Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27, 2009

- I went golfing today with Lucas, Mom and Faye. Lucas is a natural, and he has such a perfect swing...he's going to be good. It was my first time out since last year, and even last year, I only golfed once. We did nine holes at Maryhill, and I hit 5 greens in regulation. I was hitting the ball perfectly, but couldn't putt to save my life, which is usually the opposite of my game in general. +9 after nine holes, so not bad since I haven't even swung a club in a year. I'm golfing again on Friday with Mom and Faye.
- Just a thought...there should be a mandatory punishment for any reality show contestant who ever says "Game on!" at any point in the show, either to the camera, or to another contestant.
- Similarly, there should be some sort of monetary penalty for anyone, anytime, who ever says at a poker table, either: a) "The price of poker just went up", or b) "Winner, winner, chicken dinner."
- Big Brother: I was surprised to see Ronnie not go up for will be interesting to see if he is part of a backdoor plan or not. Lydia is rapidly becoming the #1 drama queen in the house, and I didn't think it was possible after watching Chima so far, but her juvenile jealousy tantrums are funny. Who wouldn't think the tattoo-filled freak show would have a crush on the muscle-head moron jock? It was sooooo obvious. And speaking of Chima, as if people didn't think you were vapid and idiotic already, telling America they suck is never a good strategy. Just ask April from a few seasons ago.

July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 26, 2009

Sunday is music day, so here is this week's selection. I loved both versions of this song when it came out about a decade ago, but this version is still one of my favourite songs.

July 26, 2009

Separated at birth? Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin, and WWE Superstar Edge.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 25, 2009

Lucas and I went to the Kitchener Panthers game tonight, and it was a great evening. As soon as we got there, it started pouring rain, but we waited it out in the car, as much as Lucas wanted to go outside and get soaked. It only lasted about 10 minutes, and then we headed in to watch the rest of the game. What a treat to see everyone who I hadn't seen in so long, like Lucille, and Pat, and Luke, and Pete. It was great to sit with Kathy for the game, just like we did for so many years up in the press box. I had a lot of people ask me why I don't come back to announce again, and tonight's game reaffirmed for me how it was the right decision to leave. Only because Lucas is at such a fun age, that I can't imagine a more perfect night than sitting there with him watching the game, spitting out sunflower seeds together, and answering all of his questions about baseball.
It was a tough game, the Panthers lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 18-8, and they have 2 games tomorrow heading into the playoffs, so Lucas wants to go back. I'm sure if it doesn't rain, we'll make it for at least one of them. On my way out of the ballpark, I ran into Jack Dominico, the owner of the Maple Leafs, who asked me why I don't announce anymore. We had a brief chat, and he told me how he always thought I did a great job here, and that I should consider coming back. That meant a lot to me coming from Jack, and it was nice to hear.

Looking forward to the game(s) tomorrow. Go Panthers!

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009

- Big Brother this week was pretty dramatic, but at the end of the day, it was all pretty predictable. We knew Laura was going to be evicted because Ronnie knew that she was on to him, which is too bad, because it seems like she was the only one in the house with a brain. Russell is a freak, and works on intimidation, don’t we all love people like that? It won’t be long before Mr. Roid Rage is gone, and that should be dramatic. For someone who says he is a BB enthusiast and strategist, Ronnie is one of the dumbest players I’ve ever seen. He just kept telling lies for the sake of telling them, with no reason for them. Eventually, he was bound to get caught. The scene in the backyard was pretty spectacular, though, when it became even more obvious to everyone that he had no defense. I like Natalie’s move to throw the extra vote the other way, it’s a good way to keep suspicion alive.

- The new season of Hell’s Kitchen debuted last week, and now I have two TV shows to watch this summer! This show is truly a guilty pleasure for me, like dollar stores and McDonald’s breakfast. I recognize it for the fluff it is, but I can’t stop watching, even though every new season just gets more over-the-top and away from ‘reality’. The scripted and dramatized elements are so transparent, and Gordon Ramsay’s outrageous behaviour has become unbelievable. I say that because I watch his original shows, The F Word and Kitchen Nightmares (BBC version, not FOX), which show him as he really is, firm and aggressive, but not a raging lunatic. The Fox-ization of Gordon Ramsay is quite disappointing to say the least. The worst part of the show for me, is the overly dramatic voice-overs on the show, on the “most amazing”, “most unbelievable” episodes ever, or how Chef Ramsay will do something he’s never done before! (He’s never served a shrimp cocktail…really?) All the dramatic lead-ins to the commercials, and recaps when they get back from commercial…it’s all filler. It’s a 30-minute show stretched into an hour! But who are we kidding…I’ll still watch. Pretty cool that the prize this season is the job in Whistler.

- I’m contemplating a big step. As many of you know, I’m a big Coke drinker, and I’m considering a switch. It’s been recommended to me that I would like Coke Zero, and wouldn’t really tell the difference. I’ve tried it a couple of times, and did not like it at all. However, I’ve had a few friends tell me recently that if I tried it for a while, I would definitely like it. So, going on this advice from people I trust, I think I’m going to give it a try for a week minimum, possibly two, and see what happens. No Coke, just Coke Zero. August 1 is the target date. Wish me luck.

- For any of you who are on Twitter, I’m now on Twitter as well. I don’t plan on updating that often, I just joined to follow some people primarily, but if you’re interested, feel free to add me at I know, I know…so original.

- The wedding video I posted yesterday has been a massive hit. I’m glad you all enjoyed it as much as I thought you would. I’ve seen at least six people link to it on Facebook after seeing it on here, and now I see that it has 800,000 additional hits on YouTube since yesterday. Thanks to Jimmy Traina at Hot Clicks, who featured it yesterday.

- As of today, I’m on vacation until August 3rd. Lucas and I have a big week planned, with trips to Canada’s Wonderland and The Toronto Zoo, as well as some movies, golfing, and fishing on the schedule. Should be a great week…I’m really looking forward to it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009

Best wedding entrance ever. You'll either love it or hate. Personally, I think it's 100% awesome.

July 23, 2009

Normally, I go to the St. Jacobs Market on Saturdays, but I decided to make a quick drive over on my lunch break today to pick up a couple of things. The primary reason for my trip was to go to a new Southern BBQ stand that opened recently, because I tried the pulled pork on the weekend and it was exceptionally good. In my conversation on Saturday with Jason, the owner of the place, he told me that he’s there on Thursdays and Saturdays, so I went over today. However, his stand wasn’t there, so combined with the madness of fighting for a parking spot at noon on a rainy Thursday (really?), it wasn’t off to a good start.

Then, as I’m walking through the market, it was astounding to me how nearly everyone walking in front of me found some reason to just stop suddenly. And it was so perfect, because when they stopped, it was in the most inconvenient place possible. In the middle of an aisle with no room to walk around them, or my personal favourite, halfway through a doorway, so that no one can get in or out. That happened TWICE! Seriously…how can people be so clueless about their surroundings? And if by some insane chance, they are indeed that clueless, what would make someone think that stopping halfway through a door isn’t anything but a bad idea?

So I finally get to Halenda’s, which is a booth inside where I always get these homemade spicy chicken nuggets that Lucas loves. I’m standing there waiting for my order and this crazy older woman beside me is ordering. She wants peameal bacon, which is on sale for $9.00 for 2 lbs. She barks at the Mennonite girl behind the counter, “I only have 9 dollars!”, rattling the change in her hand, “So make sure you don’t go over!” Then she adds, “Or…you can go over, but I’m only giving you 9 dollars.” So this poor girl keep taking pieces off and adding pieces to get as close as possible (without going over). She finally gets it right on, and as she’s bagging it up, the woman pulls out another Toonie ($2.00 coin for the international readers) and says, “ I want one of those Landjaeger sausages, too.” I look over to see her husband standing beside her just looking down and shaking his head. And she looks at me and pretty much laughs in my face in this disturbing, evil, witch laugh. It was a genuine cackle, as if she was saying “Ha! Look what I pulled off!”

What a circus. I’m sticking to Saturdays.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009

I listen to The Jim Rome show daily, and I’ve been a listener for close to a decade now. From time to time, he goes on vacation, and instead of running ‘Best Of’ shows, he brings in guest hosts, and nobody is nearly as entertaining as Jay Mohr. Yes…that Jay Mohr, from Saturday Night Live, Jerry Maguire, and Gary Unmarried. If you’ve never heard his standup comedy, it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious, and to have him on the radio for 3 hours when he’s the guest host, makes me wish he had his own radio show.

A while back, he did a segment where he was talking about the Carl’s Jr. commercials in the U.S. Now, for those of you who don’t know what Carl’s Jr. is, it’s a fast food chain in the U.S., mainly on the West Coast. They’re famous for having provocative and suggestive TV ads, featuring Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Padma Lakshmi, and many others. Jay Mohr did a segment where he was mocking the voice-overs on the commercials, and I was laughing so hard I was in tears. Even when I heard it over again, I was still crying.

So, here’s what I have featured below. For a frame of reference, I’ve given you a real Carl’s Jr. commercial (featuring my favourite, Top Chef Host Padma Lakshmi). And below that, is the Jay Mohr Segment from the Jim Rome show (audio only). I highly recommend you listen to it if you would like a laugh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21, 2009

Last week I lamented about the overall lame-ness of the MLB Home Run Derby. This week I was in the lunch room at work and having a conversation about it with some of my co-workers, when a great idea was born. It was first suggested by Dan that the way to improve the Home Run Derby was to have Jose Canseco face off against Mark McGwire, with both of them having one full year to take whatever substances they wanted. Kimball then suggested that we allow other former players into the contest as well, so we added Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Barry Bonds to the participants. As a final tweak, we added Roger Clemens to the mix, as the pitcher who was forced to lob the balls in and watch them fly out of the park.

I would watch that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

The evolution of a home poker game is an interesting thing. Invariably, we all start by playing ‘kitchen table’ style, often at the actual kitchen table, tossing nickels and dimes and quarters into the pot and playing dealer’s choice games like Five Card Draw, Seven Card Stud, Low Chicago, Anaconda, and all the other variations. Then somebody actually buys some cheap dollar store-type chips, and perhaps a felt cover for the table. Maybe now you play in the dining room instead of the kitchen.

But soon you want a bigger game, and you switch to Texas Hold’Em. Now you get a poker table, and a new set of real chips. Then after a while, you tire of your set of chips, and you upgrade, and then you upgrade again. Eventually you have the set you’re happy with, a clay-plastic composite that you can riffle and do chip tricks with ease.

My friend Jeff (who we all call Teach, so I will refer to him as Teach for the rest of this post) hosts a game periodically, and is very proud of his chip set, which he purchased about two years ago. It’s a nice heavy set of clay chips, and generally everyone agrees that we like them the best of anything we have played with in the past as part of this game.

The one odd thing about this set, is the $10 chip. Now, anyone who plays poker regularly is used to the basic trinity of lower-level chip denominations: $1, $5, and $25. You rarely ever see a $10 chip, nor is it really necessary. Poker players are used to visual stimuli, and accustomed to the regular colours that are generally assigned to chip denominations. We know that whites are $1, reds are $5, and greens are $25. So when you look across the table at a player’s stack to try and assess what they have, you can pretty much figure it out on a visual cue, based on the size and colour.

The introduction of a $10 chip (which is blue) messes with everything a player is used to. Now, there’s a stack of blue chips that you have to figure into your visual assessment. I’m not saying that I’m not bright enough to be able to add this to my mental arithmetic repertoire, I’m just saying that it’s an unnecessary addition whose only effect can be to change the accustomed parameters of the game. Imagine looking at a chess board and seeing that someone had added a row of red checkers in front of the row of pawns.

Let’s assume a person casually tosses four chips into the pot. Whether you want to admit it or not, as a regular player, your brain is telling you that the bet is either $4, $20, or $100. Now, with the new $10 chip, a $40 bet is also an option. I submit that based on what you are accustomed to, your brain doesn’t want to recognize this new option. When someone bets with whites or reds or greens, the bet is clear…however, when someone bets with blue $10 chips, invariably someone asks what the bet is (I would guess about 75% of the time). Even if it’s something as innocent as leaning over and asking “Is that $30?”, it’s still a new added step that is unnecessary. I know it’s just a few seconds, but it slows the game down. I’m not in a rush, I just don’t see the point in introducing something if it slows the game down, with no real upside.

And that’s the thing, I can’t find an upside to the $10 chip. If I could, I don’t think I would care that much. The only thing I can think of is that it allows the host of the game to use less physical chips, which means less space in cases, and in your home. However, any poker player knows that we all love big stacks, and we love to have a big mound of chips in front of us. It’s a visual treat, good for your own mental state, and can be psychologically intimidating to other players. (see picture below) Now, a stack of 120 white chips is replaced by 12 blue chips. Much less effective.
Plus, I always see betting errors with $10 chips. People throwing chips in thinking that they are $5 chips, and being forced to bet more (often double) than they intended. Again, no upside, only potential problems.

In short, I don’t like the $10 chip. At all.

Teach disagrees with me, and insists that it belongs in the game. I’ve offered him a chance to write a rebuttal to this post, which I will post fully complete and unedited if (ahem….cough…I mean ‘when’) he sends it to me.

Poker players and non-players alike: your thoughts on the $10 chip? Discuss below.

July 20, 2009

I’m not going to post on Big Brother after every episode, but I will try to get at least one post up each week. For the first time in years, I will not be reading updates on what happens in the house, which means that unlike previous seasons, I will NOT know the nominations, veto winners, drama, etc… that happens in the house before the episode airs. I will only be watching the episodes.

Now, some thoughts on the last 3 episodes since the premiere:

- Ronnie tries to come off as a master BB strategist, but his game play makes no sense. Why on earth would you align yourself with the Athletes to take out a Popular player like Braden, then go to Braden and the rest of the house and reveal the plan, only to go back to the Athletes and go with the initial plan? Makes no sense…you’ve added a ‘middle-man’ element that can only expose you as a conniving rat. There’s no good that can come from the way he played that…and what was with the silly finger-tapping after he won the HoH competition? Yes, I get that it was probably a way to signify to his wife by pointing at his ring finger, but could it look any more ridiculous? And did he really say that he was a ‘national champion in persuasive speaking?” When are those competitions held? Puh-lease.

- I thought Kevin’s flaming flamboyance would get really annoying really fast, but not yet. He’s actually growing on me.

- Chima is crazy. Bonkers. Nutso. Batshit Insane. Worse than Natalie from last year. That speech at the elimination was bizarre, and her arrogant attack on Casey when she held NO POWER was painful to watch. She will not last long. And I’m still quite sure she has a penis. No way that is a woman. No way.

- Casey reminds me of Mike Boogie, but not nearly as annoying.

- I’m more and more pleased with Natalie as my pick for my Swiss Chalet bet with Cheryl.
- Russell is a troll.

- Bully = Bowly…funny.

- Good to see Dan, last year’s winner, on one episode. Hilarious to see Jessie’s face when he came out.

- Laura with the giant boobs is rapidly proving herself to be the only one in the house with a brain, as she sniffed out the Ronnie situation right away. I’m concerned that she will be gone if Ronnie doesn’t follow through on his threat to backdoor Russell.

In the past, I’ve featured Jeff Probst’s blog on Survivor, and Phil Keoghan’s blog on The Amazing Race. I am shocked to announce that Julie Chen, the Chenbot herself, Little Miss “But First”, is now writing a blog for Entertainment Weekly’s website, and it’s quite good. Here’s a link for those of you interested in checking it out.

That’s all for now, hamster-watchers.

July 20, 2009

I just popped by my friend Jeremy's house to drop off something for him, and when I went downstairs, I found him sitting around the poker table with his 3 sons, who range in age from 5 to 10. It was a funny enough sight to see, but became even funnier when I saw that he had dealt Jordan (the oldest) pocket queens, Sammy (the middle) pocket kings, and Ethan (the youngest) pocket aces. He smirked at me as he showed me his pocket fives. All the kids all went all-in with their dad and all the chips went in the middle.

The flop was 9 high, and the turn...was a 5. No help on the river, and Jer busted all three kids. I was shocked, as was Jeremy, because he had stacked the deal, but not the board, so the 5 was purely coincidence.

Then Sammy says, " dad robs kids."

Father of the year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009

Heartbreaking. Just absolutely heartbreaking. But still the best sports story of far. Discuss.

July 19, 2009

Sundays are now going to be the day where I feature a song each week. It could be one of my favourites, something I'm just listening to that week, something funny, something retro, or just something for no reason. Check back on Sundays.

This week it's a live performance of one of my favourite Foo Fighters songs, Tired of You. I can't decide what's better about this clip: a) that Dave Grohl looks 12 years old, b) that he gives props to Queen's Brian May for the guitar on the album version, or c) that this performance blows my mind.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009

(My apologies for the repetitiveness of this if you followed the thread on my Facebook page)

Can someone please explain to me why last night I watched a Home Run Derby as part of the MLB All-Star game, where 25% of the participants had less than 60 Career home runs?

No...don't assume I missed a number there, you read that right. Two of the eight players in last night's Home Run Derby had less than SIXTY career home runs.

Do I even have to explain how ridiculous this is?

It's bad enough that the NBA Slam Dunk contest is generally filled with nobodies who barely see the floor in an actual game (except for Dwight Howard), but now the MLB HR Derby features such slugging legends as...Brandon Inge?
Seriously...did I need to watch him hit zero home runs last night? Who else saw that coming?

It's an insult to have last year's champion, Justin Morneau, sitting on the sidelines watching, so that he can give 'the other guys' a chance. Newsflash Justin...that's why they're the other guys! Because they can't hit home runs!

Somewhere, Craig Hodges is laughing his ass off.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009

I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you, to everyone who reads here. When I re-launched the blog in January, I never imagined that it would be closing in on 6,000 hits by mid-July, but here we are. In just the past week alone, there’s been more than 300 visits, which is overwhelming to me. I know that I’ve essentially written a short novel on my Las Vegas trip and World Series of Poker experience, but it’s still very flattering to me how many of you have read it and either left comments, sent me an email, or spoken to me about it in person. It’s very humbling to know how many of you are now regular readers, and I’m very thankful for your return visits.

I had a friend last week tell me that he was hesitant to leave comments on here because of what I may respond. I know that ‘Poker Sean’ or ‘Sarcastic Comedy Sean’ is someone that you all know, but please rest assured that if you read here, and post here, ‘Blog Writer Sean’ is extremely appreciative of all readers, and your comments here, positive or negative, are always welcome. Any suggestions you have on how to improve or change the blog are welcome as well.

I mentioned a while back that I’m hoping to build a community here with the comments section, so hopefully more people will be inspired to leave a comment from time to time.

Thanks again, and happy reading!

July 13, 2009

I’ve never been a fan of shortening words just for the sake of saying less…it’s just a lazy way of speaking. Now I understand that there are words and terms in the vernacular that are interchangeable, like saying ‘info’ instead of ‘information’, or ‘cell’ instead of ‘cellular’…sometimes the short form takes over and replaces the actual word. But there are times that people will shorten things just for the sake of saving a syllable. Do you really need to say ‘convo’ instead of ‘conversation’…or ‘deets’ instead of ‘details’? ‘Penetanguishine’ is always referred to as ‘Penetang’…is it really that difficult or obtrusive to say the extra 2 syllables? Nobody shortens ‘Kitchener’ to ‘Kitch’, do they?

We live in a world now where email, instant messaging, and texting are primary forms of communication. To a new user, learning the accepted forms of communication via text would require an individual glossary of terms. I’m one of the few people who texts still using proper English, and I can’t in good conscience type ‘u’ instead of ‘you’. We don’t pay per character, and it takes approximately one second longer to type the entire word (unless you’re my brother). My ex-girlfriend used to always text ‘tomoro’ instead of ‘tomorrow’ and it would seriously aggravate me. How lazy do you have to be to not even be able to add those extra two letters?

I was talking to my friend Jodi on messenger the other night, and at the end of our conversation, I typed ‘ttyl’…and before I closed the window, she typed ‘What does that mean?’ I said ‘Talk to you later’…and she said ‘No, wait! I need to know what that means!’ That’s not a joke…that’s for real. This is what I mean…there should be a glossary of terms for people to reference who have no idea how to interpret ttyl, ttfn, l8r, btw, lmao, rofl, nh, and many others.
But in this maddening trend to shorten everything, sometimes the opposite happens. Take for instance, the lovely Canadian tradition of referring to a case of beer as a ‘two-four.’ Now, when you refer to a case of beer as a ‘two-four’…you’re actually making it longer! ‘Case’ is a one-syllable word, and everyone knows that it means 24 bottles, so why say ‘two-four’? Can you imagine a conversation like this:

“So, I went to the beer store, and got a case of Coors Light for the weekend.”
“How many bottles?”

NO! That would never happen. Twenty-four bottles is the default, everyone knows this! You don’t refer to a package of cigarettes as a ‘two-five’…it’s just ‘a pack.’

There’s a funny trend in the poker world too. Everyone loves to tell a poker story, and as people tell their respective stories, there are three terms that you can hear a lot: ‘flat call’, ‘smooth call’, and ‘cold call.’ But here’s the thing…they all mean the same thing! And they all mean ‘call’. There’s nothing fancy about adding these extras words, because ‘I flat called’ just means ‘I called’. Why are you making the story longer? So you can sound like you just finished reading a poker glossary? (Attention poker players: do not email me or leave comments explaining that ‘smooth call’ means you have the best hand. I know the subtle nuances of the terms, but at their core, they all just mean ‘call’ in the context of telling a story.)

As someone with an English degree, who still enjoys writing, it’s frustrating for me to see the unnecessary shortening (and lengthening) of the English language, in words and in text.

Just thought I’d share my rant with you.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12, 2009

The first week of July always means one thing every summer…the new season of Big Brother. Big Brother 11 premiered this week, and some initial thoughts after the first episode:

The Good
- The Twist that allowed a previous houseguest to return to the show
- The groupings that protect players if their group wins HoH

The Bad
- The fact that Jessie won the the Twist that allowed a previous houseguest to return to the show
- Julie Chen’s excessive use of the term “super-wedgie”
- The always-lame footage of the houseguests getting their keys

The Ugly
- Julie Chen’s maternity outfit
- Laura’s ridiculously oversized boobs

I’m not happy that Jessie won, since I couldn’t stand him last season, but thank God it wasn’t Cowboy (painful to watch…just painful) or blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Brian. I was rooting for Jessica, although I found it interesting that they never mentioned whether she was still together with Eric or not.

The competition was very appropriate for a trashy reality TV show competition. Underpants and toilet seats…welcome to Lowest Common Denominator America.

The whole ‘High School Clique” thing is horrible. I’m all for the twist of having four groups, and that the people in your group are protected if you are HoH, but to name them after High School Cliques and force-feed us this theme is pretty lame.

I know we’re only one episode in, but my first impression is that this really isn’t a very likable cast. The only one I liked from the first episode was Michele, the scientist nerd. Everyone else was either annoying or completely forgettable. Flamboyant Kevin will get on my (and everyone’s) nerves in record time. Muscle Russel will just be another angry gym freak, and I’m sure he will clash with Jessie. And Chima, whose name is pronounce Shee-ma, is astoundingly appropriate considering she looks like a she-male. Spot the tranny! I win!

Now, in ‘The Ugly’ section up there, I mentioned Laura. I actually think Laura is pretty cute, although she came across as a one-dimensional shallow girl. But let’s be honest…that chest is just absurd. Tell me I’m wrong…
As I did with Survivor, I’ve made a Swiss Chalet bet with a co-worker. I have chosen Natalie as my pick, while Cheryl chose Jeff. I hope to have a new post of me enjoying a double-leg dinner in a few weeks.

The best news coming out of this new season of Big Brother is that the Entertainment Weekly recaps will be written by Josh Wolk! Here's a link to the first one. Get ready to laugh, folks…it’s going to be a fun summer.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009

Las Vegas Part 5 - Wrapping Up

Well, you can only talk so much on one topic, so I’ll wrap up my Las Vegas posts with this final entry, in traditional ‘Random Thoughts’ format…

I love Las Vegas. I really do. I could go back 2-3 times a year. But there are a few things I just can’t stand:

The first and foremost is the unbearable heat. I wish the World Series of Poker was at a different time of year, because going to Las Vegas in June and July is a bad idea if you’re not comfortable with extreme heat. 40+ degrees every day, and 30 degrees at night when it’s dark…it’s just so disheartening to walk out of a casino at 1:00 am and still be punched in the face by the thickness of the sweltering heat. And everyone says “It’s a dry heat.” So what? It’s a HOT heat! It’s just too damn hot…why did they have to build such a glorious place in the middle of the desert?

And the dryness is another factor. It’s like clockwork every time I go to Vegas, that within 2-3 days, I’m getting nosebleeds from the dry air. It’s like going to Alberta, only with less cows.

When it’s so hot and so dry, I need to keep the liquids flowing to stay hydrated. What is my one addiction, as most of you know…Coke. Well, I’ll be damned if I can find a can, bottle, or glass of Coca-Cola anywhere! Pepsi owns the whole friggin’ town! It may seem petty to some of you, but I’m a Coke guy. I’m the guy who goes into a restaurant and has the following conversation:

Server: “…and to drink?”
Sean: “I’ll have a Coke.”
Server: “Is Pepsi ok?”
Sean: “I’ll have an iced tea.”
On top of that, one of the things I always look forward to when I go to the U.S., is that I get to drink one of my favourite beers, Rolling Rock.
Again, no place in town that I could find has Rolling Rock! I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer to drink what I like. (with apologies to The Most Interesting Man In The World.) I was very disappointed not to be able to find Rolling Rock anywhere. Even the bartender at the Bellagio expressed to me that “I wish we had the sweet nectar from Latrobe here.”

Also, if you ever see a bank of Wheel of Fortune slot machines…just keep walking. Do not stop. Do not be tempted. Do not…under any circumstances…believe the hype. Tony, Dave, and Jeremy will confirm this.
The tournaments at Planet Hollywood were a blast, and I cashed in two of the four I played. In one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, Jeremy played in 3 tournaments at PH, and made a straight flush in all three! Given, one was on board and all three players in the hand ‘officially’ got it…but it still counts.

In Event 54, when I was moved to my fifth table, I was only a couple of tables away from Nenad Medic, who was in another tournament and into the cash in the final 8 tables. Spoke to him briefly on the break. A long time has passed since we both used to play $40 tournaments on Monday nights with the UW Basketball team.

It was really great knowing everyone was following along on Twitter and on Facebook. The text messages of support were always great to receive, and it’s a feeling of buoyancy knowing your friends and peers are supporting you. I was really happy to have my ‘other’ poker group in town at the same time, and it was great to meet up with Teach, Jer, Natalie, Kevin, Damien, Brigitte, and Ming. Getting together at Caesar’s the night I made the money was a good visit for me to see the gang, and to watch Teach play in the Caesar’s tournament while completely hammered was entertaining. I met this group years ago, and they initially knew me only as a dealer, and then progressively as a player…so it was a good feeling to ‘come into my own’ with them after cashing in the WSOP. And it was fantastic to see Ming again, for the first time in over two years.
I met up with them again a couple of days later when I was at the Wynn, and I went up to their room on the 56th floor of the new Encore Tower. Words can’t even describe the view, so here’s an actual picture from their window, looking North. I walked in and was pleasantly surprised to hear them listening to my new favourite album—Feed The Animals by Girl Talk—as they were playing Hearts. I wish I could have spent more time with them while I was in Vegas, because it looked they were always having a blast.
The food was great, even though we didn’t really get to go out for a nice meal, like we had planned. Still amazing to me how fresh everything is, considering it all has to be imported daily. The last two trips in a row now, I have planned to go to Il Mullino, but haven’t had the time. Next time, for sure.

I wish I was still in Vegas today, only because Duran Duran is playing the Palms tonight.

Still hard to believe Phil Laak was playing $3-$6 limit H.O.R.S.E. at Bally’s.

Listened to a lot of Danny Michel on my iPod during the WSOP. It was really good to have a little slice of home.

I will definitely be going back for the WSOP next year. Hopefully we can get 10-15 guys for the trip this time. And we will definitely be staying at The Wynn.

Adios for 2009, Las Vegas…thanks for the memories.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009

Las Vegas Part 4 - WSOP Event #54

Cashing in Event 51 was a great experience, but it really opened my eyes as to what a grind it is to go deep in these tournaments. I made sure I was back at the hotel and in bed at a reasonable time (1:00 am is ‘a reasonable time’ in Las Vegas) before Event 54 so that I got a good night’s sleep and was well rested. It was all going according to plan until I was woken up at 4:00 am by the boys returning from a night out at the Hard Rock CafĂ©. They took great pride in coming into my room, and piling on top of me in the bed. I wasn’t that bothered by it…we were in Vegas and all having a good time, but I was rather troubled by some…shall we say…’unfortunate placement’ when Jeremy jumped on me. Let’s just leave it at that.

I got up and put the same T-shirt on I had worn for the first Event, grabbed my Gryphons sweater, and headed over to the Rio early. I got myself a nice breakfast and settled in to my table.

Tony was just a few tables over from me as we were both in the Amazon room today. Jeremy was there with us well, twittering from the rail and taking pictures. My first table, table 65, was quite a cast of characters (forgive the ‘proof’ across each picture…I’ve taken them from the WSOP photo site to add dramatic context):

the pimped-out Asian guy in seat 1 who never played a hand
the quiet Canadian guy in seat 2
the nervous German in seat 3 whose hands shook whenever he raised
the ornery Texan in seat 4 with the handlebar moustache who always raised ridiculously high
the poker book-smart Brit in seat 5
the aggressive guy from Kentucky in seat 6 (who I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere before, but can’t remember his name)
the donkey elderly calling station in seat 7 (I don't know what he's doing in the picture)
the guy in seat 8 who looked mean, never said a word, and had both hands bandaged up and scarred. (Ultimate fighter?) Very intimidating.
the loud Canadian guy in seat 9
and the wanna-be Table Captain in seat 10 (who cashed #4 in a previous WSOP Event this year)
After a few hands, it was very evident that seat 6 and seat 10 were going to tangle a lot, seat 4 was going to be stubborn, and seat 5 would be playing total vanilla poker. I didn’t like being caught between the two tanglers, but I could adjust.

My first hand that I played was against the intimidating guy with the bandaged hands to my right. He had raised a couple of times already, and this time when he raised to 175, I called with pocket 4’s. One other player, the timid guy in seat 2, called behind me. The flop was K-T-7 and he checked. I checked, and seat 2 checked. The turn was a 5, and the raiser bet 400. I couldn’t put him on a king checking the flop, nor could I put the guy behind me on a big hand, so my fours were likely best. I figured I was up against AQ and AJ. I just called, and seat 2 folded. The river was a 2, and he checked. I checked behind, he said “no pair”. I showed my 44 and scooped the pot.
About 90 minutes in, the Brit in seat 5 had been shaved down to only 1300 in chips. With blinds 50/100, he raised my BB to 350 and I called with Queen-Jack of hearts. The flop was J-7-4, and he went all in. I though for a while, thinking he must have an overpair, but would have to make the same move with his chip stack if he had AK or AQ. I reluctantly called and he showed KK. No help came and I doubled him up. I was down to 2900 in chips.
The nervous German in seat 3 raised for the first time a few hands later, and I called in position with pocket tens. I almost folded, thinking he must have a big pair, but I called 300. The flop was 7-3-2, and when he bet $1000 into a $750 pot, I knew it was a bad call preflop. Maybe he had AK, but I’m pretty sure it was a big pair. I folded.

About 5 hands later, I have JJ and raised to $550. The ornery Texan was in the small blind and re-raised to $1100. Now, I wasn’t too concerned about the red-flag minimum re-raise, because he had been min. re-raising already, but I only had $1475 back after the re-raise, and I figured I’d try to get it in on the flop if I was leading. The flop was J-8-2, so when he shoved on the flop, it was a pretty easy call for me to make. He turned over AK and I knew that he needed to hit two cards to make a straight. Being a 98% favourite is a good feeling. The turn was an ace, and he pumped his fist without realizing that he was now drawing dead. The river was a blank and I doubled up.

Just before the first break, I found pocket tens again and raised UTG. The Moustache and Kentucky both called. The flop was Q-3-4. Kentucky checked, I checked, and the Moustache checked. I had to be good with my 10’s, I thought. The turn was a 6, and Kentucky checked. I was about to bet, but the Moustache started reaching for chips already, so I waited and watched him count out 600. Hmmmmm. I checked, and sure enough, he bet 600. Did he catch a set? Is he bluffing? He can’t have a straight, because I can’t put him on 2-5 or 5-7 calling my raise. He only has $1425 behind, so I figure I’ll call the $600 and see what happens on the river. BUT…Kentucky calls the $600. What the hell? Does he have a queen? Would he really check it twice? Does he have the straight, or is he open-ended? I was very confused, and after thinking for about two minutes, I folded.

Imagine my disgust when the river came a 10. Kentucky checked and the Moustache went all-in for $1425. Kentucky called and the Moustache showed 66 for a set of sixes. Kentucky mucked his hand and I was furious that I would have busted the Moustache, and possibly won a pot of about $6000. Even though it was a good fold…and the right fold…when I made it, I was not happy. That was the last hand before the first break.
I came back from break having shaken off the potential pot I would have won. It was uneventful at my table except for the fact that the guy to my right got a massage from a ridiculously hot massage therapist (see picture above), which was very distracting. My table got broken up, and I got moved into the red section, 2 tables over from Phil Hellmuth. The new table was a quick study, one solid player with headphones on a couple of seats to my left, and a couple of Euro-donks decked out in Everest Poker gear who were acting like they were on TV. (you can see them both in the picture below.) Not a lot of threats at the table, except for the guy with the headphones.
I planned on trying to advertise somehow that I was a loose and weak player to try and get action from these guys, so I limped for $150 UTG with pocket 2’s. 4 players saw the flop of J-4-9, and I fired $450. When everyone folded, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to create that image, so I showed the 22.

A few hands later, I’m on the button and 3 players have limped in for $200. I have Jack-Ten of diamonds, so I call the $200, and 6 of us see the flop. The flop is J-2-2 with 2 spades. All 5 players check to me and I bet a tiny bet of $300 to see if the blinds call. Both blinds call, and everyone else folds, so I’m wary of a 2, or possibly a flush draw. The turn is the 3 of spades, and the Euro-donk in the small blind now bets out $1000. The big blind folds and I instantly fold my J-T face-up. He happily shows his flush and exhales as he scoops the pot. This table is awesome…everything is going according to plan.
On my next big blind, it gets folded to me and I get a walk with….10-5 of clubs! The irony. But after that pot, I couldn’t get a hand. Seriously…I folded every single hand for over 2 hours. I couldn’t get a playable hand at all. All that work to cultivate an image to this table, and now I can’t capitalize on it. The only exciting thing during my fold-fest was the rotating carousel of players who kept coming into the seat to my right and busting. I saw 4 or 5 different players come in to that seat and bust. After a European woman (in Everest Poker gear!) lasted 3 hands there, another Euro-donk pretty boy with a popped collar came and sat down.
The very first hand he played, the blinds were $100/$200 and he threw a $500 chip in. The dealer said ‘call’, and he said, “No, I said $500.” The dealer said he didn’t hear it, and Johnny Collar-Popper looks at the guy on his right and asks if he heard it. The player says no, and then he asks me if I heard him, and I say no. Now, I have my iPod in, and he says angrily in his German-or-Austrian-or-whatever-the-hell-it-was accent, “But…but…you haff muu-sic in your earssss.” So I take my earphones out and say, ‘It’s not my responsibility to hear what you said. You have to make sure he hears it”, indicating the dealer. He’s nice and riled up, so when I look at my cards and see Ace-8 of clubs, I almost called, but he’s so upset, that I have to be crushed with a bigger ace or a big pair, so I fold. Now he’s still going on and on about how I should have confirmed his raise, and he’s pissed at me, so I say to him, aggressively, “Listen, it’s not my job. It’s your job. I didn’t hear you. I’m not going to lie for you just so you can have your raise. Now get over it!” He backs off and ends up winning with JJ on a board of QA2KQ…a hand that I would have won with my Ace-8. He apologized to me 2 hands later.
That was the only excitement for over 2 hours, as I continued folding and folding, unable to pick up a hand. I raised once with J-9 of spades when it was folded to me on the button, and I stole the blinds and antes, but that was it. That picture above is what it looks like after you fold for 3 hours.

My table got broken again, and I got moved to another table, in seat 4. There were 2 very aggressive players in Seat 1 and 2, obvious internet players who kept chatting with each other. Both had big stacks and they were raising constantly. My dry run continued and I folded for over an hour at this table. I was down to 2200 in chips, and it was not looking good. I raised all-in from the cutoff seat with 77, and stole the blinds and antes, moving up to $2725.

The aggressive guy in seat 1 had raised my Big Blind every hand since I was just folding every time (I would have too), and the next time, he had raised to $525 and I had Ace-9. I know this is beating his raising range here, plus I have the image of a rock at this table, so I shove for my whole stack. He has over $20K, but he’s thinking for a while. He asks if I’m the type of guy who would just re-raise to steal. I responded “What about the last hour would make you believe I’m that ‘type of guy?’” He shows an ace and folds. Up to $3400.

More folding…no hands. And this table gets broken up, so I’m off to my fourth table. I’m down to $2500 in chips, and the blinds are $150/$300. My big blind gets raised AGAIN, and I find pocket 5’s, which might as well be pocket aces since it’s been so long since I’ve had a playable hand. I shove for my stack and get called by Ace-King. I win the race and double up.

The very next hand, there’s a raise to $825, and I find QQ in the small blind. I re-raise for my whole stack of just over $5500.
(this is what it looks like when you’re all-in with pocket queens and waiting to see if he calls you)

He folds, and I’m up to about $7000.

The very next hand, I’m on the button and one player limps for $300. I look down and find KK. A standard raise is probably the right move here, but I’m hoping someone will get stubborn if I raise all-in 3 hands in a row…so I shove. Both blinds fold, and the limper thinks for a long time before folding. I’ve only been at this table for about 10 minutes, and I don’t want them to think I’m a maniac, so I decide to show the kings. Up to about $8000 in chips.

Next hand, I have 99 in the cutoff, and one player has limped in front of me. 4 pairs in a row? 3 straight pots? Let’s not push my luck…I just call the $300. Flop comes J-Q-4 and I fold to a bet.

So, I settle in at this table for the next hour or so, and I’m chatting with the guy to my right, who is from Toronto. We’re talking about where we play in Ontario and I mention that I regularly play at the casino in Brantford. (Props to the OLG Brantford crew! How many of you are reading here?) There’s a guy in seat one who is all surly and sulky, and he’s wearing a Red Hot Poker Tour T-shirt. Now, for those of you who don’t know what the Red Hot Poker Tour is, it’s a free tour (in Ontario) that travels around to bars where you don’t have to pay to get in, but you get points, and if you get like a billion points, you can win something. This is relevant to know for the next couple of hands, which took place right before the dinner break.

I’m in the Small Blind and Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour just limps for $400. It’s folded to me in the small blind, and I have King-Jack. I call, and the big blind checks. The flop is K-8-2, I check, the BB checks, and Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour bets $1100. I just call to see what the BB will do, and I plan on shoving on any turn that isn’t an ace. Time for the old ‘Stop-and-Go’. The BB folds as expected, and the turn is a 7. I shove for over $5000, and he’s visibly angry. He says “They only have limit in Brantford. Where did you learn THAT move?” It was all I could do not to burst out laughing, like this guy is Phil Hellmuth and I’m some newbie who has never played before. much as I wanted to respond “I learned it in a poker tournament that I actually had to pay to get into”, I chose not to go full-asshole-mode, and instead just smiled and said “On the Red Hot Poker Tour.” He disgustedly folded and I raked in a pot, bringing me up to $8400.

The very next hand is the last hand before the dinner break, and this old Greek guy who hadn’t played a hand since I’ve been at this table, raises in early position. I fold and walk over to the rail to talk to Jeremy (our table is right on the rail, so he was standing right behind seat 2), so I’m standing behind Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour, still furious, when he decides to get stubborn and defend his big blind against an obviously strong hand. The flop is K-5-3 and Angry Man shoves all-in, and the Greek happily calls with Pocket Kings. Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour is furious, and ranting, and swearing, because he’s drawing dead on the turn, and eliminated from the tournament. “How can this guy be so f*cking lucky? Jesus!” he screams…and it was all I could do, not to lean over his shoulder and gently ask, “Gee, where did you learn THAT move?”

At the dinner break with $8350.

Went for dinner with Jer and Tony. Tony was up and down, but still healthy. He had a pro at his table (I will leave the name out of the post) who was twittering his hands at the table, so Tony looked up his twitter account and was finding out what he had and what he was folding, or when he was bluffing. Good information to have. We’re both under average stack, so there’s work to do.
Now, just a quick note: from this point forward I stopped taking notes, and tried to just focus on the game, so there will obviously be less details going forward since I’m working from memory instead of from logged information.

After the dinner break, I came back to my table and found Ace-Queen on the 2nd hand. I raised to $1350, and was re-raised by the small blind to $4600. I folded.

My table got broken up about 30 minutes later, and I was off to my 5th table of the day. This was a great table. The people were good, everyone was getting along, the chips were flying back and forth, and we were all having a good time. I doubled one kid up after being priced in, and then went totally card dead again. I folded…and folded…and folded…and folded…then folded some more…and folded…and kept folding…you get the idea.

But while it was mentally defeating earlier, it wasn’t as bad now because I was having a good time. Don’t get me wrong, it was still dire and I needed big time help to get back into the tournament, but psychologically it wasn’t as bad as it was before just folding and folding silently. We were having a blast…I was the jester, the class clown, and my table loved me. I know…I know…you guys reading this who play with me regularly are having a really tough time believing that…I would too. But it was a great table. My master plan, as I explained it to them, was for our table to get broken up (which was going to happen soon anyway) and for us all to reconvene at the final table for some great television. I was chatting with a guy to my right, Shane, and we were getting along really well. I was folding constantly and losing antes and blinds…getting whittled away. And the guys at the table kept asking, “Sean, when are you gonna move? You gotta do it soon…you have no chips.” And with under $4000 chips and the blinds at $300/$600, they were right, but I wasn’t going to shove with a crappy hand in the WSOP.

So the dealer at our table now is named Steve, and he was the dealer in Event 51 when I busted Mike Watson. I recognize him as he’s coming, but he mentions it when he sits down and sees me. I’m down to $3000 in chips, and I’m 2 away from paying my next Big Blind. This will be the last hand before the break, and the blinds will be going up to $400/$800 when we get back. I look down and find Ace-King of spades. Shane is first to act and he asks me, “Sean, is this the hand?” And I honestly tell him, “This is 100% the hand.” He says, “Ok, I’ll just call then, and then I’ll double you up”, and he calls the $600. I go all-in for my last $3000, and everyone folds to the small blind, a friendly guy from Quebec named Phil. Phil has about 30K in chips and has to call $2700. He smiles at me and folds. The Big Blind is a nice guy from Oklahoma with an orange shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. He has about 25K in chips and has to call $2400. He smiles and folds. So now it’s just up to Shane, who has just under 40K in chips and is already in for $600. He counts out the $2400 and is about to call when the kid in seat 8 says “Shane! Just fold…let him have it. We don’t want him to go!”

What the F*&$ ?

So Shane looks at him, looks at me, and then goes “Ok man…it’s yours.” I show the Ace-King and everyone has a good laugh. Everyone takes off for break as I’m stacking my chips and I’m the only one at the table when Steve the dealer looks at me and says “How the F*ck did you get them to do that?” and I said, “I don’t know!”

I'm at 5600 chips on the break. I saw Shane outside and commended him for the good karma he had coming his way for the rest of the tournament.

We come back from break and in my Big Blind, the guy from Oklahoma raises to $2500, and I find AK again. I go all in for just over $5000 and he calls with 99. He actually says to me "I don't mind losing if it's to you" and Steve just smirks and shakes his head. I flop an ace and double up.

A couple of hands later, a German guy at our table raises to $2100, and I find 99, and go all in for just under $10,000. He folds, and I have $13,000 as our table breaks.

Off to my sixth table of the day, Blue Table #2, right by the Pit Stand for the Tournament directors. Early on at this table, not knowing how everyone plays, and with a raise and a call in front of me, I folded pocket 8's and was livid when an 8 hit the flop. But that shortly changed to relief when I saw the initial raiser make a straight on the turn. Bullet dodged.

Then, this kid who had been bluffing for a couple of hands and lost about 3/4 of his stack, shoved all-in for about $7,500 on my big blind. I found those pocket 8's again, and called. He had Ace-Ten, and no help came for him as I eliminated him and moved up over $20,000. Steve then happened to be walking by my table and saw my stack. He patted me on the back and said "I still can't believe they folded to you, but nice comeback." We're now about 30 minutes from the end of Day One.

2 hands later, it's folded to me on the button and I have King-Jack. I have an aggressive guy in the small blind with a big stack, and a timid kid in the big blind who has been folding every hand and only has about 7K left. I played scared at the end of Day One yesterday, and I don't think I should be folding this hand here in this position. Blinds are $500/$1000 and I raise to $3,200. The small blind folds and the kid goes all in for $7100. I'm priced in, so I call, and he has Ace-7. He hits an ace and I double him up. Easy come, easy go. Back down to $13,000.

I didn't play another hand for the final 30 minutes, but lost blinds and antes to bring me down to only $8,500 in chips. Not a good start for Day 2.

For Event 51, with 10 minutes left in Day One, they stopped the clock and announced that we would be playing 7 more hands. The guy beside me today asked how they determine that. I said I didn't know, and then suddenly, one of the tournament directors taps him on the shoulder and holds out 5 cards face down. "Pick one" he says, and the guy picks a card, which the TD shows to be a 4. "Good choice, he says" and picks up a microphone and announces to the room that we will be playing 4 more hands and then bagging our chips. This is the high-tech operation they have to determine the number of hands? Funny...

So I bag my chips and get my table assignment for day 2. I find out that Tony surged up and ended the day with $20,500, so that was good news. The fact that we were both into day 2 was great news. There were 376 players left, so we were only 79 away from the money.

The three of us grabbed some food and a few beers, then hit the sack. Day 2, we woke up and went online to see our starting tables. Tony was in good shape proportionate to his chip stack, but I was surrounded by big stacks, including WPT winner Alex Bolotin (who also went on to win the Ante Up For Africa Charity Event a few days later), and 2007 WSOP Main Event phenomenon Hevad 'Rain' Khan.

I was dealt some decent hands, like A8 and A9, but with raises in front of me, I wasn't ready to commit all of my chips calling them away. Finally it was folded to me on Hevad Khan's big blind and I shoved for $6,000 with Ace-7, fully expecting him to call with a stack over $20,000, but he smiled and showed me 8-2, and said "you live another day, my friend." I pointed at him and said "you're my best friend in the world right now!"
A few hands later, I'm under the gun with $8,500 and about to lose another $1,800 in blinds, when I find King-Jack of spades, so I push all-in, and Khan goes all-in behind me. Before the cards get flipped up, I say, "I don't know if you're my best friend anymore." Then we flip our cards and I see he has pocket 10's...which is pretty much the best thing for me, meaning it's a coin flip. "Actually, we're still good." I said, and we both laughed.

No help came, 10-10 beats K-J, handshakes all around, and I was out in 359th place. So close.
I promptly went over to Tony's table and pulled up a chair and rooted him on to make it into the money, which he did about 40 minutes later. He ended up finishing 261st. Great showing.

So, to summarize...2 tournaments with 2,800 players, and I finished 217th and 359th. I'm pretty proud of that. Can't wait until next year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

It's still going to be another day or two before I can get my other Event summarized for a post here, so I thought I'd post something entertaining in the meantime. In Event 54, I was busted by Hevad Khan, who was very gracious, and unlike his 2007 World Series of Poker persona.

Here's a video clip of Hevad Khan's antics from 2007, and a couple of pics of us at our table in Day 2 of Event #54.

A funny story to go along with the video. When I got home, Lucas wanted to know all about the tournament, and how I was eliminated, so I was telling him about Hevad Khan. He wanted to know who he was, so I showed him the video, which he found very funny.

He's at a golf camp this week, and when I picked him up on Tuesday, he told me about this long 20-foot that he made. And when he sunk it, he yelled "Bullllldozzzzzer! That's how we do this One Time!"

That's my boy...

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 6, 2009

Las Vegas Part 3 - WSOP Event #51
As most of you know, the main purpose of this trip was for Tony and I to play in two events at the World Series of Poker. We played in Event #51 and Event #54, both $1500 No Limit Hold’Em events. I won’t go into a hand-for-hand detail of each tournament, just for the sake of keeping this blog readable for the non-poker reader. However, if anyone would like a more detailed analysis of how I felt I played, send me an email ( and I will send you my trip report which contains most of the key hands I played, as I was logging them in a notebook along the way.

We went over to the Rio on Friday to register a day early, and in retrospect, it was a good idea, since we saw people on Saturday (the day of the tournament) being turned away since they capped the entrants at 2,800. It would have been pretty disappointing to plan an entire trip around these tournaments, and then not be able to get in. While I was registering, I could see the VIP entry section on the other side of the registration cage, and that Daniel Negreanu was in there. We were at the Rio about an hour before the start of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, so we were expecting to see a number of the big names. After getting my table assignment, we saw Daniel Negreanu out in the hall, where he said he would stay for a bit and sign some autographs and take some pictures. I’m not really an autograph guy, but I love Negreanu, and he is the face of poker in Canada, so we weren’t going to miss this opportunity.

We took a few pictures with him, and then Scotty Nguyen came out and took some pics as well. Then we headed out and spent the rest of the day at Planet Hollywood and Bally’s.

Event # 51 – Saturday, July 27th

On Saturday, we headed back to the Rio for Event #51. Jeremy had bought into this event as well, so there were three of us in the field. Tony and I had agreed to a ‘last longer’ bet in each of our WSOP events, that the loser had to go to the winner’s table and deliver the one ounce of silver that we had wagered upon being eliminated. Tony and Jer were in the Brasilia room, and I was in the Amazon Room, which is the main hall. My friend Matt Wood was also in the field, but was in another room, the Miranda room.

I started at Table 103, seat 3, and my previous WSOP experience helped me to not be nervous at the outset. Our initial dealer was a friendly black woman named Marilyn, who insisted that we call her our “Chocolate Mama”, or depending on our age, “Chocolate Aunt.”
The table was a generally passive group of players, except for one guy in seat 6 who was angry and aggressive. He had his iPod earphones in and rarely spoke to anyone. The table was a relatively easy study, and I knew how to adjust my game accordingly based on who was involved in the hand. It helped that I also got smashed in the face with the deck. Pocket Kings that held up, and then Aces twice, including one time when I was able to limp re-raise the angry guy in seat 6 who (shockingly) folded angrily. I was praying that this table didn’t get broken up since I was settling in well, but alas, it did…and I got moved to Table 151, seat 8.

At Table 151, it was a different story entirely. The caliber of play was much higher, and I could immediately tell who the three best players were at the table. They were all sitting in a row, seats 1-3, and it was a corner that was going to be difficult to get through. There was no more limping into pots like my previous table, every pot was opened with a raise, and there was a lot of re-raising and squeeze-play steals taking place too. Ok…ok…too much poker-speak…I’ll back it up a bit.

Anyways, the point is that I would need to be much more crafty to be successful at this table, so I tried a risky move the next time I was dealt AA. I just called the $200 big blind, expecting someone to raise, but as it got around to the guy in the big blind, nobody had raised, and I thought it had backfired. But the Big Blind saved the day when he raised from $200 to $800, and I waited a fair bit before making it $3000. It was folded back to him where he went all-in, and I instantly called. He had AK vs. my AA, and was drawing dead on the turn. I won a big pot, and was now close to $11,000 in chips.
Shortly after this, Tony came to my table and flipped me a bar of silver, which was bad news overall since it signified that he was eliminated. He didn’t stick around long enough to tell me what happened, but he was not happy with the way he played. Right after this, I got into another big pot and eliminated a player when my QJ faced off against QK on a QJ29 board when he went all-in on the turn. It was all the more poetic since Everlong (Foo favourite song) was on my iPod at the time. I was now up to $15,000 in chips.

About 40 minutes later, with the blinds 100/200, and just minutes away from the dinner break, I had been shaved away down to about 12K in chips when I raised UTG with Queen-King of diamonds. Only one player called, the solid player in seat 3, who was on the button. I asked how much he had before the flop came, and it was about $7,000 more. The flop came QQ6, and I checked. He bet $700 into a $1500 pot, and I check-raised to $2000. He went all-in, and I knew he couldn’t have Q6 after he called my raise, so I figured the worst case scenario was that I was up against AQ or 66, but I couldn’t fold here. More likely he had a pocket pair and didn’t believe I had a Queen. I called and he showed pocket aces. Perfect. He has two outs, and I’m already counting the chips in my head, bringing me up over $22,000. We were both standing when the Ace of diamonds hit on the river and he made the miracle full house. I walked away from the table in disbelief before coming back and calmly counting out the chips he had won. I was down to $4500 in chips and in danger of losing them all quickly since I was so devastated from that hand.

The very next hand, in the big blind, I had pocket fives, flopped a 5, and busted a player two seats to my right. Back up to $7500.

The hand after that, in the small blind, I had pocket threes, flopped a 3, turned the last three for quads, and won a big pot from the player to my left. Back up to $13,000

$12,000 to $4,500 to $7,500 to $13,000 in 3 hands, and now it’s the dinner break. What a roller-coaster ride.

On the dinner break, we broke at the same time as $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, so walking up the hallway with Gus Hansen and Johnny Chan was an interesting feeling. I spoke briefly with Greg Raymer and Mike Matusow (who was a bit of a douche since I didn’t want to buy his autobiography), and also with Annie Duke, telling her how outraged I was at the result of The Celebrity Apprentice. (See my May 11th post.)

A few hands after dinner, my table got broken up and I was moved again. As I was de-racking my chips on the table, I saw a player with a HUGE stack raise, and when I looked at my cards, I found Ace-Queen, and folded it instantly since I had no idea how my new table played. The initial raiser in seat 5 was a guy with a loud, colourful hoodie, a purple flat-brimmed ballcap, and dark sunglasses. I could tell immediately that he was running the table. One player called the raise and the board came Q9724 with a LOT of chips in the pot. I cringed at the showdown, waiting to see if I would have won a big pot. The stubborn caller showed QK for a hand I would have beat, and the raiser showed AA, which would have had me crushed and crippled. I dodged a huge bullet folding that hand preflop.

The guy in seat 5 with the purple hat was named Jeffrey Vanchiro, and I was really pleased with my overall Day One play…except for when I played pots with him. My QJ lost a big pot to his QK later on a Q high board, and he was whittling me (and the table) away with constant raises and overall good play. Plus, he was running so well. His AQ would bust A9 all-in preflop when two 9’s hit the flop. He got it all in with 88 vs TT, and the guy with the tens said “At least I’m winning”, and Jeff smiled and said “Not yet”…just before the 8 hit the flop to eliminate his opponent. I didn’t want to tangle with him anymore. I had been cut in half to about 7K in chips.
With the blinds $200/$400 and a $50 ante, I get Ace-King and raise to 1525. I only get one caller, a guy in seat 10 who hasn’t played a hand in the 90 minutes I’ve been at this table. I assume he has to have a pretty strong hand since he never plays and I never raise. The flop comes 873 rainbow and I shove for my remaining 5500. He has about 1000 less than me, and thinks forever before calling with…get this!...8-10 of spades. I can’t even fathom: a) how he waited 90 minutes to call a raise with this hand, and b) how he flops top pair and took that long to call. The turn is a 2, and I’m praying for an ace or king on the river.


I pull my chips back and say “Good Game” as I eliminate my 5th player of the day. Back up to $13,800.

It was up and down from that point until the end of the day. I got whittled away a bit more, stole some chips back on re-raises and steals. I even flopped a set and rivered a boat against Jeff on a hand where I let him take the lead, but he couldn’t catch anything (and semi-sniffed it out, I think) and only lost $1000 on the river.

Next thing I know, the seat to my right is filled by Mike Watson, WPT Champion – SirWatts in the online poker world. I highlighted Mike’s blog in a previous post, and now he gets moved right beside me. We’re chatting for a bit, and I’m basically avoiding him, but when he shoves all-in from the cutoff with 9-10 of clubs, and I have pocket 10’s, my time alongside SirWatts is finished as I eliminated him from the tournament. Up to $24,000 with 500 players left, and the top 297 making the money.

The last hour was painful, and the fatigue of playing for over 12 hours clearly got to me as I made some bad decisions and bled away some chips. I squeaked into Day 2 with only 7900 in chips, and 349 players left...52 until we reached the money.

I was angry at myself for how I played the final hour, and it was difficult to shake off. Jer tried his best to talk me down (he had stayed with me the entire time, updating on Twitter), and we went out for some steak and eggs before hitting the sack for the night.

I was still upset in the morning and knew I would have to make a move fast once Day Two started. We went online to see my table assignment and saw that I was at a table of shortstacks, with almost everyone under the average stack. This was good, as I knew I wasn’t going to be insta-called by a big stack with any two cards.
Tony, Jer, and Dave, all came with me for Day Two to cheer on from the sidelines. It didn’t take long, as I found QQ on my very first hand of the day, and a player all-in in front of me. He had Ace-Ten and I hit a Queen to move myself up to $18,200. Folded Ace-Ten, Ace-8, and pocket 7’s all under the gun in three consecutive orbits, and dodged bullets each time as bigger hands would have called…and won. I was losing blinds and antes fast not playing a hand for 3 orbits. I was now under $7,000 in chips with the blinds $600/$1200 with a $100 ante, and only minutes from going up to $800/$1600.

I got moved to another table as we found out we were down to 300 players, only 3 from the money, and were moving into hand-for-hand play. I had only 6400 in chips, and had 5 hands before I had to pay a blind. After the first hand of hand-for-hand play, the tournament director came on the microphone and said “Players, I need you to listen very carefully…”

…and we all waited…

“Congratulations! You’ve all made the money.”
The room erupted and we all congratulated each other at the table. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I had made it into the money and now could shove without the fear of having nothing to show for a day and a half of exhausting poker. I wasn’t just going to shove with any hand now, though. I still wanted it to be a good one.

But I couldn’t find one, and I lost yet another set of blinds and antes when I found Ace-Queen and shoved it all-in, using both hands to push 2400 chips into the middle. The blinds were $800/$1600 and the blinds had big stacks, so I knew it was likely going to be a 3-way pot minimum. But the guy to my left RAISED to 6,000 and everyone folded. I assume I’m crushed with AK or racing against a pair, so imagine my surprise when he turns over 7-8 of hearts.


That was the collective confusion of the table (including me), who had no idea why he would isolate me heads-up with 8 high and no side pot. The flop came 252T6 and my AQ won a pot of $9,000. The BB folded 9-10, so he would have eliminated me had this guy not raised. (side note: thank you, donkey.)

I won’t bore you with the final details of me shortstacking up and down below 10K for over an hour, but I made it into the second level of pay. I won a pot at one point, and heard the boys on the rail yell ‘GARRRRRR!’ as I stacked the chips, and I yelled back…then had to explain what that meant. It was great having them there on the rail for support. I ended up shoving for 7K with pocket tens, and being called by a guy from Montreal with pocket jacks. No help came and I was eliminated in 217th place.
I got my payout slip and headed down to the payout room, where I ran into Linda Johnson, who I had met at a charity event a number of years ago. She congratulated me on my first cash and gave me a big hug. I also ended up standing beside Shannon Elizabeth as she was registering for an event, and was privately wishing she would give me a congratulatory hug as well. (No offense, Linda.)
Three side notes: a) Jeffrey Vanchiro, from my third table, ended up finishing 15th in the event, and was responsible for the bustout that put us all in the money. b) Carsten Joh, who won the event, was at one of my tables briefly. c) I proudly wore a memorial T-shirt under my shirt both days to honour my cousin Paul, who passed away last year. I honestly felt like it gave me strength when I needed it.

That’s the summary of Event #51. Next post will be Event #54.