I’ve dabbled a bit over the past few months.  Started in Vegas at some sales meetings in December; took a little money with me, went on a good run in 1-2.  Figured maybe I could sustain it just playing small for a while, get my occasional fix in.

Trouble is: doesn’t work like that, even at low stakes.  Take the last couple sessions: which involved just enough in my pocket for two buy ins at lower stakes tables (1-2 or 3-5).  Its the same every time.  Or so it feels when I lose.

I play way conservatively for the first hour or two.  After all, I don’t want to risk going bust and having to leave after a few minutes.  How embarrassing!  So I pass on spots where aggression would be the natural play.  And not just giving up on draws that have the odds.  One recent hand stands out: I’ve got 10 10 at a shorthanded 3-5 table, about $300 in front of me.  EP, a solid player but one who is visibly steaming from a recent loss and has about the same amount of money on the table as I do, raises pre-flop.  I call, knowing he’ll be aggressive on the flop no matter what, and figuring I’ll move if the flop is good.

And it is! And he is! 9, 3, 2 rainbow or something like that.  And he bets out as predicted, only he way overbets the flop, and then I start thinking he’s trying to look weak and he’s actually got a big pair, and, more importantly, I don’t want to bust out now, and I (unforgivably) give up my 10s.

Waiting for a better spot!

Problem is: the better spot doesn’t always come.  And unless you are a zen master your fingers start to get itchy.  So an hour later I call that raised pot with KQ offsuit on the BB (which is a bad play).  And flop comes three of the King Suit, so I CRAI (which is not a bad play), AND I hit a K on the turn, but not the flush, and get slowrolled by a set.

So then I buy in for my last $200, and quickly call a very solid woman’s raise with AJ suited (not terrible but not great), and the flop is J 7 5 or something like that, and she bets out as she would with anything, and I raise and commit (as I have to do once I play the hand in the first place), and she has QQ and I go home.  Two not-terrible plays and I am done!

Lately I feel like a pretty decent carpenter who is burdened by the fact that he doesn’t have any nails.



Stipulation: I am fully aware that my life is good.

That being said:

It’s a beautiful Saturday in San Francisco.  Blue Angels flying around.  People out doing stuff, including my family.  A good day in the City.

And here I am, at the computer, working on pointless docs for useless people who make me miserable and who I am quite certain will never be of any use to me or my company, as much as they are currently pretending otherwise.  I may as well be back as an analyst at an investment bank.

And I can’t help but think that in my worst poker days, my worst runs, my worst bad beats, I never felt the kind of frustration and emptiness I feel now.

[insert photo of world’s smallest violin right here]

Every time I am forced to deal with some company-related bullshit (something that pretty much defines my existence these days) I can’t help but rue the fact that I should be sleeping.   Because, as the thought process goes, I should be resting and recovering  from yet another monster session at Lucky Chances the night before (free of any stress, losses, bad beats, or other unpleasantness, of course).

And this would certainly beat trying to mollify vendors who we are past due with, or squeeze retailers who are past due with us, or absorb lectures from people who have no clue about our business.   Or deal with the justified  frustration of my wife, who can’t understand how a fairly intelligent and capable guy is not making money.

I imagine that Tommy, however, would caution that those who are overly desperate to play are really not in a good frame of mind to play.  I suppose he’d suggest that I would be at my best if I really didn’t care one way or the other.


Some random thoughts and events since my last post for my legions of followers:

My Q1 run of play was certainly positive.  Unfortunately, all the MASSIVE profits quickly went toward bills and expenses, extinguishing my temporary roll.  I think I know this song.

I’ve played only one session in the last couple of months.  Was in Vegas for a trade show a few weeks ago, and scrounged enough money together for a 2/5 no limit session at Bellagio.  For what its worth: ‘scrounged’ is an excellent word choice here.  I remain undefeated in this particular game over the years, which, no matter how incredibly awesome a player I am, is a statistical improbability. It helped that when down to my last few hundred I flopped quad 8s, and got matched up against Aces full AND a guy intent on calling everybody no matter what.  Another statistical improbability.

Speaking of statistical improbabilities: why is it that while I played high stakes all of the statistical improbabilities I encountered seemed to benefit my opponents?

My wife suggests that we find a way to get me playing more.  Assuming I do, will I be able to cope with this kind of pressure?




Every now and then you run into the player who knows (or at least thinks he knows) all the pot odds for every conceivable poker situation.  During every hand he calculates his own odds (out loud),  after each hand he lets everyone know what the match up was (“that was a 53/47!”).  He is most vocal when he loses a pot, and chides his opponent for making some kind of ridiculous play not justified by the math.  A lot of these guys come from the east coast, makes for interesting times when they get matched up with crazy Asians out here with whom they have little experience.

One thing about this guy: inevitably he gets exposed for making dumb plays himself, and when this happens and he gets lucky he will say the following, verbatim:  “oh, well, nice that I can suck out every now and then too!”  And then he goes right back to complaining about other people.

Another thing about this guy: when he does expose himself as a donkey and gets lucky, inevitably its me on the receiving end.

Because the patriotic American solution to severe budget problems is to piss all over our future (out of fear of hurting the luxury yacht industry), public schools (like my daughter’s) are forced to get creative about their fund raising.

Side note, best bumper sticker I’ve ever seen: “I dream of a day when our schools will get all the money they need and the air force will have to hold a bake sale to fund its next bomber.”

Our school’s big event was last night, a big live and silent auction for grown-ups only.

The strategy, as I imagine is the case in most of these events, is to get us parents as good and loaded as possible, so as to make us loose with our wallets.  Raise your ($10) glass, and it will be filled!

And it works, as I am fairly sure I spent a lot of money, but I can’t quite remember on what.

Fortunately I had a good Lucky Chances session on Friday to cover.

Played three sessions at Lucky Chances a couple weeks ago, all 3/5.  Net very positive, two winning sessions, one small loser.  Very controlled and comfortable, despite lack of bankroll.

The only real problem: the financial situation mandates conservative play, most evident on the river, where I made a point of not taking chances, rarely value betting or raising  in position, out of fear of going bust.  Not optimal in terms of long-run EV, but I think an acceptable way to play provided I am consistent (and not obvious about it).  In fact, the loss resulted from just one hand where I did make a thin value bet and then was check raised.

Followed up by a 3-3 positive in Tahoe and Reno last weekend.  Two nights at the 2/3 at Harveys, which seems to play really, really small.  Truly a grind, but was in Tahoe so could be worse.  The fun game was at Harrahs in Reno.  They only spread a 1/2, but with no cap on the buy in.  I decided I would try it for a little while, and eventually leave to try and find a bigger game.

Next thing I know its a big bet fest, driven by an old drunk guy who was doing his best impression of Sam C.  Within a few hands I’m being pushed into big all-in decisions, and several hundred dollars are being exchanged on every hand, highly unusual for 1/2 (the old days of 25/50 and swings in the thousands seem to be waaaaaay in the past).  Wild.  Fun wild when it goes well.  Ended up more than twice what I took home in Tahoe after two sessions.  This, combined with some successful sports bets and the kids having an absolute blast made for an excellent weekend.  Made more excellent by all the rooms being comped through my wife.  She’s good at that.  If only she’d stop losing when she gambles.

Feeling great about the trip, I decided to hit Lucky Chances on Monday night, with the stated goal of leaving at 12:15 sharp.  I was SO satisfied with myself when 12:15 came: absolutely terrible cards, yet I picked my spots and grinded and was up slightly.  For whatever reason I was unable to get up at 12:15.  Naturally, at 12:20 I am dealt AA, I check planning to raise, two callers (SB and BB) with no raise.  Flop is K 9 10 with two spades.  SB bets 20, BB calls.  I raise to 60.  SB immediately pushes for 300.  BB folds.

Fucking goddamn piss shit fuck crap, I mutter to myself.  Why didn’t I just leave at 12:15 as planned?  Now I am faced with this bullshit.

And that bullshit should have been EASY.  First, because I am supposed to be playing conservatively, meaning I should fold in a spot like this.  Second, barring any further information, a call in this spot would likely be breakeven at best.  Third, and worst of all, there WAS further information, namely the opponent screaming strength, right down to the shaky hands.

Yet I call, and he happily turns over his set of Kings.  Meh.

Two hands later I lose the rest of my (short) stack when my AJ suited flops an A but runs into a slow played AK.  Then I buy in really short, and lose that when my AQ suited runs into AA pre-flop.  Bonehead.

Overall still very much net positive over the past few weeks, but that whole discipline thingie…