Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two Simple Words for Today

A blogger recently asked the question "What's the definition of friend?" My response included the following: "Friends are people you can rely on. They are there to help you celebrate the good times and are there to pick you up during the bad ones. "

I was in a reflective mood the other day when I realized that I had long passed the four year anniversary of my blog. It is interesting to note that the most comments I ever received in those four years plus on any of my writings were from the post I wrote after I won the BBT3 Freeroll and the post I wrote asking for prayers and good thoughts for my son when he was diagnosed with cancer. Gee -- that sounds like my short definition of friend.

Several other bloggers, usually after blogger gatherings, have written about the friendships they have made through blogging and online poker. I went to my first big blogger gathering last December and saw such true friendship and affection between many of the bloggers -- particularly those that had cultivated those relationships both online and in person over a number of years. It seemed great.

While we compete against each other and sometimes have disagreements of one sort or another, this little subgroup of poker bloggers is still pretty much like a fraternity, a sorority, or perhaps a family: not perfect by any means, but full of generous, kind, caring, genuine people.

My point in all this? To say a huge THANK YOU for all the comments, messages, e-mails, and phone calls that helped make the situation with my son tolerable. Yes, all that stuff really does help. Tremendously. And a special thanks to my poker bro OhCaptain, who was so generous and giving of his time and concern when my family was up in his town to get treatment for my son.

My son's surgery was almost seven weeks ago. His scar has healed nicely (well -- about as nice as a big honking scar on your face and neck can look). He still has paralysis on the right side of his face and is getting impatient for the return of a full smile. He is back to eating us out of house and home, spending countless hours on the internet, and griping about all the imperfections of the world as only someone on the cusp of 16 can do. In other words, things are pretty normal.

We all face challenges in our lives. My son's cancer was a sudden and unexpected challenge. My family stood up to it and kicked its ass. And you were there to help. For this I will be eternally grateful.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Memorial Day Gift
My father passed away almost six years ago. One of his main identifications in life was that of a soldier in World War II. Memorial Day, therefore, was always very important to him.

One of my brothers was surprised to find that an area newspaper, in featuring a story on veterans, published an old picture of two veterans -- and one of them is my dad! Yep -- the guy on the left in the photo above is lightning36 Sr.

Thanks, Daily Herald, for this Memorial Day gift.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

*sigh* TOC Story *sigh*

Not much to say, really. I've had tournaments where the deck smacked me in the face time and time again and some where almost every flop brought possibilities. Not tonight. The best hands I had all night were J-J (in big blind -- everyone folded -- even small blind) and A-Q sooted. I remember A-Jos once, A-10 once, a few small pocket pairs -- that was it in 2 1/2 hours. Sooted connectors were virtually non-existant.

I guess there different kinds of bad in tournaments. Bubble: bad. Lose on nasty suckout: bad. Make a stoopid play: bad. Get crappy hands all tournament: bad. All different, all bad. At least I can kind of laugh at my bad. Just very disappointing.

A HUGE thanks to AlCantHang for getting this set up for us. It was really fun.

As for me ... I think I'm going to take a break from online poker to some extent. I'll play maybe the Mookie and the Very Josie next week. I am also looking forward to the Blogger Battle Royale.

Oh yeah -- special kudos to the people at BuddyDankRadio who provided commentary and lots of fun during BBT5. And playing The Candy Man, of course!

And finally ... congrats to the winners:

1-3: jjok, NYRambler, Adam27X

4-5: KeepFloppin, adamsapple19

The TOC: It's Onnnnnn ....

TOC tonight. Very tough field including professionals and some people who have significant online and/or in-person cashes. Add in your regular group of bloggers who won seats and you have the makings for some very interesting tournament play.

I'm kind of surprised that I haven't seen more posts about the TOC (of course, some TOC regulars didn't make it in this time). As always, Hoy did an in-depth analysis of the field. Not surprisingly, he has me at the back of the pack. I do not understand how he assigned all the odds, however. Since the pure odds of cashing are about 4:1, shouldn't there be more than four out of 21 bloggers whose odds are less than 4:1?

The lack of dead stacks (as we had in some of the invitational tournaments) and the lack of people who were willing to gamble early or just were kind of clueless (as in a few of the BBT events) might make a difference.

So what happens when a hand features pro vs pro? Aggro player vs aggro player? How much will experience in big games count? Will tendencies change with thousands of dollars on the line? What will bubble play be like?

It looks like tonight's tournament will be fun. I'll catch you on the flip side ...


Full Tilt RNG got me good. Virtually no hands in 2 1/2 hours. J-J and A-Q sooted were about it. Discouraging that I didn't have much room to work. Ah well ...

Out in 12th. GL to the remaining players.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Driving Through the Flash Flood

I was in Springfield, IL for a seminar today -- Toxic Anger. Parts of the seminar spoke directly to some of our online poker brothas and sistas. Dr. Pauly wrote a great post about negativity and anger recently. Interesting tying together parts of my professional life and my leisure activities.

I met a friend for lunch at Willy P's Tap & Grill. I used to live in Springfield and longed for the city's signature dish, the horseshoe. It was easy to settle on lunch -- a buffalo chicken horseshoe -- yes! Best yet, my friend is a buddy of the owner and the owner comped the meals. I thought I was running goot today.

After the seminar ended, I was wondering why it was taking so long to get out of the parking garage. I found the answer soon enough -- flash flood! Navagating through the flooded streets and the beached cars was some trick. Could my Mustang handle that much water? It got really fun when I was waiting to turn onto a main road and some clown with a big truck blew through the high water in the right hand lane at over 30 mph. . I had my windows down a bit to hear sirens, Before I could get my windows up -- splash -- a huge wave hit my car, drenching the front passenger seat, the dash, the floor, gearshift ...

Traffic on an interstate in town was bumper to bumper. I felt fortunate to be able to get my butt out of town.

What Mookie?

Nothing much to speak of in the Mookie tonight. I misread a betting amount and lost half my chips. I then lost the rest when I hit trip Queens on the river with a King kicker -- good hand. Unfortunately, PokahDave had trip Queens with a Ace kicker -- goombye. Out in about 17 minutes.

It will be interesting to see who wins the final TOC seat tonight. Tomorrow: the Tournament of Champions.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bleeding Money
It is common superstition that bad things happen in threes, right? Both our washer and dryer were having problems so I called our trusted repairman to take a look. He told us something I was not expecting to hear -- that both appliances were really pieces of crap. We moved into our house three years ago and kept the appliances that were already there since they were newer than our old ones, which were very old but had held up well.

The bad news: we need both a new washer and dryer. It seems like I am hemorrhaging money in four figures in just about everything lately. Any bets on which appliance will be the third to go?

An Abrupt Change
Some of you may remember that I have been on sabbatical leave from my job for the early part of 2010. While the leave has been great, it has also allowed me the opportunity to slip into some nasty habits. I have been spending way too much time online with poker, blogging, chat boards, facebook, puttering around ...

When I need to make changes in my life, I have found one of the best ways for me personally is the rapid about-face. So, my plan is ... starting today: keep my butt off my laptop! I can't go cold turkey, but I will stop getting online as much and start getting back to other productive and necessary functions that I have been letting slide.

So no, please don't read too much into this or speculate about a deeper problem or concern. I have just gotten lazy. It is time to get myself back on track.

I told my wife about my new conviction this morning. When telling her, however, I asked her to cover her face with her blanket. I did not want to see the smirk on her face. I believe you can find her expression online if you google "shit eating grin." She is probably surprised that I came to this decision all on my own. Men can actually figure things out sometimes.
Remembering a Shot at a WSOP Seat Many Moons Ago

The fourth anniversary of my poker blog quietly slipped past several weeks ago. No need to make a big deal out of it since people rarely celebrate the fourth anniversary of anything. But I was reminded that one of the reasons I started a poker blog was to be able to take advantage of special online tournaments reserved for bloggers. The first big one I was in was the Blogger Poker Tour Grand Final that was sponsored by

Although I played a little poker in my younger years, I was really a rookie at No Limit Hold Em. I started started playing online poker due to the Moneymaker Effect, and in spring 2006 I was just starting to see the beginnings of modest success.

I was a member of several poker forums and groups. One of these, called CheckRayz, sponsored several private tounaments and gave information about a group of tournaments for poker bloggers. The top prize: a seat in the 2006 WSOP Main Event.

Playing in the preliminary events, I of course got my lunch handed to me time and time again by bloggers who had invested so much more time and were so much more skilled than I was. However, some bonus seats were added to the final preliminary event, and I was fortunate to earn one of them with a final table finish.

So, On July 1, 2006, I joined 43 other bloggers in vying for the WSOP seat. There were also some other prizes for the final table.

Being a real rookie in the field, I decided to take my time in getting in hands with the nice mega-stacks we were given. I was hanging around the middle of the pack when, in back-to-back hands, I got A-A and Q-Q. I got action on both hands and soon vaulted to the top or near the top of the leaderboard.

Looking back, I can't believe how close I came to getting a WSOP seat,especially considering I was so inexperienced:

I most likely could have roached into third place, but I didn't want that prize and decided to make a run for first place. I finished in fourth -- pretty amazing stuff for me at the time. I got an Ipod Nano for my finish, so there were no complaints from me.

Now, almost four years later, I will be playing in the BBT5 Tournament of Champions with several WSOP packages on the line. Again, the field will be loaded, and I will obviously give it my best shot. Here's hoping the poker gods look favorably on me and the Full Tilt Poker RNG is kind.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Getting Ready for the BBT5 TOC: A Brief Look Back at My BBT History

On Phil Mickelson, from Wikipedia:

... for many years Mickelson was often described as the "best golfer never to win a major." Mickelson often played well in majors: in the five-year span between 1999 and 2003 he had six second-place or third-place finishes. Mickelson holds the record for the most second-place finishes in U.S. Open history with five.

Mickelson finally broke the streak by winning the 2004 Masters.

I am so excited to be playing in the TOC this week because, like Phil, I had a history of disappointments and second place finishes.


Dec. 6, 2007. In one of the final chances to get into the TOC, I was heads up against actyper. Heads up lasted only one hand as raise, re-raise, all-in followed with my 9-9 against his A-Qos. A queen came on the flop and that was all she wrote.


March 12, 2008. I don't have the hand history anymore, but I am pretty sure that I had lucko all in pre-flop with his A-5 against my A-K. He hit a runner-runner wheel. Discouraging way to lose at the end.

Then this:

April 30, 2008. I finished third. This is the hand that sent me to the rail:

Once again, lucko did the major damage at the end. We were all in pre-flop.

However, justice did seem to prevail in the freeroll that ended BBT3:


March 31, 2009. I blew this one. I had a big lead going into heads up and I lost. At the final levels of a drawing tournament like stud, it doesn't seem to take much to shuffle the chips around.

I played well at the beginning of BBT4, but as you can see in the chart below, decent consistent play got me lots of points, final tables, but ultimately, no wins.


May 16, 2010. Finally!

So, even though I have won a BBT bracelet package and have been at final tables numerous times, this will be my first TOC.

Best of luck to my blogger friends in trying to land one of the last two TOC seats up for grabs Monday and Wednesday night.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stanley Cup Finals -- Here We Come!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One Win for the Finals

Almost 20 years since their last appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. Almost 50 years since their last championship.
This is the year.

Chicago Blackhawks: One Goal

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Horrible Was It? A Donktastic Blogger Risks Public Ridicule As He Attempts to Explain How a Ghastly Decision Made Sense to Him
A hand I played at last night's Mookie has received rave reviews from a few of our fellow bloggers. I'll save the blistering commentary for later in the post just so that those of you who would prefer to revel in my donkatude (at least two come to mind quickly!) might enjoy the appetizer and main course before the delicious dessert.

The background:

I won a TOC seat in Sunday's BBT5 Invitational so there is no BBT pressure here. It is a half hour into the Mookie. I have been playing poorly and whittled my chipstack down to 1885. Blinds are 30/60. I am in the small blind.

I have deleted comments made during the hand which were not relevant to this particular hand. The red writing is an approximation of my thinking at the time.

Full Tilt Poker Game #20976120284: The Mookie (160019403), Table 11 - 30/60 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:33:43 ET - 2010/05/19
Seat 1: Mike_Maloney (7,140)
Seat 2: TripJax (700)
Seat 3: lightning36 (1,885) (31 big blinds)
Seat 4: p1mpin (2,580)
Seat 5: sexymelissa (3,200)
Seat 6: lucko21 (2,205)
Seat 7: NYRambler (890)
Seat 8: Jestocost (4,920)
Seat 9: riggstad (2,090)
lightning36 posts the small blind of 30
p1mpin posts the big blind of 60
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to lightning36 [Js Jd] I'll be involved here with the always fun J-J
sexymelissa folds
lucko21 folds
NYRambler folds
Jestocost folds
riggstad raises to 180 Standard 3xBB raise. Riggs has been playing tight since losing some chips. He must have a good hand.
Mike_Maloney folds
TripJax raises to 700, and is all in This is where J-J sucks. I am guessing that I am ahead of TriJax's push with a small stack but still have Riggs behind. Since Riggs has tightened up and made a standard raise, I am unsure of what to do. I make a quick decision to call and see what Riggs will do.
p1mpin has been disconnected
lightning36 calls 670 Calling off 1/3 of my stack
p1mpin has reconnected
p1mpin folds
riggstad has 15 seconds left to act Hollywooding or really deciding?
riggstad raises to 2,090, and is all in Crap. Should have known. Boxed myself in.
p1mpin has been disconnected
p1mpin has reconnected
lightning36 has 15 seconds left to act
lightning36 has requested TIME In deep crap here. Riggs has been playing tight and went all in. He has me.
p1mpin has been disconnected
p1mpin has reconnected
lightning36: &%!!ing riggs Not meant to be a slur, btw. Said out of frustration and in jest. Lots of respect for Riggs. He has me by the short hairs. He has outplayed me and I am mad at myself.
riggstad: really?
lightning36 folds Knowing I am beat, I choose to not pray for a two-outer and live for a better chance to survive.
riggstad shows [As Ad] Does not surprise me
TripJax shows [6d 6s]
Uncalled bet of 1,390 returned to riggstad
*** FLOP *** [Ks Kh 4c]
riggstad: call off half and dont want to put the restin? No, you kicked my azz. I want a chance to get back in the game.
*** TURN *** [Ks Kh 4c] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [Ks Kh 4c 2d] [Ah]
riggstad shows a full house, Aces full of Kings
TripJax shows two pair, Kings and Sixes
riggstad wins the pot (2,160) with a full house, Aces full of Kings
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,160 Rake 0
Board: [Ks Kh 4c 2d Ah]
Seat 1: Mike_Maloney didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: TripJax (button) showed [6d 6s] and lost with two pair, Kings and Sixes
Seat 3: lightning36 (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: p1mpin (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: sexymelissa didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: lucko21 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: NYRambler didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: Jestocost didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: riggstad showed [As Ad] and won (2,160) with a full house, Aces full of Kings

Had a good laugh? Here is what I was thinking ...

I knew I was beat and did not want to go out pushing Jacks into Q-Q, K-K, or A-A. Lord knows that I have done this enough times. I instead chose an alternate, yet unconventional route. Some people might describe it as idiotic. I chose to fold, lick my wounds, and stay in the game with 1185 chips (almost 20 big blinds). So yes -- I donked off 1/3 of my stack and didn't take it to the wire because I was almost sure that I was beat.

By doing this, I gained the following:

1) I was still in the game and had 20 big blinds
2) Although I am capable of tremendously donkish plays and unconventional logic, I know that one of the strong parts of my game is the ability to play the short stack. I roach goot. My plan was to regroup and take my chances shoving with position and/or a good hand.

Some commentary I received was extremely critical, obviously, of what I did. For example:

"That really is beyond awful."
"When you've put in over one third of your stack pre and fold, terrible is a nice description. Its really much, much worse than terrible."
"i think what A is trying to say is you're in push or fold mode in that spot. calling a big raise then folding to a shove is the worst possible play."
"I'd claim it was a misclick. Its beyond awful. Its not close."
"What hand can you justify committing 11 BBs flatting and folding for 19 more? (This was before my J-J was revealed). Only hand I can see playing that way is KK. And this is one of those rare boards when KK would have won."

In comments on Riggs's blog:

lucko: "If you don't want to get it all in there, then just fold the first time. Once you stick in ~40% of your stack, you can't fold getting like 3 to 1 or something."
Bayne: "Because Riggs range includes AK you are priced in with ATC once you are getting 3:1"

However, I saw an interesting thought in today's post by Pirate Lawyer: "I'd have to say this is pretty frustrating for me, coming from a cash game background where the effective stacks are usually much deeper, and I don't have tournament survival as an overriding concern."

My points:

1) Yes -- you can fold getting 3:1 odds. I did. It may be a long-term redonkulous play, but my short-term goal was to stay in. I was confident that I could -- poker gods willing.

2) In my mind I did not see Riggs with A-K. I thought he had A-A or K-K. It is nothing I can explain rationally -- either a feeling or perhaps an unconscious formula perculating in the grey matter. But it was there pretty strongly. Sometimes my background in Clinical Psychology causes me to think about poker in different -- and possibly donktacular -- ways.

3) Pirate Lawyer mentioned tournament survival. That was where my mindset was at that particular time. It may not be the best way to have played at that time, but it was what it was.

So yeah -- I put myself in a terrible position by calling. Riggs wisely took advantage of it. The post is not about that. It is about the decision to let the chips go and regroup -- even though I had great odds to call. Was it, commentators said, "beyond awful," "much worse than terrible," and "the worst possible play.?"

My tournament results:

I got back up to over 6,000 chips and eventually finished 23/93 almost two hours after this hand. I finally went out when I lost a short stack coin flip of A-Q sooted vs 9-9 ( I hear Waffles jizzing in his shorts right now). If I had doubled up ... who knows? As for the play that is the focus of this post: In my mind, I made a tough choice to give myself another chance to get back in the game and win. I did not accomplish my goal of winning the tournament. I came up short, but at least I had my chance.

So -- here is your chance -- chime in!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tonight's Mookie Winner Announced in Advance


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An Open Letter to a Blogger
Recently a rather high-profile poker blogger, having been felted by me several times in recent blogger tournaments, wrote a scathing post (no -- not the "lightning: fucking idiot moron cocksucker ... etc" post -- the other one) regarding my victory in the recent BBT5 invitational tournament. This blogger, whom I shall refer to as "Pancakes" (not his real name nor his familiar online name), was upset not only by a risky play I made that led to his exit from the tournament, but but also the manner in which I played, in general, and won hands -- or as he phrased it, "played Keno all night long got a fucking once in a lifetime blow job from statistics and lucked his way into a seat he probably did not deserve based on his play." The point of his post was that he would not congratulate me on my victory, writing "So congratulations? Really? I think I will save that for someone who deserves it."

After careful consideration and keeping in mind that I work as a professional educator, I thought it only fitting that I should attempt to educate this poor, misguided soul. I, therefore, present my best attempt to save this player from future embarrassment.

An open letter to Pancakes

Dear Pancakes:

Greetings, fellow poker blogger. Your recent post regarding my play in the last BBT5 invitational tournament demonstrated a profound lack of understanding about tournament poker play, my intentions and methodology in winning, and poker in general. My goals are to assist in bringing the sweet smell of success into your life, aiding in your comprehension of the human condition, and perhaps even helping you get within spitting distance of a final table in one of the remaining BBT5 tournaments.

First, I will assist you in understanding what I wanted to accomplish in the tournament. I do not know if you ever set goals for yourself, but I do. My goal was simple: Be one of the last two standing and win my seat into the Tournament of Champions. I did not want a deep run. I did not want to merely cash and make the final table. I wanted top two or nothing.

Now, people familiar with my recent history could tell you that my usual tight play was not bringing about the desired goal. It was time for a change. The plan was straightforward: Accumulate chips early, take risks when necessary, build a stack able to withstand a few bad beats, coin flip losses, and poor decisions, and play aggressively. If these tactics led to my demise, so be it. There would still be a few more tournaments -- other chances.

It seems obvious that my early tournament call of your pre-flop shove while I was holding A-Q sooted was beyond your comprehension. You wrote, "CALLING AQ into a 3-bet shove is like bending over and saying "Give it to me up the ass".. I mean the range for that shove is AA-JJ AK. So most of the hands your (sic) up against your (sic) totally fucked."

Here is what you are missing: I was playing against you. I would not make that call in those circumstances against most bloggers. Your previous play in this tournament (slow playing AA, delighting in taking my chips, using position to raise me several times) and your previous history in my massive lightning database told me that most likely your range of hands was anywhere from A-rag to a middle pair to almost any pretty-looking hand. AA, KK, AK? I thought not. If you regard yourself as a tight player you will probably find little company in that particular assessment. I believed that I either had you dominated or was in a coin flip situation. Given the tournament plan I have already graciously shared, I decided to take a risk. If I was correct I would either be a big favorite or be flipping for my tournament life. If I was wrong I was gift wrapping you a ticket to potentially go deep. I was correct in my read. I was a 46% favorite to win the hand. An excellent question, however, is why you would move all in on a 3-bet (you raised to 300 and I re-raised to 700) against a well known tighty. Shouldn't you have considered folding or possibly calling?

The assessment was correctly made, the risk was taken, the outcome fell in my favor. That is poker.

You might wish to review a post made by a blogger known as sirfwalgman, who on May 11 posted:

Excellent Quote

I got this from The Grump.

Phil Laak, in his exit interview from the 2010 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, after losing on a river two-outer.

If you can't take the pain and just laugh about it, then you can't make it in poker.

sirwalgman occasionally -- about once every six months -- posts things worth reading, including maniacal rants. You might wish to check out his blog. A maniac -- indeed!

Pancakes, you might wish to actually review the complete hand histories of the tournament so as not to misrepresent some of the actual hands as mentioned in the second paragraph of your post. Your statement that I "consistently called huge bets on Axx boards with Queens for significant parts of his stack and gollleyyyy if that Queen did not show up three times." was not correct. Your assertion is somewhat accurate with one particular hand, but we will never find out the alternate ending to that particular hand since the poker gods were gracious and gifted me a Queen on the river.

Something you do not appear to understand, unless I am mistaken, Pancakes, is that poker is a game of skill and of luck. It is a game of percentages, of reading players, of taking risks, of knowing when to push and when to put on the brakes. Good does not always triumph. The person who has the best chance of winning a hand percentage-wise does not always win unless the percentage is 100%. We all take nasty beats. It is part of poker.

Perhaps you also could benefit from a review of the 2009 WSOP. Champion Joe Cada should have ended up in sixth place when he two-outed Jeff Schulman with 3-3 vs J-J -- one of numerous times throughout the WSOP when things did not go quite as one might expect.

And yes -- I was fortunate a few times late in the tournament when an underdog hand won. The point, however, is that luck is needed to win, and I created much of my own luck with my play. You have focused on a small number of plays in a tournament that featured hundreds of plays and lasted over six hours. I played very well. I also made some mistakes, however, as we all do. A few times I was lucky to win a hand despite being behind. I was fortunate to win, as we all know that anything can happen at the final table. We have all (well -- most of us) experienced the disappointment of playing great poker, yet losing a coin flip or suffering a bad beat. In the past I lost one BBT tournament by losing a coin flip while heads up. I lost another when I took a nasty runner-runner beat heads up when I was a huge favorite. It happens.

Something you failed to acknowledge was that I was short stacked extremely late in the tournament -- down to only seven big blinds -- and I fought back to win the tournament. Mike Sexton, on WPT broadcasts, continually references some of what it takes to be a champion, including heart. I think I demonstrated it when the going was tough. You still had over 16 big blinds after the big hand we played. You had a chance to come back.

Finally, SmBoatDrinks stopped by my blog to congratulate me on my win. He took a bad beat from me at the final table when my A-Q outflopped his A-K. I am sure he was disappointed to go out that way. I appreciate his classy move.

So, Pancakes, there you have it. My plan was well developed and well executed. With a few misplays by other players, some good fortune courtesy of the poker gods, aggressive play, and a lot of heart, it worked.

In closing, remember that you help shape your future -- it belongs to you. In making your decisions, choose wisely, grasshopper. And as my wise old grandmother used to say, "And I hesitated." Or maybe it was an anagram of that ...

Most sincerely,


Monday, May 17, 2010

SCOOP, MiniFTOPS, and BBT5 -- Crap, Crap, and a Wiener:
Sunday and the Glamorous Life of a Guy Who Dabbles in Online Poker

Sunday was a day reserved for online poker. I tend to play tournaments sparingly on Sundays, but this one was different with three big tournaments on my agenda. Unfortunately, I was also looking forward to watching game one of the Chicago Blackhawks - San Jose Sharks series and almost forgot that Sunday evening was the Survivor Heroes vs Villains finale. It looked like the day would be totally the laptop, the television, and me. I was depending on Mrs. lightning to keep me fed and keep the world away for the day.

I just never seemed to get on a roll in the SCOOP and MiniFTOPS tournaments. SCOOP was a total waste as I played crappy, uninspired poker. MiniFTOPS wasn't much better as I was never able to get a decent stack and finished 3793/14396. The BBT5 Invitational, however, was much different -- a victory!

I chipped up early on when I hit a set of 3's on the flop and rivered a full house against Columbo's overpair which improved to two pair. A crucial hand came after Waffles was moved to the table. He had pwned me in several hands and seemed to be having fun pushing me around. He slow played pocket rockets, hit a set on the flop, and a boat on the turn. Unfortunately, the river completed a straight for me, and I paid for it dearly. But revenge was to come ...

I have struggled in many of the BBT5 tournaments because I did not gather enough chips in the early and middle stages to withstand bad beats or coin flip losses. I was determined not to let that happen again. If I went out early, so be it. Thus, the following hand played out:

Full Tilt Poker Game #20896443770: BBT5 Invitational Event #5 (160557945), Table 15 - 50/100 - No Limit Hold'em - 20:13:28 ET - 2010/05/16
Seat 1: lightning36 (3,850)
Seat 2: veryjosie (7,206)
Seat 3: Troublecat (4,415)
Seat 4: heffmike (6,020)
Seat 5: ImNotYourFriend (1,950), is sitting out
Seat 6: Bone_Daddy84 (2,130), is sitting out
Seat 7: DDionysus (3,965)
Seat 8: babaghanoush (2,485)
Seat 9: Maniac57 (5,504)
Troublecat posts the small blind of 50
heffmike posts the big blind of 100
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to lightning36 [Qs As]
ImNotYourFriend folds
Bone_Daddy84 folds
DDionysus folds
babaghanoush folds
Maniac57 raises to 300
lightning36 has 15 seconds left to act
lightning36 raises to 700
veryjosie has 15 seconds left to act
veryjosie folds
Troublecat folds
heffmike folds
Maniac57 has 15 seconds left to act
Maniac57 raises to 5,504, and is all in
lightning36 calls 3,150, and is all in
Maniac57 shows [Jc Jh]
lightning36 shows [Qs As]
Uncalled bet of 1,654 returned to Maniac57
*** FLOP *** [Ac 5h 7c]
*** TURN *** [Ac 5h 7c] [Tc]
*** RIVER *** [Ac 5h 7c Tc] [6h]
Maniac57: such a bad call
Maniac57 shows a pair of Jacks
lightning36 shows a pair of Aces
lightning36 wins the pot (7,850) with a pair of Aces
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 7,850 Rake 0
Board: [Ac 5h 7c Tc 6h]
Seat 1: lightning36 showed [Qs As] and won (7,850) with a pair of Aces
Seat 2: veryjosie (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: Troublecat (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: heffmike (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: ImNotYourFriend didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: Bone_Daddy84 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: DDionysus didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: babaghanoush didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: Maniac57 showed [Jc Jh] and lost with a pair of Jacks

Needless to say, Waffles was not a happy camper. He got quite creative in chat. He even went off on a lightning rant on his blog. I am sincerely touched.

Shortly thereafter, I hit a set of 6's on the flop and pwned Very Josie's pocket rockets. These chips would form the basis for a deep run for me. I got luck when I needed it. Now I had to play smart.

After what seemed like forever, we got down to the final table -- and what a table it was:

Seat 1: DDionysus (40,918)
Seat 2: KimLovo (45,347)
Seat 3: Shabazz Jenkins (30,945)
Seat 4: BamBamCan (26,856)
Seat 5: OtisDart (21,391)
Seat 6: babaghanoush (26,543)
Seat 7: lightning36 (54,019)
Seat 8: USAF_Trevor (23,336)
Seat 9: smokkee (66,645)

I didn't find out until after he busted that babaghanoush was none other than Short-Stacked Shamus. He had been kicking my butt at my first table.

After some spirited play (it seemed like Bam and I were continually butting heads), we got down to the final four:

Seat 1: DDionysus (25,368)
Seat 3: Shabazz Jenkins (83,635)
Seat 7: lightning36 (109,516)
Seat 9: smokkee (117,481)

Four players, two TOC seats on the line. The bad part was, the other guys were all guys I like and respect. DDionysus had been a great supporter of mine some time ago when I was having trouble selling my house. He has been playing some wicked poker in the BBT5. I met Shabazz Jenkins last summer in Las Vegas. He is a great guy and a great tournament player. I finally met smokkee in Las Vegas in December. He's a nice guy and ranks near the top of my list of bloggers I respect. This was not going to have a good ending for two of us.

DDionysus fought hard as the short stack, but went out when his A-K could not pair against Shabazz Jenkins's 10-10. And then there were three.

According to Shabazz Jenkins, we played a total of 84 hands three-handed. I was the short stack for several hands, then started chipping up. I was finally able to put some distance between myself and the other two, but I was also aware that these guys are good and could topple my stack if I made a slip. I was hoping that if I treaded water long enough, the other two would finally have a hand where they faced off, either felting or crippling one of them. My goal was the TOC seat -- either first or second place. However, chips kept getting passed around and the faceoff never happened. The logjam was finally broken with this hand:

Full Tilt Poker Game #20901122708: BBT5 Invitational Event #5 (160557945), Table 2 - 2500/5000 Ante 600 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:53:29 ET - 2010/05/16
Seat 3: Shabazz Jenkins (110,871)
Seat 7: lightning36 (150,428)
Seat 9: smokkee (74,701)
Shabazz Jenkins antes 600
lightning36 antes 600
smokkee antes 600
lightning36 posts the small blind of 2,500
smokkee posts the big blind of 5,000
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to lightning36 [Jc 4d]
Shabazz Jenkins folds
lightning36 calls 2,500
smokkee checks
*** FLOP *** [7s Td Jd]
lightning36 bets 10,000
smokkee raises to 69,101, and is all in
lightning36 calls 59,101
smokkee shows [6d 7d]
lightning36 shows [Jc 4d]
*** TURN *** [7s Td Jd] [Ts]
*** RIVER *** [7s Td Jd Ts] [5h]
smokkee shows two pair, Tens and Sevens
lightning36 shows two pair, Jacks and Tens
lightning36 wins the pot (150,002) with two pair, Jacks and Tens
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 150,002 Rake 0
Board: [7s Td Jd Ts 5h]
Seat 3: Shabazz Jenkins (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: lightning36 (small blind) showed [Jc 4d] and won (150,002) with two pair, Jacks and Tens
Seat 9: smokkee (big blind) showed [6d 7d] and lost with two pair, Tens and Sevens

Great game, smokkee. It was a shame one of us had to miss the seat.

Shabazz and I played a few hands, but after almost ten hours of online poker today I was just ready to call it a day. Funny -- in Las Vegas ten hours of poker seems like nothing. We chopped and that was it.

So yeah -- I actually won a BBT competition this season. I had some near misses in the BBT 4 and BBT3 seasons but did win the big freeroll at the end of BBT3, which is why I have kept that logo on my blog. A huge thank you to AlCantHang and Full Tilt Poker for providing these opportunities.

As with any tournament, winning requires some great play, some sound decisions, some steel balls (at times!), and some luck. I had my share of all these tonight. It is nice when things actually work out.

After the tournament, how did I celebrate? I checked a light that was on in my basement and noticed that someone knocked over a new container of liquid laundry detergent. Unfortunately, about 1 1/2 gallons spilled on the laundry room floor. So yeah -- I cleaned it up and ended up all sticky and slimey. I finally was able to post this after cleaning up.

In five hours I will be taking my youngest daughter to the doctor's office to have three teeth pulled. Do you think that Peter Eastgate or Joe Hachem celebrate and party like me? Like I mentioned in the title to this post, I lead a glamorous life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today is like an all star tournament day for me as I am currently playing in or registered in three "biggie" tournaments:

SCOOP Event 37-M at PokerStars
MiniFTOPS Main Event at Full Tilt
BBT5 Invitational Event # 5 at Full Tilt

The SCOOP event (in progress as I write) has over 6,300 runners and a prize pool of over $1,262,000. MiniFTOPS has almost 5,000 entrants (begins in almost four hours) and a prize pool of at least $1,000,000. It looks like the Invitational is the small event today.

The best thing is, my total cost to play these tournaments: $8.70! The $215 entry for SCOOP was covered by a ticket I won for finishing fourth in one of the WBCOOP (World Blogger Championship OF Online Poker) tournaments earlier in the year. The $75 MiniFTOPS entry cost $8.70 -- the cost of an 18-person SNG to win a $26 token, and then using that token to to win an 18-person SNG for the $75 token. The BBT Invitational is free.

Now ... using these opportunities wisely is another thing. I seem to be off my game lately -- almost like I've had some sort ADHD-like attention problem. As tournaments have been dragging on, I've been losing interest and motivation. Maybe taking it up the butt like I have been in tournaments lately is doing it -- I don't know. K-K losing to J-J and A-K losing to A-4 at crucial junctures the past few days have killed me.
In any case, it is time to refocus and get back on the winning track. A little success today would be great.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Announcing ...

After ck posted her initial list of bloggers heading to Las Vegas during the WSOP, I decided to see if there was a date common to many of the visits so that we might be able to get together for a short meet and greet. The day that seems to work best is Sunday, June 20. Since this will be a travel day for some and since others might be playing in a tournament later that day, I thought an early morning breakfast would work best. I am still working on details, but my initial thoughts were to make it around 8:00 a.m. or so at one of the Harrah's strip properties like Paris, Planet Hollywood, Harrah's or Flamingo. That way, anyone could purchase a Buffet of Buffets pass if they wanted to try that. UPDATE: Looking at the Rio @ 9:30 a.m.

Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments section.

Oh yeah -- I am obligated to tell you that the announcement artwork was original and created by my youngest daughter, Erin. She loves art and has learned at an early age that it is even better when you are paid to create something!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Real Life Spew
Geez, it can't be just me, right? Am I singlehandedly supporting the American economy?

This is my list of bills that either just got paid or are awaiting payment:

Credit card A
Credit card B
Credit card C
Land line phone
Cell phone
Sewer bill
Auto insurance car A
Auto license renewal car A
Credit card D
Real estate tax
Auto insurance car B
Home owners insurance
Medical clinic

Count 'em up -- 16 bills to pay.

I started charging a lot on credit cards years ago since most of my professional life I have been paid once a month. Some cards change somewhat frequently since I chase after free flight bonuses.

I don't include my real estate taxes or home owners insurance with my monthly mortgage payment, so it is always nasty when the yearly bills come around.

Credit cards? Having three teenagers means I spend a heck of a lot of money on food. My son alone eats ten times a day. The greatest number of charges on the credit card seem to be food and gasoline.

And how is your day going?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Tip of the Hat to the Vancouver Canucks

Game six of the Blackhawks/Canucks series ended the way I imagined -- with a Hawks victory, sending them to the next round against the San Jose Sharks. Beating the Sharks would put them back in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1992.

After both teams were unable to score during the first period, the Hawks grabbed the lead on goals by Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg, and Dave Bolland in the second period to set up the win. The Hawks cruised to a 5-1 victory in the last 20 minutes.

Tonight's game was actually the second most competitive in the series. Unlike Sunday night's game, the Hawks came ready to play and prevailed over over a tough Vancouver team. They worked hard and earned their victory tonight. Believe me, Chicago fans did NOT want to go back to the United Center for a game seven.

For my blogger buddies who are Canucks fans -- I obviously feel your pain. Afterall, I root for all the Chicago sports teams!

I look forward to a great series vs the Sharks. To get past them and get to the finals would be great. The Hawks last won the Stanley Cup when I was an toddler (no crappy comments, please!). It would be nice to see the Cup hanging around the windy city ...

Tub o' Tuesday Items
Las Vegas Plans
I finally made my reservations for Las Vegas for this summer -- June 19-25. Time was running out and I was recently able to synch everything together. I decided to not play in the WSOP this year but could always make a last-minute decision to play in Event #42 if I felt so inclined. Instead, I might consider trying a few of the other popular tournaments -- Binion's Poker Classic, Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series, or Venetian Deep Stack. Of course, I can almost always be found late at night or in the early morning hours at my Las Vegas "home" poker room -- Bally's.

I see that my Las Vegas dates barely coincide with some of the other bloggers who will be there that week. Anyone interested in breakfast on Sunday, June 20th? If some of us fathers are going to be away from home on Fathers Day, we may as well spend it together, trade a few stories, and have a bloody mary or two, right? Of course, any female bloggers would be welcome too.

BBT5 Poker from the Rail Results
I final tabled last night BBT5 Poker from the Rail tournament, but ran my shortie Q-Q into TwoBlackAces's A-A to go out in ninth place. Early in the tournament, I ran Q-Q into K-K. However, I did have a major suckout early on. It was one of the situations where one makes a bold move, knowing it might be a bad decision, but knowing that getting a big stack early pays great dividends. I've grabbed my ankles enough times in blogger tournaments, so I humbly accepted my windfall.

Special shoutout to heffmike, who once again ran into the lightning36/Full Tilt cooler set vs set. It is uncanny how many times he has been cold decked when we've gone up against each other -- set vs set, A-A vs K-K, etc. Me thinks that someday revenge will come in spades. Oh -- and a big virtual hug (ha ha) to Very Josie, who lost most her stack in a big hand, then ran her remaining chippies into my K-K. I tried explaining how screwy blogger tournaments can be. Welcome to our world!

SCOOP Anyone?
I haven't been reading a whole lot about the PokerStars SCOOP tournaments lately. I used a ticket last weekend to confirm what I already know: I really suck at Limit Hold Em!

I still have three tickets that I won from the WBCOOP tournaments earlier this year, where I had a little success. I finished 81st of 2062 in the Main Event when K-K < A-8, which really sucked. Yeah -- ace on the river, all in pre-flop. However, I did final table Event #2 (Omaha!) and got a $215 ticket for finishing fourth. I lost in that one flopped boat vs flopped boat. Ugly.

I will be playing the following SCOOP tournaments:

May 11 Event 26 (L) NL Hold Em
May 14 Event 33 (L) Omaha H/L
May 16 Event 37 (M) NL Hold Em

Blackhawks vs Canucks -- Game 6
HUGE hockey game tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks again attempt to close out their playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks. I was unfortunately in attendance for game five. Kudos to the guy on the Blackhawks forum who gave us great plans to get the best SRO positions possible. Thank goodness I didn't pay more for my tickets or I would have been really pissed, as the Blackhawks came out and played completely uninspired hockey and were whupped by the Canucks. Goalie Anti Niemi let in a soft goal early and the Hawks never recovered. So far in the series the home teams have only won one of five games. The Canucks sucked in their two home games and the Hawks sucked in two of their three. The best game of the series was game two, which the Hawks won in a squeaker. I was fortunate to be at that game, which was one hell of a good time.

Tonight? Although the Canucks fans will be rallying behind their team, I see a Hawks victory. Although Pirate Lawyer does not agree with me, the Hawks have played better overall in the series and are really a better and deeper team. It ends tonight, bro.

And Schaubs -- trying to become the anti-Waffles cooler won't work!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Hit and Run Friday
New UB Security Issue
Dog bites man. Next!

Canucks vs Blackhawks: Game Four
The Canucks played like crap on Wednesday and the Blackhawks played a solid game. I suspect that the Canucks will be fired up tonight. It should be a great game. Big Buff will continue to get under the skin of the players and fans. Prediction -- Blackhawks in a squeaker.

Mookie Results
After listing a group of people who I thought might get in BBT5, I was not surprised to see a classic match-up at the end: LJ vs TwoBlackAces. LJ built up a massive stack with her aggression and was taking no prisoners (me included), then battled it out with TBA. LJ took the victory, leaving TBA as a BBT5 bubble boy for the second time. It must be frustrating.

I have four SCOOP tickets to use. The huge fields mean playing for the good part of a day if you go deep. It sucks if you do so and only win a few buy ins due to the top heavy payment structure of tournaments.

And Finally ...
To all the mothers out there -- Happy Mothers Day! I am fortunate to have a great mom who is still alive and kicking. My wife is also an excellent mother -- part of what I was looking for in a marriage partner. They deserve a wonderful day.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A bittersweet post yesterday by Gary, remembering his father on the second anniversary of his death, focused me on my father, who would have turned 86 today. He passed away almost six years ago.

At the time of his passing, my dad had a case of dementia which was getting worse every week. We were actually thankful that his body gave out before his mind.

I always got along with my dad and felt like I was okay in my relationship with him when he died. This helped me in coping with his death, although watching him die as we took him off life support was excruciatingly painful.

To celebrate my dad's birthday, I reread my favorite post that I have ever written a few minutes ago.

It is a wonderful sunny May afternoon outside -- a great time to ride in the convertible. Time to pick up one of my kids at school. That's the kind of thing fathers do, you know ...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tough Field in Tonight's Mookie as TOC Seats Disappear

Tonight should mark the halfway point in determining TOC players for BBT5. The pressure will start getting more intense as fewer and fewer spots remain.

The list of players who have not yet secured a seat in the TOC is surprising. TwoBlackAces and Loretta8, two of the most accomplished online bloggers in this part of bloggerdom, are not in. Having Fred and George at your table tonight fighting for a TOC seat would be fun, right?

How about some of our resident aggro demons like LJ and lucko -- players who can put you to the test at any time and have have shown the ability to win big? What about players who were at or near the top of the leaderboard in BBT4 -- 1Queens Up1, Tuscaloosa John, Shabazz Jenkins, heffmike, or Jordan? How about NumbBono, who I believe was the top money winner in the 2009 Skillz series? Or people who can make deep runs like Astin, ck and Pirate Lawyer?

I certainly don't mean to slight anyone I have not mentioned because there are a ton of other good bloggers who have what it takes to pull off a Mookie victory tonight. The field is loaded and only one person will emerge with the seat. Who will it be? Tune in to BuddyDankRadio tonight at 9:00 pm Central time to find out.

Oh yeah -- once again, a big thanks to AlCantHang for setting this up.

May The Candy Man -- uh -- the force be with you!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Blackhawks Win, Tie Series Against Evil Canucks 1-1

Tonight I bypassed the Poker from the Rail BBT5 tournament to head to the United Center for an excellent Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks hockey game. This was game two in the best out of seven series. The Hawks were embarassed by the Canucks in game one.

I originally had Standing Room Only tickets, but checked Ticketmaster on a whim Monday and was able to upgrade to seats in the upper level.

What a horrendous start to the game! The Canucks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes due to defensive mistakes by the Hawks. The Hawks were playing so poorly that it could have easily been a 3-0 or 4-0 deficit if not for a little luck and some good goaltending.

However, the Hawks kept on plugging away and tied the game 2-2 in the third period. A goal with only 1:30 left gave the Hawks the lead. They scored an empty net goal to finish things off.

The series moves to Vancouver for game three Wednesday night. Although these teams really dislike each other, the series has not had the fighting that most people expected. Will things change Wednesday night?

btw -- Although being among over 22,000 loud, cheering fans was great, the Madhouse on Madison (as the United Center is called) is still just a shade short of the experience at the ol' barn -- the now demolished Chicago Stadium. Ahh -- memories!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Custom Greeting Cards Available Online

Okay -- this is a shameless plug for my wife's online card shop. Anyone who knows my wife knows that she is extremely creative and always full of energy. While I am getting my virtual butt kicked in an online poker tournament, it is not unusual for her to be in the basement at her craft tables, creating cards and other items. She sells the individually made hand-crafted cards in an online shop. They make great gifts, particularly if you know some people who enjoy sending traditional type cards instead of virtual greetings.

Interested? Check out Salutations by Susan at Yeah -- I know that she should be charging more for them as her mother-in-law has suggested. A few more donktastic sessions at the tables and I will personally be asking her to increase the price to keep her hubby happy and bankrolled.