Archive for November, 2006

Shane’s First TreeI grew up celebrating Christmas as a family day.  It was a day where we all got together and opened presents and as a young’en, the sheer excitement of rifling downstairs on Xmas morning to find a mound of presents and stuffed stockings was just amazing.  Well, I’ve always wanted my son to experience that same excitement.  The only problem is that Jews don’t usually celebrate the holiday.  They feel compelled to celebrate the less exciting Xmas knock-off, Chanukah.  Chanukah, or Hannukah is the seven days, eight night holiday, but it’s probably the least important of all the Jewish holidays. 

I grew up celebrating Xmas because my mother had always celebrated the holiday.  So Mindy wasn’t all that excited about the fact I celebrated this day.  But it is what I grew up with and inspite of her not wanting to ‘confuse’ Shane, I’m ok with it as it’ll teach him the holiday that ‘daddy’ grew up with.

He’s already made a few ornaments for it and loves the thing.  Pretty cool stuff.


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New poker chips

Ok, so I’m probably jumping the gun somewhat but I’m also running a little batty at home all day, Mindy’s in Hong Kong, and with the post-Thanksgiving lull, things have been quiet.   But am starting to plan for my impending return to Atlanta.  Yes, it’s premature, yes, there’s no guarantee I’m coming back, but it’s fun to start thinking of the return.  It’ll be sad however leaving here as at any day, any time, I can get a poker game by driving the 18.1 miles to the Commerce Casino or 20.4 miles to the Bike, or the 19.7 miles to Hollywood Park, or 23.8 miles to the Hustler Casino.  Ok so I made the latter three numbers up, but the 18.1 was exact and the others are pretty solid guesses.  What I’m saying is I’ll miss always being able to get a game. 

What was great about running my game was simply that I enjoyed hosting.  It was not about making money – heck with all the food, beverage and cost for tables, chairs, chips, cards, etc., I barely broke even.  It was the ability to play in my home, the ability to entertain friends, and enjoy playing America’s new game.  Ok, 2nd game – after baseball (still my first love).

So, I’ve started scouting out for a new professional mac-daddy of a table, already gone on ebay and gotten my new shipment of cards I use (a secret), lol, even locked up a new web-site which I may opt to go the Mark F. route with private RSVP’ing for my bi-weekly game – www.viningspoker.com (not functional yet, but I’ve registered the site) and may eventually move my blog there.  But what’ll be fun is selecting and getting my new poker chips.

Most places will charge you an arm, leg and kidney for custom chips anywhere from 90 cents through $1.50 for truly customized professional chips.  I’ve got a lead on a place that may only charge around .35-.38/chip.  It’s a print shop in Anaheim coincidentally that will allow me to send them artwork for the chips.  I’ve already got one idea courtesy of Mank for the backside of one chip – probably the dollar chips, but am open to other ideas – perhaps a theme from each place I’ve lived (ie. Yankee Stadium for my time in NY, downtown Atlanta view for my time in GA, Disney for my time in LA), dunno, something like that.  The other side of every coin would be consistent on all chips – Vinings Poker in eclectic aristocratian font.

Yes, I have too much time on my hands out here, but it’s fun thinking about this stuff.  I’m open to ideas.

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It could be me – of which I’m sure many things are – but the Monday after Thanksgiving always seems to go in slow motion.  People are still groggy from their long weekend slumber and if there’s one place they don’t want to be, well, it’s work.  Doing what I do (recruiting), I fell a little into that lull of not wanting to work either.  It was a long weekend with Shane as he was ill and he kept me up most of the weekend.  Combining that with Mindy’s being in Hong Kong, it made for a not so restful weekend.

So I’m looking forward to four weeks from now to a full week off from work (Dec. 23-Jan 1) where I may just check email and respond to emergency needs, but otherwise I can sleep in, catch up on some reading, see family and friends and be ‘merry’.  We’ll be in New York/Connecticut for the holidays, so the only thing I’m not looking forward to is the cross country flight as we’re doing a red-eye coming into Hartford.  Ugh.

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I consider myself a student of the game of poker.  I’m still very much learning the nuances of the game and am getting close to ready to bump up in levels, probably in the next two-three months or so from 2/5NL to 5/10NL.  But I’ve always had questions surrounding many of the professional poker players and their philosophies on poker. 

I hear all the time, these guys state they’ve ‘gone bust’ at one time or another, or their propensity to gamble (ie. prop bets, betting on sports).  I take a vastly different philosophy regarding poker, right, wrong or indifferent.  Why does one have to go bust at one time or another in this game in order to succeed?  Unless as Matt Damon’s character in Rounders stated, “…you’re whole life can be a f**king grind”.

I keep a separate bankroll strictly for poker.  It’s grown to the point where the wifey would love to take a nice vacation with it, but we agreed this is to support my little ‘habit’, I mean – hobby.  But to go from decent or ‘good’ player to a very good or great player, must one turn into more a gambler?  I don’t consider my play at the table gambling.  If I have the pot odds or have the best hand or know I am likely to win on a bluff bet, sure I’m going to shove my chips in.  Sure I may be ‘risking’ chips/$, but is it considered gambling if you have the odds in your favor or you’re the favorite?  And maybe I’m leaving some money on the table by not gambling more – but as they say – “money saved is money earned”.  Here are two hands where I was bet out of the pot where I’m thinking most other or at least many others would’ve called or pushed.

Commerce – pre-flop bet of $25, one of the two guys is loose.  Three to the flop, I have the button with A8 diamonds.  Flop of K,9,4 – two diamonds.  First guy bets $30, next guy makes it $100.  I fold.  I can’t call that, could I?  I call and I get reraised possibly by the guy on my left, so I’d need to be prepared to risk all my chips.  And I have $600 in front of me while the other two have about $300-400.  To me, that’d be ‘gambling’.  I don’t really have the odds to call do I?  And even if I do (implied odds), then still risking alot of chips on a draw versus a lead out bet and raise.  Now if the board had an eight or an ace, different story.

Next hand – I have KJ off in late position – as seven limpers to the flop.  Q,10,rag.  Bet of $25, one caller ahead of me, I call the $25 on my open ended straight draw and one overcard.  Turn misses.  Bet of $100.  Fold, fold.  Again, with $100 in the pot, the UTG bettor makes a good pot sized bet.  He has $200 left in front of him, so really there’s not a likelihood of bluffing him out and even if I do call and hit, I’m not going to make that much money.  Again, laying down big draws is necessary at times.  If he’d only bet $50, I’d have called, but that’s why he bet $100.  Good for him.  And I think good for me.  I don’t know what would have happened on the hands because in both, the other players all folded.  I don’t go into the deck and look like other players do.  Why do people do that?  There are no real ‘what ifs’ if all players fold.

Anyway, just some of my philosophies on this fun game I’ve picked up.  Would be interesting to hear from some of you if you consider yourself a gambler at all.  What do you enjoy gambling on.  It is to have some ‘skin in the game’ or is it to make money?

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Opted to take off the day before Thanksgiving, or at least a half-day.  Played a twelve hour session at Commerce from 2pm through 2am.  The first three hours were pretty rough at a fairly aggressive table with some maniacs.  Wound up on the short end of three large hands of which I was the favorite in all three and lost three consecutive buy-ins in 3 hours of $200 apiece.  So, into my fourth buy in (and I had determined it was going to be my last with my great run of luck), I picked up AA and doubled up quickly versus AK.  AA held up 20 minutes letter after flopping a set and an aggressive player trying to bully…woops. 

Played solid the remainder of the evening to go from over $600 in the hole in three hours to a win of $1,000 on the evening.  My favorite two hands were against a maniac player that had a propensity for showing his bluffs, particularly against me for some reason.  So when I opted to play Q2 of diamonds on the button for $20 with six other players in already, and a flop of 2,7,10 came out with two diamonds, I figured this was a hand worth staying in heads up versus the maniac when he bet out $75.  Everyone folded to me and I raised to $175.  He pushed for another $150 more and I called.  He only had A,9 with the ace of diamonds.  Are you kidding?  I turn over my hand after he’s all in and he refuses to turn over his.  He ‘belittles’ me and then spikes his hand down in joy when his Ace hits the turn.  I of course kindly tell the dealer to “ship it” when a duece hits the river.  He starts berating me.  I had a great chuckle over it actually.  Simply telling him I knew my dueces post flop were good, lol.  He had nada after the flop. 

Few hands later after he rebuys, I limp in with 10,10 and he bets out $30 on a board of 9,6,2 rainbow.   One caller ahead of me, and I make it $130.  I simply tell him to lay it down, and he doesn’t believe me of course saying “you probably have dueces”.    He goes all in for another 100 on top and of course I call and flip over my overpair to his 9,7.  Gotta love maniacs.

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So, Thanksgiving and the holidays are here.  What are YOU thankful for? Personally, I’m thankful for having a wonderful family – a great wife, a miraculous little guy that brings joy into my life with every breath he takes.  I’m thankful for my health, for having good friends, thankful for my clients, thankful for any poker suckout I’ve ever gotten, thankful my Syracuse Orange or in the top 25.Tis the season and to all my friends, thank you for being such.  I look forward to a great new year full of good and ‘thank’ful times.  May your holiday be filled with good food but moreso for plentiful things to be thankful for.

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Well, back out west and had a sub-par Friday night of cards.  I figured I was due for an ‘off’ night after my last post, but had a positive outlook going into the evening.  Played at the game off Howell Mill and was up about $150 when I literally “he-hawed” off about $100 of which $40 was a re-raise on the river when I thought I had made a boat off a solid player – G.  The board had a straight and flush out there and I checked the turn which supposedly made my boat (9,8,7,7).  Woops, I had 9,8 NOT 9,7.  The river was a flush and straight potential 6 and G bet out $20, I made it $60 and he turned over his straight to the 10.  I declared a boat and turned up my two pair of 9s and 8s.  Woops.  Inexpensive lesson and the first time I’d done that in quite some time.  Few hands later I have 4,5 clubs and with one other player all in and me up against a good player in Scott, the board was A,2 clubs and 3 of spades.  I had to bet the flop and he called.  We both checked the 7 of clubs on the turn.  And the river came a blank and he bet $100.  I folded my straight and weak flush – he turned over his nut flush.  Yeah, not going to be my night.

Went to Mr. F’s game at around 2am and just didn’t get the cards and made a bold play on one hand.  Straddle and I limp in with AQ clubs.   Button makes it $50 to go, and there’s three callers and now over $200 in the pot.  A,9,8 flop rainbow and one club and I’m first to act.  I push $360 into the pot figuring only two pair or a set could call.  But surprisingly, AK on the button called me.  Very surprised he ONLY had AK.  I don’t think I’m a good enough of a player to make that call I guess.  I figure if I’m aggressive, I can take down a nice $200 pot right there that AK would NOT call.  But fortunately or unfortunately in this hand, AK called.  So now I’m stuck for $800 on the night.  I’m into my next $400 buy in and fortunately win several hands and pick up KQ suited UTG at the end of the night.  Two callers for my $25 raise.  KQ10 flop.  I bet out $60.  One caller.  Turn – a King.  I check and AK pushes his trips for another $150.  Easy call and I get back to a respectable minus $350 for the trip.

So there you have it, my first losing trip to Atlanta since moving.  Oh well.  Hopefully my last.  Maybe the players have gotten better.  I’ll just keep on trying to improve and see how the LA games treat me for a while.

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