Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day on the Beach

Memorial Day 2008

It’s Memorial Day and the family and I are in San Diego. I just walked back from Crystal Pier, in fact. The weather here is perfect.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and posts about this holiday. Remembering soldiers is something we don’t ask for but really appreciate.

Now I’m off to toss the football with the boys. Be well and stay safe.

PS. I'm taking recommendations on where to take The Wife for our 13 year anniversary (in 2 days). Suggestions?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Monsters? Bah!

24 May 08

Go read The Wife – especially you Omaha players. Then begin to drool over the prospects of winning all my money in Vegas. I’m such a bad poker player.

Further highlighting my horrible play, let me also tell you about a NL hand I played badly.

5 limpers. I’m on the button with QQ and I raise to $25. I get one caller. The flop is K77. He bets right into me for $50. He’s capable of making a play here, and a paired board is a good time to do it. I call.

The turn is another 7.

Now he bets $100. I go into the tank for a long time. I have $210 behind. I go all-in.

Now he goes into the tank. Whew – at least he doesn’t have the case 7.

When he called me, I asked, “Do you have the King?” “Yup,” he replied, quite relieved at my question.

Until another Queen came on the river.

I believe he made the correct play even thought I was representing Aces (it’s unlikely I have the case 7 here), and based on the pot odds (with only another $110 to call) he was priced in. It would be very different if we each had a lot more behind. Could you make that call if we each had $1000 behind?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Last Day

22 May 08

Today is my last working day as a doctor for the Army. I wish I could say something profound about this experience, but I’m a little numb right now. 22 years is a long time. I was a scared little Private when I got off the bus at Basic Training back in October of 1986. I’m a little nervous now as I stand in the door looking out on life as a civilian. I’m reminded of when I went to Jump School. I stood in the doorway of the C-130 with 95 pounds of gear on my back as the wind whipped my face. My 3 weeks of preparation could only take me so far. Now I had to take that final step myself and fling my body into the night air. The wind was brutal. The sudden jarring when my parachute deployed was joyous, but this was quickly tempered as I looked up to see that the ‘chute was only partly open.

I guess this is my metaphor. I have no idea what the future holds and it will certainly throw some surprises my way. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m mentally prepared to deal with it.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Monsters Under the Bed!

21 May 08

While waiting for my seat at 8/16, I was watching the 5/10 spread limit game. The following hand unfolded, and it really demonstrates why I have no business playing No Limit.

Player 1 raises UTG to $30. He has about $800 behind (max buy-in is $1000). I don’t know him.
Player 2 calls. He has close to $1000 behind. He is young and fairly good.
Player 3 calls. He is an older Asian player who is tight and aggressive, which, if I may be stereotypical, is unusual in the Asian population at the Muckleshoot. He has about $3000 behind.

With $105 in the pot, the flop is Ks-Jh-10s.

Player 1 bets $100.

Player 2 raises to $250.

Player 3 re-raises the maximum to $750. Washington State rules dictate that the maximum bet or raise is $500.

Player 1 shows his end of the table (which I can see) his AK for TPTK and folds.

Player 2 debates a long time and folds Q9 face up. He folded the 2nd nuts face up!

Player 3 rakes a HUGE pot. As he starts to rake, he decides to show his hand. He had QJ for MP OESD. I think he only had one spade.

That’s one helluva play and an incredible read. I’m sure he didn’t put Player 2 on such a strong hand, but he was able to convince Player 2 that he had the stone cold nuts so it didn’t matter.

I’ll stick with Limit Hold ‘em, thanks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

ChiTown Blues

18 May 08

We fly to Chicago a lot. The Wife has tons of family there and most of her cousins are at the marrying age (and half of them are named Justin). This time it was Nicole and Tim and their ceremony and reception, while standard fare, was time well spent.

Unfortunately, Chicago will now be remembered as the place we got “the news.” Without being more specific, The Wife got a call from work that she didn’t want. They left a message to call back and she said to me, “This is either going to be a great weekend or really sucky.”

It was the sucky kind.

To her credit, she rallied to the point where you wouldn’t even know she got bad news. She’s like that, you know. Oh well. There’s always next year.

The boys were amazing - offering hugs and words of encouragement without really understanding why Mommy would be upset. It helped. I did what I’m supposed to do. I love her. I’m always going to be there for her. I know she’s disappointed. We’ll handle it together. In comparison to recent tragedies, this is nothing.

So, it looks like we’ll be in the Seattle area for at least another year. My biggest disappointment is that we have to stay right near the Muckleshoot casino. Let’s hope my winning streak continues.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Hot Streak Continues

14 May 08

The Muckleshoot does several things to reward their players. On the downside, they rake $5 for every pot. On the upside, there are several jackpots and bonuses. They splash the pots of the higher limit games with $100 every hour (I’ve won those twice). They have a $15,000 bad beat jackpot, and during the week they have a $500 high-hand bonus (on the weekends it drops to $300). I hit quad nines, quad jacks and a 7 high-straight flush. Only the straight flush was good enough for the high-hand, though.

I tipped the dealer 10% (after I took out an appropriate amount for taxes) and I also tipped Darla and Cherryl, my two favorite wait staff. It’s a good day.

Tilter vs. Tiltee

13 May 08

As mentioned numerous times in the past, I am tiltable. Since I’ve been on a hot streak, I’m tilting a lot less. It’s amazing how tilt is inversely proportional to winning.

Still, someone occasionally gets my goat - especially when they go on and on after a bad play that gets rewarded (like the guy that called me down with pocket 2s on a board of AKQ9 when I raised preflop).

99% of the time I stick to the axiom, “Don’t tap the glass.” These are the people who will eventually be giving me their money. Why piss them off?

Seat 3 had just called me down with his pocket 7s vs. my pocket 6s and was really talking about how great the play was. Seriously, he just kept going. He was still going on about it two hands later when I raised from middle position. He called (of course). The flop missed me, but I put in a continuation bet (a move I am coming to like less and less at limit poker) and he called. I checked the turn when a 3rd diamond hit. He bets. Normally I fold here, but I put him squarely on making a move with a straight and flush draw. The river missed me, but didn’t help him. I check. He bets. I pause briefly before calling and proudly turning over my Ace-high.

He mucked face down.

Again, normally I just keep my mouth shut and stack chips. In this case, I stopped mid-stack and looked right at him.

“Stings, doesn’t it?”

That’s all I said. I shouldn’t have said it, but I did.

He proceeded to give me another $400 over the next hour by calling down every pot I was in. It was beautiful.

Now, stop reading my egotistical rants and go read The Wife. She’s putting up some really great stuff.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

11 May 08

The first few hours of Mother's Day found me at the 8/16 tables at the 'shoot. I ended up there after dropping two buy-ins at 3/5 spread limit. I played so badly it isn't even funny. Let's just say they were REALLY sorry to see me go. Right after I lost my first buy-in I grabbed another $300 out of my pocket and handed it to Joel, the chip runner. So, without any chips in front of me, I look down at pocket Kings. I make what I hoped looked like a tilt-raise to $20 and the button (who just stacked me on the previous hand) calls.

Perfect. I've got him right where I want him.

The flop is Kc-Js-9h. Top set - w00t!

I bet $40. Hoping to convince him it's just a continuation bet. He calls.

The turn is the queen of hearts. There is now a 4-card straight on the board and $120 in the pot. I may be in trouble. I bet $100. He goes all in. Remember, I don't have any chips in front of me. I have a theoretical $140 behind. Great - he's got the straight. There is an outside chance he has AK and was really playing off my tilt act, but I doubt it. It's now $140 to me in order to hope that the board pairs in order to win this pot. There is $460 in the pot. I called.

"Joel, don't bother putting those chips here. Just give them to the nice gentleman in seat 5. Here's another $300."

Fortunately, they called me for the 8/16 seat just as the clock said it was Mother's Day. In a nice display of patience and un-tiltable-ness, I promptly donked off another $120 betting my nut flush into quad Aces. Then I pissed away another $100 in a splashed pot.

At the top of every hour, they add $100 to the pot (they are doing this in order to rebuild the game - most of the higher limit players drive up to Diamond Lil's). Everyone calls. I've got 6d-5h. The dream flop is 3s-4s-7s. I flopped the straight, but I don't like it one bit. Everyone calls one bet on the flop. The turn pairs the 4. I still don't like it, but it checks all the way around to me. I ask the dealer if it's okay to show my hand, and she says that she doesn't advise it, but it's okay. I turn over my hand and show everyone the straight, and then I bet. The 7 seat calls. The river is the 3 of clubs and his 6-3 off-suit takes down a monster pot.

Still, I finished the night down only $100 thanks to steady, but relatively unmemorable play. I actually came home feeling great about the overall experience.

So now, The Wife and I will be celebrating a little tonight and reveling in the best parts of this holiday. Namely - we acknowledge that we have beautiful kids, and then we get to leave them with the Au Pair and act like irresponsible adolescents!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two Interesting Hands

10 May 08

First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments on my Truckin' story. It means a lot.

Now, onto the hands! Both of these were at 20/40.

Hand #1: Unraised pot. I’m on the button with Ks-9d. I raise and get re-raised by the small blind who is a good (not great) player and has not made this move yet. I call and the dream flop comes Qc-Jd-10c. Sweet! Flopped the second nut straight.

He bets out. I raise. He re-raises, and I call (hoping to get more info about the strength of his hand on the turn). The turn is the 3 of clubs. I don’t like that 3rd club out there.

He bets again. I raise and he just calls.

The river is the 4 of clubs. Crap. Now there are 4 clubs on the board. There goes my straight.

He checks.

What did I do? What did he have? Would you have bet here?

Hand #2: I’m way up and feeling a little frisky. I am UTG with 8d-9d, so I raise. I get 4 callers including both blinds. The flop is Ac-Jd-Js. I check, basically having already given up on this hand with 4 callers. It checks around.

The turn is the 7 of spades. Check x 5.

The River is the 2 of hearts. There is $200 in the pot. Check x 5.

I did not win with my 9-high. What did?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


The new issue of Truckin' is out. Dr. Pauly was nice enough to include one of my stories. It was tough to write, but I needed to get it off my chest. I never really talked about the "dark side" of being in Iraq, because I'm generally an upbeat person. Even The Wife was a little surprised when she read about this experience.

Truckin' - May 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 5

Welcome to our 72nd issue of Truckin'!

1. Sundays by Paul McGuire
I held four crappy jobs and had to work on Sundays at an art museum. Most of the time, I got baked in the parking lot and just stood around making sure the post-church and post-brunch crowd kept their grubby mitts off the paintings... More

2. Prison Justice by Dr. Chako
Hateem's crime must have been grave. They broke his ankles and elbows, of course. What happened next is beyond human understanding. At least five executioners must be involved. After the arms and legs, you'd think Hateem's spirit would be broken, but you'd be wrong. They must be swift. From the time the gag comes out, the screaming must be intolerable... More

3. Egotistical: Three Examples by Sean Lovelace
The radio was playing angry girl bands. I love and have always loved angry girl bands. They have what I call fuck you. Also I was waiting on a girl. A cute bra-less girl who would soon leap off a balcony... More

4. High School Reunion by Johnny Hughes
He kept asking me if I remembered people which I didn't, but he told me all about them anyway. No one would ever forget Bobby, especially me. Now the most mellow guy in West Texas had a license to carry a hand gun... More

5. Ode to.... by Dusty Rhodes
Death is natural. We will all die and we will all have friends and family that die. It is a hard thing to deal with but it has to be done. People cry, people act strong, people try to empathize but can't truly understand what it is that you are going through. Our experiences are all different but I can't imagine anyone who likes dealing with these things... More

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I Can't Dance

7 May 08

I didn't want to do this to you dear reader, but The Wife forced my hand. I caught her drooling over Dancing with the Stars last night and she even blogged about her Latin fantasies today. I had no choice.

When I left for Iraq, I was a bit out of shape (okay, fine - I was tubby). I let myself go. It was easy to do out here in Seattle with all the great food and the terrible weather to keep you indoors. It seems like forever ago that I ran the Paris Marathon, yet it was only in 2003.

When I got to Iraq, I vowed to workout every day and eat right. Here now are my before and after pictures taken exactly 6 months apart. I took no supplements. I ate dessert (and anything else I wanted) only on Saturdays. The rest of the week I ate a lot, but only good foods (salad, meat, carbs and veggies). I was in the gym every day over that 6 months, but never for more than an hour and a half.

Now if only I could dance...

Monday, May 05, 2008


Cinco de Mayo

Back when I thought I was a good NL player, and before the Muckleshoot started spreading 3/5 NL, I used to drive 60 miles north to the Tulalip casino. The action was always good and I only had one or two losing sessions up there. Yesterday was no different as I booked a small win (thanks to a fortunate AA vs KK hand where my Aces actually held up). It was with this new found money that I entered the following hand.

I'm UTG with Ks-Jc and I raise to $20. The button calls and so does the big blind. Both of these players are local pros. The flop is Kc-Js-7d. Two pair - sweet! The big blind and I check. The button bets $40 (as an aside - a $40 bet in these games is almost always a bet that will be folded to a big raise). The big blind smooth calls. I put him squarely on making a move against the other pro. I raise to $100. The button folds, but the big blind just smooth calls again.

Uh oh.

The Turn is the Ace of spades.

The big blind checks. I'm stuck now. After he called (before the turn card came), I put him on AK. Does he check here with AK? AJ is also possible. How about Q-10? It would have meant an extra $60 into a pot already worth $240. There is only one way to find out. I refuse to be timid.

I bet $210. I have only $150 left.

He says, "Nice hand," and goes all-in.

What do you do? What did I do?

How would you have played it differently?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Random Thoughts

4 May 08

I just got an email from Iraq. The unit I was there with is still there and in the last bit of their 15 month deployment. Get home safe guys.

Speaking of Iraq, I recall a conversation I had over there about age. We were sitting around one night and the subject of my perceived age came up. As a lieutenant colonel, I am quite senior in the military. I contended that I look very young for my age and everyone disagreed. They all felt that I was clearly older. Perhaps it was the glasses (I couldn’t wear contacts in Iraq). Now that I’m back and people don’t know about my rank, I again am hearing about how I look much younger than my age.

It’s nice to hear about poker players running good, although true to my wife’s comment, I’ve been trying to give my new found winnings back to the poker community. I’ve always felt I was a better limit player than no limit, so I’ve been playing the 8/16 game at the ‘shoot. I had one good winning session and two losing sessions. This is a very loose game made worse because every hour they splash the pot with an extra $100. Of course everyone calls and there is usually at least one raise. I’ve never won a splashed pot. In fact, there is a woman named Bonnie who won 5 of them. At least 3 of her wins were with the stone cold nuts (once with quad 5s). The pots get to 6 and 7 hundred dollars. Good luck calculating implied odds.

We saw an actual play last night. The Wife and I got dolled up (well, technically SHE got dolled up. I got spiffy), and we drove up to Seattle to the Paramount Theater for My Fair Lady. It was great. My wife was singing along to every song and I was really taken by the sets. The female lead was the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn, especially when she came out in the white gown. The singing was amazing.

Today we are headed north to the outlet malls. The Wife suggested that since I hate shopping so much, perhaps I wouldn’t mind being dropped off at the Tulalip Casino instead.

Life rocks.