Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Poker Blogger Ennui
Ahh ... the popular topic of the time seems to be a sort of blogger boredom, or ennui, as referenced by fellow bloggers OhCaptain, Kajagugu, and jjok. I had been feeling it, and I am not surprised others had been also.

Being a member of the blogger community is quite interesting. Not since my college days have I run into a group of people dedicated to writing for writing's sake. As for me ... well, I started a poker blog in order to qualify for a series of blogger tournaments that had a seat to the main Event of the WSOP as the big prize. I was never too interested in making my blog the most popular, most exciting, most informational, or most anything. A former English instructor of mine, Dr. Mary Ann Klein, in dealing with me and my writing during my undergrad years, once said, "John, I wish you would get serious about your writing." At the time I was a member of the literary magazine staff, so believe me, any personal aberrations I had were nothing compared to this group of English geeks. But ... they were much more serious about writing than I ever was. I guess I wasn't serious about my writing then, and surely am not as serious as some of my fellow poker bloggers are now. So ... I continue on, taking this whole writing/blogging gig in my usual way ... just having fun with it.

Additionally, I have not felt the urge to write on a regular basis as the lazy days of summer have taken over the midwest. I had several weeks of vacation time and used them to relax -- at least as much as I could, having several things hanging over my head:

1) My old house -- It has now been on the market for a year. We recently changed realtors (a wonderful story for another time), had the house staged, and dropped the price once again. We are hoping that these changes will finally get the house sold in this tight market.

2) The roof of my old house -- There is a leak in the roof, and it is almost impossible to get roofers or recommended handymen to actually return calls or show up as promised. Gee -- I wish I worked in a profession where you can treat people like shit and have it be the industry standard.

3) Money issues (see numbers one and two above) -- My wife and I both have professional jobs that pay well, but we also have three kids, two mortgages, two sets of utility bills, two real estate tax bills ... It will be nice when the day will finally come when the old house is sold and I can settle up with my local bank.

4) Health issues -- My mother recently had her second knee replacement surgery. She is 82 and has actually recovered quite well. There have been some minor health issues within my family, but the biggest one is probably yours truly, a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen. I promised my wife that I would get checked out this summer, but I didn't want to deal with doctors and the house situation at the same time.

Poker, fortunately, has been a place of refuge for me. I have been playing more and more Omaha Hi and Omaha 8 and have been doing well, aside from losing a few huge pots (still learning!).

I think that I, like other bloggers, probably got a little burned out by the marathon we called Battle of the Blogger Tournaments 3, which coincided with the Bodonkey Blogger Series, and followed too soon after BBT2. I realize that we had to jump on good offers when they came, but the tournaments were still a grind. Hopefully a little time away from the intense competition this summer will bring forth a sense of renewal by the fall.

Oh yeah -- I didn't even mention blogger drama. Although sometimes disconcerting, it doesn't hurt to have some type of cat fight going or to find out that one of your fellow bloggers is running some sort of a scam, right? This world is almost never boring.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Daddy Likey Omaha
Fun CardsChat Omaha 8 tournament at Full Tilt tonight. Playing Omaha has been a challenge, but one heck of a good time. I still make my share of mistakes, but I seem to do a pretty good job of deciding when and when not to risk. It has been taking a major shift in mindset from Hold Em.
Of course, being a card rack at the beginning and end of a tournament always helps.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Review: Heartland Poker Tour Qualifier @ Majestic Star Casinos Gary, Indiana

On Sunday, July 20, I decided to take a road trip and headed to Gary, Indiana to play in a Main Event Qualifier of the Heartland Poker Tour at the Majestic Star Casinos. The Heartland Poker Tour travels throughout the midwest in states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa, and has been reaching out to other states like New York. I have watched final table play in several HPT events on television and was waiting for a chance to try my skills at the table.

The Casino: Majestic Stars seemed to be typical Midwest riverboat casinos – lots of slot machines, a kind of grimy feel, and a nasty smoke smell. The poker room was decent size and had autoshufflers on the tables. The dealers all seemed to be very good except for someone who was obviously new. We helped her, though, and there were no major problems. If I were a local, I would play here.

Tournament Registration: Setting up at a small table in front of an elevator, not beginning registration until 90 minutes before the event, and having only two people working at the table made for a long registration line. Thankfully, I was near the beginning, but it still took almost a half hour to complete my registration and payment, which took place in the poker room at the cage (another line to stand in).

Tournament Structure: 10,000 chips, half-hour rounds, blinds starting at 100-100. The first break was two hours into the tournament after the fourth round. Antes also began after the break.

Because I drove in from a distance and was short on time, I was not able to try to satellite my way in through the 2 player advance or 3 player advance SNGs. I have heard that the satellite competition is soft, so maybe next time.

Competition: About 130 players were in this qualifier, with about 27 advancing to the next round. The max was 120 people, but they let stand bys in through the first several levels if anyone busted. The first bust out came about three minutes into the tournament. I’ll bet that there is a good story behind that.

My impression is that the players tended to be at least decent. I didn’t see too much totally idiotic play, and I was actually fortunate enough to be at tables with good natured players. The chat was civil, and the atmosphere was professional.

My Lack of Success: I had a good time despite being totally frustrated. I got pocket Cowboys in the first orbit, played a few hands in the first 60-90 minutes, then went totally card dead for over two hours. In the next four hours after I was dealt pocket Kings, my best hands were A-Ksooted, A-J, A-10sooted, 8-8, 5-5, and 3-3. Yep – that was it. Since the autoshufflers were in use, it was even worse since so many hands were played rapidly. It was so frustrating to have to fold, fold, fold … I could not even get a decent hand to push my small stack and attempt to double up at the end. I finally had to go all in with K-5. I got two callers – another smallish stack who had me covered, and one of the table’s big stacks. When the flop brought a King I had hope, but the betting by the other players told me that I was a goner. Sure enough, the big stack had K-J and the smallish stack had A-A. End of tournament. The tournament board was a little behind, so I am guessing that I went out somewhere around 60th place. Ugh.

Conclusion: Apart from a poor setup at registration, the tournament had a good structure, seemed to be run well, had good players, and was actually a lot of fun. It was frustrating to not really even be able to play since my cards were so exceptionally poor. However, I guess that beats getting ousted by some lucky play where a donkey hits a miracle card on the river. I would definitely play in a Heartland Poker Tour event again. If the tour comes to your area, give it a try.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is There Life Beyond NL Hold Em?
Hey - second place is still second place, right? At least I fared better here than in the Mookie.

I have been really bored with online poker the past month or so. As a result, I have been playing in some different tournaments -- Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi-Low, HA, HOSE ... Surprisingly, I have been doing pretty well. I have cashed in a couple and have been on or near the bubble in some others.

I ventured into the Omaha Hi cash games on Bodog last night. The table had anywhere from three to six people at it throughout my time there. I did great, playing many hands very well and only misplaying one big hand.

Tried the Full Tilt Omaha tables earlier today. The Hi/Low table was wild -- a little too loose for me. I settled in at a $100 max Omaha Hi table, and found it juicy. I'll be back ...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cooler City at Full Tilt Poker

These two hands happened about ten minutes apart on Full Tilt Poker this morning. In the first hand, you can see that the poker gods were handing me a little gift as we both ended up all in after the flop.

However, just to make sure that I never seem to get far enough ahead, the poker gods took away my first score -- and then some -- with this beauty:
Is poker a great game, or what? Sometimes I think, "Or what."

See ya tonight at The Mookie.