Monday, January 28, 2008

Ante Up Meetup in Chicago

Last night Scott Long co-host of Ante Up, and his wife Laura were in town visiting. Six of us got together at the Billy Goat Tavern for a few laughs and more than a few beers. The mood was light and fun, though one of the attendees couldn't stop himself from bad-mouthing the absent co-host, Chris Cosenza. No... it wasn't Scott. ;) Nor me.

You can see Laura, Scott, and I on the left side of the table. Everyone on the right side of the table was named Chicago, but we'll call them (back to front) Mike, Brian, and Joe.

This was my second night of drinking with Scott and Laura in less than a week, and I'd have to rate it as... dangerous. One of us left last night with a bandage on her/his finger, and it was the size of one of those bad boys you put on a skinned knee. Yikes!

Chicago Joe is definitely the historian of the group, as well as the Midwest ambassador. He shared his experience of standing 15 feet from Doyle Brunson as he won the 1976 Main event of the World Series of Poker. He also knows every room manager from Greektown to Council Bluffs, Turtle Lake to Caesar's Indiana...

Mike, however, was the documentarian (yup, made it up). This photo is courtesy of his camera. He also brought a digital recorder, so maybe we'll get some nuggets....

Thanks for the beers, boys!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Poker Best of 2007 - Podcast

It's that time again....

Winner: Ante Up!

For the second year in a row, our good buddies in the Tampa Bay area, Chris Cosenza and Scott Long have turned out Poker Podcast gold, earning them the annual medal of the same precious metal. Chicago Poker Club is proud to promote Ante Up! as the Best Poker Podcast of 2008.

Scott and Chris have built their genuine interest in the game, thirst for growth, and affable style into a weekly 1½ hour broadcast that entertains and educates an ever-growing listener base. The Ante Up Nation, as they are now termed, is treated to a featured topic each week –a game style, a discussion of strategy, a special guest, or a trip report provide the hub of the week’s show. The show also features Columbo’s perennial One Minute Mystery, which sets the listener’s up with a situation and a question of strategy or approach to a poker situation. The next week Columbo returns to solve the Poker conundrum.

Ante Up’s accessible style and its consistency are the two keys to its success. Other great Podcasts have come and gone, waxed and waned, or disbanded and rejoined, but Ante Up marches on as Poker’s Podcast beacon.

Honorable Mentions

Gavin Smith and Joe Sebok have provided great entertainment value for three different media outposts to date. They made their Podcast on CardPlayer’s The Circuit, departed, and returned at, only to depart again, and finally to return to the Greenstein-Sebok influenced Poker Road Radio. Sebok and Smith’s show provides an insider’s look at the poker circuit, entertain fans with stories that would be otherwise accessible only to poker insiders. They discuss strategy and pull no punches in analyzing and criticizing one another’s, and that of their fellow circuit-competitor’s, play.

Only Sebok and Smith’s frequent moves and intermittent recording/broadcasting schedule have held them back from becoming a Poker Podcast Powerhouse. Nonetheless, their content is loyally tracked and embraced by thousands of minions the world over.

Vancouver-based Rounders – The Poker Show underwent some changed in 2007, going from a pseudo-simulcast AM radio show and internet-based podcast to an exclusively internet-based show, to the featured podcast of Two Plus Two, home of the internet’s most read poker forum.

Filling out the pack of next-tier podcasts is ESPN Radio’s The Poker Edge, featuring Phil Gordon. While entertaining, and a good source of poker news, the show leaves listener’s wondering why they can’t get more out of broadcasting powerhouse ESPN and poker’s most media-friendly broadcaster Phil Gordon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Tragedy of Poker on the High Seas

Mrs. Chicago and I just got back from an 8-day cruise on the Mexican Riviera. Historically, we find a cruise to be an ideal vacation for us, especially when we need to just get away. If we visit a place we've never been before, we spend the whole trip on a schedule, eager to see everything beautiful, historical, or otherwise notable about a locality. When we cruise, we can sit back, relax, and let the captain do the driving.

What's more, my wife enjoys laying by the pool without a plan, or on the beach; whereas I get bored after an hour or two of reading in the sun. A cruise is a perfect compromise for her to lay in the sun and relax, and me to take advantage of the typically poor play in the casino. On a good cruise, even with low stakes and despite high variability, I can usually pay for a chunk of our trip in poker winnings.

On two previous Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) cruises I've had the opportunity to play each night in the ship's casino. Apart from a terribly structured, high vigorish tournament (or three) they offered cash games; and they typically ran nightly. In prior years I've experienced that the passenger's preferred game was a fixed limit hold 'em game, and on both my previous NCL trips, we played $3/$6 limit, despite some players begging for $5/$10 all week.

On this trip, I was informed that they recently changed the game, spreading a max buy-in $200 No Limit game instead of Limit. That was fine with me. Or so I thought.

Prior to departure, I was reading a popular poker forum and was warned that the rake would likely be incredibly high. The warning was correct - the casino took a 10% rake, up to $25 of the pot. $25 on a $200 buy-in game?! When I first sat down, we were 6-handed, with an average stack of $120. Fourteen big hands over the course of several hours and half of the money would be off the table!! With players like these, and short stacks, there are many, many big hands. There was no way the game could be profitable for even a good player. Great skill and lots of luck and you could hope to be the one player to not lose money.

There was much complaining by the table's elder statesmen. I didn't agree with his style, but his message was true and good, though there was nothing the casino could (or at least would do about it). After about 40 minutes of play, 3 of our table mates had left the table out of frustration with the game's structure, and we were too short-handed to play.

I tried again the next night. This time we were 5-handed to start. My fellow players were nice and conversational, we had fun for a bit. About 15 minutes into the session, I mad a $7 raise on the button and both the $1 small blind and $2 big blind folded. The dealer took $1 for the rake and gave me the other $2. I was flabbergasted.

"What!? Why did you rake a dollar!?"

"Sorry sir, house rules."

"What rule? I thought it was a 10% rake, max $25 {which is ridiculous}", I couldn't help but add.

"$1 minimum sir."

"No flop, no drop!" I argued, as though I had invented that stupid phrase myself. "Floor!"

I explained that $1 out of a $3 pot is 33%. I explained that the posted rules do not, in fact, indicate that there's a minimum rake. The house tried to explain that they can't "deal for free". I almost lost it with that comment, though I never did raise my voice. "Deal for free!?! I don't think anyone will accuse you of that."

Shortly thereafter, the game broke, the night of the first full day at sea. It never resumed for the rest of the trip.

A disaster. A travesty. A total tragedy. And a week with no poker.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy 2008! Upcoming CPC Posts...

Happy 2008 Everyone!!

December was a crazy month for me, business-wise, travel-wise, and holiday-wise. I owe the faithful readers a few updates. In the coming days, check back for the following posts:

  • The Tragedy of Poker on the High Seas
  • Poker Investment Strategies - Don't Go Broke with Your Big Pairs
  • and our third annual - BEST OF POKER year in review [2007, in this case]