bye into the Conference Finals so Shaq can rest up for the Pistons…

OK, that’s it. I think I’ve insulted enough people today.