Monday, November 28, 2005


The final 27 WSOP Main Event combatants moved to historic Binions to duke it out old school where it all began.

Let's look at the bet dialogue from the first televised hand, Phil Ivey takes the 20k-40k blinds up to 140k with Kh5h "In case you didn't know, I'm Phil Fuckin' Ivey." Andrew Black re-raises to 420k with Ad2d "Oh yeah, well you're not just going to run over this table, Homey..." Ivey pauses before making it $920k to go. "No, seriously. This is my table. Sit the fuck down." Black comes back over the top all-in! "Wow - I really hope Ivey is just flexing his muscles, or I'm going home." Black shows the "bluff," probably not guessing that he'd been bluffing with the best hand. In any case, this was a very bold play for Black to make - staking his tournament on this hand essentially. The beauty of an Ace and a lot of aggression in NLHE is, even if your opponent has a hand as good as KK, you still have a fighting chance if you get caught.

Sharam "Sean" Sheikhan is clearly tilted by something, but we don't know what. After mucking a hand preflop and seeing one of his cards come on the flop, he slams the table loudly. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow tells him: "We're in a hand, you need to shut the fuck up," and Sheik goes ballistic, calling the floor. Both players get a 10 minute penalty: Mike for the F-bomb, and Sheik for, I guess, inappropriate behavior. Later in the broadcast ESPN shows a clip of Mouth and Sheik nearly coming to blows! They actually shove each other and then Mouth diffuses the situation by putting his fists up and dancing like a boxer.

Ivey gets beaten up some more when he raises to 140k with A-8 offsuit. Joe Hachem calls him with K-J, and when the flop comes J-J-6, Ivey checks to Joe, who bets it out! Yeah baby - common theme here: BET YOUR BIG HANDS! Ivey checkraises to 500k, and Joe comes back over the top all-in. Ivey has to fold. Joe's fan club rocks the "Aussie Aussie Aussie, OY OY OY," chant, and Ivey has a grin on his face that paints a very telling picture - it clearly says "You are such a bunch of douchebags."

Sheik is down to 240k, and moves all-in, where the Mouth calls him with 7-2, trying to drop the hammer, and send Sheik into a monthlong TILT-binge. Sheik's QQ holds up and he doubles up. gets the Douchebag of the Week award for the "most ridiculous abuse of get-rich-quick stupid poker ideas." You've got to be fucking kidding me. I really need to know how many douchebags pay $39.95 for this thing.

Andrew Black continues to show either good hand reading ability or big balls, or both: he raises to 150k with TT, and is re-raised to 400k by Fossilman's Q-J offsuit. When the flop comes 5s-3c-Ks, Black checks and Fossilman bets 500k. Black check-raises all-in! Wow. That is some kind of fucking play.

Sheik continues to steam out of control: he moves all-in, and Matusow touches the chips that Sheik put into the pot. "Don't touch my money, Mike," Sheik sternly admonishes him. "Sean, do you want action? Hellloooo? Sheiky?" Matusow needles him mercilessly. "If you say yes, I'll call."

"You'll call?" Sheik confirms, "I want action."
"I fold," Mike instamucks, laughing out loud.

Fossilman is crippled when he raises to 100k with KK and gets called by Aaron Kanter's QhJh. the flop comes 6c-3h-5d and Greg bets 150k. Kanter calls with only two overcards. When the turn brings the 7 of hearts, Greg bets 300k and Kanter makes it 900k with his flush draw. Greg moves in and is called. The river 2h completes Kanter's flush, and Greg is crippled, left with 400k.

Shortly thereafter, Fossilman gives us the Tactic of the Week on this hand: He calls a 200k raise holding A-9 from the BB, starting the hand with only about 400k in chips. Why? Because Greg is playing this hand for his whole stack, but he knows that if he moves in now, his opponent will have to call. On the other hand, if he moves the rest of his chips in on the flop, which he will do on ANY flop, he gives his opponent a chance to lay his hand down.

The flop comes K-K-7 and Greg moves all-in. Ayhan Alsancak calls him with 5-5, and the reigning World Champion's impossible repeat attempt has come to an end: out in 25th place.

Tim Phan gets the Kick in the Junk of the Week on his elimination hand: Black raises the 25k-50k blinds to 200k with AhQh. Phan comes over the top all in for about 1.5MM holding TT. Black calls, and the flop comes A-T-9. turn: Queen... river: Queen! and Phan is out in 24th place, taking home $304k.

Black gets the ESPN spotlight interview: blah blah blah blah "... and I realized I was a Buddhist" - yeah - and I realized you are a d-bag. Whatever. Go cry for Bing Wang.

In a potentially pivotal hand at the 25k-50k level, Hachem raises to 160k with AdKd. Steve Dannenmann calls with pocket nines. Joe must love the Td-9s-5d flop: two overcards and the nut flush draw. He checks, and Steve bets 150k. Joe check-raises to 1mm, and Dannenmann comes back all-in for several million more. Dannenmann makes the mistake of talking too much while Joe is trying to figure out the action, and Joe is able to make the easy read and get away from this difficult hand. Dannenmann shows him the flopped set.

Scott Lazar has the day's best shirt: a bright yellow t-shirt reading: "You played that crap?"

In the Hand of the Week, Andrew Black finally gets caught with his hand in the cookie, er, sugar jar. Joe makes it 150k to go with Ac6c, and Black bumps it to 550k with QQ. When the flop comes Qc-7c-9c, Joe checks and Andrew overbets the pot: All-in. Joe calls, stands up, and spikes his hand on the table before shouting the immortal phrase: "Pass the sugar!" He is none-too-happy to see that Black is as strong as top set, but Hachem's hand holds up as the Td and Kd come off on the turn and river.

Sheik continues to find big hands, doubling up again with KK against Matusow's A-J, and suddenly Sheik is back up to 2mm in chips! Kanter's KK busts Ivey's JJ, and Phil is out in 20th place, good for $304k.

until next time,

The Min-raise

Big MO took this picture on his honeymoon. After getting railed for my worst loss ever, all in the span of 90 minutes just now, I think I know how the lioness feels... but let me rewind...

This morning, Mrs. Dynamite wakes me up 40 minutes early: "You might want to get up now, we have to go to the gym to shower." What the fuck? FUCK. The shower knob broke when she tried to turn it on, and it was stuck "on," with no control of the temperature. Fuck that - I threw on some deodorant and went to work. Mrs. Dynamite, on the other hand, waited another 30 minutes until the gym opened at 6am, walked the 1/2 mile to the gym, and found that there was no hot water in the gym! AIYAHH! Holy fucking TILT. Man am I glad I didn't take that beat. Anyway, I get home, and the fucking plumber is in my apartment, tearing the tile wall down. So now, even if he fixes the fucking shower, I need to have someone else come in and patch up the wall. I figure I'll escape to the serenity of Monday night poker at the club.

I sit down, and on the first hand, this shit happens:

1-2NL, $500 stacks. I find Friday in Vegas: pocket jacks in the cutoff. Habib, a capable player who has just returned from a top 3 finish in the $1k NLHE event at Foxwoods WPF straddles for $5 UTG. I've played a lot with Habib - he's tricky and aggressive - he's competent, but not as good as he thinks he is. I don't fear him like I fear the Vortex (to the fucking FELT Vortex!). So, Habib straddles, and there are 2 limpers. I make it $30 to go, Habib calls, and the limper in the ten seat calls. I'm in the one seat.

Flop: 2-4-Q rainbow. Check-check to me. I bet $75. Habib check-raises to $150. Now, I know Habib expected me to bet here. I don't put him on a small set: I put him on AQ or KQ. He's a solid player, and I think he's disciplined enough to lay it down easily, especially since he's played with me some, and knows I'm not a maniac. His min-raise is his way of asking me "Do you have A-K? TT maybe? If so you should lay it down." I look around the dealer and verify that the ten seat has folded before quickly and confidently coming over the top all-in, for Habib's last $300. My bet says: "No, Habib, I have AA or KK. Believe it Bitch." It's a slightly smaller than pot sized raise, and he shakes his head in disbelief. I've just come over the top of his check-raise - I clearly have a very big hand. I really like the story I've told in this hand - consistent and reasonable... And then Habib makes a crying call. Fuck. I tap the table and tell him he's good. He shows A-Q, and it holds up. I actually feel ok about my play on this hand: I could have checked the flop and folded to a turn bet, and I certainly could have lost $300 less on the hand, but my play makes sense, and against an aggressive opponent, I can't laydown my hand to a min-raise there. It's either fold or re-raise, and I chose the latter.

However, after losing another $500 pot, and a $200 pot, I made this play, which could go down as "the worst hand I ever played." I write about it because I keep trying to defend the play in my head, but it's like Alcoholics Anonymous... or Gamblers Anonymous: the first step is admitting I have a problem. So, without further ado, my name is Kid Dynamite, and I played this hand like shit:

Habib straddles UTG. I'm next with A-Q offsuit, and I limp with the possibility of limp-reraising in my mind. I'm stuck 1 1/2 buyins at this point, which is completely irrelevant, but I did have a sense of "get even" in my head. It's funny, because I have a very vivid recollection of myself earlier this afternoon as I left work thinking to myself as I recalled hands: I am untiltable. So, Joe raises to $15 after one player folds. Joe is a tight, solid, but perhaps too passive player. He's a very good player, but tends to quickly temper his aggression if he meets resistance. 5 players call Joe's raise and it's back to me.

Now, a few weeks ago, I wrote about a hand I played with Joe where he min-raised me out of position, and I absolutely KNEW he had a medium hand, instead of a big hand. Here, I had the same read: the game has been playing very loose. If Joe made it $25, he could expect to be called a few times, so he KNEW he'd be called multiple times with a $15 raise. Joe is not the kind of player who wants to play AA or KK in early position in a 6-way pot. He cannot have a big hand.

I re-raise to $115. Joe makes it $215 to go: min-re-raising me. Joe has $200 left after the raise, I have him covered. All fold back to me. I'm shaking my head, "This doesn't make sense Joe," I don't get it. Joe must know I'm tiltable here, and he's trying to defend against what he views as a steal from me. Fuck you Joe - I'm not letting your medium pair off the hook. I call.

flop: K-J-6 rainbow. I bet $225, putting Joe all-in. He shakes his head. He can't believe it, but he calls after 45 seconds. The Q on the turn and Ace on the river are no help, as Joe turns over AA. Wow. What the fuck am I doing?

I took a shot preflop with my raise - I could have called $10 more, closed the action, and seen a cheap flop, but I went the aggressive route instead. This isn't a huge blunder, but once Joe re-raises me again, I must lay this hand down. I was so keen on my read: that he would not make it $15 after a $5 straddle and my call of the straddle with a big hand; I let it blind me to the possibility that he could indeed have a big hand, and I lost at least $300 too much on this hand.

My flop push was a desperation play, which I'd probably only make against very specific players, but even then is almost unjustifiable, especially considering how my session had gone: Unlike the earlier hand against Habib, I couldn't reasonably expect Joe to give me credit for a monster hand.

One common theme in these hands is the min-raise: I'm clearly having a problem reacting to min-raises and deciphering their meaning. I need to get it through my head that it can be ok to fold to a min-raise.

until next time,

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pass the Sugar!

Last night's Thanksgiving Eve Kid Dynamite homegame brought out the best of the old school and the new school.
AltonEvil made his Ali-like return to the ring, and with Vortex and Ranxx joining the fun, the Fish Factor was noticeably low. Regulars H0nus and Mergie were there as always, and SoxLover made his KD Homegame debut, earning himself a link on the KD blogroll. It's always a little awkward inviting someone you only know from the internet to your homegame: I don't know if SoxLover is some psycho, and he's worried that I'm going to lock him in the closet and man-rape him like Zed from Pulp Fiction. When SoxLover came to my door, we both had an "Oh, it's you" moment - as we know each other from Playstation.
SoxLover quickly welcomed himself to the table by dropping the hammer on H0nus, who the repeatedly tried to "pay it forward" by dropping the hammer on others, to no avail.
I put an ESPN made-for-tv-beat on the Vortex when I raised from UTG with A-Q suited. He came over the top for a pot sized re-raise, and I, knowing that the Vortex likes to push me around, re-potted it. Vortex had K-K, and came over the top for a small re-raise which I called with a headshake. After a Q-7-7 flop, I screamed "PASS THE SUGAR," which happened to work this time... Turn: 7. River... wait for it.... SEVEN! Yeah baby - I made quad sevens, ace kicker to counterfeit Vortex's kings. Good times.
Ranxx arrived late, and further tilted me by breaking out his jumbo index Kem cards that look like Draw Two cards. Aiyahh!
Mergie demolished a six-pack of Bud tall-boys, and then honorably moved on to my Natty Ice stash. Kudos Mergie - no beer snobs here.
We eventually switched to PL Omaha, and true to my prediction that someone would get stacked in the first orbit, I stacked Honus when I flopped top set against his big wrap draw, and my hand held up. I also got my revenge on Ranxx for the Draw Two cards, by drawing to a wrap straight in PL Omaha with a two-flush on the board and calling him after catching - even though my straight card completed the flush. Vortex broke out "I can dodge bullets baby!" after laying down top two pair to H0nus's rivered gutshot.
We finally screened the Shana "Roast Beef" Hyatt Hawaiian Tropic video, which, after all the anticipation, was anticlimactic to say the least.
I ended the night up $420, which, combined with the $115 I hammered out in 90 minutes at the club earlier in the day, made for a somewhat productive day.
This morning, me and Mrs. Dynamite are cooking up a storm:
Oven roasted chicken with garlic/basil rub
White bread stuffing with hot and sweet sausage
Roasted butternut squash
Sauteed greenbeans
Skin-on mashed potatoes
Mrs. Dynamite's Homemade Apple Pie
Cranberry-Pineapple sauce
wine: Vincent Arroyo 2003 Melange Reserve (Napa)
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may the flop be with you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rhymin' and Stealin'

Now, when you take an idea from another blog, you need to give that blog credit. I'm sure there's a "bloggers code" somewhere. So, when I stumbled upon Oddjack's link via WickedChops' link to an article that DonkeyPuncher wrote about what would happen if we compared professional wrestling stars to poker celebrities, I was more than a little pissed not to see any credit given to Yours Truly. After all, I started the discussion way back on October 27th, debating how Marco Traniello and Mel Judah should settle the question: "who is the greatest former-hairdresser-turned-poker-pro on the Circuit today?"

That said, I think DonkeyPuncher did a spectacular job with the analysis which I never had time to fully explore. The analogy between Kerry Von Erich and Stuey Ungar is about as good a parallel as one could possibly draw - other than my own Greg "Fossilman" Raymer --> "The Earthquake" John Tenta. DP also has some other cool stuff on his site, like a snippet of trash talking chat between David Oppenheim and Phil Ivey. I think I'm going to add him to my rotation of regularly read blogs, even though he stole my brilliant idea and didn't give me due props.
ZenPoker thought of the day: as Bones once told me, "Remember, when you're looking for solutions to problems in your poker game, look to Piper." If Rowdy Roddy Piper's words of wisdom cannot guide you, you need serious help. In almost all poker scenarios, the answer will either be
"Just when they thought they had the answers, I changed the questions,"
"Don't throw rocks at a man with a machine gun."
Seriously. Those two quotes will address all of your poker problems. Chew on that.

I also endorse, without reciprocity, Oddjack, WickedChops, Pauly, and Bobby Bracelet. If I had more time, I'd be like these guys. Except my junk wouldn't be as big as Bobby's.

Happy Thanksgiving to all - the KD homegame Thanksgiving Eve edition will be kicking off tomorrow evening, stay tuned for updates.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Catching Up With ESPN

I'm a few weeks behind on my ESPN WSOP recaps, so lets get right to it:

Day 4 featured Greg "Fossilman" Raymer as the start of day chipleader. Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, John Juanda and Farzad Bonyadi all had to assassinate each other at the same table! Yikes - that's a murderer's row, considering the number of player remaining (which, I'm sorry to say, I do not know, but I think it's 100+).

Early on we see an interesting hand featuring internet pro Dustin "Neverwin" Wolf, pro Andy Black, and Bart Rice. I don't want to pre-judge Bart from limited ESPN footage, but he appears to be a novice.

In this hand, Bart limps with A-7, and Neverwin limps on the button with 7-7. Black raises to 46k from the BB with TT, and both players call. Of course, we don't know what the blinds are, but let's continue:

The flop is 2-A-5 with 2 hearts, and both players check to Neverwin, who bets 70k. Now, Andrew Black starts talking out loud about how Neverwin MUST have hammered that flop hard. He rambles for 15 seconds and then mucks. The problem is, Bart Rice mucks too! Andrew should know better than to talk with another player in the hand, as I'm pretty fucking sure there is not a chance in hell Bart Rice is the kind of player who check-folds an ace there.

We get another focus on the Phil Ivey fan club: Pat & Mel Humphreys. It is revealed that Mel, who looks like TJ Cloutier, has cancer. Of course, all he wanted to know from his doctor was "Will I still be able to go to the WSOP to watch Phil Ivey play?" Now I love Phil Ivey as much as the next guy, but when I find out I have cancer, I'm sure as fuck NOT going to make watching him play into my top priority. I'd me more concerned with questions like, "Can my liver still digest a liter of vodka?" "Can my back handle 18 hours sitting in a NLHE cash game?" "Will lapdances make the cancer worse?" (only if Mrs. Dynamite has dumped me, of course).

Adam "There's no crying in poker" Friedman really thinks he's hot shit. He tells The Mouth "You just wish you were 1/2 as good as me at my age." Umm, no Adam, I think The Mouth was up to his eyeballs in blow and hookers at your age - I don't think he's worried that you think you are a better player than he was.

Big Joe Stillman annihilates Shane Barholomew with not one, but TWO river suckouts. When he finally gets eliminated, Joe bitches out his opponent, Michael Kessler, for making a "bad" preflop call. It's the you-missed-that-sarcasm-Moment-of-The-Week:

"Nice call," Joe tells him sarcastically. "Thanks," Kessler is honestly appreciative.
Then Joe is quoted on camera: "Those are the kinda people who are gonna win this tournament." If only he knew how fishily ESPN had portrayed him...

Mike the Mouth plays a pot against a Casper Christensen, at the 5k-10k blind level. Christensen raises to 40k with TT, and Mouth calls with K-Q. The flop is 2-A-J rainbow, and now Christensen checks and Mouth bets 50k. Christensen check-raises to 150k, and The Mouth comes over the top all-in! Christensen folds, and The Mouth tells him "The Kiddie Game is down the street," as he shows his fantastic play.

Steve Marx shows why it's sometimes best to Bet the Nuts! He finds K-J offsuit on the button (I think) of a 4-way unraised pot. When the flop comes K-K-J and everyone checks to him, Marx bets 70k. Matusow calls him. The turn is a 5 and both players check. When a nine hits the river and Matusow checks again, Marx comes right out with a healthy 200k! His bet looks so suspicious that Matusow calls him down - sorry, I have no idea what the Mouth had, but he couldn't beat a king or a jack. By making a nice, normal sized bet on the river, instead of a little piddly value bet, Marx was able to induce a call.

The second hour of the broadcast featured the final 58 players on day 5. Fossilman's glasses are looking a bit askew: I wonder if he sat on them??? Best "Summary of the situation in a single word" this week goes to James Butt. When Butt viciously overbets the pot on a 5-T-4 board by announcing "All-in," his opponent, Sharham "Sean" Sheikan replies: "call." Butt blurts out: "FUCK" and yes, he was fucked, drawing slim, and got eliminated.

Tiffany Williamson proves to be the most thoroughly annoying idiot thus far, made more annoying by the fact that she seems to have absolutely no fucking clue what she is doing, and yet eventually managed to take home $400k in 15th place!

Sheik opens a pot for 100k with A-A. Tiffany raises to 250k with KhJh. Sheik comes over the top all-in for about 2MM! Easy laydown right? Nope... Tiffany goes into the tank... for TEN FUCKING MINUTES! The best part of this scene, as they show several hands at other tables while she is thinking, is that Tiffany is spouting out random poker comments that may make sense in some other context, but make absolutely NO sense in this context: It's almost as if the ESPN producers were trying to give her smart things to say, only the things weren't smart, because they didn't apply! "I did this 2 days ago. I doubled up with this hand. Unless you have aces - I don't think you have aces." Ummm.. yeah... and I hope he doesn't have KK... or QQ... or JJ... or A-K... or A-J... I guess A-Q wouldn't be toooooo bad...

Tiffany walks away toward the crowd, and the stoic Sheik comes to life, "Yo, yo, I object - you can't do that lady!" I guess the producer fed her another asinine quote: "It's not the nuts, but I don't think you have the nuts either," which was the understatement of the week, but finally she fails to call when the clock is put on her, and her hand is mucked!

Shortly thereafter, Tom Sartori raises the pot in EP with 7-7, and Tiffany re-raises with A-J. Fossilman wakes up with KK, and comes all-in over the top, for a tremendous overbet. Tiffany inquires, "Count it please," and before Raymer's chips are even touched by the dealer, Sheik calls the clock on her! Tiffany objects that she has the right to know how big the bet is before the clock starts, and I think she's right, but she calls well within her alotted time anyway. Fossilman dodges a bullet, and now has a dominant stack, and appears poised to make a real run at the impossible back-to-back victories.

The oddest segment of the day is Andrew Black openly bawling at the table because another player, Bing Wang, was confused about the length of the break, and is being blinded off. Black wants the table to purposely slow down the pace of play, so that Wang won't be hurt as badly, but apparently they will not oblige. Norman Chad sums it up best, "I like Bing Wang as much as the next guy, but..." The best part is when Bing Wang returns to the table and really doesn't seem to care: he's just psyched to be deep into the money (he took home $274k)!

Sheik looks like a card rack as he catches hand after hand, but when his QQ is cracked by Tiff's A-7, he's on tilt. Joseph Hachem comes to the table and finds AA twice in rapid succession! So that's how it's done!

stay tuned for the rest of the action as the final 27 countdown - next time.


Random Internet Joy

I think Miniature Donkeys could be a hot holiday gift idea.

If you ever need a random fact about Chuck Norris, there's only one place to go. A sampling:
-Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked
names for his left and right legs.

-The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris's fist.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

TOC Controversy

I don't know if you are aware of the controversy regarding the Tournament of Champions: Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson were given entries into the freeroll, even though they didn't qualify, and this outraged other players. To qualify, you had to finish in the top 20 of a WSOP Circuit $10k event, or at the final table of the WSOP Main Event.

Kinda a paradoxical argument: on the one hand, these three players being included reduces everyone else's EV. On the other hand, it's a fucking FREEROLL!

paul phillips thread here.

ESPN thread here.

Vegas: Day Four

If you haven't already done so, read about Day One, Day Two, and Day Three.

On our final day in Vegas, Mrs. Dynamite and I wandered over to the Fashion Show Mall across from Wynn. We hit the food court for breakfast: I had an unimpressive omelet from the Philly Cheese Steak Company.

We roamed around the mall, which is actually pretty nice, despite it's unusually artsy, and thus confusing, layout. I was biding my time all morning, as the Wynn $300 + $30 NLHE tourney beckoned.

I returned to the Wynn, and bought into the tourney, which is known for it's great structure: blinds start at 25-50, with T3000 starting stacks and 45 minute levels! This beneficial structure attracts a much tougher field than the Mirage tourney.

My starting table was solid: a bunch of tight-aggressive players, with only 2 fish mixed in. I took my seat, and again asked the dealer if the TDA rules meant a 10 minute penalty for swearing. Unfortunately, he told me "yes," so I couldn't nail him with "Do you know who the fuck I am?"

I won a few small pots early, and then lost one, after raising preflop with AK, and following through with a flop bet. My opponent called me with second pair, and we checked it down. There was one noticeably fishy player at my table, and I met my ruthlessly efficient early demise when I entered a pot he initiated:

Fishcakes raises the 25-50 blinds to T175 from UTG. 3 folds to me, and I smooth call with A-J suited in hearts. A tight player behind me who has already doubled up with AA vs AK re-raises to T600. The fish folds, and it's back to me. I have about T3000 to start the hand.

After thinking for about 20 seconds, I decide to call and see the flop.

flop: 9-8-2 with 2 hearts. I have 2 overcards and the nut flush draw. I check, and my opponent bets out T800. With little hesitation, I come over the top all-in for my stack: about T2400 more. My opponent, with a similar lack of hesitation, calls me. He turns over KK, and I'm actually surprised he called so fast. I think if he hadn't already doubled up, this was the type of player who was capable of mucking kings here. The way I played the hand was also VERY consistent with a medium pair that had just spiked a set.

My live draw didn't get there, and I was evicted from the Wynn tourney in a brutally efficient 25 minutes. At first I was furious with myself for going down in flames so fast, but looking back at it, I'm not unhappy with the way I played the hand: I had solid fold equity, and plenty of outs when I got called. Yes, the tourney structure was such that I didn't need to push as hard I did on this pot, but at the same time, doubling up early would allow me more flexibility to take advantage of overly tight opponents. At least I'd have ample time to take advantage of the peach chip game! E-dub was left to languish in tourney hell for a few more hours before he was finally bumped from the tourney.

Over in 1-3 NL peach chip game, there was a pretty fishy crowd for a Tuesday. I was, as had been the case all weekend, clearly the best player at the table, and was pushing pots hard. Now, in NL cash games, I don't chop. Still, I'm not an idiot, and I don't sit down at the table and announce "I don't chop." It's not good for table image to start out confrontationally, but I'm always looking for a place to explain that fact, so that I can avoid a problem before one presents itself. After several orbits, two of my opponents finally chop a pot. I casually comment to the players on either side of me, "By the way, I don't chop."

Now, an older lady, local wannabe pro, 3 seats to my left mutters something under her breath to the player next to her about how "the house wins when players don't chop." She clearly wants me to hear, so I oblige and politely say, "What's that?"

"Not chopping is only good for the house. You're young. You'll learn." Holy Fuck! Does she know who the FUCK she's talking to? Obviously not. I smile, "Actually, the $2 doesn't really matter when we're playing for our whole stacks, and by the way, I've probably played more hands than you," perfectly friendly, yet patronizing. "I don't think so," she retorts, and I keep an ear to ear grin, while vowing to keep my cool until I can destack this lady.

I don't have to wait long to get my chance. After several limpers, I limp in late position with T-9 offsuit. The lady calls behind me.

I finally connect with a flop: 6-7-8 with two spades! I flopped the nut straight. UTG, a young guy who looks like a cross between John Kerry, Jay Leno and Cameron from Ferris Beuller's Day off, bets out $6. There's a call before me, and I raise to $36. Now the lady bumps it to $60, and I don't even realize that it's not a valid raise! Since my raise was $30, hers has to be $30 more, but I will later learn that at the Wynn, had I called the floor, she'd be required to complete the raise. Of course, I say nothing, and the UTG better and caller fold. I move all-in, and it's back to my nemesis. She only has about $120 left, and there's a little more than that in the pot: about $150, BEFORE my all-in.

She goes into the tank. At this point, Mrs. Dynamite and E-dub's wife return from their Venetian Spa appointments, and immediately start talking to me. I'm trying to fend them off, explaining that I'm in the middle of a hand, and have just put my entire stack into the pot.

My nemesis eventually calls, and I know she's got a set or two pair, not a flush draw. When the turn brings the 8 of clubs, I shake my hand and mutter "fuck" very quietly. I turn my straight face up, and she shows me her pocket 7's: she's filled up.

In fine form, the lady plays 3 more hands, and then racks up my chips and leaves. Ha. I'm untiltable though, appreciating the fact that I probably just made her month, and vow to screw down and extract my revenge on the rest of the table.

Eventually, E-dub ends up at my table, and we duel a little. I grind back up, and then have to make an "I can dodge bullets laydown:"

I'm in the BB, and check my A-7 behind 5 limpers. The flop comes A-T-7, with 2 hearts, and a very old lady in the SB checks to me. I bet $15, and 2 call along with her. The turn is a blank and she checks to me. I bet $60. Only the old lady calls. The river is a 3rd heart, and now the old lady freezes. She finally moves her final $35 into the pot, and I laugh. I muck my A-7 faceup with very little hesitation, and shake my head, in awe of this crappy turn of events. There are "ooohs" and "aaahhhhhhs" from the table at how I could lay this down. Even E-dub couldn't remind me to bang out "I can dodge bullets baby!" I walk over to the rail to stretch and maintain my composure, and as I return, she shows me her J-5 of hearts. I smile and rap the table. E-dub later commented on my remarkable composure during that kick in the junk.

Suddenly, the texture of the table changes in a hurry - from several painfully slow fish, to a table full of capable players, and we're playing at light speed: the game is flying, and the fast pace results in some action, as the illusion of fast play and fast chips cause some of the tighter players to open up. There is a French Omaha hi-low pro between E-Dub and myself, and another pro to my left. I'm getting ready to leave, when I call a $9 UTG raise from E-dub after the French Omaha pro calls. I'm holding 5-6 of spades, looking to put a vicious beat on E-dub.

The flop came with two spades, I think it was K-Q-3. Both E-dub and the Frenchman checked to me. I checked behind them.

The turn brought an offsuit 6, and now E-dub came out firing with $30. The Frenchman folded, and I beat E-dub into the pot, announcing to him, "I'm taking this pot from you on the river. I just want you to know this," "Really? ok." He replies. "I'm completely serious. To the felt. I'm taking this pot." I enforce the point.

The river doesn't help me: I can't remember what it was, but it wasn't a spade, and it wasn't a big card. E-dub thought hard about betting, but checked to me. I bet $45, and he sheepishly folded the hammer faceup. Holy fuck! E-dub tried to drop the fucking hammer on me! I was bluffing with the best hand again! He laughs out loud, and I now know he was trying to checkraise me on the flop. I can't believe he went for such a bold, TILT-a-riffic play against me - sonofa... The Vortex would have had the stones to follow through with the pure-bluff-raise on the river!

After 6 hours, I've fought back to even, and then back down to -$215.

I showered up, and met E-dub and his wife for dinner across the street at Maggione's, a wannabe Little Italy ripoff with big portions of mediocre food. The calamari was actually quite good, but the chicken marsala annihilated my digestive track.

We hit the Treasure Island, and found a single deck BJ game right near the door. Me and E-dub were grinding it out, but as a few other players joined us, it quickly became boring: single deck with 4 players sucks, as you see a maximum of 2 rounds. I was forced to use the crapper near the high-limit slots pit, as the chicken marsala had me double over in agony. I consider the bathroom near the Mirage poker room to be like my Vegas home court crapper, and I was hoping the TI's would be just as friendly, since it's a sister casino to the Mirage. Although the crapper lacked the luxury of the Mirage's (and the luxuries of the Wynn), I was in no position to be choosy, and later had to visit the bathroom on the OTHER side of the casino floor, near the gift shop. In the end, I dropped a DOUBLE-DOUBLE deuce at the TI: $200 in the single deck bj game, and 2 deuces in the bathrooms! On the way out, I tried to leave our Maggione's leftovers as a tip to our friendly dealer, but he was forbidden from accepting such gratuities. I told him to just stuff it in the drop box, but again, no go.

We moved to the Frontier, in search of some face down double deck, and were treated to a fantastic game. The Frontier had a $25 face down double deck game where they dealt what must have been 80% penetration - it was fantastic. There was a drunk kid from the South in the 1 seat, who, whenever we all won a big hand, would shout "EVERYONE WINS AT THE SAHARA... OR WHEREVER THE HECK WE ARE," and he'd change it to Binions, Stratosphere, etc. Great stuff.

I took some vicious beats, and was down to the felt, when I executed a rebuy in what seemed to be an opportune situation. The deck was juicy, and I feigned TILT, quadrupling my bet with my newly purchased stack. I was promptly dealt a bj, which I chose NOT to slowroll, and on the next hand, every player had a bigger bet out, with a count around +8! E-dub finds Q-J offsuit, and SPLITS 'em against the dealer's 5. I find pocket 9's, and split them, drawing two nineteens. The Asian guy @ 3rd base splits his pocket 3's, and gets another unit out by doubling one of them.

We are ready to reap our rewards when... the dealer flips her hole card: Six in the hole (opportunity for another blackjack pun here)... "NOOOO" we scream in unison, and the dealer pauses for just a second before snapping off the next card: TEN! Aiyahhh! What a way to go out!

I pick up from the Frontier down $520 and head back to the Wynn for a few hours of rest before our 9:30 am flight to San Francisco, where'd we'd then be driving to Napa. This is when the Wynn fucked up my 7:30am wakeup call and hit me at 5:30am instead. A final kick in the junk from the City in the Desert.

Final Tallies:

Poker Cash games:
+$666 Wynn Peach Chip: Saturday
+$270 Wynn Peach Chip: Sunday
-$101 Mirage $1-$2 NL and $2-5NL
+$108 Wynn $2-5 NL: Monday
-$215 Wynn Peach Chip: Tuesday
Net: +$728

Poker Tourneys:
-$530 Mirage Sunday NL
-$330 Wynn Tuesday NL
Net: -$860

+$480 Mirage Sunday
+$407 IP Sunday
-$720 Frontier Tuesday
Net: $+167

NL opponents stacked: 6
BJ dealers tilted: 4
Cabbies hard selling the Spearmint Rhino completely unsolicited: 2
Hours of NL cash games played: 17
Casino crappers utilized: 2
WSOP World Champions spotted: 1
Lap Dances: 0
Fights with Mrs. Dynamite: 0

Grand Total P&L: +$35 Boo Yah.

until next time,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Vegas: Day Three

Monday morning Mrs. Dynamite and I headed over to the food court at the Venetian to hammer out the breakfast of champions: Panda Express. I then put Mrs. Dynamite on tilt by failing the test and taking her up on her word when she said "I don't mind if you go play poker." I always fail that test...

Arriving back at the Wynn poker room Monday around 11:30am, there wasn't a lot of action: I put my name on the 1-3 Peach Chip list, and the 2-5NL list, and also said "What the Fuck" and joined the 4-8 and 8-16 limit lists.

The Big Show was crushing a 4-8 limit game, when I came to peer over his shoulder. There was the Douchebag of the Week in the 7 seat, with a veritable fucking PYRAMID of blue $1 chips. ONE THOUSAND chips stacked in a beautiful 3-d tower. IN THE FUCKING $4-$8 LIMIT GAME! Now, if you told me that you'd seen this, I'd lay 75-1 that the douchebag was also wearing sunglasses, but strangely enough, he apparently felt safe enough behind his impenetrable mountain of $1 chips that he didn't need the uber-donk sunglasses factor to complete the ultimate low-limit Bill Fillmaff image. I begged the Big Show out loud right in front of the douchebag to take a picture of him on his cellphone camera, but Big Show refused to accommodate me.

There was a similar character in the 2-5NL game on Monday and Tuesday: he bought in for about $15,000: in a motley assortment of ample stacks of red $5 chips arranged in a multi-level honeycomb, along with stacks of green $25 chips, and black $100 chips thrown in for color. To finish the art, he had some bling artfully draped on the top of his stack. At least it was a NL game though: I think the $1 super-pyramid in the $4-$8 game is overkill. Interestingly enough, another player told me that an opponent in the NL game had retaliated by buying in for $20,000, and that it killed the game, as neither player wanted to play a big pot with the other. I find this shocking, because usually the whole point of players wanting a big stack is that they have confidence exploiting the weaknesses of OPPONENTS who don't want to go broke.

Anyway, I get called for the $8-$16 game, which is played with, you guessed it, it's OWN denomination of chip: the $2 gold chips (or brown chips, depending on your optimist/pessimist slant at the time: they are either SF 49'er gold, or poo brown). Within 4 hands, I played a big pot which was destined to TILT me. Now keep in mind, I haven't played limit hold'em in about 18 months - and making the adjustment from NL to Limit is essential and can be difficult, but I tried to maintain the Killer Poker mindset that I last took to the limit tables many months ago.

I was 2nd to act, with my signature hand: Friday In Vegas: J-J. UTG raised to $16, and I beat him to the pot making it $24. All folded to the SB, who called, and UTG called as well.

flop: 2-3-6 rainbow. SB bets out. UTG raises! What the fuck? I hate limit poker! Fuck this - I know what E-dub would do here: I three bet! SB calls 2 cold, UTG calls.

The turn is an offsuit Ten, and now the SB bets out again! UTG calls, and I slow down and just call.

The river brings a five, and it's check-check to me. I turn over my hooks, and the SB lamely tables A-Q. UTG shows 7-7. Boo Yah! I won a nice limit pot with J-J! I proceeded to give back 1/2 of my profits on the next hand, when I raised preflop with K-J suited, and got called down all the way by some schmuck holding pocket 4's.

I got called to start a new 2-5NL table, and was surprised to see a character from the past: the Cowboy. I had previously met Cowboy at the Mirage in January - he's a big time sportsbettor, and Vegas local. He likes to try to run over games with his patented "Cowboy Up" declaration as he pushes his whole stack in. Cowboy is a true character: with a bolo tie, poofy shirt and Cowboy hat. Although he cultivates an image, Cowboy is no fool. I immediately greet him and smile, again decked out in my Red Sox sweatshirt and hat, and tell him that I saw him last before the prior Indy-New England game in January. "Well, I probably gave you a loser that time," he admits, as the Pats stomped Indy in the snow @ Gillette that cold January day. Tonight, the Colts and Pats are playing again, and I ask him, "How about tonight?" "Indy in the first half. Big." He tells me with the same confidence (That pick came through, so Cowboy is 1 for 2)

Cowboy has a propensity for moving all in on the very first hand, to try to create a wild image he can take advantage of later, and to try to loosen up the game. I knew this, and on the very first hand, I found K-Q suited in EP. I raised to $25, and it was folded to Cowboy in the BB, who made a fake move towards his chips, then smiled at me, and just called. I was ready to commit my $500 stack here - as I fully expected him to come over the top of me, but Cowboy actually realized that I was not one to be fucked with, and that I knew his gig.

On a raggedy flop, we both checked, and did the same on a blank turn. When a king peeled off on the river, he bet $50 into me, and I insta-called, and took down the pot - he had 3-8 offsuit.

A kid from Cleveland was sitting to my immediate left, and a local pro was to my immediate right. The pro was a young kid who had just graduated from B.U. and moved to Vegas to play poker. The one thing I couldn't understand, after sitting in the game with him for a while, was why he didn't try to find a better game: this game was not good - there were several local pros, the Cowboy, and Kid Dynamite. And I wasn't exactly giving my chips away. I guess the kid from Cleveland put it best when he muttered to me "This is a very bad game to be stuck in," and he would know - he was into his second $500 buy-in after running into a rock's flopped set.

While the Cleveland Steamer was steaming, I piled it on in this pot that didn't go exactly as I'd planned:

I was in MP and opened for $25 with A-J suited. Cleveland cold called me, and everyone else folded. We each had about $500 in chips.

The flop came 8 high with 2 clubs, not my suit. I bet out $50, and Cleveland called.

The turn was another offsuit rag, and now I checked. Cleveland bet out $75, and instead of mucking, I think I went through this train of thought: This guy completely expected me to bet the flop - after all, I raised preflop. He figures he'll play his position on me, freeze me by calling me on the flop, and then take the pot on the turn when I can't follow through without a big hand. In conclusion, I decided I'd foil his plan to outplay me and get back on the winning track, and I unleashed the brutal: CHECKRAISE TO $200!

Blammo! What a fucking play. Brilliant. I love it. Until he calls!!! Fuck. Uh Oh.. Now I've lost about $250 too much on this hand.. Fuck.

The river did NOT complete the flush, and perhaps I could have really knuckled up and fired a final bullet at this pot, but I decided it'd been costly enough. I checked, and my opponent went into the tank. Hold on - I suddenly knew exactly what was going on - I think I actually have the best hand! This guy is on a busted flush draw, but he's running so bad, he feels like NOTHING is working for him, he's trying to decide if he has the stones to fire a bluff at this pot. How can he though - after I raised preflop, bet the flop, checkraised the turn, and then checked to him to INDUCE a bluff?!?!? He finally taps the table and checks. I announce "Ace high." He doesn't move. I wait 5 seconds... I turn my hand over... "ooohhh..ahhhhh" from the rest of the table. He shakes his head and mucks! I felt like a man on death row given a reprieve! What a nice bonus to be bluffing with the best hand all along.

I played a hand with the young pro earlier, while he was sitting across the table from me: I made it $25 from UTG with A-K of hearts, and he was on the button, bumping it to $50. I though, and made it $200, pretty much committing myself. He mucked QQ! That's the kind of game this was - tighter than I'm used to, to say the least. In my local game, you'd have to pry QQ from Ivan's cold dead fingers to get him to lay it down preflop.

I later ran the Cowboy off a big hand by giving him some of his own medicine. I had been telling him "We have to play a big pot in the next 30 minutes, " "We have to play a big pot in the next 20 minutes," and continuing to give him a countdown, as I knew I had to go get ready for dinner. I somehow ended up playing a pot with him where I was in the BB with J-9, and called a meaningless preflop raise from him after 2 other callers.

The flop came 9-T-Q, and I check-called a $100 pot sized bet from him. When the turn blanked off. I quickly announced "Cowboy up," and shoved my $450 in. Cowboy was befuddled, and I was shocked to see him throw away a jack which he exposed as he mucked. I have no doubt that I beat him to the punch, as Cowboy LOVES to make those semi-bluffs on draws when he'll have outs if he happens to get called. My play was reckless and strange, but it worked in this situation. "You have a straight?" he drawled. I nodded. "King Jack?" he guessed. "Nope. The ass end of it," I lied.

I played a final note-worthy hand when I finally woke up with a big hand: A-A in EP. I made it $25 and got called four times! The flop came 5-5-9 with two clubs (I had the ace of clubs), and I fired out $100. Everyone folded to the young pro to my right who thought briefly. Now, preflop, after 3 people had called my bet, this kid was in the BB, and gave serious though to re-raising. I was pretty sure he had a hand like TT, and wanted to re-raise preflop, but figured he could also just call. Now, postflop, it was back to him, and it felt STRONGLY that he had an overpair when he hesitated. He finally mucked, and I winced.

"I'll show you one," I said, and laid my cards on the table.
He turned over the ace of clubs, and groaned, putting me on a flush draw: "I knew you had a big pair or two big clubs,"
"I though you had an overpair!" I responded.
"I DID!" he admitted. And I gave him the Jean-Robert Bellande "Excellent Laydown" as I showed my other ace.

I ended the 4 hour session +$108, and returned to the room to shower and get ready for dinner @ Prime in the Bellagio, with Mrs. Dynamite, E-dub, and his pregnant wife. We had the most incredibly pretentious waiter, Danny, I have ever encountered in my life - he was like a fucking bad Saturday Night Live skit. Although E-dub pushed for a $17,000 bottle of Chateu l'something, I ordered a bottle of Cab-Shiraz, and as he walked away, he confirmed "Are we sure this is what we're looking for?" "Yes" I told him. "Are we looking for something silky and smooth?" "We want that one." (Douchebag!) And he went off to retrieve the bottle.

When he returned, I had to show him I was no fool, and retorted, "I'm surprised to hear you describe this wine as silky and smooth - it's really not," Kid Dynamite is CULTURED! Danny replied, "Oh no, I know, I just wanted to make sure that wasn't what you were expecting."

When E-dub ordered the fois-gras ravioli, Danny went into a soliloquy about how if E-dub was a "Fois Fan" - yeah - he said "Fois Fan" about 5 times, then he should try the special blah blah blah blah blah. I need to get E-dub a shirt that says "Fois Fan" on it. I was looking at Danny the Waiter with pure shock in my eyes, and simply PRAYING that Mrs. Dynamite would catch my psychic waves and punch him right in the junk. punch-him-in-the-junk-punch-him-in-the-junk-punch-him-in-the-junk I willed her silently... Unfortunately, my brain waves failed to motivate Mrs. Dynamite, and E-dub was also left with insufficient time to think of a suitably pompous reply when Danny came to see how he was enjoying the "FOIS."

Dinner was ok, although my fillet mignon was significantly overcooked, I plugged E-dub with the check, on the grounds that he stilled owed me for the Amazing Jonathan tickets - the show we were going to see at the Rio after dinner. Amazing Jonathan is a very funny comedian/magician - I strongly recommend you check him out if you have the chance.

Before heading over to see Amazing Jonathan, we stopped by the Bellagio sports book to check out the Monday Night Football progress (Patriots getting killed) - and to scope the action in the poker room. While Saturday night had been uneventful in terms of poker celebs, Monday night had me feeling like a star-struck kid: Scott Fishman (who is about 5 feet tall), Jeff Lissandro, John Esposito, Allen Cunningham and Amir Fucking Vahedi were playing in a $25-$50 NL cash game. There was a full table of $100-$200 deuce-seven triple draw lowball going on, and my main man Jean-Robert Bellande was playing heads up $200-$400 deuce-seven triple draw against a guy I didn't recognize.

I stood back in the corner of the upper level where the high stakes games were, and watched J-R Bellande's game. He took some brutal beats, getting a pat 7-6-5-3-2 cracked, and was on serious tilt. Scott Fishman was roaming around talking on his cell phone ranting about beats. Now, J-R Bellande's brother is my fraternity brother from college, and I wanted to go say hi to him, but I knew better than to approach him when he was getting his ass handed to him. I wandered in and out, and about 20 minutes later, he went on a run, ripping through about 8 straight pots, and his opponent got up to take a bathroom break. I went over to introduce myself, and Jean-Robert was gracious, telling me that his brother Reggie had told him that I'd recognized him and asked about him. He invited me to sit down at the table to get a closer look. I declined, but then he advised me, "You really shouldn't stand behind my opponent, because you know me," - so I guess we're BOYZ now!

The action at the Bellagio was frantic, and it was great to see all these guys live. Vahedi and his boys walking around - the pros complaining to each other about the beats they take just like the donkey's too - high stakes 2-7 triple draw!

We headed over to the Sahara for the Amazing Jonathan show, and I was unimpressed by the joint. I can love a lower-class place like the Imperial Palace, Frontier, or O'Sheas, but the Sahara just sucked. The show was good, and we emerged exhausted, and headed back to bed to regroup for our final day in Vegas on Tuesday. Something must have been wrong with our cabbie, because he did NOT try to take us to the Spearmint Rhino. Shit Happens.

until next time,

Monday, November 14, 2005

Vegas: Day Two

Somehow, in my excitement to get part one of my Vegas trip report published, I neglected to mention one of the nicer amenities at Wynn: In the urinals in the men's rooms, they have this thing from that's like 2 little pieces of astro-turf for you to pee on. This fantastic invention is apparently optimally designed for minimal splashback, and works swimmingly.

Anyway, back to the report:

Sunday, Mrs. Dynamite and I slept in, and met Big Show and his gal for a jaunt over to the Venetian for breakfast/brunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe. Grand Luxe is an old favorite, with big, oily buffalo chicken sandwiches and their patented Asian nachos that cure all that ails you.

Me and Big Show hit the Venetian sports book to catch the end of the early NFL games, and caught a doozy in KC-OAK. KC was a 3 1/2 point favorite. OAK took a 3 point lead with a few minutes remaining, but KC drove down the field, and ended up on the 1 yard line with no timeouts and 6 seconds remaining! They showed balls, and went for the touchdown, which they got with a Larry Johnson leap into the endzone. The sportsbook ERUPTED - people couldn't believe their good fortune: KC would win by 4 and cover the spread. There was no time left on the clock...KC didn't line up for the extra point... Suddenly, the mood in the sportsbook took a palpable shift from ecstasy to panic - would KC kick the extra point with no time left? After a delay of several minutes, they did indeed kick the PAT, and the book exploded again.

After the early games ended, we returned to the Wynn, where I dominated the 1-3 NL peach chip game again for two hours. There was a guy to my immediate left who WANTED to play well, and TRIED to play well, but he was simply no match for Kid Dynamite repeatedly flopping the nuts in his face. Lucky for him he kept executing short re-buys after I liquidated him.... THREE TIMES. He ties the Vortex on my personal best list for "most times liquidated in one session."

First, I called his EP raise holding 4-4 on the button. When I flopped a set and smooth called his pot-sized flop bet, he was toast on the turn when he bet out, I raised, and he came over the top of me.

He rebought for about $150, and called me when I raised with A-T suited in hearts. When the flop came ten high with two hearts, I bet, he raised, and I came over the top of him. He called and shrugged "I need help." "If you need help, you're fucked," I told him, and quickly tabled my nut flush when the turn completed my hand with the K of hearts.

After his 3rd rebuy, we played a limped pot where I had Ad5d in the BB. The flop came KdQdJd, and I BET THE NUTS! My $9 flop bet was tempting to him I guess, because he came over the top of me all-in for about $100. I quickly called, almost apologizing as I did, and he realized his 8d9d was drawing dead. Card Rack in the hizzz-ouse!

We had to head over to the Mirage to take care of business in their Sunday afternoon tourney. The Mirage has finished their renovation of the area near what used to be the baccarat bar - they installed a high roller room, and a few new pits. After buying in to the tourney, we had a few minutes to kill, so we hit the ATM that is the Mirage double deck blackjack game. Unfortunately, the Mirage, along with some other casinos, no longer deals the double deck game face down, since it's faster if they just deal the cards up and the players don't have to touch them. Nevertheless, I took 19 units out of the bj game, and turned my attention to the tournament.

The tourney is a $300+$30 which gets you T1500. Unlimited $200 rebuys for the first hour get you T1500, and an optional $200 add on gets you T2000, so the add-on is basically mandatory. The blinds start at 25-25, and go up ever 1/2 hour, to 25-50, then 50-100, 100-200, 200-400 with ante. The structure ends up being relatively fast.

I take my seat, and noting that the entry ticket says "TDA RULES OBSERVED" I decide I better find out if that means a 10 minute penalty for inadvertent F-bombs. I ask the dealer, "Is there a penalty for foul language?" She shrugs, and shakes her head, looking at me like I have 2 heads. "Good." I reply, "Do you know WHO THE FUCK I AM?" and I wink, getting a genuine smile out of her. "Dynamite Kid?" she asks, looking at my card capping chip. Oy Vey... It's Kid Dynamite... but you'll know soon enough...

I quickly realized I was in a tough seat, with the two best players (besides me of course) to my immediate left: tough aggressive English cowboys who didn't take kindly to my own aggressive play. They also wanted nothing to do with me stealing their blinds. To my right were several butchers whose skill varied from little clue to absolutely no clue. I would have an opportunity to isolate them if the situation arose, but I'd need cards for that - these guys would not be bluffed.

I chip away early, and am up to about T1900, when I play this pot, which may be one of the best calls I've made in recent memory. with 25-5o blinds, I found KK UTG. I made it T225 to go, and was surprised to see 4 callers. I quickly decided that if an ace flopped, I was NOT going to get married to this hand. The flop came:

A-5-3 rainbow. Fuck me. I check. It's checked around!

turn: deuce. Again I check: I am likely way ahead or way behind here, and if it's bet and called before the action gets back to me, I can easily release this hand. Otherwise, I can re-evaluate. The aggressive Englishman to my immediate left fires out T850. All fold back to me. Hmmm... I think for 10 seconds and call.

River: 8. I check AGAIN. The Englishman goes to his stack and comes out with T1250. Basically enough to put me all-in. I shake my head, but then, I decide to think this over carefully. I don't think this opponent would check the ace high flop if he indeed had an ace: the pot was sizable already, and he'd want to claim it right there. No... this makes no sense... I take a look at him - his collar is open and I can see way down into his neckline - there's his pulse beating frantically! Now - is this the "I have a monster hand, PLEASE call me" excitement? NO! It's "Fuck - I hope I don't get caught bluffing" pure FEAR! I quickly call with confidence, and the opponent taps the table: "King high" he says, turning over King-seven! "King high no good" I reply, and scoop a very nice pot. I'm pumped. I'm psyched with my play and my read, and I AM going to win this tournament - I just proved it to myself and to the rest of the table. A solid player at the other end of my table comes over to me a few minutes later, during the break, and is in awe over the call I made. I want to tell him the Wolf's line: "Let's not start sucking each other's dicks just yet," as there's still a lot of work to be done. I meet with Big Show during the break, after executing the T2k add on, and update him on my T9500 stack, and my growing confidence. He was also in fine shape with about T6500, and we knuckled up, vowing to stay focused.

In the first two hands after the break, I lose about 1/3rd of my stack: on the first hand, I call a raise with K-J suited, and then get checkraised on a flop that doesn't hit me. On the next hand, I'm the open raiser with K-Q suited, and I again get check-raised by one of the aggressive Englishman in the BB. I bear down and patiently rebuild my chip stack, ending up all-in only once, when I raised to T300 in EP with A-T suited and got called twice. The flop came Ten high, and one of the blinds bet into me. I came over the top all-in, and he mucked.

Alas, as the blinds went to 100-200, and then 200-400, I went COMPLETELY card dead and got blinded to death. On occasion, I'd dodge and weave and steal some blinds, but then I'd get caught, and end up in the hole again. It was so vicious, I was blinded down from T9500 to T3500! Absolutely unreal - I've never run so cold, and with so little opportunity to salvage chips. Believe me, I'm looking for ANY opportunity to scoop some chips with low risk, but the makeup of the players at the table and the action just wasn't conducive to it. I resorted to twice stealing the blinds of the weakest player at the table from EARLY POSITION! Tragically, I was blinded down to T3500 at the 400-8000 level, when I woke up to the monster 7-9 offsuit in the BB. Everyone folded to the SB, who limped, and I moved all in. He beat me into the pot with A-K, and my tournament life was on the line.

I liked the 7 doorcard on the flop, but not the Ace that came next. I picked up a flush draw on the turn, but couldn't get there, and was sent to the rail in 17th place (out of 39 entrants or so) - quite disappointed in my result. It's not just "I didn't get cards so I couldn't win" - I'm quite convinced by now that the good NL tourney players are not merely card racks - there just seemed to be a series of six-sigma situations that prevented me from surviving in this tournament I was so bent on winning. Cards didn't come. I seemed to meet a lot of resistance every time I tried to steal blinds. When I found a reasonable stealing hand like J-T suited, there seemed to always be a raise to me already. All in all, a disappointing session.

I broke the news to Big Show, who was still focused, and sat in the 1-2NL game ($200 max buy-in). I played exactly ONE hand, where I posted, found 9-9, and raised to $12. A youngish kid behind me made it $30 to go, and got called by an older guy. I debated coming over the top, but figured calling was a better option.

The flop came K-T-x and we checked it around. When the turn blanked off, I bet $60 into this pot, and the initial pre-flop re-raiser quickly came over the top of me all in. At this time, they were calling me for the 2-5NL game, and I'm staring at the board, at my opponent, wondering how the fuck I ended up in this mess, while at the same time yelling for the floorman to lock up my 2-5NL seat. I eventually mucked the 9-9, and got up, going to the cage to re-load for the 2-5NL game ($500 max buy-in).

Barney Boatman was in the game, and I was psyched for the opportunity to put some beats on a member of the Hendon Mob, but Barney went to the main game when I took his must-move seat. There was a WICKED annoying big drunk guy to my right who looked like Meatloaf, and a wild big fat black guy to my right, who really liked to overbet and play junk. The guy wasn't incompetent, but I knew I could take his stack by lulling him into thinking he could run me over.

I didn't play any big pots - I stole some medium pots by putting off the aura of solid play, and had some fun when a wild little Asian chick sat down to my right. She was all amped up, a local pro who could play, and on one hand, after she mucked, I bumped it to $25 with A-T suited, and pushed my cards in front of her so she could look at them. On a raggedy flop, I led out, and one opponent folded, while the other, who looked EXACTLY like Milton the "he stole my stapler" guy from Office Space, acted perplexed: "It looked like those chips came from your stack," he said. "Oh. sorry. yeah - they're my chips. It's my hand," I explained, realizing that my cards were out in front, between me and the Asian chick. He mucked, and she laughed, blurting out in very quick, accented English: "I can't believe he flop two pair! Incredible!" while kicking me under the table as she laughed. I was a little worried that when I played a pot with her I'd get called out for staring at her chest: I tend to stare right at a player's chest to look for pulse or breathing tells, and her boyfriend was standing right behind her and me. Also, this tends to be the time when Mrs. Dynamite will wander by and concluded that I'm not really playing poker, but rather checking out T&A. Seriously, I was just looking for a tell...

Big Show busts out of the tourney out of the money, and our ladies arrive at the Mirage, so I play a final hand before cashing out - my chips are actually IN the rack, and I'm just taking my free hands before my big blind comes around: UTG, I raise to $25 with A-J in EP and get called by 2 players, including the button, a local Omaha High-low pro.

The flop is J-8-3 with 2 clubs, and I bet out $75. My opponent calls, leaving himself with only $25.

The turn is a club, and I bet his last $25, knowing I'm cooked. He calls, and shows me the DEUCE-FIVE of clubs! Fucking A. What a way to end the session.

We grab dinner at Mirage's California Pizza Kitchen, where I put Mrs. Dynamite on tilt by ordering the chipotle chicken pizza that ends up being hot as balls. Then we walk through Harrah's, stopping briefly to see the dueling pianists, before ending up at the gambling icon that is the Imperial Palace. I think Harrah's just bought the IP, and I hope they don't tear it down. It's dirty, and old, but they have a fun face down double deck bj game in the "Champagne Pit," where you also get colored Mardi-Gras beads for every blackjack. They also have the dealer-tainers: musical impersonaters who deal cards, and occasionally get up to perform on a small stage. However, they lack the urinal technology.

Now, if you missed my previous trip reports detailing our exploits in this IP double deck game, go back and read them right now. Our nemesis, Beto, is fading our action, pussying out on the day shift apparently, so we're left to slow roll other dealers like the polite and friendly Gloria. After finding an ace, I show it to her and politely offer her insurance. She declines, so I squeeeeze the other card and find big slick! Boo yah! Blackjack! Of course, you're supposed to turn it face up in the double deck game, but I smoothly tuck it under my bet, as I do with any other hand I don't wish to hit.

As the hand plays out, Gloria rolls over my bj and goes on a moderate TILT, chiding me "You're supposed to turn it over!" I feign innocence, "What? Why? I like the suspense!" and make her give me a necklace. We declare, "We are NOT leaving here until we have so many cheap beaded necklaces that we can't lift our heads!" And I'm sure they are happy to fade our ass-clown action.

I order a red bull & vodka from the cocktail waitress.
She informs me "I'm forbidden to serve Red Bull."
"Like, forbidden by law?" I don't understand.
"Yes." She tells me.
"Red Bull is against the law?" I'm really confused.
"Yes." she's not laughing... So I prove my versatility by calling an audible and going with Captain & Coke.

Gloria is replaced by a relatively humorless Asian lady, who I promptly slowroll a bj on. She starts chirping at me, and I look at her with a completely shocked look. Big Show is rolling, and we're picking up steam. The Pit Boss actually seems to gain some measure of pleasure from our antics, as we good-naturedly torment each dealer who comes into the box.

Grigor from Armenia comes in to deal, and within 1 deck I greet him with a slow-rolled blackjack. He doesn't even flinch! I look at Big Show... Big Show looks back - eyes wide... We shrug. Big Show slowrolls Grigor... I slowroll Grigor... Big Show's lady slowrolls Grigor! Grigor is fucking UN-TILTABLE! It's amazing: Grigor's completely doesn't care that we don't turn our blackjacks faceup, and we're at a loss of what do to about it. As long as we keep feeding him the tips, Grigor is happy as a clam.

Grigor leaves, and our other arch-rival, Mike from Massachusetts comes in to deal. We are psyched to see him - he's a fun dealer, and a good guy, but he's in a bad state. Mike is dead tired, and trying to get out early. It's 2am, and I feel sorry for Mike, so I don't slow-roll him, but we do reminisce about the beating he put on us during our last trip. He actually remembers the horrible run of cards he hit us with, and I tell him, "Yeah Mike. It was two dimes to be exact. I was going to retire, but instead I've had to sell my blood and sperm to make ends meet. Thanks a fucking lot." Finally, the pit boss comes over and tells Mike he'll be going home early. As if on cue, Mike announces "This is my last hand," and deals me a blackjack. I tuck it facedown, and jump up to high five the Big Show and pump my fists at Mike when he rolls it over. He can only laugh, and appreciate the fact that we're probably more fun than the average douchebag.

When I return from the bathroom, which is now a longer trip, as the IP has moved the Champagne Pit to the front of the casino floor, Big Show tells me that some chubby chick was doing handsprings on the casino floor. I get him to demonstrate, and Big Show actually does a few cartwheels on the floor of the IP at about 2:30 am

The IP fights back, but I sill finish the session up 16 units, and we head back to the Wynn. Of course, the cabbie on the way home tries to sell us on the Spearmint Rhino. I shit you not! It must be part of the fucking training. Incredible.

We walk into the Wynn around 3:30 am, and the lobby and casino floor are sparsely populated, but I spot The Champ, Joseph Hachem walking through the floor. "That's Joseph Hachem!" I excitedly tell Big Show. "Who?" he has no idea. "The WSOP Champ!"

Hachem realizes I have spotted him, which probably isn't such a common occurrence outside of the poker room, as the episodes haven't aired yet, and he's not exactly a celebrity. He looks at me, and I tell him "Congrats," and he smiles and says thanks. I still think he needs to shave that terrible little flava-sava goatee thing he's got going, but he seems like a nice guy.

Net tally for the day:
Wynn Peach Chip game: +270
Mirage Double Deck: +$480
Mirage NLHE Tourney: -$530
Mirage $1-$2 NL: -$90
Mirage $2-$5 NL: -$11
IP Double Deck: +407

until next time,

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mecca (Part One)

Vegas. Few destinations require so little description to evoke as much emotion. On this trip, Mrs. Dynamite and I had two destinations: Vegas and Napa. The ultimate "Boil and Simmer" as Dirty Dave described it.

Things were looking up when I logged on to the America West website on Friday, 24 hours before my flight, to bang out the electronic boarding pass. Would I like to purchase a first class upgrade? Fuck yeah! Better yet, let me call them on the phone and use my FlightFund miles instead! Boo yah! Me and Mrs. D are upgraded to 1st class. Sorry to disappoint my legions of adoring fans who must have automatically assumed that I always fly first class, but Kid Dynamite is a man of the people - translation: I'm a cheap-ass.

The beats began Saturday morning when, as we scrambled to get ready to meet the 7am car I had ordered to take us to JFK. My cell phone rang, and my driver was screaming at me in some language I couldn't understand. I looked out my window and saw only a navy mini-van. Where's my fucking sedan? Huh? You've got to be kidding me. Carmel sent me a fucking poppy-scented mini-van. Un-fucking acceptable. Do they know who the fuck I am? Carmel is off the Kid Dynamite approved transportation list - that's what I get for trying to take advantage of a $6 coupon.

We arrive at the airport and cruise through check-in, my Boston Red Sox hat and sweatshirt drawing minimal ire from the Queens locals staffing the TSA positions. As we leisurely take our seats : 1A and 1B, the flight attendant asks us if we'd like a drink. Before you get excited, our flight attendant was a middle aged dude that looked kinda like Howard Dean. I looked at my watch: 8:30 a.m. I looked Dean right in the eye and said "Vodka and Tonic." He hesitated for a split second, perhaps wondering if I was fucking around. I'm thinking "Hey Douchebag, YOU asked, and this flight is going to Vegas - what the fuck do you expect? DO YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM?" But my steely gaze conveyed all the necessary information: Stop staring at me and hop to it: STAT!

Things proceed smoothly, with Dean now pressuring me to drink more as I politely bluff-decline a second vodka&tonic, and he then refills my 3rd without even asking. As we pass over Denver, IMMEDIATELY after the pilot announces that we're about 2 hours from Vegas, the flight attendants come over the p.a. system asking "Is there a doctor on board?" For some reason, I find this funny. I would never wish ill will on anyone, but something about the situation just says "If you're in a situation where they're asking over the p.a. for a doctor, you're pretty much fucked anyway."

The flight attendants then come running through the aisles urgently requesting "we need all of your pillows," as passengers scramble to help, and find out what the fuck is going on. I turn around, and see that they have removed a woman from her seat back in coach, and have laid her on the floor, on a bed of luxurious airplane pillows. I look at Mrs. Dynamite, who immediately looks at me and says "Don't you DARE say it." That's my girl - she knows instantly that I'm worried about our flight getting diverted. Does that make me a bad guy? I mean, again - if you're in dire need of medical attention at 35,000 feet and they can save you, I'm all for it - but if you ate too many pretzels and are complaining of chest pains, I want to get to Vegas.

The "Doctor" and the flight attendants seem to have stabilized the situation - exactly as Kid Dynamite thought (nice initial read!) - and they are in the front of the first class cabin briefing each other. Howard Dean asks the doctor "What kind of doctor are you anyway?" And when he hears the answer "Psychiatrist" He almost passes out. Dean practically calls the guy a veterinarian, but the Psych assures him "We go to medical school too."

We manage to land in Vegas without further drama, collect our bags and grab a cab to the Wynn.

The Wynn is beautiful. Furthermore, when you're playing and staying at the poker rate, as I was ($199 Weekend, $129 weeknight, 6hrs of play daily required), the room feels like a downright STEAL. Plasma TV's: one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom. An ample sized bathroom with two sinks and a jacuzzi. Electronic curtains on the floor to ceiling windows. Computerized phone system. Ample selection of on-demand porn, including several high-definition selections.

However, what could have been a spectacular stay was marred by a few incidents that I will certainly let the Wynn know about: 1) Mrs. Dynamite was later awakened from a nap, with the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, by a maintenance man who was wondering when we'd be checking out so he could change the air filter: COMPLETELY fucking unacceptable. 2) On my last night, I ordered a 7:30am wakeup call. The woman who took the call repeated back to me "We'll be waking you up at 7:30." Needless to say, when my phone rang at 5:30am, I was, as I explained to the Wynn "More than a little bit annoyed."

Anyway, the casino and hotel are beautiful, and you use your room key as a players club card too. You can call the poker room from you room, and add yourself to any of the lists, and view the list on the TV in your room.

The Wynn dealt a variety of limit games: 4-8, 8-16 and 15-30 hold'em, as well as 1-3NL, 2-5NL and 5-10 NL. The NL games have no cap on the buy-in, which is nice. On Saturday, typical stacks in the 1-3 NL game ranged from $150 to $600, and the 2-5NL game featured bigger stacks: in the $500 to $5,000 range.

I put my name on both lists, and was called for the 2-5NL game. I bought a rack of red $5 chips, and sat down, waiting for my blind. It didn't take long for me to realize that this game sucked: a bunch of seasoned local pro's, so when my 1-3NL seat was called before I'd even posted a blind, I exited with "Pleasure playing with you gentlemen," and moved on to fishier pastures. Now, this is probably the most important decision a poker player can make. Would I rather play in the bigger game? Absolutely - but I also realize that the 1-3NL game will in all likelihood be significantly more fun AND profitable.

I take my rack of red to the cage for a color change to the $3 Peach colored chips they use in the 1-3NL game. The cashier hands me back a rack of peaches, and another rack with 3 rows of peach, and a row of white $1 chips. I stare blankly at her. She explains: "Three hundred, plus these are $60 per barrel, plus the $20 in whites. Five Hundred." I smile and nod - awed by these bizarre denominations. I'm not alone - it was easy to spot players new to the Wynn's 1-3NL game, as each and every play who sat down had trouble adjusting to the $3 chips.

On my second hand, in the SB, I found AA! Yowza - Welcome to the game Sir! 6 people limped, and I bumped it to 7 chips. $21. The dealers found it easiest to announce the raises in terms of number of chips - as players had so much trouble with the denominations. I got two callers, and we saw the flop of : K-9-x rainbow.

I grabbed a neatly measured stack of 20 chips and bet out $60. A middle position player called.

The turn was another apparent brick: an 8, and I now declared "Ninety" as I reached for chips. I grabbed a stack of $60, and then paused, confused, and had to ask "How do I bet ninety?" "Ten more chips" the dealer politely explained, and I was surprised when my opponent quickly called.

The river was yet another brick - an offsuit deuce, and I bet my opponent's finally $60. He mucked, and I was off to the races.

The Wynn also deals a 10-20 limit mixed game! I thought that was interesting, as most rooms deal only higher stakes mixed games. I dropped this gem, which had the dealer laughing in awe: "Do they still play follow-the-queen in the mixed game? Or did they end that when Danny Negreanu left?" It turns out that Danny's contract with the Wynn (as Poker Ambassador) was apparently voided when he was caught playing in the "Big Game" at Bellagio. The dealer chuckled and asked me "He's not.....Is he?" I giggled and thought, "I'm still waiting for the final report from Bones."

The player to my immediate right was one of two other competent looking players at the table - the other one being to HIS immediate right. I was in the optimal seat, with position on the two local "pro's" in the game. I made some conversation with the douchebag to my right, I'll call him Tilt-o, and immediately gave him enough clues for him to pick up on the fact that he shouldn't fuck with me. Somehow, he ignored them, and it led to this sweet sequence of hands:

First, Tilt-o got into a pot with one of the 5 young Bostonians at the table. I love kids from my homeland, as they usually have great accents, and these guys didn't disappoint. Furthermore, they LOVED to slowplay their big hands, which allowed me to put a tremendous stacking on one of them later, but back to the story:

BostonGuy, somewhat tilted by the fact that I told them I was paying only $199 for my Saturday night Wynn room, while they were somehow paying more at Circus Circus (BAD BEAT!), comes over the top of Tilt-o preflop, and they play a big pot, with Tilt-o calling BostonGuy down on a board which eventually read A-x-x-x-K, and being shown BostonGuy's A-K. The player to my left says "I want to see that hand!" and points to Tilt-o. The dealer says to Tilt-o "We'll see your cards, since the other player is all-in," but Tilt-o slams his cards into the muck, and the dealer mutters under her breath "unless you do that."

Tilt-o still has plenty of chips, and in the very next hand, I'm in the BB to his Fully Tilted SB. I find pocket Kings, and I'm a bit worried as everyone folds to the button (I've previously made it clear that I do not chop in NL), who limps. Tilt-o limps, and I bump it to $15. Button folds, Tilt-o calls.

The flop comes K-9-5 rainbow. Boo yah. Flopping top set is half the battle: maximizing your value is the other half. Tilt-o checks, I bet $24, and he check-raises me to $60! Oh man... I KNOW he's steaming, and I have him on the hook - I don't want to set it too hard yet, for fear of pulling it right out of his mouth. I consider my options, and finally, smooth call. Oh man - he's dead already and he doesn't even know it.

The turn is an Ace. This is either a fantastic card, as it gave him a hand to commit his stack to, or it will prove to be an action-killing card for me. Tilt-o bets out $60, and again I consider my options. I decide to let him think we're having a "Bigger Dick" contest, and I raise to $150. He has about $250 left before he calls my raise. He thinks, suddenly sobering up to the fact that Kid Dynamite is about to crush him, and CALLS!

A Ten rolls off on the river, and Tilt-o checks to me. I wonder briefly if he could have spiked a gutshot with Q-J, but decide that doesn't make sense. I don't think he can call off his last $150, but if I make a smaller bet, he can try one last fruitless time to push me off my hand with a re-raise, or he can make a crying call. I bet a mere $60, and he hems and haws before making the crying call of "Let's see it," as he pushed his $60 into the middle. He had no idea I was as strong as a set of kings, but I got the impression that he would not have called off the rest of his chips here.

Two hands later, on my button, I find A-3 suited, and when Tilt-o opens for $17 in the cutoff, I call instantly. He has $100 left, which he bets on the A-5-3 flop, and I take the rest of his chips when he bets $100 into the pot of about $38.

Big Show comes over and says "How's it going?" I look at my stacks and stacks of in-calculable peach chips, and reply, "I have no idea." He laughs, knowing how fucked up the $3 chips are.

Before I leave, I teach one of the Boston kids a lesson. They've been repeatedly showing down slow-played monsters that they have failed to get action on. I'm not one to give free lessons at the table, but on more than one occasion, I've joked with them "Bet the nuts!"

On this hand, I find A-J UTG, and raise to $12. One of the Boston crew plays back at me, bumping it to $30. All fold to me, and I decide to call, because, after all, I'm Kid Fucking Dynamite, and I can play my way out of this trouble hand.

The flop is Q-T-4 with two diamonds, and I check. He checks behind me.

Turn: 2 of diamonds, and I have the Ace of diamonds. I check again, and he bets $45. I now have an over card, a gutshot straight draw, and the nut flush draw. I pause, before raising to $135. He thinks for 5 seconds before moving all-in. It's another $90 for me to call, and I'm clearly committed - I don't put him on a flush, as the Q of diamonds is on the board, and the Ace is in my hand, leaving little in terms of hands he could hold pre-flop to re-raise me that would have a made flush here.

The river is a black king! He asks, "Do you have a flush?" I shake my head and say "No" as he turns over pocket queens, and I roll my broadway straight. "Uggggggly" another player whistles. Yessir. I got there the hard way - but I got there none-the-less. Instead of betting his top set on the flop and winning a modest pot, my opponent gave me the chance to get all of my chips in at a fair price, and he lost his stack in a large pot. Maybe he wanted to get all the chips in on the turn with the best of it, but the sequence in which the chips went in leaves me feeling fine about how I played the hand.

I finish the 4 hour session up $666 (that's 222 peach chips) and head to the room to clean up before dinner. Me and Mrs. Dynamite head over to Delmonico's in the Venetian for dinner with the Big Show and his gal. Delmonico's is mediocre in my mind, and only adds to the gastric distress brewing, with a night at Light imminent. We tell the cabbie we're heading to Light, and he tells us it's a good scene on Saturday night. "How's the crapper?" I ask, causing Big Show to laugh out loud.

We head to Bellagio with a few minutes to spare before heading into Light, and stroll through the poker room, recognizing only Minh Ly in the high stakes area of Bobby's Room. He was playing shorthanded with some guys I didn't recognize.

After enduring minimal harassment at the door of Light, we were escorted to our table and quickly ran up an unavoidable tab, throwing down champagne and Grey Goose. Leeroux and H0nus had their ladies in tow as well, and the tower of strawberries and chocolates that Light served with the champagne kept them well entertained.

Light was mediocre - Leeroux was tilted early when we heard the DJ play "Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me" for the second time, and we began to place prop bets as to which artist we'd hear first: 50 Cent or Kanye West. Missy Elliot or Nelly. When they music took a decidedly 80's turn with Living on A Prayer, I asked Big Show for a line on if we'd here Sweet Child of Mine. He offered 35-1 odds, which I promptly took, and was not at all shocked to hear my song less than 20 minutes later. In unusual fashion, Big Show dk'd the bet, and also reminded my of my negative NFL balance I was carrying with him. Aiyahh! Double whammy!

The ladies in our group raved about the secret VIP bathroom with no lines, and H0nus had an encounter of his own in the men's room: He claims he saw the bouncers go into the stall and remove two dudes who were, ummm, "pounding" each other, but I'm not sure I believe him. The bathroom staff - and I do mean staff: there was an attendant, and TWO security guards - was extremely serious about preventing drug use in the bathroom. I'm guessing the two guys in the stall were just doing lines... off each other's junk!

The night ended with our waitress showing off her mediocre pole-tricks, and the VIP bouncer telling us about the monthly $10,000 pole-lympics contests they have, where not-so-amateur contestants show off their best pole tricks taking a shot at the $10k prize. He excitedly told us about last week's winner, who quickly maneuvered herself upside down and "fucked the ceiling."

No Vegas night would be complete without a cabbie trying to sell us on a late night trip to the Spearmint Rhino. Big Show razzed the cabbie a bit, chiding him for such a lame attempt, as I laughed in disbelief. The cabbie refused to acknowledge that he would receive a fee from the Rhino for bringing us there, and Big Show called him out on it. The Cabbie whined that he was just a family man trying to push his business, and we had to explain that we understood, but that we simply didn't believe that the Rhino "only paid him what they felt like" for bringing customers to their door.

We retired to our respective rooms at the Wynn, to rest up before tackling the much hyped Mirage $330 NLHE tourney with rebuys on Sunday afternoon...

until next time,

Friday, November 04, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

I'm off to Vegas and then Napa. Me and Mrs. Dynamite will spend 4 days in each locale. Early line as to which part of the trip costs me more money?
Las Vegas -130
Napa +110
Between slow rolling the double deck BJ game at the IP, dominating the NL Hold'em game @ Wynn, and winning the Mirage Sunday night tourney, I'm sure I'll have plenty of fodder for a worthy trip report.
I'll be back Sunday, November 13th.
until then,
Kid Dynamite

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's Funny because It's True

ARod fucked it up for everyone again. The NYC poker scene is under assault because Mr. High Profile has been all over town, and the Yankees don't like it. Thanks D-bag. NY Daily News text:

Play-Rod's bets called

Yanks tell slugger it's risky & doesn't look good to go to illicit poker dens


The Yankees have warned slugger Alex Rodriguez that frequenting illegal city poker clubs is dangerous, but are powerless to stop him, team and baseball sources told the Daily News.

Major League Baseball sources said Rodriguez wasn't ordered to stay out of the clubs - but added baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was "keeping an eye" on A-Rod and would step in "if necessary."

"There's nothing he's doing that violates the morals clause," one baseball lawyer said. "Mostly it's just stupid. Why put himself in a position like that? Why doesn't he go play in an apartment somewhere?"

Sources familiar with Rodriguez's conversation with Yankee officials last month said the talk wasn't confrontational.

"No one admonished him," a source said. "But he was made aware that this could put him in an unflattering light or look bad in the media."

Rodriguez's taste for underground poker came to light in a Daily News story on Oct. 2 that reported he had frequented a Chelsea club with professional card shark Phil
Hellmuth. Baseball officials are concerned about one of their biggest stars being associated with an illegal gambling operation.

But there is little either the Yankees or Selig can do to stop Rodriguez, officials say, because he isn't breaking the law, even if the club operators are.

It isn't the gambling that has officials upset with the $25 million-a-year man.

Baseball bosses know players frequently play cards for money in the clubhouse, on the team plane and in hotels. Some gamble in casinos.

But officials aren't happy that the man considered by many to be the greatest active
player is rubbing elbows with gamblers - some who presumably wager on baseball games.

With clubs being raided by cops and sometimes robbed by gunmen, the 30-year-old star's flirtation with controversy or possible danger is seen as odd for a player known for his perfectly scripted public image.

"What in the world is he thinking?" a high-ranking MLB official said. "He can do what he wants in the off-season and he isn't breaking the law - we checked - but why do

Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, denied that the third baseman had been warned about playing in illegal clubs.

"The Yankees have never addressed or spoken with me in regard to any off-field activities regarding Alex Rodriguez. And the Yankees have never spoken to Alex regarding any of his off-field activities," Boras said.

Team sources, however, said A-Rod was spoken to "right around the time" the Daily News first reported his appearance in the clubs last month.

According to several sources, the Yankee stepped to the plate at a midtown club on five consecutive nights the week after the team was knocked out of the AL playoffs by the Angels. Baseball has been so jittery about players consorting with gamblers since the 1919 Black Sox scandal that it banned Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays from baseball for two years when they accepted public relations jobs with casinos in 1983.

Pete Rose has been a baseball pariah since it was revealed he bet on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

MLB spokesman Rich Levin declined comment yesterday.

But sources said Selig is "very unhappy," in part because of the message the poker playing sends to young fans.

"Kids look up to [Rodriguez]," a source said. "It isn't good for anybody."

Parlors among stars' favorite city hot spots Celebrities don't limit their poker-playing to flashy tournaments on television.

Big names have been going all in at the city's sleek, shadowy gambling clubs, including some that have attracted unwanted attention from police.

"Sopranos" star Robert Iler and actors Hank Azaria and Macaulay Culkin are among the well-known players who have thrown around cash in Manhattan's poker parlors.

But the highest-profile player has been Yankees superstar slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was photographed playing at a club near Union Square and has been sighted at clubs in Chelsea and on the East Side.

The card sharks aren't just celebrities, but anyone connected enough to score an invite to the clubs through a member.

While it's not illegal to play in the clubs, it's against the law for the house to profit. Clubs that take an illegal cut have ended up on the wrong end of the law, with cops shutting down six card parlors in the past month.

The popularity of the clubs reflect the national poker craze that's led to televised tournaments on sports channels and celebrity showdowns featuring such actors as Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and James Woods.

Jose Martinez Originally published on November
2, 2005