Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chicago Poker Club Tournament Series

REMINDER: The first event of the Chicago Poker Club Tournament Series is coming up. The $5 + $0.50 No Limit Hold 'em inaugural event will be Sunday, August 6, 2006 at 5pm on Full Tilt Poker.

play online poker
Sign up for a Full Tilt account through Chicago Poker Club and receive a 100% bonus up to $600! Click on the link here, or mention Bonus Code CHICAGOJASON when signing up. Full Tilt is available in full client on a PC or Mac.

Continue reading to see the full tourament schedule.

Test out MONTH and AGENDA modes to see what works best for you.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

WSOP #17 - Part 2

ChicagoJason Hard at work
continued from July 15...

The Men's room, of course, was crowded, but the line moved quickly. In less than 3 minutes I was comfortable again. Pauly, the Poker Prof, always reports on who he's last "pissed next to", so I looked around. No notable players.

I headed outside to the player's tents; they have two, one with food, and the other a lounge. I had just a few minutes until the tournament started again, and I didn't want to let any blinds go for free. I was able to get a slice of pizza, a nice big one at that, and pay in just a few minutes. Things were running smoothly and efficiently. I don't know if I was famished, or it was really good pizza, or both, but I sure enjoyed that MoFo.

I choked down the last few dry bites of the crust as I settled into my seat and the dealer put the cards in the air. The blinds had raised to 50-100, and with about 3500 in chips, a standard raise was about 10% of my stack.

For the next hour we saw few flops, and even less turns. If we saw a river, someone was all-in. It was double up or head home time, with so many average stacks. An average stack was a short stack by now.

I didn't see anything playable, no big cards, no connected cards, no meaningful suited cards, for about 45 minutes. Near the end of the level, I was in the big blind, and the hand was folded all the way around to the button. The player, a young man in his late twenties, had been playing very tight. He peeked at his cards and paused for a moment. He then raised to 300.

I considered what the raise meant. We had not seen an unraised flop in at least 30 minutes. He was the last to act before the buttons, and a raise with any two cards was reasonable. His tight play shortened up the list of hands with which he might raise, but not by a lot. He could have any ace, suited or otherwise, two face cards, a small pair, or a genuine monster. All would be played this way. He only had about 1600 or 1700 chips left, so I knew I was playing for about half of my stack.

The small blind folded and I found a suited K-5 in my pocket. I paused, and then called his raise.

The flop came K-7-3. This was a good flop for me, I thought. He might have another king, which would undoubtedly be bigger, but if he didn't, I knew I was ahead. If he had pocket aces, so be it, I was doubling him up anyway.

I checked, he paused for what felt like 30 seconds, and then threw 400 chips into our 650 chip pot. This was a good bet, I thought. There was no real draw, so if he was ahead, he was protecting his hand, and if he was behind, he didn't risk too many chips.

He was tight, as I mentioned, and nervous. I decided that it was time to win the pot. I made a minimum raise, "800", I said. I thought my check-minimum-raise showed a lot of strength. In particular, I thought it communicated something since my opponent had only 900 chips left, and I raised him just shy of half of his chips. We both knew that I had just put him all in, but I showed strength in my underbet.

He went into the tank. The guy was absolutely stymied. I sat motionless for what felt like an hour. He probably contemplated his fate for 5 full minutes before I interrupted.

"Clock," I said.

"What?" asked the dealer.

"Clock please," I reiterated.

The dealer tried to get a floorperson's attention to start a clock on my opponent. When a player calls "clock" on another player, they have 60 seconds to act on their hand or it is mucked (discarded). In order to start the clock, however, a floorperson was required, and there was none to be found. I was okay with that, I just wanted to put some pressure on, and make something happen - soon. After a full two additional minutes, my opponent reluctantly stated, "okay, I'm all in". I called the additional 500 chips, getting 5 1/2 to 1 on my call.

I was expecting to see a medium-pair, bigger than 7s. I thought there was a possibility that he struggled with a slightly bigger King - something like a K-9 or K-10, which he may have talked himself into raising preflop.

He flipped over A-K. Yep, he flopped top pair, top kicker, was short-stacked and needed this pot to have any game left, yet he belabored his call for 7 minutes. Ugh.

I did not improve on the turn or river, and was suddenly in trouble. A few minutes later, the blinds doubled to 100-200 and I was officially crippled. I had about 1800 chips left, my M was 6, or 9 big blinds.

Over the next 30 minutes I had nothing playable. Nothing. Now I was down to about 1400 chips and looking for my spot. Out table broke, and I was moved about 5 tables away. I was short-stacked, desperate, and now had to make a move at a table where I had no image, and knew nary a soul.

I was seated in late position, that was a positive. About three hands in, I found the Ace of spades and the 9 or spades in middle position. The under the gun player limped, a possible show of strength, or potentially one of inexperience. I didn't have much of choice, I felt, and this was the best hand I'd seen in two hours.

"Raise. I'm all in," fell out of my mouth. I often announce my all-in in this way. I feel like it conveys the sentiment, "okay, I've discovered a big, big hand down here, so I know I'm going to raise. Hmmm... how many chips do I have left, well, I guess I only have enough left for an all in." I prefer this to the cliche all in which says either "I've got the nuts" or "I'm desperate". Incidentally, both of those phrases helped me to land my high school girlfriend.

It folded, thankfully, all the way around to the under the gun player. He had 200 in, and it was another 1200 or so back to him. The blinds had abandonded a total of 300 in chips, plus I had moved my 1400 in, so it was 1200 to him with a 1900 chip purse to be won. He liked his cards, and called. "Shit," was my only response.

He proclaimed, "you're ahead," but I wasn't sure.

He turned over King-Jack of clubs, and I was, indeed ahead. Not by much. But I was ahead.

He did not pair the king or the jack, but the two clubs on the flop and one on the river gave him a king-high flush and my 2006 World Series came to an end.

I packed up my things, and called the wife and a couple friends. I bumped into John Juanda and David Singer on the way out. Actually, I busted these two Full Tilt players (representative and "friend of", respectively) in the PokerStars lounge. They thought it would be better to get this picture in the hallway.
John, ChicagoJason, David
Don't I look sad?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

World Series of Poker - Event #17

IMG_0783The alarm was set for 9:30 AM. At 9:10 my eyes popped open and I sprang out of bed like my first day of kindergarten.

"Today's the day." And I felt great.

Southside was still out cold, as he is prone to be on an early morning in Las Vegas.

I grabbed some clothes from the suitcase at the end of my bed, some long pants and a long-sleeved button-down for a long day in an very air conditioned room.

After a quick shower, I put on the finishing touches and packed up my luggage. We were moving to the Bellagio that day, and I certainly wasn't planning on being free anytime before our 1pm check out. I packed up a canvas tote that PokerStars had given me for free the day before. I threw in a sweatshirt, my MP3 player, with an extra battery and accompanying headphones, a Power Bar, my camera, and my travel wallet. All but the last item were for comfort; I took my travel wallet so that the baggage handlers didn't remove my passport, thinking it was there own... None of the items in my "tournament tote" were used over the course of the day. I was focused.

I made my way down to Starbucks for a fruit and yogurt platter and a cup of Joe. There was a young woman in the shortest of shorts and the tightest of t-shirts in front of me. She smiled and said hello. Upon further inspection, she was a representative of Absolute Poker, and she wore the outfit well. We chatted briefly, and she asked if I was playing in today's event. "Sure am," I responded. After that, she perked up noticeably. Was she flirting with me? Occupational hazard...

Southside met me for a cup of coffee and we staked out the Amazon room, as I had already done two days before. We popped into the PokerStars lounge to see if our new buddies, Victor Ramdin and Barry Greenstein, were around. They weren't.

IMG_07891As I was heading out I spotted Wil Wheaton relaxing in a tall barstool. "Hi Wil, I'm Jason. I just thought I'd introduce myself."

"Oh, hi Jason. You look very familiar. Do I know you?"

I scanned my memory banks for some place he might have seen me. I've done some small local theater in Chicago. I had a couple of minor TV appearances as a child. I was even on the cover of a magazine once. None of these things made sense. I like to think I'm a G-list celebrity. I'm not.

"Uhh... I'm ChicagoJason, from Chicago Poker Club," I offered.

"Oh yeah. Of course."

"No way," I thought. If he's read my site more than once, I'd be surprised. If he's seen a picture, I'd be VERY surprised. Even so, it was a kind gesture, from a very, very nice guy. We chatted for a couple of minutes.

"Have you seen Gracie," Wil asked.

"Not today. Not yet," I answered.

"Let her know I'm looking for her."

This was weird, and cool, all at once. I watched Wil on TV in high school and college. As a child, I watched him star in my then favorite movie of all time - Stand By Me. We were chatting as though we'd know each other for... well, more than five minutes. He was going to be seated at table 15, I was at table 22. We wished one another good luck, and I headed out. [Wil's Event #17 results can be found here]

Southside and I headed to Table 22. I was in seat 11. Ick. Not only were they seating 11 to a table, I was stuck in that fateful seat, rght next to the dealer. The dealer was more or less a nice guy, and a capable dealer. For the sake of completeness, he had the largest nose I've ever seen. I mean, he has a nose on top of a nose. He started with a Grouch Marx (or alternately, ChicagooJason) -sized nose, and then put three noses on top of that. Seriously, he had some type of ailment or unusual grrowth. I did my best not to stare.

Fifteen minutes later the cards were in the air. The Tournament Director said, "Shuffle up, and deal", and a chill ran down my spine.

"Phil Laak, please come to table 3. Phil Laak." The tournament director was looking for his prized pupil. Then, "Jennifer Tilly, please come to table 4. Jennifer." The headmaster was at it again. Moments later, Mr. Laak and Ms. Tilly wended their way through the throngs of players, staff, and spectators to tables 3 and 4, respectively. "Geez. I'm glad I'm not sitting on that side of the room," I announed. A chuckle and a grunt were my only rewards.

Seat 10 (the player, not the chair) had still not arrived, yet the Director didn't call out his name. "I guess it isn't Phil Hellmuth", I thought, and prayed. The dealer forgot to give the empty seat a to-be-mucked hand. "Oops, misdeal, he said". As he was pulling in the cards the Tournament Director announced "We have our first elimination!"

Holy crap. I hadn't even gotten cards yet and someone had already blown off their $1000 buy-in. Someone had already doubled up.

Within five minutes, maybe three. He announced that the first table had been broken. Wow. I had literally seen one hand and at least 11 people were done playing poker for the day.

It took about 1 hour and 45 minutes for the Tournament Direct to announce that all of the alternates had been placed in the game. Almost two hours in and we still had over 180 very full tables. Well, at least 800 people had been eliminated. We were down to just over 2,000. Eek. Shortly thereafter the Tournwament Director announced that we were playing in the largest single-day field ever for a live poker tournament.

I played incredibly tight for the first couple hours. The button went around one and a half times before I saw my first flop. The blinds were 25-25 and I raised to 100 in middle position. It folded around to the big blind, and she smooth called. She was a middle-aged woman wearing reading glasses. I believed her to be th weakest player at the table; this actually made me nervous. The flop came J-7-7 and she checked to me. I bet 175 in to the 225 dollar pot. In my head I yelled for her to fold, "you're behind, that didn't hit you. Fold. Fold." She obliged.

About 90 minutes in our table broke. I was moved to table 68 or so, which was about three rows away. I carried my rack of chips, careful not to pull a Hellmuth, over to the table. I had to wait a hand as I had sat on the button. Perfect.

8 hands later I peered down at pocket 5s. I was under the gun at an 11 player table. I decided to limp in and pray that we got to see a cheap flop. I figured the odds were 1 in 3 that it would go unraised, with my UTG call influencing that somewhat. I gave it about another 1 in 3 that I would only see one 3x - 4x raise, which I would probably call, hoping to see a flop. It went unraised, and see of us saw a flop. A record. Now I knew I'd need to improve to play this hand. The flop came 4-4-5. Shazam. I checked, praying someone in late position would take a stab. Maybe someone played a suited A-4, that would be amazing. It checked all the way around.

The turn came a Jack of a third suit. Again I checked, hoping, praying that helped someone. This time it checked all the way to the button who bet about 2/3 of the pot. I "thought" for a moment, eyed my opponent, and smooth called his bet. Everyone else folded.

The turn was a 9. I couldn't chance that he would check down what I now suspected was Jack-Ten. I bet about 2/3 of the pot. My opponent hemmed and hawed. Eventually he stated, "I know I'll hate myself in the morning," and call. I said, "flopped the boat." He showed Jack-Eight and mucked. I was lucky to get paid anything on that monster.

After two hours of play, we were at our first break. I had built my 1500 chips into just under 3500. I ran to find the men's room and a piece of pizza. In that order.

CONTINUED HERE...

Friday, July 14, 2006

WSOP, WPBT, and Name-Dropping

Lots of name dropping.

I just got back from a whirlwind week in Las Vegas. Scratch that. The whirlwind week in Las Vegas.

We headed out for the World Poker Bloggers Tour (WPBT) event/tournament, for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), and just to have a regular old good time.
The Rio's Amazon Room
Bryan and I headed out of Midway Airport on Thursday evening. The flight is about 4 hours and change, but always feels like about a month. Aces and kings race through my mind as the engines hum and hum. I toggle my attention between podcasts - Lord Admiral, Ante Up, and Circuit (oh my!) - books (mostly poker related), magazines (Cardplayer, of course), video games (um, you figured it out by now), and pre-recorded tv shows on my PSP. None of them can settle me down for the excitement that's about to unfold.

We finally land at McCarran around 7:20, and my phone instantly rings. It's Southside. "Dude, I'm here. Are you here? I'm here." He must be a little excited too.

We grab a cab and head for TI. We dump off our bags and head downtown. Thursdays are for Binions.

The next six days bring many hours of poker. Cash games. The WPBT event and tournament. The WSOP event #17 $1000 NL Hold 'em, and lots of familiar faces. We see every pro in poker and several TV and film personalities. I'm easing in slow, but trust me, I'll drop lots of names.

We finally met Cincinatti Sean and Stacks from Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio in person. That was too cool. (There's a picture below in Bryan's post.) We met Joseph Hachem. We met Devilfish Ulliot. We met Victor Ramdin - and he's the nicest guy that ever lived. We met Barry Greenstein, and I always thought he was the nicest. And he's close.

There's lots to tell, but for now, you just get the teaser. Stay tuned, there's lots to tell...

Monday, July 10, 2006

An Outsider in the WPBT or 'Fish Out of Water'

I'm not a very accomplished poker player.. in fact I suck. But the horribleness of my game doesn't stop me from trying. While I mostly play in home games, I've seen the inside of a casino poker room a couple of times but I've never played a tournament-- until this past weekend that is. ChicagoJason and I, along with one of our friends SouthSide Darnell, headed down to Vegas to see what we could of the WSOP and to meet, greet and compete with other bloggers in the World Poker Blogger Tour Classic II (WPBT).

I headed down figuring to be dead money: I'd probably be the least experienced player there and an outsider. When we caught our first glimpse of poker bloggers the night before the tourney, they interacted like old friends. I wasn't really sure if I'd be accepted... and who the hell was I thinking that I should?

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. All of the bloggers that I had the privilege of playing with were there for a good time. I saw no "cliques" -- Just 120 poker enthusiasts doing what they love to do.

I got off to a rough start. I started the tournament in the small blind with AcKh and began day dreaming of doubling up on the first hand. UTG had made a decent raise and I re-raised to get a feel for where I was at. He quickly called and we were off to see a flop. I missed the flop completely, is was an unremarkable Jack-high assortment with no apparent straight or flush draw coming. Little did I know that my opponent had just flopped top set.

Long story short, I got off relatively easy, if an A or K had come one the flop with the J, I surely would have lost a lot more falling for that old "top pair, top kicker" trap.

This is where I should mention that I'm still honing my skills at describing hands. I'll do my best but the details may be slightly off here and there as I was nervous as hell. It didn't help that over the course of the next hour I witnessed two Royal Flushes.

After that, I played a style of poker that I think is best described as "Tight, Terrified" waiting for a hand to play but not really playing with the confidence that I'd like to show at the table.

Many hours and a grumbling stomach later, the blinds had gone up to $600/$1200 with 100 ante. My stack was dwindling and I needed to start making some moves. I'm in the cutoff and look down at A6s. It had folded around to me so I pushed. Button and SB fold. BB (big stack) deliberates a while then eventually calls. He flips of Jc10h and I was elated. I couldn't believe it, I pushed in with the best hand, what more could I ask for?

Well, I could have asked for that 10 to not come on the flop. But it did and his tens held up and I busted out. 21st of 118 players.
CPC meets Lord Admiral - Stacks, ChicagoJason, Cinci Sean. and Bryan
Looking back, it was a tremendous weekend. The bloggers of the poker community are great people and a lot of fun to throw chips at. It was great to meet so many folks whose blogs I read and respect. I was very glad to meet meeting Cinci Sean and Brent Stacks from Lord Admiral Radio. Winner of ChicagoPokerClub.net's Best Poker Podcast of 2005, these guys are just as genuine as they seem on the podcast. If you haven't heard the podcast, give it a listen!

Special thanks to April at This is not a poker blog... for setting the whole thing up!