Friday, April 29, 2011

The Latest Information Regarding Full Tilt Poker Account Balances

This afternoon I received an e-mail from Full Tilt Poker that referred me to their latest FAQs page for US online poker players.

I suspect that we will soon have our account money ala PokerStars. I am, however, still concerned about receiving compensation for FullTilt Points and other bonus/incentive programs in which I and others have participated. Stay tuned ...

PokerStars Cash-Out Comes Through

I checked my poker checking account this morning and saw that my small PokerStars cash-out had already been deposited into my account. It looks like things are really final. Bye, JokerStars.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blackhawks Come Up Just Short

Anyone who doubts that the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs provide the absolute best in sports should have watched game seven of the Chicago Blackhawks/Vancouver Canucks series. Despite a barrage of Canucks shots, Hawks goalie Corey Crawford made spectacular save after save.

When Hawks captain Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the series -- shorthanded -- with less than two minutes to play in the third period of a 1-0 game, it looked like the Hawks might pull off the amazing come from behind victory in overtime. However, a turnover in their own zone spelled the end of the Hawks season.

Congratulations to the Vancouver Canucks, who, despite disappearing in games four and five, played a great series. And ... for online poker buddies and Canucks fans Schaubs, Pirate Lawyer, and Fuel55 -- best wishes for a deep run in the playoffs.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Musings

Chicago Blackhawks vs Vancouver Canucks
Well, well, well. How things have changed. As best I can understand, the Vancouver Canucks are the closest thing in other professional sports to the Chicago Cubs -- lots of great, dedicated fans and a team that just can not seem to do it, whether by circumstances, bad luck or bad karma, or a curse. The Canucks, the best regular season team in the NHL in 2010-2011, has been forced into a game seven after leading the once-floundering Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 in their series. With the game at home and superior overall talent, it would appear that the Canucks should take game seven. However, with history and momentum on their side, the Chicago Blackhawks are probably the smart choice. The final game could go either way, but I expect that Wednesday's Vancouver Sun online will be filled with anger and vitriol.

Rocking the Real Green Felt Tables
The current state of online poker helped me make a last-minute decision Saturday night to take a road trip to the nearest casino offering poker. I made the trip to Peoria, IL in record time, only to have to wait for an hour on a busy Saturday night to get seated when the  room opened a new table. I perhaps might write about the trip in more detail in a subsequent post. However, I was able to get my poker jones satisfied, playing in a cash game for over seven hours. I was a little rusty and misread the board once as I got ready to call it a night. I ended up losing a few bucks, but the trip was well worth it to get me back at the table again.

The Aftermath of the DOJ Indictments
I have still been able to play online poker at Ultimate Bet, and even played a little at Cake Poker and Bodog, sites that I do not particularly like. I also played in a private play money tournament at PokerStars that had gift certificates for the winners. With some tangible incentive, the game played just like a regular real money tournament.

What did I miss most this past week? I missed connecting with some of my regular online poker buddies. I think I am going through Very Josie withdrawal. Does anyone have a cure?

As the future for basketball and hockey becomes cleared after Tuesday, I will finally write my long-promised post regarding the current status of Chicago professional sports teams.

Cheers!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Hope for Online Poker Beyond Spring 2011

Now that online poker players in the United States and across the globe have had almost a week to absorb the fallout of the DOJ indictments against principals of the three largest internet poker companies doing business in the U.S., we will be starting to focus on what the future holds for us. Yes, it is scary, but history has shown that adversity often is the wellspring for opportunity.

Back in the good old days before the US government decided to clamp down on online poker, the landscape was littered with different poker options. Like many players, I cut my teeth on Party Poker, the big kahuna of online poker. Yes, I , and probably some of the people who read this blog, were part of the ocean of fresh fishies playing timidly or stupidly in the play money games, honing our skills as we got ready to plunk real money down on the virtual felt. Will we get Party Poker back? How about other sites?

What influence will the big gambling corporations have? How far are they already in crafting a product that will compete for our online mobney, given the likelihood that the US government will finally wake up and see that the smart thing to do will be to regulate and tax online poker?

Will poker in social networking sites or other entities a non-techie guy like me can't even imagine take over the poker world? Could another poker boom be on the horizon? If I was part of the Moneymaker Generation, what will we call the next generation of players?

I am perturbed that the timing of this government intervention came just as I and other bloggers were anticipating competing in the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments VI and getting a chance to win WSOP packages. However, my hope is that things will progress more rapidly that most of us imagine and we will soon be back playing our favorite games at the virtual tables.

Anyone want to place any bets on when everything gets resolved? Oops -- just kidding. You don't think  the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York could be reading this, do you?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't Let It End: Chicago Blackhawks Run as Stanley Cup Champs Nears the End of the Line

Chicago area music demi-god Dennis DeYoung

´╗┐Tonight is game four of the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks first round Stanley Cup playoff series. Yes, as we all knew but had to see in post-season play, there was really a reason that the Canucks were seeded first and the Hawks eighth in the Western Conference..

The Blackhawks problems are best summed up by Chicago Sun Times writer Adam Jahns: "Their struggles and inconsistencies from the regular season have surfaced in the playoffs. There have been poor third periods, inconsistent performances by the top players, a power play that struggles to connect at key times, an inept penalty kill and a team that has been thrown around one too many times.' Yes -- brutal, but the truth.

Unfortunately, the Hawks, due to salary cap regulations, had to dump a significant portion of last year's championship team immediately after winning the Stanley Cup. Former second, third, and fourth line players went to other teams, robbing the Hawks of the depth that proved the difference last season. For example, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd combined for 49 goals in the 2010-2011 regular season. Wouldn't they be great to have back? How about the defensive depth lost when the Hawks said goodbye to Brent Sopel or the toughness lost in Ben Eager and Adam Burish?

Unfortunately, with the notable exception of Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls, Chicago sports teams, on the rare occasions they win championships, tend not to repeat (see the 1985 Bears and the 2005 White Sox). Although the Hawks could hypothetically come back and win this series vs the Canucks, they have not been playing well enough to do so, and Luongo and the Canucks have been great.

So ... it appears that it will soon be time to look for a new Stanley Cup champion and for the Blackhawks to regroup and make a run for the Cup next year. But ... it sure was one hell of a ride ...

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Umm ... What to Talk About ... Poker? -- NO; Chicago Blackhawks? -- NO; SOFTBALL -- YES!

It was hard to think of someting positive to talk about today. Everyone is unhappy about online poker, the Chicago Blackhawks are down 3-0 to the hated Canucks in hockey, but ... there was softball. The temperature was supposed to drop tonight and the rain was due to start sometime, so what a great night for softball!

Now, for those readers who can still call themselves "young adults," the prospect of playing a softball game in the cold and wet weather might sound fun. For those of us who have a few more rings around the trees, we get concerned about pulled muscles, hamstrings, groins, ...

I looked at the lineup card and got the great news -- designated hitter! This gig got even better when the rain started coming down about halfway through the game. We were playing a much younger and more athletic team, but surprisingly we were kicking their asses. However, after the rain started coming down their bats seemed to come alive and we seemed to be standing still. They caught up in the rain and pulled ahead. However, similar to last week, we staged a comeback and pulled to within one run. The umpire decided to let us play in the rain, but the increasingly wet and muddy field did not help our defense as their bats came alive. Alas, we went from down one run to nine in the last inning and ran out of gas. Nothing like playing a cold, wet softball game. We were all soaked.

This "old" guy went two for three -- two singles and a fielder's choice. Yeah -- I'll take hitting .667 in the first two games this season. Take that, youngsters!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Painting: "Poker Player Disappointed by his Government"

Artist and subject unknown

Friday, April 15, 2011

Does Today Mark The End of Online Poker As We Know It?

The Department of Justice indicted the owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Ultimate Bet today. PokerStars has already blocked access to real money games for US players. I imagine that the others will quickly follow.

Cribbage, anyone?

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Soooo Close in the Twitter Poker Tour Championship Series (TPTCS) Event #6

A week ago I played in the Twitter Nightly online poker tournament at Full Tilt Poker and agreed to a chop when we got down to four people, "finishing" second with second place money plus. So ... seeing as how I had Twitter on my mind, I ended up finding an interesting poker site, the Twitter Poker Tour. I saw that the tour was having a championship series, so I joined and thought that I would try a tournament or two. I played in Event #1, a Pot-Limit Omaha tourney, finishing 7/23 -- three places from the money. On Thursday night, I decided to play Event #6, a NLHE tourney. The results were much better -- 2/56. Just short -- sigh.

With a reasonable 3,000 chips to start, I had a little room to play but saw my stack bounce up and down near the starting amount for some time. I tried to mix up my play, raising, limping, playing tight, playing loose. I was able to hit a couple of sets early on and chipped up to a comfortable stack. The level of play at my tables was quite good, a mixture of conservative and more aggressive players.

The tournament itself seemed to have the usual number of bad beats and river comebacks. Knowing that only the top seven places paid, I took a risk in a hand early on, pushing with the nut flush draw and a pair. I was up against a higher pair, but I caught my flush on the river and won a big pot.

My stack took a substantial hit when I decided to call an all in after the flop with top pair top kicker. There were two clubs on the flop and I guessed that the villain had a flush draw. I called the all in, only to see the villain hit a higher pair on the turn and then complete a flush on the river. Yuck.

I chipped back up and glided to the final table. Play there was challenging and fun. My big break came when I flopped top pair on the flop and hit two pair on the turn. I pushed, only to see the only other person in the hand had a set. I was about to lose all of my chips when the river completed my full house. Yes -- we all need one of these every so often if we hope to win any tournaments.

I made it to heads up, where my opponent, astro_pup, and I fought a great back and forth battle. Unfortunately, it ended when I ran my trip Aces into astro_pup's flush. That was all she wrote.

A big congrats to astro_pup for an excellent well-deserved victory. The final table was quite challenging and anyone there could have won.

A special thanks to Very Josie and PokahDave, who railed for a bit and provided some comic relief and support in online chat.

Thanks to the Twitter Poker Tour for hosting an excellent tournament. I am new to the tour and do not know much about it, by I have learned that I need to send some props to its operators cprpoker and coolwhipflea.

The next Championship Series event, #7, will be a NLHE 6 max touney at Full Tilt Poker on Sunday, April 17 at 2:00 pm Eastern. Sound interesting? Check out the tour at http://twitterpokertour.com/.

Catch you on the flip side!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Second Place in a Shootout Tournament Just Does Not Do It

One of my home game buddies alerted me to a freeroll tournament at a bar in a nearby city. The friend had to work last night, so I decided to make the drive by myself. The tournament was a shootout format with the possibility of getting to play at a second table if you didn't win your first.

This WAS a freeroll in a smallish local bar, so the structure did not surprise me: 4,000 chips to start, 100/200 starting blinds, blinds increased every ten minutes, eight people per table. Yeah -- it would soon turn into a pushfest.

On the second or third hand of the tournament one guy caught fire. He quickly chipped up when his flopped set of 6's held and crippled two opponents. He then was involved in a three-way all in and hit runner-runner crubs (what else?) to knock two people out in the same hand. Not good for one guy to have so many chips early on. Pretty soon people began pushing and he was picking them off one by one, seemingly catching every card in the deck. Meanwhile, I was getting a steady assortment of 10-5 os and the hammer. I was treading water and suddenly there were only three of us left. Then the player on my right pretty much gave up and pushed with a crap hand. Cya.

So ... here I was, heads up, down approximately 28,000 chips to 4,000. Ouch. I played my heart out and started eating into his stack, but finally went busto when my Q-4 ran into the bad guy's A-9 sooted. Not much of a fun game, that was for sure.

I helped shuffle cards for some other tables.  Meanwhile, the guy running the tourney got down to seating the final second chance table before my ticket number was called again. One last chance at a table they expanded to ten. But this game was totally different.

In the first or second orbit I got A-J sooted. I made a standard raise from early position and got two callers. The flop was Jack high and I checked. A guy in middle position went all in. Guy in late position folded and I called. I was up against a pair of 8's. Boom -- my first big hand.

Timing is everything in poker, and suddenly everything was breaking my way. A shortie would push all in and I would look down to find hands like A-J and K-Q. Pretty soon I started eliminating everyone and had the biggest stack going into the final three. I knocked out a shortie, then faced the one other player at the table who was pushing people around. But I was a little ahead of him and knew I could take him. I was dealt A-J and saw the end coming near. I raised and the other guy went all in. I, of course, insta-called. He tabled A-9. Now it was time to dodge the outs. But ... and you know what is coming ... a 9 hit on the flop. No Jacks hit, and suddenly I was a shortie. A few hands later, with the blinds being huge, I pushed A-4 into Q-Q. The Queens held and that was it. Two tables. Two second place finishes. No trips to the final table.

I rarely play shootouts, but this turbo one wasn't bad -- for a freebie. I had little chance to win my first table and was unlucky not to win the second and earn a seat at the final table.

I had about an hour-long drive home and contemplated deep into the cool night what might have been.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Softball Returns; lightning Remains Among the Living

First softball game of the season was Monday night. I got there early and waited forever for most of the team to show up. Looked at the other team. Sheesh -- they looked a lot younger and in much better condition than most of my team.

My captain posted the lineup. I was in at my usual place: second base. Now, of course, there is significance to playing second base. It is one of the places that a team can hide its ... shall we say ... less adept fielders?

When I was around 30 years old I was a softball junkie. One summer I remember playing on five teams at once. I was never one to hit with a lot of power, but I could sting the ball, hit the gaps for extra bases, and I could actually still run and field then. Now ... ha!

The game had a funny beginning. In our league, everyone begins an at bat with a count of 1-1 to speed up the game. All games go a max of 55 minutes. Anyway, the umpire is a co-worker of mine. About six months ago, I assisted his daughter. After helping her, I razzed the father, Doug, saying "I met your daughter. She is a nice young lady -- intelligent, polite, and very attractive. Your wife must be very pretty -- I mean -- your daughter had to get her looks from someplace ..." Yeah -- I thought that was pretty funny. Well tonight he called the captains over before the game to review some ground rules. "Remember -- everyone starts out with a count of 1-1 ... except lightning, who starts with a 1-2 count." Gulp. Payback is a bitch!

In the top of the first inning, the second batter up hit a popup between first and second base. As I felt my way through the sandy wet infield and then the lip of the outfield grass, I kept thinking "Don't effing drop the first chance of the season!" Fortunately, I did not.

My game stats: 2-3 (fielder's choice, single, single), 1 pop out, 1 assist, 1 bad hop, 1 ball I could have reached ten years ago ...

Who won? Well ... we were down most of the game and went into the bottom of the sixth down 12-8. I led off the inning with a clean hit to one of my favorite spots, right-center. The right center fielder was playing way too far back, obviously influenced by my muscular physique! The next thing you know ... hit, hit, hit, walk, hit, hit ... We went ahead 14-12 as time expired, ending the game during our at bat since we were the home team. Yowsa -- undefeated!

I stopped to pick up some dinner on the way home and contemplated the evening -- Chinese food, two hits, opening game victory, no injuries. Life is good ... very good ...

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Musings

1) Finished my taxes last night. I already had the federal one done but unsent. Sent it and completed and sent the state form. I came out about even overall, so no big deal either way.

2) Kudos to the Minnesota Wild for beating the Dallas Stars on Sunday and allowing the Chicago Blackhawks to slip into the Stanley Cup Playoffs through a narrowly open back door. The Hawks play the Vancouver Canucks in round one. Although the Canucks appear to have the best or one of the best teams this season, I expect the Hawks to take them down in the opening series. The Hawks do have the ability to do this. Based on their season-long issue with lackluster play, I doubt they will win it all this year. But can they beat some teams in a series or give them a heck of a scare? Yes!!

3) First softball game of the season tonight, weather permitting. New manager this year (one of my home game poker buddies). Looks like I might pay for smoking him a time or two!

Not sure where I will play this year -- either my standard second base, back to the mound (I pitched for several years, gave it up, then pitched some the past season or two), or maybe even more DH-ing as I become more and more of a liability in the field.

Catch ya on the flip side!

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Tribute to the original Joe C



Time out from poker activities for a quick tribute to the original Joe C. For those unfamiliar with the late entertainer, Joe Calleja was a rapper who performed with Kid Rock from 1995 to 2000. Calleja suffered from celiac disease, which was largely responsible for his lack of height (Joe C was 3 ft 9 in tall).

Calleja served as a foil for Kid Rock in live shows, adding an indescribable touch that is sorely missed. Unfortunately, Calleja died in his sleep in 2000 at the young age of 26.

Joe C -- we miss ya, brotha.

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lightning C strikes again!

This guy is running hot this week as he chops for over second place money in the Twitter Nightly. The chop involved four people and it seemed like an okay deal to me.

I was hoping to play in the WSOP Circuit Event in St. Louis, but that did not work out. I will probably miss a chance to try to satty the current Heartland Poker Tour main event in northern Indiana also. Timing is everything some months. Work and life just gets in the way ...

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Another Shark Victory

The Thursday night home game of the Shark Poker Tour once again was fun and profitable as I notched my second victory in two weeks against an always tough gang of Sharks. I had one massive suckout which gave me the chips I needed to position myself for the final table. I went into the flop against an agressive player with J-J. After the flop showed all low cards, the other player raised and I went all in. Unfortunately, he tabled K-K and I was on my way out until ... a beautiful J on the turn!

One other crucial hand happened at the final three when I was dealt A-7 crubs. The button, who had been aggressive when in position, pushed all in. Since the third player had a significant chip stack, I decided to call the button and take my chances. I was guessing that I was ahead and he was bluffing me out of my blind. Wrong! He tabled Q-Q, but two crubs showed on the flop and I knew I was golden since we all know that crubs always get there. Sure enough, I rivered a crub to win the hand and put me in position to challenge the chip leader. A short while later the victory was mine.

Okay -- I expect that a few people (one person in particular!) might have a comment or two to make about my luck with the cards tonight. But, as most of us know, to win any tournament you need at least a little luck. Let's not forget, however, that these were only two hands in a tournament that lasted 3 1/2 hours. The others I actually played quite well!

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Public Service Announcement: An Open Letter To Very Josie

Dear Josie:

It has become apparent that remarks recently made about your tournament play sometimes do not sit very well with you. Although many times said in jest, the comments regarding the luck factor seem to have you feeling a need to defend your ability to play. As a public service to the online poker blogging community, I present this open letter to attempt to explain some of what perhaps you do not understand. I do not claim to be speaking for the entire blogging community, but only as one person who has had experience observing and playing with you both online and in brick and mortar casinos.

First and foremost, I hereby publicly acknowledge that you are a crafty and challenging opponent in tournament play. You appear to have a solid fundamental knowledge of the game and are open to positive suggestions and criticisms. That being said, let me share with you some common perceptions regarding the the point of intersection of skill and luck within your game...

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HOLY SHIT, YOU GET EVERY DAMN CARD IN THE WHOLE DAMN DECK EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU NEED IT. WHO THE HELL DID YOU PAY OFF OR SCREW TO GET FULL TILT TO THROW EVERY EFFING CARD YOUR WAY?

NO -- IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO OCCASIONALLY GET GOOD CARDS LIKE EVERY OTHER PLAYER, BUT YOU GET THEM EVERY SINGLE DAMN HAND. WORSE YET, YOU GET THEM AT THE WORST TIMES POSSIBLE -- WHEN OTHER PLAYERS HAVE BEEN COLD DECKED OR WHEN THEY HAVE GOTTEN IT IN AS A HUGE FAVORITE, ALLOWING FOR ANOTHER PREDICTABLE JOE C MIRACLE ESCAPE ON THE RIVER.

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I have tried my best to make this open letter short, accurate, and objective. I trust you will accept it in the same spirit in which it was written.

Sincerely,

lightning36

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Enroll in Donkeyman Coaching Today!

On Tuesday nights the true donkey in me comes alive. Give me any freeroll, any site, any size and I'll head toward the final table. The reward doesn't matter -- I will survive. Yessssss. And you can survive too. How? By learning from the best -- Donkeyman Coaching. Flash: Special rates this week only on Donkeyman Coaching. Get six hours of Tuesday night official Donkeyman Coaching for the low introductory price of only $11.50 -- about what I got my dirty little hands on tonight. That comes out to about ... uh ... without a calculator -- about like $1.80 per hour? Learn ninth level strategies like playing primo hands like 7-10 sooted and watch the flop smack you in the face time and time again. Watch previous graduates like PooPooFace and Nimrod16" show you how to donk off chips faster than Joe C with a big stack! Learn how to rant even better than Waffles and learn what phrases like &$##*&%%@! really mean at the table. You too can become another satisfied customer. Look what this program graduate had to say: "I learned a lot from Donkeyman Coaching. Heck, I even use the same strategies when I play bridge. They wonder what the heck I am doing. I have them thoroughly confused." And ... if you act RIGHT NOW, you will receive, at no extra cost, the official Donkeyman Coaching balla hoodie -- worn by some of the baddest d-bags in the game: So ... if you want all of your poker hands to look like this: Order Donkeyman Coaching TODAY!! You'll be glad you did. This guy certainly was ...

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Quick Tuesday Thoughts

* Worked on my federal tax form last night and finished it except for paying and e-mailing it via Turbo Tax. It is amazing how simple the task was with this system, which I used last year for the first time.

* My friend who is battling Stage IV breast cancer recently posted pictures on facebook from her trip to Hawaii. I am humbly reminded today that I have been blessed with a great life.

* At some point I might give my views on Survive Donkey Island. I am glad that the people who were involved seemed to have a good time. Frankly, I am glad that it is over so that we can hopefully get to BBT6. Al -- are we still on, bud?

* I hope to find time tonight or tomorrow to post an update on Chicago professional sports teams. Quite a mixed bag, they are ...

* Midwest weather means never having to store away your shorts or your jackets. It is currently 50 degrees and will get up to 80 degrees by Sunday. After that? Back in the 60's and mid to high 50's.

* Today might be the first grilling day of the season. Can the burner make it through one more season? I will find out tonight.

Catch ya on the virtual tables ...

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