WPBT Winter Classic Recap, Part I

"At one point I stopped everything and just looked around, trying to take it all in. I wanted to capture that exact moment in my mind, forever knowing that I could look back with crystal clarity and draw upon it. Bottling up the sights and sounds, absorbing the intangible essence of camaraderie that simply can't be described with mere words. It was a surreal moment.

These people are my friends and my companions. They are my inspiration and my energy. I begin each day by reading their words, and end each night wrapped in the knowledge that we share a similar bond. Imaginary Internet Friends? Maybe. But they are more real to me in the few days or mere moments I am lucky enough to be around them than are many of the people who I have known personally for years."
- from my notes this past weekend

I'm getting ahead of myself though.

I departed Calgary Thursday morning on only one hour of sleep, too excited the night before to shut down and simply relax. My flight connected through Los Angeles without issue and I arrived in Vegas at 2:15 in the afternoon. In my opinion it is preferable arriving at night, the lights of the city stirring a sense of excitement and anticipation for what is to come before you even get off the plane. However I had to settle for the sight of palm trees and cowboys, both in extreme abundance between the airport and the Strip, but admittedly only one of which that really excited me. (For the record, if you guessed the one with Stetsons you would be incorrect - what can I say, I am from Calgary, cowboys we have.)

After securing my car I drove to the Imperial Palace, thanking the heavens that (for the first time in my history of staying there) I was checked in without fuss or incident. Though I desperately wanted a long, luxurious nap (of the 12-hour variety) I had pre-arranged plans to meet with Richard 'Quiet Lion' Brodie that evening for drinks, so I settled for a 10-minute power snooze before showering away the rest of my sleepiness.

Richard phoned and we agreed to meet at the Wynn. He and Michael Craig, author, of course, of The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King (no, not an affiliate link) had dinner reservations at Okada for 8pm, and since it was a bit later than we had originally scheduled to meet they were gracious enough to include me in their plans. That was an unexpected surprise for me, but a very welcome one.

The dinner itself was exquisite. After meeting the lovely sommelier, Richard and I shared a bottle of Ginga Shizuku - Divine Droplets Sake - served chilled in a beautiful presentation of crystal ware. Because I already ate a few hours prior I wasn't exceptionally hungry, but am fortunate they insisted I try enough samples from the endless stream of platters brought to our table. I realize this isn't a food blog but it would be a disservice not to recreate that meal just a little, so please indulge me for a moment as I recollect. The sushi and sashimi were beautiful works or art, set on a platter artfully decorated along with the expected accompaniments of wasabi and ginger. Among the many dishes we received was a sampling of Robatayaki which also wonderful, including such items as sea bass, asparagus with bacon, organic chicken, and BBQ pork that simply melted the moment they touched your mouth. The final item I had was a miniature taro taco shell, which I believe was filled with blue fin tuna, though I can't be completely sure. Simply outstanding.

Yes, the food was amazing, but the dinner conversation was also stellar. These two can certainly tell stories, and I had a great time simply sitting back, sipping my sake and listening to them recount many of the adventures that the rest of us only read about in their blogs or books. After dinner we relaxed on the show terrace and sipped scotch while they enjoyed cigars, all the while watching a larger-than-life animatronic frog sitting high above a 100-ft screen dance around to War's Low Rider. Seriously, only in Vegas. Though the two of them will come up again a few times in my recap, I'd like to send out a special thanks now to Richard and Michael once again for including me for dinner and drinks, I really did have a great time.

Picking up the crew

I had arranged to meet Kat, Gary, and Maudie at the airport, and was very much looking forward to getting us all in the same place together. I met Maudie last year at the event but it was my first time seeing Kat and Gary live, though we talk to each other most every night. It took mere minutes, no - mere seconds to feel like we have known each other in person for years. To further solidify the bond, we were forced to walk around the airport parkade for a while in Seinfeld-esque fashion since I neglected to notice where I parked, so excited was I to finally meet them all. Fortunately Gary was resourceful enough to locate the car and we were off in search of further misadventures at the Hôtel de Débauche.

After arriving back at the IP we found the meet & greet organized by Pauly to still be in full swing - and continued that way until the sun was up. I find it hard to convey the feeling of just sitting amongst these people, but let me assure you they are the best group of alcohol-swilling, junk-grabbing, hammer-dropping degenerates you are likely to ever meet. As anyone new to these events will attest, all you have to do is introduce yourself once and before long you are known to everyone. Since I have been in attendance before, I relived the experience through those that were there for the first time - it is simply displayed on their faces. A mixed look of pure astonishment, happiness, amazement, and a true sense of contentment knowing they belong.

That, my friends, was just Thursday. More to follow shortly.

Return From Vegas, Trip Reports Coming

Unless you are:

a.) a first time visitor to this (or any other poker-related) site,

b.) have been living in a cave

then I am sure you know the World Poker Blogger Tour invaded Las Vegas this past weekend. Trust me when I say that "invaded" is the correct term.

Since it was after midnight Monday (well, Tuesday morning) when my plane finally touched back down on Canadian soil, I haven't had a chance to finish compiling my notes from this weekend. In fact I broke tradition and didn't write much down at all, so I will be relying a lot on memory which could make it a rather fuzzy long process.

I'll be working on that and a few other things today as my system readjusts to coffee being the daytime beverage staple of choice (rather than beer/greyhounds/bloody mary's), but in the meantime check out Hoy's latest Hot Hand series if you haven't done so already:

Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part II
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part III
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part IV
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part V

Vegas Bound

By the time most of you read this, I will be at 35,000 heading down to the land of bright lights and desert nights. Unfortunately the weather is going to come up short of tropical, but it is still miles better than the Canadian climate I'm used to in December. In case you aren't aware, I am heading down for the 3rd Annual WPBT (World Poker Blogger Tour) Winter Classic. I was in attendance last year, though a bout of pnemonia hit me and I only got to experience a tiny portion of the fun. This year I am flu-free (knock on wood) and plan to take full advantage of that fact.

On Saturday we will be playing a tournament amongst ourselves, with an $80 buy-in and $50 rebuy option. Nice stakes considering there should be a fairly high number of entrants. I also have a few other things I am working on while down there so check back for trip reports, tourney details, poker thoughts and whatever else I can come up with. Now I just hope the wireless works at the hotel better than the last time I was there!

For any of you who are going, I look forward to seeing you in a few short hours!

Heading To Vegas

This morning I am leaving for Las Vegas on an eleven-day trip. The bad news is four of those days are spent driving, however that still gives me seven days to enjoy Sin City.

Much to my chagrin, I'm not playing in the Five-Star at Bellagio, though I will definitely be stopping by to check out the action so be sure to check back for pictures and updates on the tournament and the players.

I'll be posting regularly from the trip and will hopefully have lots of poker goodness, Vegas news, and card room information to share.

World Poker Tour Invitational, Day One

If Maxim did a poker issue, it would be this tournament: the room is filled with big celebrities, beautiful models, and virtually every poker pro you could imagine. The atmosphere is more like a party than any other tourney I've ever played, and everyone is having a good time.

At the end of day one, there are 98 players left. I am in 68th, with T17500, which is just about half of the average stack of T32000. BJ has a complete list of the players and their stacks over at PokerPages, and of course Pauly has the best live blog on the Internets, which includes a ton of pictures.

I don't have many exciting tales of my own to tell, because I was severely card dead for most of the tourney. I swear to jeebus, if the object of the game was to get 93o, I would have too many bracelets to count, man.

I don't think I ever lost a hand, which was pretty nice, and the hands that I won paid off nicely. A couple I remember: early on, I was in the BB with Q7o. It was folded to the SB, who completed, so I checked and we saw a flop of AQx. I knew he'd only call a bet with an ace, and I wanted to know if my queen was good. I decided that if he called, I was done with the hand. I bet about 1/2 the pot, and he called, so I was finished . . . until a queen hit the turn. Now I knew I was way ahead. I put him on a medium ace, and figured that he probably did the same. The turn went check check, and he checked the river. I bet just under the size of the pot, with a "I have a weak ace and I hope to scare you away" sort of bet, and he said, "well, I'm going to see if I out-kick you," as he called. "I have a queen," I said, "and the ace is my kicker."

He laughed, and mucked. "Oh man! I didn't see that coming!"

Continue reading World Poker Tour Invitational, Day One

More L.A. Poker Classic News

The action continues today at the Commerce Casino for day two of the main event. I mentioned earlier that Dr. Pauly is live blogging the event, but don't forget another one of our own WBPT bloggers is also there working day and night so we don't have to do more than click a mouse to know what is going on at any given time. Check out Jason 'Spaceman' Kirk's work over at Bluff Magazine, and his personal blog at Catching the Antichrist. (Sorry, Jason!)

Only two of my fantasy poker pool players are remaining: Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak, both of which I added to the roster at the last minute!

Top 20 chips counts at the end of day one were as follows:

1.  Michael Carroll  154,375
2.  Alan Goehring  128,375
3.  Bill Gazes  123,750
4.  Ali Eslami  122,300
5.  Brian McCann  119,875
6.  Hasan Habib  113,550
7.  Abraham Bergis  105,450
8.  Jon Luu  102,200
9.  Jeff Rine  100,375
10.  Albert Alshamn  99,900
11.  Eli Elezra  96,300
12.  Ayaz Mahmood  92,925
13.  David Plastik  92,425
14.  Glyn Banks  91,850
15.  Adam Spiegelberg  91,400
16.  Erick Lindgren  88,000
17.  Chuck Pacheco  87,500
18.  Mike Carson  86,925
19.  Anh Van Nguyen  85,450
20.  Edward Moncada  85,400

Dr. Pauly Comes to LAPC, Takes Third in Media Event

You stare at the board while the dealer raps the table, burns a card into the muck, and prepares to reveal the river card. Maybe you need to dodge all the spades, or only an ace. Maybe you need to catch a miracle, and pick up the case seven so your hammer bluff makes quads, beeetches, to beat your opponent's turned flush. (Who the fuck does he think he is, calling your huge pre-flop raise with T6c anyway and with two sevens on the board? What did he think you had?!)

The card comes off . . . and you lose. Maybe you stare at the board for a second, maybe you're already standing up, maybe you're so steamed, you even take a few steps away from the table before you remember to go back and shake the hand of your worthy opponent who outplayed or outdrew you.

What do you do next? If you're me, you congratulate your opponent, wish everyone good luck, and on your way to the bar, you pick up your cell phone, and call someone who won't charge you a dollar to hear your bad beat story, or who understands you (and the game) enough to listen, and say the magical words that somehow soothe your wounds.

There are a few people I call: PokerGeek, Lee Jones, Nickerson, Dr. Pauly. They fit all the above criteria (though Lee still charges me for my bad beat stories. Thank god for PayPal.)

Yesterday afternoon, my phone rang just before dinner, and I was pleased to see Dr. Pauly on the little display.

"Hey Doc," I said, "What's up?"

"Wil, man," I could hear him draw on a cigarette, "I just finished third in the media tourney at the LAPC." He exhaled.

"Third? Holy shit, man!" I said, "that fucking rules!"

"Well, not really. First place was an entry into the Invitational," he said.

"What'd you get for third?" I said.

"A T-shirt."

I tried not to laugh.

"Did you go out good, or did you go out hating yourself?"

"Man, I fucking got bad beated by Barbara Enright three times." Pauly laughed, "I am so fuckin' steaming right now!"

"Why don't you tell me about it," I said, "and we can zero out our bad beat account."

"I'm pretty sure you'll still owe me money, Wil." He said.

This time, he tried not to laugh, before he told me his sad tale, which you can read in Pauly's own voice at Tao of Poker.

Derek's Poker Hand of the Week

For this week’s hand of the week, I’m going to discuss a hand that I lost. In fact, I lost my entire stack. I was playing $1/$2 No Limit at the MGM in Las Vegas.

The table was full of fish and a couple of locals. I folded a bunch of hands early on and tried to pay attention to the table action and how the players bet their hands.

After a few orbits, I looked down to see Pocket Jacks on the button. Someone raised it up to $10 preflop when the action came to me. I decided to see where I was at and re-raised it to $40. The guy in the Big Blind called but the original raiser folded.

I figured the cold caller in the BB had big cards. I knew he didn’t have a pocket pair. I saw him re-raise a few pots earlier in the session with both medium and low pocket pairs preflop. I also gave him credit for not cold calling a big raise with rags. Defending your big blind for $40 with rags seemed even beyond this guy’s poor play. Since he didn’t re-raise me, I figured I was good especially if rags hit the board.

The flop came down: 3s-6c-Jh.

As you might expect, I was excited to see this flop. I knew I had my opponent beat even without the set. To make things better, it was a rainbow flop.

The table seemed pretty loose to me especially this guy, so I knew the best way to attack my opponent and play this hand was to bet after he checked. I figured he’d think I was button raising him. He was probably going to call me anyway.

Continue reading Derek's Poker Hand of the Week

WPBT Winter Classic - The Live Tournament

There are dozens of WPBT Las Vegas trip reports trickling in throughout the blogosphere, and the common phrase among them is “words just can’t explain what it was like.” Truer words have never been spoken. I find myself at a complete loss while attempting to recount the feeling of simply just being there. 


The sheer talent at the tables was staggering. At times I felt it could have been the Bellagio Five Diamond Classic across the street that I was sitting at, rather than the Imperial Palace amongst my friends, my peers, my heroes and my partners in crime. Often I found myself just sitting back observing everything and everyone, trying to etch it all into my mind so I wouldn’t forget a single sound, voice, action or emotion. 


Continue reading WPBT Winter Classic - The Live Tournament

Leaving Las Vegas

After a whirlwind week, I am just about ready to head to the airport for the quick three-hour flight home. My internet connection has been sketchy again today, so I am going to leave the full trip reports for when I arrive back in Canada. Thanks to all the readers for bearing with us this week as we descended upon Vegas and weren't able to post a great amount of content on the site. We will be back in full force again tomorrow though.

Also, a really quick thank you to everyone I had the pleasure of meeting over this past week. There is never enough time to get to know everyone, but I am glad that I was able to (at the very least) put faces to most of the names I have known for so long. I'll be back tomorrow!

Las Vegas Trip Report, Part 1

It is 11am on Tuesday morning at the Imperial Palace. The fire alarm has just gone off. Instead of panicking, Bill and I look at each other and say: “What the hell is Iggy up to now?” 

I’ve been in Las Vegas for six nights, though I am sad to say the past two have been spent in my hotel room suffering from a terrible cold. I’m feeling better today at least, so I hope to get out and see a few more things before boarding my plane tomorrow night. 


My husband and I arrived in town early last Wednesday, rented a car, and did a run around town for some ‘essentials’ before checking into the Imperial Palace. Drinks (and in many cases, food) are free while gambling in Vegas, but if you find yourself in the position of wanting some beverages or snacks in your hotel room, you’ll be paying a premium to have them delivered. Since we were going to be here a full week, we stocked up on just about everything you can imagine – soda, beer, champagne, and of course – bottled water.


Continue reading Las Vegas Trip Report, Part 1

Mini Trip Report from Commerce Casino

A one-armed Chinese man, a drug dealer wearing a gaudy gold Virgin of Guadelupe pendant on a gaudy gold rope, and Shane Nickerson.

Yeah, it's just another night in the $100 NL game at Commerce.

Shane, I've decided, has the worst luck in the universe. I watched him lose a buy-in to a donkey who called him all the way down with an underpair, only to catch her one-outer on the river to bust his flopped top two pair. I also saw him lose a buy-in to the guy we're pretty sure was a drug dealer n Shane flopped a set of nines against the his pocket queens, and the villain caught running clubs to make a flush. Aiyah!

When I got home, I wrote to Shane:

The Flush Suckout Guy has this great set of speakers in his van that he can sell you, straight from the factory. I think he has some designer cologne, too, but he may have to run around the corner to pick it up.

Shane wrote back:

That guy writes himself, man.

Indeed, he did. His fingernails were stained black, the same color as his black Los Angeles Dodgers cap. His huge adam's apple pushed out against two or three days worth of stubble. His blue eyes were bloodshot and pinned, and when he walked up to the table, he bounced his head around, pealed a one hundred dollar bill off a thick gangster roll from his pocket, and said, "Yeah-heah-heah-ha-ha-hah-heaaah!" He was one of the worst players I've ever seen, and that wad of bills came out of his pocket for several rebuys while I was there.

While it's very convenient to play online, one of the major benefits of playing live poker is seeing characters like Suckout Guy and One Armed Man. Shane and I also saw a guy in a floor-length oilskin duster who had a Texas Rangers star to accompany the feather on his fedora, as well as a gaggle of outrageously hot girls in too-tight cowboy shirts. (As if there's such a thing!) The guy in the 8 seat at our table said he took the SAT with me at Granada Hills High about sixteen years ago, and at one point stacked up over $500 in front of him by making boat-over-boat.

The game down there is extremely loose, and if you're not careful, you will get killed by some jerk who calls your fifteen dollar pre-flop raise (the blinds are 2 and 3) with a raggedy ace and ends up making two pair on the turn to bust your AK. So I played outrageously tight, raising with Group I and II hands only, and only limping with all other pocket pairs or medium suited connectors if I could get in late with at least two limpers ahead of me. I didn't play many hands, but I got paid off twice with pocket queens and a successful continuation bet with AQ when a king hit the flop. I played for about three hours, and I left $53 to the good after tokes and blinds. Not great, but better than losing, and when is the last time you got to say that you played with a one-armed man?


In the Money at the Casino Morongo

windmillsFollowing my disappointing week of online tournaments, I was tilting - hard. In an attempt to revive myself and regain my mojo, I headed for the desert. Palm Springs to be exact. As soon as I saw the windmills on the 10 freeway I felt my excitement bubble with the prospect of a relaxing (and hopefully profitable) weekend.

First stop, Casino Morongo poker room. (It should be noted that it truly was my first stop, as I had yet to even check into the resort where I was staying.) I got there just in time to register for the Saturday morning tournament. I specifically wanted to play this tournament as I had heard it really was a mixed bag of good, decent and just plain terrible players. A good poker player needs to be able to play against all skill levels and I have yet to figure out how to win against inexperienced players. Hence my newfound interest in playing smaller, more obscure tournaments.

Continue reading In the Money at the Casino Morongo

San Manuel Trip Report


acejackMy trip report from San Manuel is a bit dated, as I was there almost a month ago, but this is the first free day I’ve had! I went to play blackjack with a friend/mentor, but I was also hoping to win a chance in the “money machine” from a promotion called Grab the Green. (Much to the chagrin of my friend who thinks this stuff is a waste of time and I’m silly.) Unfortunately, I didn’t win the drawing, but I did leave San Manuel a winner…..barely.

One of the hardest things about gambling is putting in serious floor time and getting little to no value for your time. For example, driving two hours to a casino only to play for eight + hours and win a measly c-note. Sure, it’s better than losing, but when you factor in gas, time spent, quality of life (i.e. smoke filled casino with a rather unpleasant clientele), it makes for a miserable drive home at 5 a.m.

Here’s what happened in a nutshell.

Continue reading San Manuel Trip Report

Erica's World Series Recap

acejackWell, the past two weeks have been crazier than Tom Cruise, but I'm back! I have a lot to recap from my San Manuel experience to my two trips to Vegas. Rather than go in chronological order, I'll begin with something a little more recent. (OK, I really just need vent about something!) 

I generally try not to blame my poker losses on bad beats. Unfortunately, they happen all the time - it's just a part of the game. (In fact, after my most recent "bad beat" I was waxing poetic with Michael "Grinder" Mizrachi, who told me just to move on. That's all you can do. But I'm getting ahead of myself!)

Continue reading Erica's World Series Recap

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