Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cancer and Mr. K

My good friends, Mark and Ingrid (brother and sister twins) found out about a week ago that their pop has advanced pancreatic cancer. The doctors gave him between 3-6 months to live.
I got a message from Mark that he needed help getting "supplies" for his dad. Apparently the nausea from chemo was getting bad, so they were willing to try anything to make him feel better. He asked if I could get him some weed. He had tried a couple joints and it seemed to really help. It got his appetite going and helped him sleep. So of course I did what I could and got him a sack. Ingrid even went out and bought him a bong, which was way too complicated for him. So they settled with getting him a pipe.

Here's a dude who up until this month was one of the healthiest old dudes I knew. An avid swimmer and runner, he was in excellent health. He'd been a pilot of United Airlines for many many years. His daughter Ingrid has since become a pilot and his son Mark, a Captain in the Marine Corps. Sadly, Mark will be leaving for Iraq in a couple weeks. He admits selfishly that he would prefer to be in Iraq rather than watch his pop die slowly at home. Luckily, Ingrid is taking a leave of absence to be at home and watch over mom and dad.

I asked Mark if there's any chance that he might survive. Though they will be trying to get a second opinion, the outlook is bleak. Apparently the cancer has spread throughout his abdomen and his pancreas is practically gone.

I hope the weed helps.

bad beat city

I tried to turn around my bad luck yesterday and played in two sit 'n gos.
I lost on the first one when some asshole caught his miracle inside straight draw on the turn. And lost the second one when my dominating AK fell when his dumbluck AQ caught a queen on the river. Another $10 down the tube.

Monday, August 29, 2005

bad bad playing

I played some poker this weekend. Surprise, surprise.
Actually it was a surprise because I played exceptionally SHITTY.
Nearly every session was a losing one, despite going into each game with a tremendous amount of confidence.
Saturday, we played short-handed tournaments. At first I dominated the game. Then lost a massive pot when my AQ was dominated by AK. From there it was all downhill. The second game, I came in second (not in the money.) BAH!
Sunday, everyone got sucked out on by Aaron. With two people all in (me included) he decided to call with his flush draw. I had 2 pair, and Luke had top pair. Of course the river brought a spade giving Aaron the winning suck. He sucked out on ScottO too sending him into a downward spiral of rage and bitterness. His agonizing tirade finally ended when I told him not-so-subtley, "Fucking, Get over it!"
Then miraculously he did, AND he apologized about getting heated up! WOW!

All in all my play, especially Sunday, was horrendous. I am not going to give up poker. Just bad poker.

Monday, August 22, 2005

San Jose to Guatemala

Our best friend Dana is officially leaving the country this week. After coming here to edumacate herself at UC Berkeley she decided to go and waste all that information she's learned in her third-world home country. ... BAH! I say.
We started the evening with cocktails. Then a drunken ScottO appeared at our house and instantly infused the occasion with an unhealthy dose of annoying negativity. That, spotted with a frequent outburst of "I'm wasted," was the soup of the day for us unfortunate souls.
As the evening progressed we made our way to Seven Bamboo, the local Karaoke Bar in Japantown.
Quickly my gf put me on the Karaoke list, much to my dismay. I was to sing "My Way." Immediately I subjected myself and Luke to a shot of Patron. When my turn came up, I reluctantly mumbled into the mic. The crowd reacted with, "LOUDER, LOUDER." I think the shot kicked in because suddenly I was wailing louder. Not quite "crooning" or even "singing"... I ended the song with a farewell announcement to everyone that our friend Dana was doing it "Her Way" by moving her ass out of the damn country and never coming back.

Meanwhile drunk-ass ScottO couldn't stop being annoying. You ever have a belligerent friend? The kind who you have to babysit EVERY time you go-a-drinking? Is he going to get himself in a fight? Is he going to insult your co-worker? Is he going to pass out AT the bar? Do I really have to deal with this fucker?

Later we cabbed it to the Temple Lounge. It was fucking hot in there. I had to piss, so I left the peeps at the bar to order our drinks. After waiting in the line, pissing and negotiating through the crowd, they had still not gotten their drinks. "Fuck it," I said, lets go to Dive Bar. As we walked out, we were suddenly jolted from behind as this huge islander busted past us. A commotion outside indicated a fight of some sort. Once out front of the bar, a bunch of dudes were chasing each other around outside. In the mix, ScottO was chasing the action up and down the street. He looked like a runt puppy chasing the pack around a dog park. "What the fuck are you doing, You idiot?" I asked. He had no reply but drunken gibberish.

As we strolled the 3-4 blocks to go to Dive Bar, I noticed the droves of people roaming the streets. Now, Santa Clara Street has always been a cruising strip. HoodRats from all over the south bay congregate here to flash their shiny rims, wear their gang colors, throw up their gang signs and be generally disrespectful toward women. But in the past couple years, the crowd has gotten more thuggish. With the fight outside Temple, and the thousands of thugs, downtown San Jose seems to have become MUCH more dangerous than when I went to school here. As much as we love San Jose, my GF actually suggested that we move to get away from the tough crowd. "Do we really want to raise kids here?" I could only reply, "No."
I can't help but have negative feelings towrad the gangsterization of downtown. I did see some college kids roaming around from bar to bar, but mostly young people who appeared to be gang-related were just standing around whistling and waving at carloads of underaged girls as they drove by.
The danger was probably perceived to be more than it actually was though. Because there were literally hundreds of cops in the middle of the road. Actually I was surprised to see so many gangsters. Starting shit on Santa Clara Ave. on Saturday night is not a good idea, you're basically begging to get arrested. They even had the patty wagon fired up and ready. One parking lot we passed was filled with probably a hundred cop cars. I'm sure they were ready for a full-blown riot.

We miraculously found a cab and made it home just in time to pass the fuck out.

See you in Guatelamexico Dana. That is unless the revolutionaries get me first.

Friday, August 19, 2005

a comeback

Poker last night.

Into the first game I was REALLY shortstacked. I was a hair from being knocked out. I'd been seeing 5-2 offsuit all night.
Scotty kept saying, "Joey's out. Joey's done... Somebody finish him off."
"Hell no. I'm coming after all you fucks." I said. "Just watch. Soon you guys are going to be saying, 'Wow Joe, you made a HUGE comeback.'"

A bit later, I got this amazing Hulk Hogan-esque rush of cards and aggression. Suddenly the final three players were on the ropes. I was making a run for the money! I caught Laurent trying to bluff and crippled him. A few hands later and it was down to me and my old nemesis: Chestnut. We battled heads-up for a while trading chip lead. Then in a blur of flying cards I caught the winning hand and took Chestnut's ass out. "Wow, Joey, you made a huge comeback!" He said. I called it.

In game 2, the rush continued. I bowled over the table taking control immediately with some big raises. It wasn't long before I knocked out ScottO. His anger rose from within to the point where I actually thought he might try and take a swing at me out of blind rage. He grabbed the nearest thing, which was a beer can, and squeezed this shit out of it. In his idiotic anger-outburst be managed to cut his finger with the torn edges of the can.
"What a dumbass." Someone said. It might have been me.

Luke and I went heads-up. I was raising almost every pot, winning some, losing some. We were pretty much even when this hand came up: I had 6-8 on the button. I raise, basically trying to get him to fold. He calls. Flop comes: 5-5-8. He checks, I bet. He thinks for a bit and goes all-in. Now I'm thinking he might have a 5, Or possibly an 8 with a big kicker. But he most likely has two overcards. Probably A-10 or A-9.
"I'm thinking I have you beat," I say. He shrugs. "I think you have two overcards."
He shrugs again.
"I call."
He flips over A-Q. The turn goes blank, river... blank. I win.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bush's dumb war

Has anyone noticed that most of the anti-war protestors are middle aged ex-hippie women and their husbands? I photographed a vigil last night honoring Cindy Sheehan and her efforts to make Bush look the fool, and everyone who attended were ex-hippies, singing ex-hippie songs and war chants.
This must be like deja-vu for them. They must all be having flashbacks from 1969.

On one hand, I appreciate them being out there. Because frankly the war sucks balls. Bush really fucked up. We shouldn't be there in the first place, but we can't really leave and screw the Iraqis. So we are in a lose-lose situation. This was precisely the reason why Bush Sr. didn't finish the job the first time. No one wanted to relive Vietnam. I know a lot of people don't like comparing Iraq with Vietnam, but I fear that by not making the comparison, we will be doomed to repeat the outcome.
I think it's interesting that the only military man in Bush's administration, Colin Powell, opposed the war. And he's out. So what we have left is a bunch of political hawks who have no experience with war: Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney. I can't believe that these are the people making war decisions. Politicians trying to run a war? Is this not Vietnam revisited?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

poker chop and the Tourette's dude.

Poker last night.

I made it to the final three. One of my opponents was quite an interesting dude. When he introduced himself, he immediatley informed us that he has Tourette's Sydrome and that if he has occasional outbursts, not to freak out.
So throughout the evening he'd suddenly scream, "HEEEEYYY....!! FUUUCK!" and "YYOOOOUUU FUUUUUCCCCKKERRRRR!" and convulse. It wasn't a problem, we all talk like fucking truck drivers anyway. Plus, ScottO might as well have Tourette's with his infamous verbal outbursts, so we're used to it. But, it was startling when youd be in the middle of a conversation and someone blurts, "FFUUUCCCKKKEEENNN SHIT! .. HEEEEYY SHIT!" It was hysterical.

Ten players at two tables of five. $20 buy-in. Tables merge after two players get knocked out. I was playing super tight. A couple times I let my opponents off easy by checking the river. But otherwise I was catching some real crap. Meanwhile Luke was accumulating some serious ammo. The party host was the first to get knocked out when his 9 got taken out by ScottO when he made two pair on the river. After a long time, ScottO was the next victim and was out in 9th place.
When the tables merged I was middle stacked with Luke holding a massive chipstack. He was doing his best to bully the table around. Eventually it was down to the final four. Somehow the timekeeper only raised the blinds a couple times, so us little stacks had plenty of playing time to pick our moments. Down to four and this hand comes up:
Luke, under the gun, calls. I get 8-2 in the big blind, check. Everyone else folds. Flop comes QQ2. I bet out. He immediately goes all in.
Dilemma. I know Luke has garbage. He could easily have a Q. But I'm pretty sure he's got shit. Even if he's got shit though, any other pair would beat me. "Fuck it, I know you don't have shit." I call. He flips 8-6o. Turn comes blank. River blank. I double up making me pretty close to even with the big stacks. "Good Call," He says. Soon after, the small stack gets taken out and we're battling on the bubble. Winner takes $140, Runner-up gets $60. So One of us is S.O.L.
I had a chance to take Luke out. He was short stacked. Preflop, I raised with AK on the button, putting him all-in. He calls and flips A-10. He catches a ten on the turn and doubles up through me.
After a long time, I had a great idea. Chop-chop? House says, "No chopping. Thems the rules. ... Unless the house gets his buy-in back. ... $180 three ways to the winners."
We discussed it thoroughly, and finally they said ok." Three winners.

All the while, "Heeeeyy FUck YOU!..."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I switched over to playing at pokerroom.com. Essentially, it's the same software that Hollywoodpoker.com uses, and I believe they even share some of the same tables. The main difference is that Pokerroom.com doesn't have as low limits. Their lowest limit tables are $.25-.50, where Hollywood's are .15-.30 limits. Also, they have a 1st deposit bonus I'm trying to clear.

Anyway I just made a serious comeback at a shorthanded TURBO tourney. For a while there I was almost out of the game, but somehow managed to stick around til the final two. Heads-up, I took the lead after maybe 5 hands and won in two hands later when my A9 dominated his A8. He was surprised to say the least, because he'd had at least 5 times my chipstack.

I've been making some huge comebacks lately and I feel that playing these small tourneys slow to start and turning on the juice in the later levels in the way to play. Anyone can get unlucky in the later rounds but you have to put yourself in a position to win some damn money.

Good luck to me.

It might be time for me to head out to the casinos soon for some real face-to-face action. This online bullshit is getting on my nerves.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Wil Wheaton

If you haven't already, check out Wil Wheaton's blog. He is not only the former co-star of Star Trek the Next Generation, but he also happens to be one of the most popular and prolific "bloggers" out in the "blogoland."
His writing about his life with wife, work and kids are touching, hilarious, sentimental and profound without being too cheesy. The trials and tribulations of an actor/writer, amateur poker player is surprisingly interesting in a mundane, everyday, every man way.
Wil Wheaton is your everyday guy. Struggling to find a voice, a job, a life, and play in the World Series of Poker.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tourney contender

I played in a $10 buy-in multi-table tournament on Hollywoodpoker last night. After languishing in the small stack for nearly 2 hours, and playing as tight as Pam Anderson's bikini, I finally made my move when the 20th place finisher got knocked out. 19th place pays $22, so I figure screw it, either I finish doubling my money or I go all the way. I pushed all-in twice and since the blinds were so big, it basically doubled me up. Suddenly I was medium stacked and a real contender to finish pretty high in the money. Players were getting knocked out left and right and before I knew it I was at the final table.
Having beat more than 250 players, I was pretty stoked to have made it this far.
The final table was a blur. All I know is it was suddenly down to the final three. I was short stack, and the other two guys were battling out and trading first place. I had AQ, and got him all in after the flop, with an Ace on the board. He flips A-10. Yes. The turns comes blank. River shows a ten, and I'm out. Third place and $260 richer!

All in all I think I played well. Probably a bit too tight in the beginning, but I turned the heat on at the crucial moment, and put myself in the position to be a contender. I have to admit it was a close call there for a while. I was very much out of chips when I started my rush. So I'm patting myself on the back, cashing out $100 and going up a limit. Hopefully the rush can continue.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I've been playing a bunch of poker online lately. It's been an up and down journey, so I've learned that easy money, it's not. Sure, I'm up all-in-all; but my hourly rate must be absurdly low because of the ridiculously low limits I've been playing. Hey, it's a hobby not a career.
I will say that the vast majority of poker players online SUCK. I mean they really suck balls. Calling huge bets with shit hands like 8-5, or K-4, and miraculousy catching flushes or straights is the ultimate "bad-mood" inducer. But that's the discipline. If I can maintain my composure through these situations, I can control the rage within, and master my emotions. Or at the very least TRY.
So you see, poker is not just a game. It's not like darts or bowling. The skills acquired through playing poker can be applied in life. Risk vs. reward, calculated bluffs, emotional control, opponent reading, and advertising are all tools and skills which can be honed and applied to everyday life. Try applying your bowling skills to your sales job; Or apply your dart throwing skills to your high paying position as a pencil pusher or desk jockey. Forget about it.
Today, I'll encourage you to play some poker. But first do your homework. Learn the general concepts of odds-calculation and basic strategy and attack the play money tables at the poker site of your choice. Once you've dominated the play money domain, deposit $20-$30 into the account and try your hand at the 10 cent tables. I guarantee with a little patience, and perseverance, you too can punk the little bitch on the other side of your monitor.

Good Luck.