Ongoing evidence that Jamie Gold is a tool

I concluded that he was a jerk based on an interview he did where he came across very badly in my opinion. You would think a Hollywood agent would have access to some top notch PR folks, but apparently he doesn’t. Or he isn’t listening to them.

You will remember that I mentioned that he was rumored to owe 50% of his win to Bruce Leyser in exchange for Mr. Leyser finding some “celebrities” to represent Bodog at the WSOP. Now it appears that he doesn’t intend to pay what he owes. The Las Vegas Sun reported that Leyser has filed suit in a Las Vegas courtroom to get $6 million. One would assume that he wouldn’t go the lawsuit route unless he had a pretty good indication he wasn’t going to get the money he was owed. The lawyer is not going to work for free.  I was able to find the case on the docket in the court, so it is clearly an accurate report. I haven’t been able to get my hands on the actual complaint, but it looks like all the rumors were pretty accurate.

The juicy bits from the newpaper story are quotes from an answering machine message Gold left for Leyser:

“I promise you – you can keep this recording on my word – there’s no possible way you’re not going to get half ¦ after taxes,” Leyser claims that Gold said in the telephone message. “So please just be with me. I can’t imagine you’re going to have a problem with it. I just don’t want any stress about any money or any of that (expletive) going on today, or even after the end of the day.”

Later in the recording, Gold allegedly said: “But please just trust me. You’ve trusted me the whole way, you can trust me a little bit more. I promise you there’s no way anybody will go anywhere with your money. It’s your money.”

Gold also said on the recording that he would be setting up a Nevada-based corporation that would pay Leyser his portion of the winnings, according to the complaint. “I can’t just pay out personally because I could get nailed,” Gold allegedly said.

The last bit is interesting. How would he get nailed? That is an interesting thing to say. Gold has not yet filed an answer, so we don’t know his side of the story. Apparently he hasn’t actually collected from Harrah’s because Leyser is looking for a restraining order blocking Gold from cashing out the disputed $6 million.

It is also a bit odd that a high-flying agent couldn’t find any C list celebs who would play the Main Event for free! The guys that Leyser found weren’t exactly Matt Damon star types. Stay tuned. This will probably offer even more drama before it is all over.


Maybe HORSE isn’t so easy, after all

I continue to see shockingly bad play in the Stud rotations.  Unfortunately, the great dice game in the sky is currently dictating that I lose to these bad players.  My personal favorite is he guy who started (88)79 in Razz who outdrew me when I started (42)A3.  I’ve run some twodimes analysis on things and I think I’m doing OK, just running a bit bad.  I’ve given back all my winnings and am now down $40 in HORSE.  This gauls me.  I’ll have to play some more.

I’m clearly making some mistakes in Razz, which I hadn’t played before.  I tend to assume that people who open with 8/7 door cards are perfect in the hole and they rarely are.  I’m probably undervaluing smooth draws where I should be raising.  I sometimes lose focus on the dead cards, which I need to concentrate on if I want to be really good.

I still feel like my Stud8 edge is huge.  The play in the rotations is so much worse than in the straight Stud8 games I’ve been playing that it makes me laugh sometimes.  I scooped a huge pot when a wheel on 6th turned into a flush on 7th against two players.  One of them had an 876 low with a pair of Jacks and the other had Aces up with no low.  We banged in multiple bets all the way home.  It was a thing of beauty.  I assumed that the Aces-up guy was full and we were chopping up the third guy’s cash.  The funny thing is that the 876 guy was the one trading raises with me on 7th.  I was showing three to the wheel, so I can’t image how he thought the worse low in poker was going to work out, but he did.

I am completely clueless when the games get shorthanded.  I think most of my losses have come in four or five handed O8.  I might need to start sitting out when it gets four handed, because I really have no idea what to do.  I have been getting more aggro like short-handed hold’em, but I’m not sure that is smart.


Get on the HORSE and ride!

If you have a background in Stud games, you should run (not walk) to the Stars HORSE tables.  Probably because they are new, there are many people checking them out who are amazingly bad at many of the disciplines.  The first night that the tables were there I played 1/2 (which was as high as they went) and the play was terrible.  Last night I played 10/20 and the play didn’t get much better.  As you might expect, play was especially bad at the Stud disciplines which is 60% of the games.  I got chastized by a guy when I raised him with A236 with three diamonds in Stud8 when he had paired his King doorcard (with another big card up).  I didn’t have the heart to explain to him just how wrong he was.  Another guy called me down with King-Queen-xxx in Razz when I had 76J2 showing — I assume he was hoping I had three paired cards down?

If you are comfortable in Stud games, you should get out there and take some of this money before they get bored with HORSE or learn how to play.  Even the Omaha play was fairly poor, so I think this is a very good game right now.  Curiously, the play was not extra loose, which was the mistake I expected to see.  I actually saw a lot of raises that took down the bring-in and antes.  The problem was that people tended to call down with crap when it was obvious they were beat.  I did take a brutal quarter in Stud-8 where I had the Ace-high flush and a wheel where I lost to a boat and split with another wheel.  That made me very sad.

Also, I saw in the LV paper a report that none of the WSOP final table players tipped the dealers, so they are going to be unhappy again.  There was a thread on 2+2 that suggested that they might increase the juice to 15% to cover the dealer pay.  If that really happened, they might really kill the goose with the golden eggs.  Surely that would be enough to drive players away.  Right?  I certainly hope so.   I’m going to assume it is just someone talking out of their ass, because that would be so monumentally stupid that no one could seriously consider it.  Historically, events has set aside 3% for staff that was divided about 2.1% to dealers and 0.9% to the floor.  This year, the total take for Harrah’s went up, but reportedly the amount set aside for dealers dropped to 1.5%.  If this is the case, it seems clear that the people who should make it up to the dealers are the ones running the show, not the players.


Random Brain Dump

Full Contact Poker Apparel Bonus

They made good on the bonus the other day and I wound up with $271 in exchange for wearing a hat.  I also got to drop “I have to go meet with Lori Negreanu” into casual conversation about 20 times, so it worked out as an extremely +EV move for me.  It appears that there were slightly fewer qualified entrants than they predicted and also that the money that was intended for anyone who made a final table got rolled into the main pool.  I was pleasantly suprised by the amount.

Excess Chips at the Main Event

I first became aware of this problem through Richard Brodie’s blog (a fellow frequent flier, who I used to chat with on flyertalk from time to time).   It seems that in excess of $2.2 million in tourney chips appeared in the Main Event.  The initial theory floated by the Harrah’s people was that it must be due to chip races.  This is provably absurd to anyone with even a casual grasp of the math involved.  Not only is the average expected result orders of magnatude lower than $2.2 million, even the absolute one in a billion chance where every race at every table results in the maximum chip gain doesn’t come close to $2.2 million.  The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is cheating.  Someone could have smuggled chips out of the super-sats (which inexplicably used the same chips) or liberated them from somewhere Harrah’s kept them unsecured.  Because these chips have no value to Harrah’s (you can’t cash them at the cage), it seems possible that their security was lax.  It only costs the players.  The fact that the folks running the WSOP don’t seem to care about this speaks volumes about their attitude towards the players’ interests.

Dealer Tokes at the Main Event and Thoughts on Our New Champion

I am growing increasingly convinced that Jamie Gold is a tool.  I was willing to pass off some bad behavior at the table as gamesmanship, but this interview (MP3 format) has started to convince me that he is just a jerk.  The Hollywood gossip types are starting to report that his resume was inflated and that he wasn’t much of an agent.  The main sources are the uber-gossipy Defamer and Hollywood Interrupted, so you might take it with a grain of salt.  The bit where he gave half of his action away to Crispin Leyser has been confirmed on 2+2 by a friend, so I’m willing to believe that bit of it.  It has also been widely reported that he owes 10% of his action to Johnny Chan in exchange for coaching/mentoring.  That leaves Jamie with only 40% of himself.

Still, 40% is some $6 million, so I guess he won’t be needing a loan from final table players at your friendly online poker site anytime soon.  On top of all that, there were rumors that he tipped $1 million or even $2 million to the dealers.  No one has been able to confirm this and he has specificly denied the $1 million figure.  The dealers get their last check on Thursday and we’ll probably know the amount then, because the dealers are a gossipy bunch.  There is no way on earth he should have tipped that much, because Harrah’s takes an outrageous bite out of entry fees for themselves already.  They may not give as much to the dealers as they used to, but that should not be for the players to fix.

Frankly, the business side of tourneys is disgusting.  The casino takes as much as 9% out of the prize pool and rakes in tons of money from advertisers and gets paid to televise the thing by ESPN.  The vig charged to the players is higher than ever before and the outside revenue from sponsors is higher than ever before.  Something is wrong with this picture.  The big name stars don’t care that much because almost without exception they don’t pay their own entry fees.  It is the rank and file regular Joes that are getting screwed.


ITH Convention Trip Report

My real life has become impossibly complex in the last few weeks and I had to cut back the travel schedule for the ITH convention to the shortest trip possible. I wound up flying out on Wednesday after work and back on Sunday. My office scheduled a huge presentation for Wednesday morning which ended up in an all-nighter Tuesday night to get ready for it. I was enormously sleep-deprived before I even headed out, which didn’t bode well for the next few days.

My lovely wife (SuitedPair, to my ITH brethren), has far too many virtues to catalog here. Stoic acceptance of the annoyance of air travel is not, however, one of them. In her own words, “I don’t do coach.” Fortunately, I’m a high rolling poker playah and I was able to work out a deal with my frequent flyer credentials and secured spots in the front of the flying bus. Given that USAir only offers a paltry 8 seats on their 757 model, this is not as easy to do as it might seem. As veterans of the Las Vegas travel scene, we knew that you don’t want to check your bags if you can possibly avoid it. Waits of an hour at peak times for the stuff to start dropping down the belt are not uncommon. The plan to do everything in carry-on luggage turned into a plan to buy a bunch of new suitcases somehow. They are really cool and we did get everything on board with a minimum of hassle. The flight out was uneventful, although we did have a remarkably bad flight attendant. USAirways “feeds” you with a basket of various salty snacks in first class unless there will be a meal (there is almost never a meal). Normally, they wave the basket under your nose ten or twenty times during a long flight. Some of the stuff in the basket is pretty good, so I’m always happy to see it. This guy showed it to us as the flight got underway announcing “take as many as you want, I’m not bringing it back” or something similar. He never did. He did have a lot of time to sit in the jumpseat and chill, but no time to bring new drinks or do the basket deal. He also was rude in his announcements and comments to people, somehow managing to make “Thank you for your cooperation” sound threatening. If I wasn’t the laziest guy about this sort of thing, I’d whine to the airline and get him in trouble.

When we landed, I had a voice mail from my man NukeDuke advising me that Matthew had made the final table at the Rio and the rail was ITH city. My lovely bride had reached her limit and asked me to drop her at the hotel first. We had a nice little one bedroom apartment type thing at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club with a kitchen, huge bathroom and seperate living area for which I paid the dirt cheap basic room rate and got upgraded. The Hilton folks really treat me very well on a consistent basis. We were also quite pleasantly suprised to find a bouquet of flowers from Albert (Sandsstorm) along with a nice note thanking me for my help with things ITH. That was a very gracious touch and made me very happy.

Once I sped to the Rio, I was able to determine that Matthew’s event was down to four players and although they may have been very nice, none of them were Matthew. I made some phone calls and got the 53o story from Matthew, congratulated him on his nice showing. I ran into a guy I played with for several hours at the limit event a month or so ago and found out he had made three final tables this WSOP. He complimented me on my play when we were together and we agreed on our obvious superiority to the rest of the table. He was suprised I was a nobody because so many people kept coming up and checking on me and talking to me. He said he thought I must be a pro that just hadn’t made TV yet. I guess that is a good thing. I checked out the cash game action at the Rio, but since the Main Event was winding down, there was very little going on. I watched the last event for a while, which was winding down to last three or four tables and was filled with poker royalty. I wandered back to the hotel when my second or third wind died down at 3:00 am or so.

We woke up a bit too early due to time zone weirdness and goofed around getting provisions and making breakfast and testing out the enormous jacuzzi and wandered off to try to find some ITHers. I talked to Albert on the phone and he told me that a lot of the ITH folks were playing the noon event at the Venetian lately. I had a really bad connection with Leigh (NukeDuke’s wife) and she told me that Nuke and Ammon were heading to the noon tourney, so we boogied to the Venetian to either join in or railbird. Unfortunately, they were playing at Caesar’s Palace. We wandered around the poker room until we were satisfied that we didn’t know anyone there, shrugged our shoulders and ate some noodle soup. We decided to wander over to check out the Imperial Palace and see if there were any ITHers in the poker room. The poker room was not terribly lively, but they offered me a seat at 2/4 so I took it and waited for ITHers to come to me. The play was about as comical as you would expect 2/4 at a minor casino to be and I avoided the worst of the bad beats and chiped up about $100. I was the only one who ever raised pre-flop and the table seemed divided about what to make of me. As you might imagine, none of them adjusted very well. Suited wandered off to play our new favorite Texas HoldEm casino game. After a while, the poker room manager came over and asked me if I was Nsidestrate and conveyed greetings from a railbird who turned out to be Krazytxan. I called her over and we chatted for a while. She is as nice in person as she seems online. I sent her in Suited’s direction. Our conversation about my high-rolling ways seemed to increase the bafflement of the table about me and it really didn’t seem sporting to keep messing with them, so I racked up, wished them all good luck and cashed out. It didn’t seem to be a hotbed of ITH poker players anyhow. I found Suited and Becky ramming and jamming at the table game, where we had a great time chatting away, but a poor result at the casino version of Hold’Em.

We made a brief detour from ITH stuff to meet up with an old friend from high school over some sushi.  The food was only so-so, but it was awesome to catch up with our old bud.  It is funny how our lives have run in parallel.  He is a germ-phobic lawyer, just like Suited and a former professional poker player.  He played pro in between college and law school and it was fun to hear his stories of the old days when stud ruled the planet and everyone had to get Super-System for a small fortune at the Gambler’s Bookstore.  He still plays for fun here and there and it was really cool to find him again.  We’re definately going to hunt him down whenever we’re in town now.

It was soon time to wander up to the ITH kickoff reception and meet and greet my ITH buddies. It was so much fun to catch up with folks from last year and meet lots of new faces. I was very pleased to see Ammbo and his lovely wife in attendance and we had a great time getting caught up. I tried to talk some sense into his wife and get her to flee from the practice of law at top speed. She laughed at the right spots, but didn’t recognize the truth in my words yet. It was a great time meeting everyone and getting my drunk on. The party in the conference center kept on going to the poker room. We played some awesome drunken HORSE. We had to explain how to deal the game to some of the dealers, but they seemed to enjoy the exuberant spirit of the game. I found the Stud round a bit boring, so I added a $2 bounty for the low hand at showdown. I found a reason to throw a chip at NukeDuke several times and unlike the usual donkfest poker, I actually lost chips somehow. It have been that notorious chip thief Hilger who got them, but I seem to remember losing most of them to Leigh (I hope she doesn’t spell it Lee). After it became clear that I should have won all their money, I decided to wander over to the double flop Hold’Em table, mostly because they seemed to get their drinks served faster. I’m not going to say that this was due to Tanya sitting at that table, but it seems possible. Cybrarian and Torch seemed to be the big winners at this discipline.

We eventually wandered off to a craps table that had lots of ITHers making noise, so I threw some money around. Someone new to craps asked me for my strategy and I tried to explain my approach of throwing more money on the table after each roll in a way that made it sound more clever, but failed miserably. I just use a few code words like “odds” and “press it” and the pit guy does whatever I’m supposed to do. All I know is that if someone makes a really long roll, I get a bunch of money. The way I play, I’m paying money out for the first five or six rolls and then I’m getting paid on the rest of them. If the guy goes exactly six rolls, I get my butt kicked. If he goes fifty rolls, I’m kissing Taz and raking in chips. I think I won about $50 at the end of the session, so it was a good, but not great one. Craps is the perfect game for a group of dunken friends, since there is a lot of common goals and shouting.

I’m ashamed to admit that the late hours and excessive drinking caught up to me the next morning and attending the morning seminar / trivia contest was not to happen. I managed to get cleaned up well enough to show up for the first limit tourney at 1:00pm, which felt like early morning to me.

I didn’t make a great showing at the first limit event.  Early on, I missed a lot of hands and got myself in a shorter stack position sooner than I would liked.  Just like all limit events, the blinds rapidly got to a point where no one had room to play on the big bet streets.  I felt that if I could have accumulated a nice stack, I could have really put some pressure on the other players, but I never got there.  I made a nice suckout on Alan Schoonmaker, whose expertise in poker psychology did not prevent me from sucking out on him with a gutshot and overcards to make a broadway straight on the river.  I declared that if I wrote a book on poker, it would be called Sucking Out for Fun and Profit.  I tried to egg Piemaster into some poker psychology book trash talking, but he remained polite and friendly.  Alan also seemed like a very gracious guy.  I bounced out around 18th or so (I think) when JJ was no good once an Ace flopped.

We escaped from the Imperial Palace after a number of folks told us that dining there should be a last ditch option and reappeared in time for the evening NL event.  We had plans for catching the Cirque show of Love, featuring Beatles tunes with JeffNC later that night, so I had decided I was going to be very aggressive early on and try to accumulate chips or bust out.  I got in a terrible situation against Matthew where he pushed all-in when I had an open-ended straight draw.  It was a classic squeeze play and I was sure that he wasn’t very strong.  However, since I had only the draw and no pair, I expected to be a dog.  I had 11 outs twice, but didn’t hit them and was the first one busted.  I’m sure the rest of the table appreciated that I doubled Matthew up early.  I got to chat with some people once I was on the rail, so it was actually a good thing.  Suited also busted early, so we boogied over to the Mirage to play some poker with Jeff before the show started.  I started out at a 10/20 game with BugsBunny which was decent, but beatable.  I got moved to a 20/40 game that was very soft.  The game is played with red chips, so everyone had massive stacks of red chips to splash around with.  When you three bet on the turn, it is a pain to count out 120 in red (24 red chips).  I didn’t do that well at chip handling, but I played good poker.  I lost about $100 at the 10/20 table, but roared back at 20/40 to finish up around $500.  My theory is that the pots got so physically big that everyone would call down with crap because the pot odds were distorted in their minds by the huge pile of chips.  Whatever the reason, I think I could take this game for plenty if I had more time.

The Cirque du Soleil performance of Love was absolutely outstanding.  I first have to acknowledge the technical aspects.   The sound field was amazingly sharp.  There were multiple speakers in each seat and I’ve never heard the Beatles sound better.  The music was remixed by legendary producer George Martin and the results were amazing.  The muddy quality of many of the Beatles tunes were completely replaced by an extremely bright and modern sound.  He also interspersed cut-up bits of other songs into well-known songs that was sometimes brilliantly successful (Octopus’s Garden was one that really worked and there were bits of a million things I couldn’t quite place in Strawberry Fields) and sometimes fell a bit flat (the Revolution transistion into Back in the USSR seemed more like a bad theme park medly transistion).  There was a very strong focus on the later catalog (Sgt Pepper’s, Abbey Road, The White Alblum) and by and large the music absolutely worked.  If you are at all a fan of the Beatles, I think you would have to come away with your love of the music renewed.  The other amazing technical aspect was the stage.  It is a materpiece of motorized hydraulic activity.  Giant hunks of the stage rise and fall, set pieces lit from the ground, pieces slide together and apart and over and under each other in an amazing technical ballet.  The staging was so awesome I was sometimes distracted into thinking about that instead of the actual performances.

Much of the on-stage action was classic Cirque acrobatics and flying, rope and bungee cord swinging stuff with elaborate costumes.  The theater in the round approach meant that many of the pieces were so visually busy that I could hardly deal with all the input.  I found that they worked just fine on the more frantic numbers — the surreal Mr Kite circus seemed right on time.  However, my favorite pieces were actually more simple and lyrical.  The highlight of the show for me was Here Comes the Sun with an almost dance based sensibility.  It was lyrical and full of longing and just seemed pitch perfect to me.  I also adored the Octopus’s Garden, with a few simple characters with amazing costumes and a perfectly executed undersea theme.  While My Guitar Gently Weeps sounded so good I could hardly bear it.  There was a semi-comic rendition of Blackbird as a spoken word piece that was semi-comic and absolutely terrible.  The half-pipe rollerblade demonstration during Help left me cold, but other folks seemed to enjoy it.  All in all, I thought it was a great show.  It had more dazzle than you could count and the music was good enough to forgive the minor slips.  A major plus for me was that there were no mimes disguised as clowns.  That stuff just annoys me.

After the show, we caught some drinks with Bugs and JeffNC.  Bugs and I agreed to meet up and play some more poker after I got Suited loaded into bed.  We tried a number of rooms, but found amazingly little action going on.  We ended up at the Bellagio where I played very shorthanded 30/60 in the wee hours of the night.  This is the first short-handed table I’ve ever played live where the other players had some understanding of correct short-handed play.  I wasn’t too glad to discover that.  When I first sat down there was someone apparently on tilt and playing badly, but he was hitting everything.  That cost me a few hundred.  I was battling back and forth four handed when I decided to rack up and take off.  None of the other three players were bad enough for me to justify playing 30/60 so short-handed.  They pled with me to stay, either because the game would break up or because they thought I was a fish.  Someone else joined in and I got lucky on his second or third hand.  I looked down at QQ and raised it up to three bets preflop against the new player and one other.  The flop came down QQx and my eyes lit up.  I fired off a bet, since a check would look too odd in that situation.  The new guy called and the turn brought a harmless Jack (most cards are harmless when you flop quads).  The new guy liked this Jack just fine, because he check-raised me.  In rapid sucession, we went three-four-five-six-seven bets.  At this point, I figure he has to be on JJ.  It seems like he has to figure me for QJ or Qx, unless he thinks I’m a complete dope who would bet AA this way.  He pauses for a long time and mucks JJ face up.  This hand erases any previous losses and I end up winning a few dollars, although I still don’t think it is a great game.  Once it gets six handed, I don’t feel bad walking away.  I collect Bugs from his table and haul him back to his hotel in the rental car.

The next morning is a bit rough, since I slept about two hours, but I manage to run enough water over my head to wake up and struggle down to the limit tourney.  I go on a very nice run from the outset and manage to bluff and bully and catch cards to a big chip stack.  By the time we get to three tables and take a break, I’m the chip leader of the event.  Unfortunately, the blinds are so high that being chip leader doesn’t last long if you lose a hand or two.  I lose exactly two and I’m now a short stack.  The first hand I had a straight flush draw against Torch, who was banging the whole way down.  I had a million outs so I called all the way down until I had to fold the river since I wound up with something very close to the nut low.  I then got in a bunch of trouble with a blind v blind situation that went badly.   I called a raise in the big blind, check-raised the flop with nothing and fired out on the turn.  On the turn, the SB very reluctantly called.  On some level I thought that was the place that he would either fold or decide to call down, but I still fired one more bet on the river.  After an agonizing think, he called with King high and I was now a short-stack.  I think the bluff was probably worthwhile, because he almost folded, but it cost me a lot in the end.  Shortly therafter, I was in the hand of the event for me (and Nutjob).  Torch had just donked off his stack and was all-in for 2/3rds of the SB.  Iceman raised it up in EP and Nutjob re-raised to 1800 chips.  I “raised” all-in for 1900 chips and both Iceman and Nutjob called.  This resulted in an 800 chip main pot with Torch, me, Iceman and Nutjob and a 5,100 chip side pot with the three of us.  Iceman and Nutjob both had enough chips left to bet or raise, but with no side pot in play between them they had little incentive to do so.  I held AJs, so I think I pretty much had to play there.  Ryan (Iceman) didn’t concern me all that much, since I had seen him raise pretty light, but Nutjob wasn’t three betting there without a hand.  The flop wasn’t ideal, coming down KQx.  Iceman and Nutjob both checked quickly.  The turn was another rag, bringing a flush draw into play.  Check-check.  The river was another Queen, completing a runner-runner flush draw and to my dismay, Iceman fired out a bet into a dry sidepot number 2.  Nutjob immediately mucked JJ face up, figuring Ryan had trip Queens, a flush or a King and his Jacks couldn’t possibly be good.  I stood up, prepared to make my exit, when Iceman tabled AT.  I blinked once or twice and realized that my AJ was good.  I think Ryan thought that I was all-in for the baby pot and that he was bluffing for the huge side pot.  He probably forgot Torch was involved.  I scooped both pots and was now a serious factor in the event again.  Nutjob went for a walk.  I have to say that I was impressed by Nutjob the entire time.  He never blew up and was gracious about the hand every time it came up.  He played well and everyone I spoke to thought he was a great guy to be around.  I really enjoyed meeting him after our mafia adventures.  I then started to bully again and was one of the big stacks at the final table.  I was the chip leader before long and whittled the field down one by one until there were three left.  I called a raise with QT and flopped real good with a QTx board.  It just got better when I turned the full house and wound up getting everyone else all-in with worse hands.  I was quite happy to win an event, even if I should have knocked out earlier.

After the event, a bunch of the ITH employee crew snared Suited and I and invited us to a McDonalds lunch.  They seemed unduly interested in my plans for the afternoon and we wound up having a great time goofing around at the casino hold’em tables.  I figured out why they were keeping me under observation later, but at the time I just thought it was slightly odd.  Under their careful watch, we made it on time to the pizza party prior to the Main Event.  It turns out that I was something of a Guest of Honor at the pizza party and they were making sure I didn’t ditch it.  Albert made a nice speech thanking me for my contributions to ITH and they presented me with a very nice crystal trophy.  It was really touching for me to see the smiles and hear the applause from my fellow ITHers.  One of the absolutely amazing things at the ITH event was to hear everyone talk about what they have gained from ITH and how it has improved their play and made them money and found them new friends.  I had a number of people come up and tell me stories about how much they learned from something I wrote or how grateful they were that the higher limit players would take time to respond to low limit questions.  Since we have all been on the other end of the learning curve, it is really cool to hear stuff like that.  I don’t know if there are a bunch of jerks who post on ITH and don’t show for these events, but I honestly can’t think of a single person I met that didn’t impress me even more in person than they do on-line.  We just have an amazing group of cool folks.  My main regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time with some of the people I met.

I played a bit better at this NL event, hanging around until we reached the all-in fest portion of the evening when the blinds got out of control.  Despite being pretty short stacked, I held on to finish somwhere around 12th place.  I had Niin to my left, so my blind stealing chances were reduced somewhat.  I don’t remember the hand I went out on, but I’m sure I was drawing slim.  Suited made her second final table of the convention, but her Ace-x blind steal in the Cut-Off ran into Royze’s KK on the Button and that was all she wrote for her.  We had a blast listening to Ryan’s outstanding color commentary on the final table and a rather looser and more exuberant Matthew battled Albert heads-up.  Tanya and Becky battled for roles as lead cheerleader and Albert somehow managed to defeat Matthew’s monster 53o on the ultimate hand of the contest.  When Matthew pulled ahead with a pair of fives on the flop, I really thought we were going to get the storybook ending we deserved.  I played with Albert for most of the night and he played very well and was a deserving winner.

It was both more fun and less sleep than I am used to having and I can’t wait to do it all again.  ITH folks are the coolest people in poker.  I’d like to especially acknowledge our Euro friends like Nardo, Piemaster, SteveGriff, Cybrarian and Primitive who came a very long way to hang out and play poker with us.


Vegas bound!

I’m flying out to Vegas tonight for the ITH convention!  Updates are hereby cancelled.


Various Daniel Negreanu thoughts

Like most of you, I primarily know Daniel from television.  I’ve always thought highly of him based on what you see.  He seems to have an uncanny instinct for reading other players and challenging them with his unorthodox style of play.  Although, thanks in some part to his own success, his style of playing a lot of pots and managing the pot size has become quite a bit more common these days.  I’m not totally blind to his faults, since I used to read about him back in the bad old rgp days when he was very combative and sometimes rude (his well-publicized fued with Annie Duke comes to mind as an example).  One also gets the sense that he is a relentless self-promoter.

Anyhow, I accepted an offer from his site to wear their logo gear at the WSOP in exchange for a cut of his WSOP winnings.  Basically, they offered to take 2.5% of whatever he wins and divide it between all the players who agreed to wear full contact poker gear.  I met up with his completely charming wife Lori and scored five or six items of full contact clothing and agreed to their deal.  It is my understanding that they are including his ToC earnings in the net, so Daniel booked $462,000 of WSOP winnings this yea.  2.5% of that is $11,550 to be shared by 90 people (or so my contact at FCP says).  This should amount to a payout of $128 for wearing their hat at the table.

There was another 2.5% designated to anyone who wore the clothes to a final table, but it appears no one managed to pull off that feat.  On his poker forum, there were suggestions that they had agreed to split the 2.5% among the entire pool if that was the case, but my contact at FCP says that is a false report.

Daniel has been involved in a pretty ugly new public blowup with Greg Raymer.  Greg is a guy who I also have a tremendous amount of respect for, so I’m not on anyone’s side at the outset.  Greg is a party to a lawsuit where seven well-known poker players are suing the WPT over the use of their image in promoting products other than the WPT shows.  You can read more about the suit at the website the plaintiffs developed.  Based on the fact that they have developed a website and that they announced their suit a big press conference in Las Vegas, it seems clear that managing and winning the public relations battle is very important to them.  Unfortunately for them, Daniel has been a vocal critic of theirs in both his video blog, his forum and in public.  Most of the negative publicity they have received has been generated by Daniel.  As I understand Daniel’s position, he thinks that they aren’t really going to help the average poker player and that they should be grateful to the WPT, who made poker as big as it is today.

Greg Raymer got drawn into comment on Daniel’s comment by railbirds at a PokerStars table.  He said “Daniel is out [of the Main Event], I’m glad to say” and when asked why he was  Greg replied “because he’s been a real tool lately.”  He concluded that Daniel ““keeps saying stupid ignorant things about our lawsuit against the WPT, and he knows nothing” and “he’s either stupid, or a sockpuppet for the WPT.”  This was quickly reported back to Daniel on his forum and Daniel responded with “Tell Raymer to go breast feed some hungry children in Africa. Goof ball calling me out, who does he think he is, for real.”  Neither one of them win any real style points, but I’d have to pick Daniel for the more childish reaction.  Daniel did delete his response pretty soon, but a lot of people saw it and quoted it.  Greg initially defended his comments on 2+2, but eventually issued a public apology which pretty much resulted in counter-apology from Daniel.

The truth is that neither of them has changed their basic position, although they have toned down the rhetoric.  Greg thinks that the release from the WPT is unreasonable and that they are likely to prevail.  Daniel has said that they are likely to lose, but his most recent statements are that they are likely to damage poker win or lose and that he doesn’t know about the merits of the suit itself.  Both parties seem to believe that their ideas enjoy the support of a majority of the players.  I believe that the seven plaintiffs really do believe that they are acting in the best interests of any poker player who might happen to become famous.  Since my endorsement seems to be worth about $128 at the moment, I don’t really have a strong opinion on the subject.  So far, I’ve signed every release I’ve been presented with at a poker tourney and I usually don’t even let my lawyer wife review them, because nothing but trouble could result from that.

With everyone I know personally or who is sharing a portion of their winnings with me eliminated from the Main Event, I’m now cheering for Rizen (Eric Lynch) mostly because he is a friend of friends and seems to be a really great guy from every account I’ve read.  I wouldn’t mind if Prahlad won because he might just be crazy enough to do something that will get a ton of press and increased publicity is good.  Failing that, I’d like a total unknown goofball to win.  Probably a young guy would be best for that purpose, to fuel the endless parade of college kids with no sense who like to give me their money.


Better than flopping a set

I’ve been playing a lot of Stud-8 lately. I cut my poker teeth on 7 card stud, so I was already fairly familiar with the game as a poker standard. It is still probably one of the best live games played, because player reading is so important and relatively easy to do if you are at all good at it. People on-line often post about the high variance in the game, but I always figured it was supplanted by Hold’Em as the American poker game because the better player wins way too often in 7 Stud. The only really frustrating thing about Stud is that you don’t get as many raising wars as you do in Hold’em and you often have to make terrible river calls because the pot is so fricken huge by that point.

What I love about Stud-8 is that you get to freeroll very, very often. The most common case is in a heads-up pot where the hands are:

Me: (Ac 2d) 6h 5c 4s

Baddie: (?? ??) Kh Tc 6s

Because the baddie has bet on every street, I’m pretty sure he has a pair (most likely Kings). Most importantly, I know what he doesn’t have. He doesn’t have a low or even a draw to a low. He doesn’t have a flush or a realistic flush draw. If we give him credit for KQ in the hole, he is a 2:1 dog to me at this point. I am a lock for half for the pot and am freerolling on my gutshot draw (plus the Ace, plus some runner-runner crap) for a high. Even if he held rolled-up Kings, I’m still a clear favorite with four outs to the scoop and a lock on half.

I’ve seen a number of situations where I have a pat low in a four way hand on 6th street and everyone else appears to be playing for high or drawing to worse low than I already have. There aren’t that many games being played out there, but I’m enjoying the ones I’ve found.