Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A few results and some important news ...

Results for Nov 28

WWdN: weak player Invitational @ PokerStars:
Gee - sounds like it was meant for me. Unfortunately, A-K and 7-7 were the best cards I got in an hour. Not a recipe for success. 28th place, 43 entrants. Yuck.

OPT Room freeroll:49th out of 335. Yep -- I cashed -- for $.55. lol

K9 freeroll @ Doyle's Room:

Well, at least one somewhat successful tourney tonight.

Actually, I had great success at the NL ring games today, so the day was not a total loss.

The Important News

Readers of this blog may remember my story back in June about getting into a collision playing softball. Yes, I did crack a rib, but I also had a little more serious scare.

I knew there was trouble when the Urgent Care physician looked at my x ray and asked about the previous rib injury I mentioned. Then, a few days later, I was called and advised to make an appointment with my family physician because of concerns from the x ray. I then had to get a CT scan to get a better look at what appeared to be a mass on my lower left lung.

Having smoked only about 100 cigars and cigarettes in my life, I was of course pissed that I could possibly be looking at lung cancer while the smokers of the world continued to foul the air that I breathe.

Well, the test results were inconclusive, but with my good health and lack of smoking history, my lung doctor believed that the shadow was caused by some sort of damage to my ribs and/or lungs during the softball collision. I was to get x rayed again in November.

I got the x ray and saw my doctor on Monday. The mass appears to have gotten smaller, so I am not scheduled for a return visit for six months. Looks like I am in the clear.

Needless to say, I feel relieved. These last several months have seen a lot of soul searching and thinking. For now, it looks like I'll be around for many more tournaments ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Just Another Tricky Day in the Life of the Lightning Man

My Saturday began with dealing with an idiot, and ended with dealing with an idiot.

The beginning: I was playing in a $2,000 freeroll at There were 743 players who met the playing requirements and the tourney was paying the top 50. Having recently read some articles about tightening up and cleaning up play, I decided to do just that. And it worked, getting me into the top 100. Now, as the bubble approached, play, of course, slowed down. I was sitting a few places outside the bubble and didn't think that I could make it in the money just cruising. I had a few rounds of blinds left, and decided to go all in in late position with A-J spades. With the bubble just ahead, I did not expect to get called. However, one guy called with 10-10.

I still had enough chips to keep everyone out, I thought, and I was surprised that this guy risked half his chips to call me, knowing that I must have some big cards or a big pair. As luck would have it, I hit the flop and more than doubled up.

Now ... this other guy couldn't understand why someone outside the bubble would go all in with an Ace and a strong kicker. If I was blinded out I would probably finish outside the money, not to mention that 50th place was only paying $5. He asked about this and I said: "$5 isn't really going to significantly change my life." I than ran a simulator and told him that I was actually a 57% percent favorite. He wouldn't believe that either. Some people just can't see beyond themselves and their hand.

I ended up finishing 32nd. I had pocket 10s and went all in and was called by someone with pocket Jacks. The flop came -- nothing. The turn was a 10, and I couldn't believe my good luck. Ah, but the poker gods only teased me, sending a Jack on the river and me to the rail. Better to go down fighting for first that play lame to pick up an extra few bucks.

My evening situation was much worse. I had bought some ear buds for my daughter, and the buds somehow got lost between Best Buy, Meijer, and home. I thought that I might have dropped them outside Meijer, so I made a quick trip back. Couldn't find them. Then I stopped at Best Buy to see if I dropped them going out the door. Nope.

I opened my car door, and a gust of wind caught it and hit it into the car next to mine. Now ... my red Mustang convertible, while now mature, is still my baby. I hate to see it get hit, so of course I felt bad about what happened. It turned out that a guy and a girl were inside the car, and the guy was upset -- rightfully so. However, he started ragging on me about how some people just don't care about other's property, how I have a crap car (grrrr), ... you get the vibe. I had told him that I was sorry, but the wind caught it. It left a little smudge that a little spit and a wipe took care of. But no, this guy had to go on and on about the situation. I certainly do not take any shit from someone less than half my age, and I told him to grow up. He kept on and on and his girlfriend was trying to put her hand over his mouth, and I finally said, "Just grow the f*** up. Shut up." The girlfriend thought that I was talking to her and said "No one talks to me like that. Do you want me to call the police?" I said "Call the police - see what I care."

At that point, I figured it best to just leave before the situation got worse. I saw the moron whip out his cell phone and look at my license number. He apparently called 911 and told the operator that there was a hit and run at Best Buy. Do you believe the wuss?

I was driving home and got pulled over by the police. I gave my version of what happened to the officer. She checked on her radio and found out that -- oops, looks like it was not a hit and run and no damage was done to the other guy's car. She told me that since there was no damage there is no incident and this is over.

Uh ... nice use of 911. My only hope is that the responding officers gave the other guy crap about calling 911 for a stupid parking lot mishap.

So ... how was your day?????

Friday, November 24, 2006

I can not believe the recent number of bad beats I have taken, the number of hands I have lost on the river when I was clearly ahead, the numbers of suckouts foisted upon me, then ...

After getting the crap knocked out of me the past few days (especially at Full Tilt - which now replaces Titan as the "screw John on the river" poker venue), I began to finally get away from the bad beats and nasty rivers. Not that is completely off the hook (set of Aces got beat on the river by someone fishing for a flush), but at least at it seems like I don't get screwed on a regular basis when making the correct play.

After losing some of my bankroll with some bad luck, I began seeing some cards and actually hitting things on the flop. I have been spending some time at the $1/$2 NL tables, particularly trolling for sets. I was dealt pocket 7's and called a raise pre-flop, hoping to hit my set. I did, and had the perfect set up. Take a look at this hand, where my opponent's chase of the flush cost him big time:

Pre-flop, he raised four times the Big Blind with K-10 suited (??), then made a big raise after the flop with flush and straight draws. I reraised, and he put me all in. I called, and hit my boat on the turn. He hit his flush on the river, and was probably expecting the win. There was silence after the hand.

Needless to say, I began feeling like the poker gods had somehow decided that enough was enough. Like most players who fancy themselves at a certain level, I accept my mistakes, but just hate playing a hand correctly and then getting beat on a lower percentage outcome. In this instance, I was 60% to win, so thank goodness the percentages (and my set) held up.

Black Friday

I hope that everyone made it through Black Friday in one piece. Although I live for bargains and deals, I stay home on Black Friday because of all the idiocy and greed on display in malls and stores across America. I am certainly far from being wealthy, but I am certainly beyond the point where I will wait in the cold for hours and deal with unruly crowds to get a few bucks off something. I hate to see some of the good deals that Best Buy and other stores offer, knowing that I would never play the waiting game to get those items.

Hey -- Best Buy -- offer decent deals in the weeks after Black Friday and I will be there. In the meantime, all you people in the holiday scrum -- cheers!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Recent Tournament Action ...

... has been okay. Finished a few places out of the money at a K9 tournament at Tropical Poker, but at least I did make the final table instead of bubbling it as I have recently. Had a respectable showing in an OPT freeroll at, but had a middle-of-the-pack showing at a blogger tournament on Tuesday. Lost on the river ... again. So tonight ...

1) The Mookie - I would love to take this puppy down again. Full Tilt has not been kind to me lately, so maybe I get my revenge tonight.
2) Freeroll at Third Bullet - reserved for the members of Desser's Danes, the winners of an internal tourney for K9 Poker Tour members. We got to pick which team we would be on, and the winning team got a freeroll. When it came time to sign up, I saw the Danes loaded with some of the best K9 players so I joined. I was happy to make the final table and help secure the private freeroll for the Danes. Yea!

I am now officially one hour away from the Thanksgiving holiday break (USA). Let's all have a good long weekend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

After waking from an unexpected nap and with the realization that I need to get the garbage out to the curb tonight, I began thinking about my game and how it's current version needs to get pitched also. I know I am whining, but my play has suffered the past few weeks due to exhaustion from the workload I traditionally have this time of year.

I have been playing in some excellent tournaments against bloggers the past several weeks. However, after scoring a first place in The Mookie a few weeks ago, I have played some mediocre poker (how is that for a rhyme?), and that just won't work against the blogger community. I have allowed myself to get run over by making poor decisions and am not playing my usual game that has proven to work so well this past year. Lose focus against better players and make one or two mistakes and you find yourself short stacked and fighting to stay. I saw this happen at the DADI, The Big Game, and Monday at the Hoy, all within the past week. I donked out again at the Blogger Poker Tour event last Saturday with play that is certainly not befitting last season's 4th place finisher in the Grand Final. I have been giving money away in the SNGs, where I usually go to lick my wounds after taking a bad beat.

What to do? Well, I least I can look at this all as a learning experience and hopefully recognize it in the future so that I can begin fixing it sooner next time. Even making that statement is in fact some improvement for this perfectionistic person who expects to play perfect poker and take down every tourney he enters. Sounds like I am beginning to resemble my man, Phil Helmuth.

My plan: Get the sleep I need, cut down my poker time the next week or so, use the Thanksgiving break to recharge my batteries. Maybe I'll even buy myself that laptop that I promised myself months ago as a reward for my play.

Why the Beatles for Sale cover? I remember reading years ago how the Beatles started getting tired after grinding it out for an intensive year or so. Contrast the cover of Beatles for Sale and the tired-looking men to the bouncy, enthusiastic lads featured on previous albums. Yep -- that's how I feel. Time for me to work on my version of Get Back.

And hey - a shout out to a few of my online poker buds who, in the past couple months, have given me encouragement along the way, helped me refine my game, welcomed me to a new environment, or just in general, helped me to become a better player:


Enough moping around. Time to shuffle up and deal ...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hot off the presses - lightning36 is exhausted and his poker game sucks ...

Well, if there is one thing I have found out about my online play, it is that when I am tired I play terrible poker. Not just bad poker -- terrible poker.

The two weeks before Thanksgiving are usually the busiest of the year for me. Unending lines of people and tons of phone calls and e mails have left me totally wiped out. I struggled to stay awake at my daughter's play last night, and today will be totally worthless for me.

As luck would have it, a Blogger Poker Tour event was scheduled for today. After losing some chips early on when a bad (for me) flop nutralized my starting hand, I made some very poor choices, called an all in bet, and slithered out of the tournament in the first 12 minutes or so. Just totally stupid play.

At least I am learning when I know my play will be bad. A week ago Friday, I found out in the morning that a charity poker tournament was scheduled for that evening. I had been lamenting my lack of home game play so this would have seemed perfect ... except that I was totally exhausted at the end of the week. What to do?

I decided to go out to the hall where the tournament was being played, survey the situation, and decide. I wisely chose to get back in my car and drive home.

So ... for anyone who saw me exit the PBT tournament ... yes, I sucked; no, I normally do not make such bad decisions; yes - I'm going back to bed before I do more stoopid things ...

However, a few hours of sleep, and ...

OPT tourney at I am in the final three and get pocket rockets. As luck would have it, the chip leader has QQ. But ... arrrrrgggggg.

I guess I'll have to settle for third, but I really thought that I'd win this one. Disappointing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Back with a few decent showings ...

Played in my first WWdN, which was titled the Plate of Shrimp Invitational. I had fortunately built up a good cushion when I got my first (and only) baddie of the night: All in with 10-10 after a flop of threee low rags. I was called by Maudie, who had 9-9. Turn was uneventful, and the river ... a 9. As luck would have it, I caught some hot cards and soon replaced what I lost on that big hand.

I generally hovered around 3rd to 4th place most of the tourney. Got to the final table and was doing okay until I decided to go all in with A-K. I got called by Miami Don, who had A-A. I thought I was out, but I had a few hundred chips left. With some selective all ins and quite a bit of luck, I built my bankroll back over 10,000. I finally busted out in 4th place. The remaining players, who were somewhat evenly matched in chips, shortly chopped the pot. One winning hand short of being in on the chop -- not bad for my first WWdN.

As the WWdN was going on, I was paying little attention to the OPT freeroll at I finished 34th out of 499, just nine places out of winning my buy in to the next OPT tourney at

So ... not a terrible night for a donkey like me.
Speaking of donkeys, I was called one the other night at a buy in. A guy had Cowboys and hit his set on the flop. I had the nut flush draw, so I stayed in since he was placing minimal bets. When I hit my flush on the river, I should have put him all in, but I placed a value bet to get him to call. He called, and when he found out he lost, he called me all kinds of names. Maybe the donk should learn how to bet a set. Idiot.
Some poker players, however, act differently. In a small buy in tourney at Poker World, I was on the bubble with a short stack. I pushed my decent hands all in several times, and one player said, "Next time I call." Well, two hands later I got the Hilton Sisters, so I went all in. He called with 9-2 suited, and hit a straight or flush on the river (Don't remember - it was late). I laughed about it since it was such a terrible beat. The player, TJ, actually sent me my buy in back. Now ... even though we are only talking about a few bucks here, can you believe that someone covered my entry fee since he took me out with a nasty beat on the bubble?
In general, I have found that many poker players, although willing to legitimately connive to take everything you have, are actually stand up people. Nothing like a little show of sportsmanship to keep you feeling good about the game, even when you go el busto.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Concert Review: ***Chicago: Live at the Peoria Civic Center*** November 8, 2006

For all you poker players who actually have some recollection of the 1960's and 1970's, the name of the band Chicago undoubtedly brings you memories of songs infused with passionate singing, jazzy musicianship and great horn playing, but also some slow ballads oozing sugar from the radio straight to your ears. Thus, we have a collective memory of a band that made its mark by infusing musicianship into rock songs, then dumbing down its music into pop hits, then disappearing into the land of irrelevant bands. I last saw Chicago in concert in 1984. It was an excellent show. So how good could a Chicago concert be today? In short, pretty good.

The current line up of Chicago features original keyboardist Robert Lamm, the great original horn section of James Pankow, Walt Parazaider, and Lee Loughnane (worth every cent to see), drummer Tris Imboden, organist Bill Champlin, guitarist Keith Howland, and bass player and singer Jason Scheff. Long gone are bass player and lead vocalist Peter Cetera, drummer Danny Seraphine, and soulful singer and guitarist Terry Kath. Imboden certainly fills the bill for Seraphine, but the loss of Cetera and Kath make for the only negative aspect of the current band. There is just no replacing Kath's heartfelt vocals and Cetera's strong tenor lead.

How do you cover almost 40 years of songs in a two-hour set? Well, Chicago gave us its best shot, touching briefly on songs from its new CD, Chicago XXX, cruising through some of their best ballads from the 1980's, and, thankfully, loading the concert with some of their best old material. While old stand bys like 26 or 6 to 4, Questions 67 and 68, So Much to Say; So Much to Give, and Make Me Smile were supurb, I was amazed at how a band of "old guys" could kick ass on a song like I'm a Man.

Beginnings has always been at the top of my favorites list, and I found myself fighting back tears as I heard Robert Lamm sing the song that fueled probably thousands of prom themes across the country. Make no mistake: Lamb and James Pankow are probably the most talented popular music song writers of the last half century, behind John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

James Pankow made for a fun night. His showmanship was superb, and he gave me the chance to repeat a story my wife has heard many times. Pankow attended Quincy College (now Quincy University) for one year before transfering to DePaul University. His old Q.C. music instructor, Charlie Winking, taught my Music Appreciation class. Charlie delighted in telling us that Pankow was an okay trombone player, but was told many times by the great professor,"Concentrate on your composition. That is your strength." Of course, Colour My World, Make Me Smile, (I've Been) Searchin' So Long, Old Days, Just You 'N' Me, etc show us that Charlie definitely knew his shit!

Pankow also provided for a few chuckles after my wife, Susan, and I got home from the concert. Susan commented on how Pankow needs to not be wearing boxer shorts when he performs on stage. My response: "I wasn't looking at his schlong." This conversation was overheard by my 12 year old son, Rick. A few minutes later when I was alone in the kitchen, Rick came by with the biggest smirk in the world on his face and said, "Dad, how does it feel to know that Mom was looking at another guy's schlong?"

Sitting in the second row to watch a concert has its advantages, especially when half the front row, for some odd reason, was empty. We were able to connect with the band and shake hands with a few members during and after the concert, and I was able to score a pick from Keith Howland. In the old days, I would have snatched the pick out of the air with my lightning speed. Now, however, I had to settle for it hitting my face and dropping into the empty chair in front of me, where I pounced upon it.

Concert Highlight: Robert Lamm coming from the back of the stage with a portable keyboard and playing the opening riff of Saturday in the Park. Has there ever been a catchier, bouncier feel good pop tune?

Concert Lowlight: Vocals substituting for those of Peter Cetera and Terry Kath. Jason Scheff has been with the band for a hell of a long time, but no one can croon like Peter Cetera.

My recommendation: If Chicago is coming to your area and you are a fan of old, do whatever you have to do to see them. The concert will be money well spent.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Look at this total bullshit from Full Tilt Poker

I was trying to get a $75 satellite token to play in The Big Game this weekend. I got in an $11 + $1 SNG (single table) where first place wins the token and second place gets $24.We got down to three players with one player (Reddigits) being short stacked. To build up his stack, he began going all in on every hand. Of course, pc bandit and I were just waiting to get the proper hand to call. I was in the small blind and got A-A. As expected, Reddigits went all in. I, of course, went all in to keep it a two person race. Reddigits went all in with a wuss hand: K-3os. Take a look at the gift he got from Full Tilt:

After seeing this guy catch the perfect cards, I kept my composure and decided to lay low and hoped to get him heads up. pc bandit went out, so I got my wish. After a little back and forth action, I got pocket 3's and decided to push them. My all in was called and I watched the cards all miss Reddigits's hand. But .. look how this unfortunate river ended my game:

It looks like the poker gods just don't want me to play in The Big Game. I tried to get in last week's game through an SNG and had my Pocket Rockets called by an opponent's Cowboys. The flop: rag-K-rag ...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weekend of Unsatistactory Results

I barely got done writing about the thin line between winning and losing, and the next thing you know -- I am living it.

Home Game

No bad beats here at least, just a little frustration with going card dead when I needed a hand to push all in. 4-2 os, 7-3 os, 9-3 os ... you name it, I had it at the wrong time. Finished third in the game, which at least got me by buy in back and paid for a trip or two to the fast food joints which served as the source of most meals this weekend since my wife was out of town and I had the kids to myself.

We used to play every other week, then decided to double the buy in and play once a month. Once a month for live poker just doesn't cut it with me. Looks like I should try to find another local game.

Full Tilt NL Ring Games

1) Had an obvious donk at the table and was looking to get his stack. He raised and I re-raised with Cowboys. He then went all in (about 40% of my stack) and I called. K-K vs 10-10. Well , you know how this story goes. He hits his two-outer to win the pot and take over half my chips.

2) Had pocket 9's and stayed in for a flop of 5-K-5. Turn was a jack, and the river was a 9. When the 9 hit, I raised up and then ended up re-raising all in. Turns out that my opponent had K-K and got just what he wanted: Someone else hitting a lower full house. He played it well, and I fell in his trap. Geez.

3) 90 person SNG. Had K-K and was raised, then called an all in. My opponent had A-K, and of course, hit an Ace on the the turn.

4) 9 person SNG to win a $75 token. I wanted this one to be able to play in The Big Game tonight. About ten minutes into the tourney, I got pocket rockets. I re-raised, then called an all in. The result: A-A vs K-K. You know what turned up on the flop, right???

Bright Spot of the Weekend

I don't know how I did it, but I placed 14th in the Blogger Poker Tour Omaha game on Saturday. It was only the third time that I ever played Omaha. Looks like a little savvy and a little good luck can carry you further than you think sometimes ...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Straddling the Thin Line Between Winning and Losing

Yesterday was just one of those days. I needed to stay at work for a special presentation in the evening, so I knew that I would be cutting it close to make it for the start of the weekly Shark Road Game on Thurday nights at Absolute Poker. The Thursday night Shark game is a toughie -- great competition, and of course, the horrendous beats that Absolute seems to dole out on a regular basis. I have cashed in this tourney before, finishing as high as third, I believe, but have never taken it down.

I got into the game right at the start, but actually spent the first hour sleeping in between hands. I was so tired I just couldn't keep my eyes open. However, I was still able to play a solid game and stay in the middle of the pack up to the first break. At the second break I was still in acceptable position -- in the middle of the pack, but not where I would want to be chip-wise. Then ...

I was in the big blind and dealt J-10 of spades. The flop brought three lower spades, so I had flopped a Jack-high flush. I immediately decided to go all in and make someone pay to beat my hand, which I was pretty sure was currently the best. To my surprise, I got two callers: one who hit a set of 5's on the flop, another holding the King of spades and an off-suit card. So ... if the board pairs I would lose, and if another spade comes, I would lose. However, neither happens and I vaulted into third or fourth place. *Ding*

The tourney was paying nine places, and soon we were only a few people outside the money. In a blind, I got a Jack of hearts and a Queen os. The flop showed two hearts including the Queen. There were other dangerous high cards, but I decided to stay in -- a mistake, in retrospect. The turn was a heart and the river was a heart, so I was hoping that ZingBust, my opponent, did not have the Ace or King of hearts. Turns out that he had both. Suddenly I was in the group that would be jockying for bubble position.

We got down to 11 players, and three of us at the bottom were about equal in chips. I was dealt pocket Queens and decided to go all in to hopefully take down the pot right then and there. Unfortunately, ZingBust called and showed one of the two hands I dreaded: A-A. I got no help on the turn or the river and bowed out in 11th place, two places outside the money.

I don't whine about these kind of defeats much anymore, but I was just angry to have worked 12 hours, then played three tourney hours with nothing to show. What a waste of a day.

Tonight should be great since I have my home game on tap. I finished second the last time when I foolishly slow played my pocket Kings, so I hope to make up for it tonight by winning first place money.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No Repeat Victory in The Mookie - Lightning Strikes

Results of The Mookie - Second Chance Tournament

The Final Hand of The Mookie - Second Chance Tournament

Recap of The Mookie - Lightning Strikes and The Mookie - Second Chance Tournaments for Wednesday, November 1

Talk about the poker gods evening things up ...

One week ago, I was getting all kinds of great cards to play in The Mookie. The flops always seemed to help me, and I was a chip leader for almost the entire tournament. This week, however, I got virtually no cards, and anything I did get seemed to be missed almost completely by the flop.

I finished 23rd out of 59. The only reason I lasted that long was that my cards were so bad that I rarely lost chips outside of my blinds. Even at the end, I could not get a reasonable hand with which to go all in. When I finally got A-J, I was called by someone with pocket 10's, and he hit his set on the flop.

In the second chance turbo tournament, I waited calmly, then was rewarded with some good cards for key hands down the stretch. Once we got down to four players (the top four got tokens for a more expensive tourney), and all-in hand got rid of two players. In heads up play, I got pocket Jacks on the second or third hand. After raises and reraises, I was all in -- against 10-10. Things looked great until ... (check out the screenie) the river -- 10. Tourney over.

These blogger tournaments have been fun. The competition is good, and no one gets a stroke when the poker gods decide to exert their evil influences.

I hope to use the token I won on next week's DADI X tournament. I will have to miss the next Mookie as I will be going to Peoria to see Chicago in concert. Third row seats ... yes!!