This Really Happens

A story from work the other night:

Sometimes I work nights as a poker dealer. My boss’s name is Mike.

Me: Hey, Mike! C’mere for a second.

Boss: Yeah?

Me: Who’s the new girl?

Boss: Which one?

Me: The hot one setting up that blackjack table.

Boss: Which one?

Me: The one in the corner.

Boss: That’s my daughter…

Me: (silent)

Boss: …and she’s sixteen.

Me: (gulp)

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The Endeavor

(This is my first attempt at a “live blog”.)

It appears that online poker will soon be shut down in the good old free U.S. of A.

I logged into my online poker account today and surprisingly found $6 sitting there.

I now have a fucking mission.

The mission:

Turn $6 into $600 in 24 hours, playing poker… online.

This is going to be grueling and will most likely end in dissapointment. For you and me both, loyal reader.

Let’s get started.

__

Account balance: $6.00

4:00pm: I sit down at a $6 single table tournament. I win. Hell yeah.

5:30pm-7:00pm: I played two more $6 single table tournaments and finished 2nd in both. Hell yeahs.

Account balance: $38.00

7:00pm: I run to get beer and cigarettes.

I decide that my best chance of achieving my goal lies in the strategy of playing and winning as many small($5/$10) tournaments as it takes to be able to enter a $100 tournament and still have a couple small buy-ins left. If I pad my stack correctly and win the $100 tournament, if I ever get there, I will reach my goal. I want to have a couple small buy-ins remaining so that if I lose the big tournament I can just start all over again. We’ll see.

7:15pm: I enter a $10 single table tournament.

8:15pm: I finish in 2nd place.

Account balance: $54.00

This is going well. So far.

8:30pm: I take the time to write this blog.

9:45pm: I enter another $10 tournament.

10:30pm: I just went out on the bubble, 4th place. Lost money.

Account balance: $43.00

10:40pm: Entering another $10 tournament.

11:20pm: I just lost this tournament on the bubble, again. I took two horrendous beats in a row. I hate this game.

Account balance: $33.00

11:25pm: I am seriously pissed off. I am entering another $10 tournament now.

1:25am: I finished the tournament in 2nd place after the funnest and longest heads-up battle I’ve ever played. Great tournament. I don’t even care that I didn’t win because my oppenent was awesome. We showed each other several bluffs, nuts, folds, everything. This tournament exeplified what poker should be.

Account Balance: $41.00

1:30am: Okay, it’s obvious. I’m going to have to seriously step up my game if I’m going to reach the $600 mark by tomorrow afternoon, and I am getting tired.

I’ve been playing for almost eight hours now.

And I am very drunk.

Of course.

2:00am: I’m going to play a $20 tournament at the risk of destroying my bankroll. Starting now.

2:50am: I busted out AGAIN. I seriously fucking hate this game.

Account balance: $19.00

I still have enough for a $10 and a $5 tournament.

I am not fucking giving up on my goal.

3:00am: I am starting another $1o tournament…

3:36am: Fucking lost again.

3:40am: Buying into my final tournament. Right back where I started. Six goddamn dollars.

3:53am: I hit four of a kind and played them hard to the river. I have a lot of chips.

4:49am: I WON!

Account balance: $25.00

5:00am: Entering a $10 tournament. Growing… weary.

Still have… lots of Red Stripe to drink.

5:10am: I just hit a huge hand and I am the clear chip leader.

5:46am: I just lost to a two-outer. I want to kill someone.

Account Balance: $14.00

5:51 am: $5 tournament, here we go. What choice do I have?

6:30am: I finished in 2nd place.

Account balance: $22.00

I am piss drunk and am going to pass out now. I failed.

I will try again in a couple days and will have the sense not to live blog when everyone in their right mind is dead asleep.

Till then…

Put Me In, Coach


For those of you that don’t know, I am a part-time poker dealer in NYC. I run all kinds of games ranging from your company Christmas party — to underground high stakes Wall Street games — to your run of the mill casino themed bar mizvah.

My agent(yeah, some part-time poker dealers have agents) called me yesterday and told me that a client is looking for a poker dealer for a photo shoot. She asked if I was interested.

Hell yeah. What a stupid question.

Normally, as a poker dealer I am contracted to be paid “x” amount of dollars per hour based solely on my poker dealing skills (combined with the likelihood that I will actually show up to the job). It seems reasonable to me that I could demand that my standard going rate be multiplied several times for the use of my “image and likeness” in this commercial publication.

My agent asked that I e-mail her a couple of appropriate photos that she could forward to the client for consideration. I told her that that wouldn’t be a problem and that the photos where on their way.

I began looking through the depths of hell on my computer for appropriate photos. I soon realized that I didn’t have one single picture of myself that accurately represents what I look like now.

Problem?

Solution.

I enlisted my girlfriend who has an amazing amateur eye for what looks good on film.

I sat down in a chair in my apartment with a deck of cards and a couple stacks of chips, and told her to start snapping while I fooled around with my tools.

Thanks to the mirror (and Caroline’s spooky-good photography skills), this picture catches me tracking the Ace of Spades to the middle of the deck and cutting it directly to the bottom with one hand.

(Click to enlarge, seriously.)

I have always been very hesitant to post clear pictures of my face on this blog, or anywhere online for that matter, but I couldn’t resist this one.

World Blogger Championship of Poker

Poker Tournament

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 7712767

It should be really fun.

They’re giving away nine seats to the main event at the World Series of Poker.

I want a seat. Wicked bad.

I’ll let everyone know how I do.

The Tournmanent is on June 18th.

***Results:

I finished in 162nd Place out of 2239 players. I played very well, but lost a critical race for all of my chips in the third hour of the tournament.

I had 77, he had AK. All the money went in before the flop.

Flop came: AAK

Game over.

No prize.

How To Lose $400 in Five Minutes Playing Poker.

The first step is to find an underground poker club in NYC and talk your way in past the extremely skeptical club owner who inevitably thinks you are a cop.

You did it? Great!

Once you’re inside, buy $300 in chips and take them to an available seat at a $1/$2 No-Limit table. Sit down in the seat.

You’re doing well. The hard part is now behind you.

You will be sitting at the table in late-middle position and you will be dealt J-J on your very first hand. Nice. For anyone interested in learning the best methods of losing all your money as quickly as possible, remember this hand. J-J works perfectly almost every time.

Someone before you will raise to $15 and you will then re-raise to $50. Everyone else at the table will fold, and the original raiser will call your re-raise. Aren’t you excited?

The flop will come: Q 10 10

Your opponent will check to you and you should bet out for $100 to try to take it down right there. If you’re lucky, your opponent will then check-raise all-in for your remaining $150. At this point you will have to fold because you know that you’re beat. Nice. You’re off to a great start losing money! Isn’t this fun?

Don’t worry about the fact that you didn’t lose all of your money on that one hand because you will get another chance on the very next deal. Life is awesome.

You know, at this point you should just go ahead and buy another $100 in chips, so that you have more to lose on the next hand. Good idea, right? Hell yeah. Let’s have some fun.

On the next hand, you will be dealt A-Q. I love this hand because its almost as good if not better than JJ for losing all your money, and I fucking love losing all my money. Keep a lookout for A-Q and when you have it you should play in hard all the way. I guarantee you will lose thousands eventually.

When it’s your turn to act, raise to $15. You’ll get two callers.

The flop will come. Q 6 8, two spades.

Since you’re first to act, lead at the pot with a $40 bet. One opponent will fold and the other will raise you to $120 total. Take time to relish in this moment, as you are very close to losing all your money. Re-raise your opponent all in for your last $200 or so. They will call your raise and will turn over 5-7 suited in spades. Your opponent will hit a 9 on the very next card, cinching a straight and taking away any chance you have of winning the pot.

Congratulations champ! You did it!

You just lost $400 in five minutes playing cards. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

The long train ride home will be the best part of this experience as it will give you nothing but time to relive every awesome second of what just happened to you.

Poker Tournament: Part II

–If you haven’t read Part I, read it first.
–If you don’t care about poker, skip this post and the next one. You’ll find something you like.

By the look of the competition I’d already decided that being a bully would give me the best chance of winning this thing. So I went in full steam ahead. Blinds start at 25-50.

I raised the first three hands from middle/late position with garbage and got a couple callers as could be expected. The flop came out, it was checked to me, I fired with nothing and everyone folded. Three hands in a row. Too easy.

The next hand I was dealt 7-5 off-suit and raised to $200 from early-middle position. Don’t tell me this a bad play because I know that it usually is. However, in this case I had already established control over the table and was willing to toss away $200 chips to keep that control. I needed them to think that anytime they get involved with me in a pot, that I would make them play for their entire stack on any given hand. That doesn’t work against solid competition, but I thought this was an exception. Anyway, the small blind called and I’m now going to play a pot out of position with a 7-5. Am I worried? Hell no.

The flop came: Q 6 8 rainbow. Not bad at all. Open ended.

The small blind checks to me and I bet $400 on a semi-bluff. He calls. Ah shit, now I’m a little worried.

Turn card comes a J. Small blind checks to me, I check as well.

River comes with a 2. Small blind checks to me again, I stop to think for sec. I have the feeling he wants to show this down without having to call a big bet, so I figure taking one more shot with a big bluff would earn me the pot. Alternatively, I consider that this guy doesn’t know enough about poker to be able to lay down his hand to a big bet, meaning he might call having paired only his 2 on the river. My instinct tells me to fire another shell. I bet $800 and he folds. I show him my bluff with 7 high and he looks sick. I think he folded a deuce. A-2 maybe.

Next hand. I’m in even earlier position and look down at a suited Jd-8d and I smooth call. Normally I would never play these hands this way, but I figure I can navigate the hand well enough to make these plays profitable against these opponents. I’m pretty sure I can get in the pot and see a flop without having to call a raise. I was right. Four players saw the flop.

The flop came out: 7 9 10 with two hearts. I flopped the nuts. Life is good.

I was first to act and I checked. It was checked all the way around to the button whom I had just bluffed with a 7-5 the previous hand. He bet out $100 and all folded around to me. I moved all in and the button starting sighing and moaning and shit. This guy had already lost a lot of chips to me and was visibly upset that I bluffed him out of the previous hand. He called my all-in bet for all of his chips and he turned over 2-2! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I turned over my cards. I thought in was hilarious. I showed him one bluff 2 minutes ago and the very next hand he calls off his whole stack with an under-pair to the board. Too classic. Wow. Anyway, he got no help on the turn of the turn or river and he was gone.

I have now taken down the first four hands of the tournament, including busting one player. Not bad for 15 minutes work.

Blinds are going up to $50-$100.

With me in the cutoff seat there was one limper to my right. I looked down at a suited Ad-10d. I raised to $300. All folded around to the limper on my right who called the raise.

The flop came: 8d Ac 7s.

My opponent checked to me and I bet $450. He called.

The turn card came Qd giving me top pair and the nut flush draw.

He checked to me again and I lead out for $500. I wanted to keep him around but I didn’t want to make a small bet as to make him suspicious. Much to my surprise, the guy check-raised me to $1000. Uh-oh. Now I am worried. An argument could be made for me re-raising all-in at this point, but that’s not what I did, so shut up.

I call the raise and the turn card comes out a 6. No diamond. All of sudden my opponent comes alive and goes all in for his remaining $850 or so. I sighed out loud and said, “Well, looks like I got myself into trouble, oh whatever, I call.” He turns over A-9. I flip over my A-10 and clap once with thunderous enthusiasm. Another player busted.

I had amounted a huge chip lead at this point and was throwing it around like the chips would expire if I didn’t get them all into the pot every hand. Okay, not really but you get the point.

I was moved to a new table. At my new table I limped with 2-3 and paired my deuce on the flop against one other player.

The flop was: 10 2 7
I bet $200. He calls.

Turn: A
I bet $500. He called.

River: A
I bet $800. He folds.

On the river I fired for a third time having not improved my pair of deuces. My opponent mucked his cards face up to show everyone his pocket 3’s. I also turned my cards face up as I was collecting the pot to show him my paired deuce on the board. He was livid. I could tell that this guy was going to gun for me the whole night now.

Blinds moving to $100-$200.

This was already too expensive for almost every player at the table because at this point I think I had nearly a third of the chips in play in the entire tournament sitting in front of me. Put it this way, the average stack on my table at this point was $1,000-$3,000 and I had over $22,000. Yeah, it was ridiculous. We hadn’t even gotten through the first hour of the tournament.

A couple hands later the guy that I bluffed with the deuce limped in before me and I raised to $600 with 9-9. The button called and so did the limper.

Flop came: 6 7 8.

The original limper, the guy I just bluffed, bet out first for $600. I moved all-in with my 9-9 and the button folded. The limper/bettor thought for about 2 seconds and called for all his chips. I was sure I had him beat and I said so out loud as I flipped over my nines. He looked completely shocked and turned over Q-J. He got not help on the turn or river. Another player down. He later told me how he was positive that I was bluffing on this hand after I showed him the deuce a few minutes before. He said it himself and still didn’t seem to realize that that’s exactly what I wanted to happen. Even after he told me himself, he didn’t realize he’d been played.

Someone on the rail asked me in a tone that suggested I was stupid, “How did you think you had him beat with just a pair of nines?”

Yeah, that’s the type of player I was dealing with here. Hence my mammoth ass stack of chips. I explained to him why I was sure I had him beat.

“What’s he gonna have? 7-8? 9-10? An overpair to my 9’s? I don’t think so.” The guy still looked confused. Whatever, that’s why he’s on the rail.

Ok, at this point I have so many chips that I can literally afford to put the whole table all-in every hand and I won’t even be wounded if I lose. I look down at AsQs and push all-in, why the hell not? The player to my left immediately calls. Everyone else folded and he flips over KK. Okay, that’s fair. Ya know what’s not really fair though? I caught my fifth spade on the river to make the nuts. Nice. Another player busted.

There was another player at my table that capitalized on a few chances to grab some chips when I couldn’t justify it. He ended up building a pretty good stack fairly quickly, and I was pretty sure he was growing tired of my bullying. It seemed that I was infringing on his territory.

Blinds are now $200-$400.

I open raise to $2000 from early position with 7-7. Everyone folds around to the other big stack who re-raises to $6000. Hmmm, interesting. I have a feeling that this guy is putting a move on me. I think he has something like AJ, KQ, or maybe even AK. He’s seen me rob so many people blind that he figures I’m full of shit and wants to prove it to everyone. The best I give him credit for is AK, in which case I’m still slightly favored. So I say, “Well, let’s just put the rest of in then, I’ll all-in.” He thinks for about half a second and calls flipping over J-J. Oops. No help from the board for me.

I lost about half my stack on that hand. Not to worry, I still had a ton of chips.

Break time.

After the break we drew seats for the final table and I was happy to see that the guy that invited me to the tournament was still in, especially since he’s my boss of sorts. The tournament director skipped the next two blind levels and we went straight to $500-$1000 with $200 antes. What the hell? That’s bullshit! Oh well, it is not my club and I am winning so what the fuck do I care? It actually works out better for me that way. Obviously from this point on it was very rare for anyone to take a flop because of the outrageous blinds. Some players didn’t even have enough chips to cover the blind when it came to them. I continued to play a very aggressive preflop game and took down pot after pot preflop.

I moved all-in preflop with 8-8 and got called by a medium stack holding KdQd. The flop came out and the first card I saw was a K. Thankfully, the second card I saw on the flop was as an 8. Nice, it held up through the river and we’re down to five players.

Blinds up to $2000-$4000 with $500 antes.

Next hand I was on the small blind and everyone folded to me. I looked over and the big blind only had $600 backing up his blind, which is less than pennies at this point. I did not look at my cards because I didn’t need to. I had to put him all in with any two cards in this spot, so I didn’t even bother to look. So, from the small blind I say to the big blind,

“I’ll put you all-in”, as this was a no-brainer.

He confused me when said, “If you’re going to raise, then raise.”

I responded with, “I said I’m putting you all in, that’s all you need to know. I know what I’m doing.”

He said, “There is another player in the hand, if you’re going to raise, then raise.”

Sure enough, he was right. The other big stack at the table had limped in under the gun and somehow I didn’t notice. Shame on me. I’m not sure how that happened, but it was very embarrassing none the less. I sucked up my pride and said, “Well, maybe I don’t know what I’m doing after all.” I still have not looked at my cards but I’m positive that if I make a move on the big stack limper that he will not call without a premium hand, and if he had a premium hand he would have raised from the start, right? I’m sure of this because I’m been pushing him around all day with trash cards. The problem is, the guy had just gone on a wicked run and now has me slightly outchipped. Regardless, I immediately push all-in blind positive that he will fold. Wrong. He called and flipped over KQ. Oh shit, I’m in trouble now. I tell the table that I haven’t looked at my cards because I didn’t realize there was another player in the hand. I say this right as I flip over AQ. Wow, how lucky it that? The guy on the big blind turned over J-3. No one believed me that I didn’t look at my cards because they didn’t understand that I had no reason to, even after I realized the other big stack had limped and was still in the hand. Anyway, I won the pot and put some serious hurt on the big stack and eliminated the player on the big blind. I actually had to dodge a lot of cards on the river, but it worked out.

My buddy from work was still at the table and had less than two blinds worth of chips. On the next hand I knocked out a player, and on the hand after that I knocked out two more players and my friend flew in under the radar and cruised right into 2nd place without enough chips to even cover the blind on the next hand. How sweet is that? We dealt the next hand face-up and I won the pot and won the tournament.

As my friend and I left and were walking down the street to go home we were laughing about how they’re probably never going to let us set foot in that place again.

Poker Tournament: Part I

Poker will be a reoccurring topic in this blog. If you don’t care about poker, you should skip this entry and move on to the next one of my posts about the stupid religious meathead kid or the next one about the huge-hearted junkie. You will like them both. I promise.

Moving on.

I started a new freelance job a couple weeks ago and one of the higher ups in the company invited me to a poker game. It was a No-Limit Hold’Em tournament at a social club, $40 buy-in and optional $25 add-on at the break after the first hour. $2000 starting chips, $1600 add-on. Yeah, a little weird but whatever, maybe they didn’t have enough chips in house. They expected 30-40 players. Does this sound like a soft game to anyone else but me?

I showed up to the game on time after a long commute to find that the tourney would be starting an hour late. No problem. This place had a pool table, ping-pong table, Budweisers for $2.50 and smoking was allowed. Plus, looking at the players waiting for the tourney to start, it was obvious that this was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. I couldn’t wait.

I killed some time over a couple beers and a couple games of pool with the guy that invited me. Great guy by the way. We split the pool games 1/1. I wanted a rubber match but the poker tourney was starting and we had to sign up and pay entry.

The players were assigned their tables and I was the first at my table to sit down. The chip values were strange and I made a mental note to make sure not to throw out a black chip for an intended $100 bet when in this tourney the blacks were worth $500. All the chip values were ass backwards. Whatever, this only supported the notion I had prior that these guys have no idea what they’re doing on a card table. They are in serious fucking trouble. I’m going to be like the hurricane they never saw coming, no shit. They will all be standing on the rail trying to figure out how they got there, with only one thought in common—Ryan did it.

At this point I think I should qualify myself to the readers by saying that I have played thousands of hours of poker against some of the best young minds in the game. I have won or cashed in several tournaments of all shapes and sizes, live or online. I have taken several thousands of dollars out of circulation from the NYC underground poker scene—before the law stuck a corkscrew in its neck.

I believe that the following will ring a bell with a few readers. There was a poker club that sat on the corner of 72nd and Broadway that was a literal goldmine. On any given night of the week, there would be fifteen tables packed full of Columbia University students playing cards on daddy’s credit card just waiting to give their money away. It was a dream come true. All that a good poker had to do was stay awake at the table to make money. I have no idea how much money I took out of that place before it got shut down. How ever much money it was it obviously wasn’t enough, because somehow I’m writing about a $40 tournament right now. Don’t ask.

Back to the tourney at hand, all players are seated.

The cards go in the air.

I feel good about this!

…to be continued.

Part II will discuss the overall outcome and key hands in detail.