Friday, December 24, 2010

Part 4: Seoul

We arrived on a Tuesday night Dan-less and then proceeded to immediately get hustled by a cab driver taking us to our hotel. Oh well. Tony and I checked in and then asked the concierge directions to a good Korean BBQ spot. For those who haven't met Tony he is obsessed with Korean BBQ. It would not be an exaggeration to say that is a big part of why he wanted to visit Seoul. Largely through his influence I've come to really enjoy it as well, and I must say the meal did not disappoint. The quality of the beef was fantastic. We passed out and were lucky to be well-rested for what became a very interesting Wednesday.

I woke up and ordered breakfast then did my normal routine of dicking around on the internet. To my surprise I saw several links on my friends' Facebook/Twitter about North Korea attacking South Korea and started reading all about that. Basically, just as we were arriving in Seoul the Koreas had the biggest military incident between the two countries since the end of the Korean War. While I could see the seriousness of the events I was also pretty confident nothing would actually escalate from it, but it still wasn't exactly great timing to be visiting Seoul. While Tony and I did receive several very concerned messages from friends it seems basically everyone in Seoul felt the same as I did and went about the lives normally. I couldn't sense anyone really worried about the situation and what I read said the same thing. It appears most Koreans were just like, "Yeah, those North Koreans be crazy, what else is new?".

So Tony and I went on about our business. We knew one person combined in Seoul upon arriving, but as always with Tony he knows so many people that he's always able to get put in touch with people in whatever city he ends up. That night we went for Korean fried chicken with a mutual friend's ex-girlfriend who was in the city and a group of her friends. We immediately hit it off with the group and several rounds of beers, a bottle of soju, and some other Korean alcohol we were well-initiated to the Korean custom of going for drinks with your friends/co-workers after work. The fried chicken was nothing special, but the food was the hardly the focus.

After dinner we met up with group #2 of people Tony had been put in touch with. This was a group North American guys who had moved to Korea mostly to try to play Starcraft professionally at some point and then gotten into poker because Koreans are way too good at Starcraft. I think they all had some general version of that story. They had all been in Seoul long enough that they spoke both English and Korean fluently, which was nice because not a lot of people in Seoul speak much English, though there seems to be more of the younger generation making an effort to learn it. These guys took us to a karaoke spot spot where we proceeded to party until 7 or 8 in the morning. At this place they bring in girls to hang out in your room and party with you. They are paid to be there and hangout with you but that's all. I think only one girl spoke English, but we had a fun time drinking and singing and getting to know all the guys.

I awoke around 4pm on Thursday and Tony and I went for some much-needed Korean BBQ to cure our hangovers. After that we walked down to COEX mall, the largest underground mall in Asia. It really is pretty huge and has a lot of the huge international chains you would expect. It seemed like most people working at the mall spoke enough english to get by as it's such a huge tourist attraction. All the signs were in both English and Korean which was different from most other places we visited. Then we wanted to go see the new Harry Potter movie but for some reason they didn't have it in Korea yet, so we saw Unstoppable instead which was actually pretty decent. When we got out of the movie a few people from the first group the previous night were keen for us to meet them at their friend's club in Itaewon. All the partying was starting to wear me down by this point, but we didn't come to Asia to not party, so off we went and had another great night.

Friday was our final night in Seoul and of the entire trip. It was all already planned to go out with a blast. First, I was meeting up with a friend from university now living in Seoul for dinner, and then we were meeting up with Starcraft boys and hitting a booking club. Over the course of the night talking with my friend and then experiencing a night at the booking club I learned that dating in Korea is just way different than in North America. My impression is that while many Koreans appear to be conservative and in some ways shy, they are also very social and open to giving a date a try with a lot of people they meet and seeing how it goes. I have yet to explain what a booking club is, but I should preface that explanation by saying it's not something most people do in Seoul. Yet, the very fact these places exist shows how different the culture is.

It's not unlike a high-end club in most places in the world in that the guys pay for a table with bottle service, beers, etc.... but you also have your own private room like at a karaoke place. They give you a nice spread of food as well. The girls get in for free. They are completely normal girls just looking to meet guys (this isn't Macau), the same as the guys are looking to meet girls. The difference is that there are waiters going around the dance floor and area outside the private rooms. They have a camera in every room so they can see when a guy doesn't have a girl sitting beside him and they immediately move to rectify this situation. Girls are pulled into your room, sometimes literally, and they have no choice but to go when the waiter grabs them. They can always leave when they get there or you can ask them to leave, but if you're a girl hanging around by yourself outside you have no control over when/where you end up next. Throughout the night you might easily talk to 10-15 girls. It really was something to see firsthand.

In the morning I awoke feeling like crap, Tony feeling worse not having slept, and we made our way to the airport for about half what we paid on the way in. The long flight home really sucked, though probably not as bad as I'm making it sound except for transferring at LAX. That was a disaster, thank god I left 4 hours between flights.

I spent the next 3 weeks in Toronto and currently I'm home in Newfoundland for the holidays. I'll write another post soon detailing my plans for the first quarter of 2011, and reviewing my 2010.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Part 3: Manila

Manila is definitely not a typical tourist spot from what I've read, but Tony had a blast there last year and definitely wanted to go back. It is the most densely populated city in the world and there is always traffic. Just unbelievably bad, and people drive crazy. Traffic lanes appear to be merely a suggestion. By comparison driving in Shenzhen was like being out on a back country road, and I thought driving there was a death trap. Manila does however have great clubs and fun friendly people that party all night, and everything is super cheap. Also, basically everyone speaks english well.

We arrived in Manila on a Tuesday night and I felt awful the entire way there. I'd gotten a bit of a cold the last day or two in Macau, and while I was never really very sick it was enough to make me feel pretty bad. I had a bit of a fever and a very sore throat, such that it hurt every time I swallowed. I was also just generally tired. I crashed pretty early Tuesday night and slept a bunch, but was still feeling under the weather Wednesday night when the team was getting ready to go out. I decided to stay in as I knew it was going to be a big week of partying and I wanted to recover for the next three nights. This was definitely the right decision, but unfortunately I missed out on a pretty epic night. Actually, I woke up at 9:30am to grind online (Wednesday nightly tournaments with the time difference) so I guess I could still have caught the tail end of the party.

After I finished up my session, I went up to the other hotel room to see what the hell had happened to Tony and Dan. I walk in to see three girls, Tony, and Dan all passed out, Dan and Tony each cuddling with a (very attractive) girl. They regale me with some of the stories of last night and Tony and I hit the gym for a bit as I'm feeling a fair bit better. I end up going out that night but it really sucked. I guess everyone rests up for the weekend Thursday night in Manila as it was dead. Even the girls from the night before, who were legit party girls, had no interest in going out. We were at a spot that was supposed to be one of the best in the city that night, and while there were a lot of people there it totally blew.

Friday and Saturday we went to what we were told was the best club in the city and it did not disappoint. Friday night in particular we had a table on the dance floor (for fairly cheap) and there were gorgeous girls just everywhere around us. It was to the point I think we were almost confused what to do there were just too many possibilities. It was probably the best atmosphere I've ever been at in a standard club. Saturday night wasn't as good as we got bumped to a less ideally positioned table and there just seemed to be a lot more guys than Friday. While I know certain team members have reason to disagree, it was still an awesome night! I have to give a shoutout to Carlos and Max (slider on 2p2) who hung out with us those nights and were great guys to party with.

Sunday was a day of recovery, but despite relaxing all day my body was still not happy with me. It wouldn't really be again for the rest of the trip. Monday was our last night. I ended up having a date with a girl I'd met on the weekend that was easily one of the best first dates I've ever had. So then we all got on a plane the next morning and left. Such is the traveling lifestyle I guess. At this point Truck Dan leaves the team to go back to Jersey for Thanksgiving with the family, while Tony and I soldier on into Seoul for the final leg of the trip, and try not to get blown off the face of the earth by communist dictators.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Part 2: China

We flew from Hawaii to Seoul and connected to Hong Kong. From there we took the ferry across to Macau. In a lot of ways, Macau really is like the Vegas of the east. In several important ways, however, it's a whole lot worse. The massive incredible casinos are the same. Many are even bigger. There are great restaurants, though not quite on the same level as Vegas. There's a Cirque du Soleil show. There are amazing spas (probably even better than Vegas). There are prostitutes.

There are some differences as well. There's no blackjack, just baccarat and some Chinese version of roulette or something called Sic-Bo I never figured out the rules to. There are not drunk people in the street at all hours of the day. Even at night. In fact there's not much of a party scene at all. There are however lots of prostitutes, it's legal, and even casino-sponsored (spa good, sauna bad)! Basically, Macau is Chinese Vegas with the party scene removed and the seedier parts emphasized.

Our plan was therefore basically to spend as little time in Macau as possible when not playing poker, and more time in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. We played the Macau Poker Cup (~$2600 USD) but no one did anything so then Tony organized a big get together at a bar at MGM. A lot of drinks, catching up with my Aussie mates, and meeting some new people later it was 2 or 3am and it was decided that those of us still partying were going to D2. As far as I can tell D2 is the only good club in Macau. It was ladies' night and there were hot girls everywhere. At least half of them were pros, but even a lot of those girls were not working that night and just out to party. Still, I was pretty nervous about trying to meet any girls. Not many of them were likely to speak great english, and how would I know if they were just trying to get paid?

David Steicke had joined our group. This was the first time I'd met him though I'd heard plenty about him. Basically, he's some super rich businessman who plays poker for fun and crushes high roller tournaments in Australia and Asia. He got us a table overlooking the dance floor and started making bottles appear. I only got to talk to him for a bit but he seemed like a super nice guy and a huge boss. At some point Dan mentioned it was his first time in Asia and was told "you have to go down there", referencing the dance floor. I was mostly planning to hang out around the table and socialize with our group, but looking down over the railing it appeared Dan was having the time of his life. I had no idea if these girls were really into him or not, but I knew either way I had to get in on the action. Suffice to say, this was a very good decision.

Unfortunately, this is where I cut off the details just as I'm getting to the good part. Sorry about that. Our next stop was Hong Kong. Tony's friend Semo came up from Shenzhen to meet us and we tore it up in Lan Kwai Fong. There weren't any especially epic stories from this night surprisingly, but good times were had as you can imagine when you're buying beers at a 7-11 and drinking them in the street. We hung around in HK the next two days as Tony and Dan waited on their visas so we could cross over to mainland China and meet Semo in Shenzhen. Hong Kong was real cool, but maybe my expectations were too high or something as I was a little underwhelmed. It was extremely cool to walk the 15-20 minutes from our hotel down a main road to the IFC where we ended up eating lunch most days. You'd start in an area that was very stereotypically China. Cramped dirty roads, stores spilling out into the sidewalks, restaurants with only Chinese signs, almost no english. Then just a mile or so down the road you are surrounded by huge modern buildings, with high end stores and restaurants, and everything is in both English and Mandarin. It really was an amazing city, but like I said I guess that's what I was expecting and it didn't blow me away. Also, the air quality was by far the worst I've ever breathed.

Finally the boys got their visas and we rocked down over to Shenzhen. Unlike Hong Kong I had no idea what to expect in Shenzhen other than that Semo would show us a great time. I've gotta say though, I was very impressed. It seemed a lot less cramped than HK. There was a very clear effort to have a lot of green and that really made the city a lot more visually appealing. Just like in HK there were huge modern skyscrapers everywhere. From what I was told SZ is a very modern city, largely getting built up in the last 30 years or so when Hong Kong became such a huge international business hub due in large part to its proximity. That modernity definitely shows in its design.

We arrived Tuesday night and Semo took us to our hotel and then for dinner. Unlike in Macau or HK there seemed to be very little english spoken. Without Semo and his friend it likely would have been difficult to even order at a restaurant. Even at the hotel the staff's english was just passable. Anyways, Semo took us to the club that night. We got a table, a bottle of vodka, and four yahtzee-like cups with five dice each. At every table in the bar, people are playing liar's dice drinking game because that's how China rolls. Semo quickly teaches us the rules and hand signals and we get in on the fun. I'm too lazy to explain how it works, but basically it's a game of luck, strategy, and bluffing, so we were all pretty sure we'd be world champion by the end of the night. This made it suck that much more when tiny 19 year old Chinese girls kicked our asses repeatedly throughout the night.

So basically, we are the only young white guys in the entire bar. It does not take long to realize that we are going to be very popular. Unfortunately, the language barrier is a bit of an issue. A lot of girls speak enough broken english to get by when combined with gestures and body language, which we're used to by this point, but others don't really speak any at all. Still, we have three things going for us:

1. Semo can translate.
2. The dice game has hand signals making verbal communication unnecessary to play.
3. Dancing is also non-verbal.

1 was not as useful as we'd hoped. Upon learning that your 6'4" friend who trains and is built like an MMA fighter speaks her language, it's amazing how fast a girl's interest can wander. 2 and 3 were money though. It really was an interesting experience. I'd imagine it was similar to being a celebrity at a bar in North America. In general I'm sure you've heard stories about how white guys are really popular in Asia, and I'd say everywhere we went that was true to at least some extent. Nowhere was it as pronounced as in Shenzhen though, and we had one hell of a fun night.

Unfortunately we had to leave the next day to get back to Macau for the next tournament. The APT main event (~$4300 USD) we all bricked as well, but we decided to hang around for the players party instead of rushing to Cebu for the APPT event there. In retrospect that was likely a botch, though we did have a good time at the player's party. While sites like PokerStars especially and FTP do everything they can to keep a clean image in the public eye as they already looked down upon as gambling sites by many, the guys who organize the APT have no such concerns. Also, I think they won in big cash game the night before as they decided to pre-pay 30 working girls for the party. While this is clearly many people's idea of a good party it was not ours. We were mostly excited because the 10 or so models they had working the tournament were all supposed to be there. Sadly only maybe half of them were there and they were serving drinks and often busy with that. So Dan and I took advantage of the open bar while Tony still managed to juggle girls and sleep with one of the models, and then hit D2 again with some of the Aussie boys for the improved hooker:not hooker ratio. While it wasn't nearly as good as the last time I would still file it under good decision.

Next stop: Manila.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Best... Trip... Ever! Part 1

This series of blog entries is really not going to do it justice unfortunately. I'm actually a very open person when it comes to telling stories and opinions on personal matters. My good friends will undoubtedly hear all the details about our various (mis)adventures, and I'm sure I will be entertaining even more casual acquaintances with some of the stories of this trip for years. That being said, there has to be a line somewhere and unfortunately writing the details of my personal life on the internet for the whole world to see is on the other side of it. Luckily for you, Tony has less issues about these sorts of things, though there are a few stories from the trip that even he's not willing to write about. That's how real shit got.

The story begins with Tony, "Truck" Dan, and myself flying Vegas-->Honolulu. This was supposed to be nice relaxing start to the trip. We'd chill on the beach, drink a few girly drinks with little parasols in them, and of course still party a little, but our expectation was that the parties wouldn't be too crazy. Dan even questioned the wisdom of missing out on Halloween in Vegas. These concerns were short-lived.

Halloween in Honolulu is big fucking deal. This year, Halloween was on a Sunday, so as expected there was a huge party Saturday night. There was also a huge party on Sunday though in the area directly around our hotel. Unfortunately, unaware of this fact, Tony had booked our flight for 1:30am Sunday night. So Saturday we decided to go big, and in this regard I think it is safe to say we succeeded. It is also safe to say I succeeded a little too much, but let's backtrack a little. The first step is to decide out costumes.

Obviously, we decided to dress up as Jersey Shore style guidos. I can't imagine I need to explain why this is obvious so let's keep this moving. We bought Ed Hardy T-shirts, ridiculous sun glasses, and even some spray-on tan stuff. Unfortunately, we were stuck with our own muscles, as even Tony does not have a true situation going on. This isn't all bad though as at least it's fairly obvious we are being ironic. The key to pulling this costume off, in my opinion, is to really get into character. You must be loud and obnoxious and not give a fuck, though in such a way as to be hilarious but not really rude (so not quite fully in character). To me, the obvious way to accomplish this is to get wasted. This seems an appropriate time for pictures.

At 11:55am I made a bold decision and grabbed a Blue Moon from our fridge. After lunch we spent a bunch of hours at the hotel pool getting some sun and drinking aforementioned girly drinks with parasols. By dinner I was already very "in character". The big party that night was in Chinatown. The streets were all blocked off and you could drink and party in the streets as well as a bunch of bars in that area. I don't remember much after the first couple vodka redbulls so I'm going to put some things that happened in point form:

1. Whenever talking about a girls' costume add slutty before: Oh what a cute slutty cat! It is standard knowledge that girls halloween costumes are intentionally revealing so if you say this with the right tone it should not get a bad reaction.

2. Asking girls if they are DTF. This one you have to be more careful with but if you are doing a good job being in character it should go over fine.

3. Tony pulling his shirt up and asking girls if they know about the situation. Even with Tony's build apparently this just does not actually work.

4. Somehow I got a girls' number and was so wasted I accidentally texted it to her trying to make sure I had it in my phone properly.

5. Dan took me home before midnight. It really was a great party, so sorry about that brah.

In part two I will write about China. Hawaii really was "just a practice"!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vegas and Onwards

I've been in Vegas for the last ~2 weeks staying at Chewy's house again. I played the Festa al Lago WPT at Bellagio but busted quickly. Other than that I've been golfing a fair bit, partying, and dropping some NBA Jam knowledge on the team. The big highlight of the trip was Randal (RandALLin), who was staying at chewy's with us, shipping the WPT for $831k! An epic day of sweating the final table and then celebrating occurred. There are various videos on the internet of Randal being interviewed where they show clips of us acting like jackasses in the stands cheering him on, and I'm sure at least some of our shenanigans are a lock to make the WPT broadcast when it airs (especially as we now have a man on the inside), in addition to Randal doing his Mike Sexton impression in the middle of a hand.

Tomorrow Tony, Dan, and I are leaving for the big trip I talked about in my last post. Obviously we are super pumped! In addition to the GTL sessions and partying that will obviously take place there are also 3-4 poker tournaments for us to play that should be really soft. On top of all that a bunch of the Aussie guys are now doing a big chunk of the trip with us as well which is even more awesome. I don't have a whole lot else to talk at you all about right now, but I'll be tweeting/blogging about the trip a bit. Holler if you're going to be in any of these places at the same time as us!


Monday, September 27, 2010


I've been on the mega-grind for WCOOP the last few weeks and I was able to make a little money at it. Pretty much all my results came a week ago Monday when I made three final tables: 6th in the Stars 50r for $3600, 1st in the WCOOP-43 2nd chance event a $200r PLO for $28k, and 3rd in WCOOP-45, the $265 Turbo Knockout NL event, for $50k. That was obviously a great day but I never quite got over the top the rest of the time. I had an 8th, several 9ths (one in the iPoker Sunday major), a 10th, and a few other final two table finishes that I couldn't turn into more. I bricked two 10Ks and the 5K main event, and while I'm too lazy to actually add up all the numbers right now I should have netted a profit in the low 5-figures area which is cool. I don't expect to play much online the next couple weeks with the exception of the next two Sundays for awesome GSOP stuff.

I have a huge trip coming up though! First, it will be down to Vegas for the Festa al Lago WPT event. I'll kick around there for a week after and then it's off to Asia with Tony and Truck Dan to plunder their loot and womens. First stop however is Hawaii. Then on to Hong Kong and Macau for the Pokerstars Macau Cup, and APT Macau. There is overlap between the APT Macau main event and our next stop: APPT Cebu in the Phillipines, so I may have to miss the latter. Then it's on to Manila for a few days and finally Seoul will be the last leg of our trip. I am super excited for this as I've been wanting to go to Asia for a while now but the timing has never worked out. I've heard amazing stories though, it's going to be one hell of a trip. Also, the poker tournaments should be incredibly soft.

GL to Timex,CutiePi314, and current top dog for WCOOP player of the series Andy McLeod in the WCOOP main today!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Best... Summer... Ever.

Strangely enough it was my worst financially. I basically got killed at tournaments. Then Tony was going to win the main event and make me $3 million or something but that fell through and he didn't even end up winning enough to get me even on the summer. On the plus side I did play a lot of golf, basketball, partying, and good restaurants. Living at chewy's house was awesome, there was basically always a couple other people looking to do the same type of stuff I wanted to do. The summer ended with two of my buddies from undergrad coming down to visit and throwing down one of the craziest weekends of all our lives.

So I came home and got back on the PLO grind and quickly won back the money I lost over the summer. I then proceeded to lose that and a whole bunch more. I really haven't been playing very much poker since then as it left a sour taste in my mouth. I should probably get back on the grind at smaller stakes but I'm very unmotivated right now. I'll likely play some light Sundays until WCOOP starts and hopefully WCOOP will motivate me to get on the MEGA-GRIND. If that doesn't work there's always the get rich quick scheme that is live poker tournaments, but unfortunately I have some real life stuff going on that's going to prevent me from traveling to Europe at all in the coming month for the craziness going on there. I'll just be chilling here in TO and playing WCOOP instead. There are very few big live events I'm interested in in the fall. I'm thinking one trip to the west coast but mostly waiting for PCA/Aussie awesomeness again in the new year for my next major trip.

In the mean time I'll just do whatever it is that I do with my life. Here is a picture detailing some of my goals:


Friday, June 11, 2010

World Series of Fail

9 events played, 0 cashes, -87k. It's not like this is some exceptionally bad losing streak but every summer the WSOP starts like this for me and it's starting to piss me off a little bit. Of the nine there's only been two tournaments where I even had any kind of stack, and I think only 3 where I ever reached twice starting stack. Anyways obviously I'll just keep at it and hope to bink something soon. I'm skipping the limit holdem event today and likely playing the 10k O8 tomorrow. I wasn't planning to play this event but there are just so many bad O8 players in the world I figure I must have an edge in a full ring tournament.

Other than that I've been golfing, running, going out a bit and losing crazy propbets to Ashton because hes an insane beast. He ran 14 miles home in 90 degrees after eating a pound of frozen yogurt, a huge meal of sushi, and playing 9 holes of golf before that on a super hot day. It took him only 2:33 as he'd hardly want to let something silly like puking 5 times prevent him from keeping a good pace. Living in chewy's house has been real fun and as you would expect there have been a lot of ridiculous stories already that aren't really fit to write about here. Tony has no shame though so a bunch of them are on his blog if you're interested in that sort of thing, though you probably already know that because his blog is a lot better than mine. GOLF TIME! Peace,


Monday, May 24, 2010

WSOP 2010

My return to Vegas for the WSOP is just 2 days away! This will be my 4th consecutive summer living in Vegas for the series (and of course Bellagio Cup) and 5th consecutive year playing the main event. It's kind of hard to believe I've been doing this for so long, but I'm still really enjoying it.

The plan this summer isn't really set in stone. I'm living at luckychewy's (Andrew) house with him, Tony (Bond), (King)Dan, Aaron (aejones), Ashton (TheAshman), and hopefully Dani (ansky) as well. Anyone who has met these guys or seen 2 month 2 million, the TV show from last summer, knows this a pretty elite crew of awesome dudes. All of them are of course well known for taking poker seriously and printing dollar bills, but around half of them are probably about as well known now for their exploits partying and chasing girls. In short, this summer is gonna be fun. That being said poker is still always first priority, but I'll be playing it by ear as to how many events I end up playing. I could see myself playing every event I possibly can, actually that's probably fairly likely, but I could also see myself skipping a few more events to play golf, watch the World Cup, and run around the desert in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. Don't worry mom it's a line from a movie.

That being said I've really had no luck at the World Series over the years and I'd very much like to improve my record there and make some final tables, money, and maybe some bracelets. I intend to focus more on non-holdem events again because I enjoy them more, though I will obviously be playing most of the bigger buyin NLHE events as well. As I mentioned last time I'll be starting with the $50K players championship. Nothing like starting the summer 50 grand in the hole =/. Whatever happens this summer it's definitely going to be stupid fun one way or another, I can't wait to get down there and get it started.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


Hello, people of the internet. I've been on the mega tournament grind for the last 9 days and it's been quite a ride. With the SCOOP going on Stars I've been playing incredibly long hours and $10-20k worth of buy-ins at least every day. I've cashed for somewhere in the general vicinity of $120k in that time, which sounds great until you consider my buy-ins add up to roughly that much as well. Today was my biggest score, $50k for 2nd place in the $500 mid SCOOP PLO 6-handed event. It was disappointing to lose heads up especially as I started with a decent chip lead but oh well. Last weekend I finished 3rd twice in the Friday night fight and Sudnay $50+rebuys for a combined $50k as well. I've had a few other close calls in SCOOP events but come up short finishing in the 13th-16th range.

Tomorrow is a huge Sunday with the $10K SCOOP main event as well as several other big SCOOP events on top of the usual Sunday stuff. Hopefully I'll win lots of gold. After SCOOP is over I'll probably be avoiding poker for the most part until the series other than trying to sharpen my mixed games a little. I'm planning to play the $50K 8-game mix championship. Hard to say if I'll have an edge or not but it sure sounds like a ton of fun! Besides, I just play for the glory.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Back on the High Stakes Grind

I haven't been playing a ton of poker lately, but when I have played it's mostly been high stakes PLO and some bigger mixed games. The big action has mostly been at 200/400 cap plo with the occasional deeper stacked game mixed in. I also have played some of the 7 and 8-game mixes when the lineup doesn't seem too bad for practice and because hopefully I might have a small edge. It's been a fairly strange run for me lately where I've been up and down a lot with the usual biggish swings but overall I've been doing well.

The strange part is according to the adjusted all-in EV column on Holdem Manager I've run between $200-300k above expectation in all-in pots over most of this run, and if I hadn't been I'd be losing a decent amount. This means that in pots in which I've been all-in, once my hand has been turned over and there's no more betting I've been a huge luckbox. This is just one way in which luck manifests itself in these games and I still feel like overall I've played pretty well. I've just been very unlucky in being on the wrong side of a lot of coolers (another kind of luck), but very lucky in drawing out of them. That's what it seems like to me anyways so I still feel good about my chances in these games in the long run, but it's something I'll have to keep an eye on.

The other day I was playing a big session and decided to take a chance and play some deeper stacks I had run up. I ended up playing what I believe are the two biggest cash pots of my life against cts: - I think it goes without saying this is a dream hand. - This one took a pretty serious chunk out of how much I was running above expectation in all-in pots.

I'm still not planning to play many tournaments before WPT Championship, a few FTOPS events, and SCOOP. Probably this Easter Sunday I'll play a proper tourney grind session, but otherwise most of my play will likely be biggish cash.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quick Update!

Let's see what I've been up to since I last posted here. After the $1K rebuy I got 3rd in the $10K PLO and 5th in the $10K Horse at Aussie Millions. They were both only ~25 player fields so the payout wasn't a whole lot but it did make for a very successful series overall. More importantly, it moved me into 9th place on the all-time Canadian tournament player money list:

9th Michael Watson $ 2,654,042
10th Mike McDonald $ 2,627,136

Eat it timex.

After the series ended Tony, Dan, Chewy and I partied for a bunch of days in Sydney then headed to Adelaide for the ANZPT event there. I went deep in that event but busted just short of the money. After that I went back to Melbourne and stayed at Tony and Jarred's place for another week. I mostly just grinded FTOPS and other online tourneys for the week, but I had no results to speak of. Finally, I left Australia last Tuesday and headed to LA for the LA Poker Classic.

Since arriving in LA I've busted the $5k prelim and $10k WPT main event. On Sunday I play the $25k high roller event. People who watch my PokerSavyy videos will have noticed that I haven't made any in a very long time. I've decided to stop making videos there altogether. I basically didn't really enjoy making them anymore and the money was never a big incentive compared to the stakes I play. I want to continue trying to balance poker with other things better, but I still have a lot of poker goals so the time I spend at poker I think is better spent just playing and working on my game.

The only other thing I have to write about is that I've been back on the high stakes PLO grind. As always it's been really swingy and I haven't played that many hands, but I'm currently on a decent upswing so that's happy.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

$1K+Rebuys TR

The next day after golfing was the $1K+rebuys NL event. In the rebuy period I splashed around a ton and managed to nail some some flops and get paid off to build a decent stack. I took the triple add-on even though I'm not entirely sure it's mathematically correct (I guess it probably depends on how big I think my edge is) so I was in for $5k. I kept winning a lot of pots and building my stack but there were two German players at my table who I could not beat all-in no matter what I had who took turns doubling through me. Eventually I got moved to another table and some stuff happened and I build my stack up a little out of the danger zone, likely through cardracking because that's mostly what I did this tournament. Then I got moved to another table and in quick succession started running good against the Germans there (a lot of the German guys came to Australia this year).

First I 3-bet an UTG raise from an aggressive German player with AKo. He 4-bets me and folds to my shove. Right after that I open KK and get 2 calls. He squeezes from the BB, I ship, and he calls JJ. I finally hold all-in against a German. Shortly after that I open QQ in the HJ, another German in the BB crams his 20BB with JTs and doesn't get there. Now I have a lot of chips. I kind of chip up more to close to 100K in chips but bleed off 20K or so to make the final table of 10 with 78k. That put me 3/10 but my friend James Obst has like 190k and Florian Langmann, a German Team Pokerstars pro who was at my first table doubling through me has ~120k. Last year's Aussie Million champion and all-around good bloke Stewart Scott was 4th in chips.

At the final table they were all lined up on my left. It was a nightmare seat draw. Florian, then James, then Stew. But I just cardracked so it didn't matter.

Hand 1: French player with Bwin patch on opens HJ. I flat button with AJo and one of the blinds calls. Flop AJx rainbow he c-bets, I call, blind folds. Turn J, he check/shoves KJ drawing dead.

Hand 2: I open 66 in the HJ, Florian calls, James calls button. Flop K64r, I bet 15.6k (1/2 pot) James calls. Turn A I bet 30k he calls. River 4 I bet 55k he tank/folds.

Hand 3: James minraises button to 8k with ~110K I call. Flop Qs9s6c c/c. Turn Tc I bet 12.6k he calls. River 2c I value bet 27.5k and get called by worse. I think this value bet was likely too thin and I was lucky to have the best hand and actually get called.

Hand 4: Florian open CO, James shoves button, I shove KK in BB and hold vs 22.

Hand 5: Florian opens button with like 100k at 3k/6k, I cram A4dd in the BB and beat AJo.

Hand 6: I'm heads up with Gary Benson, some people would recognize him as the guy who does all the Aussie cash for online money transfers. I have a huge chip lead HU and double him once with 89o against QJ. He's playing very passively so the plan is just to grind him down, but then I get it in pre with 88 against AJ instead for 20bb and win the flip to ship the tournament. First paid ~130k AUD.

Since then I've busted the main and the $5K HU event. I'm trying to decide between playing online tourneys today (UBOC is a $1k and 2x guarantee week on FTP) and the 10k PLO event. Leaning towards playing live again at the moment.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Part 2: United Strikes Back

OK picking up where we left off. I arrive in LAX on time and have to find my way across from terminal 2 to 6. Changing terminals in LA is pretty annoying as you have to go outside and cross streets and stuff but I eventually figured out where I was going. Unfortunately, I was flying United because they were quite significantly cheaper than the other airlines at the time I got around to booking. I learned my lesson about this two years ago and vowed never to fly United to Australia again, but like I said I figured the difference wasn't worth paying more than twice as much money. The main problem with United is that economy seats do not have their own entertainment system, there is just one TV at the front of each section of the cabin and you have to watch whatever they put on like it's the mid-90s or something. On a 14 hour flight or whatever this is extremely annoying. Luckily I knew to bring a book to read.

So we board the flight and as usual we are delayed taking off. Nothing out of the ordinary. Eventually the captain announces there is a problem fueling the plane and they are trying to fix it. The longer this goes on the more clear it begins to seem that they are not going to find a way to fix it. After about 3 hours or maybe more we have to disembark the plane and wait in line with a million other people for a hotel voucher. Our flight is rescheduled for 11am. I got to the hotel around 3 or 3:30 and slept for maybe 4 hours since I wanted to get a shuttle to the airport before everyone else on my flight got up. Upon arrival at the airport I learn the flight has now been delayed another 11 hours so I am officially a full day behind schedule after all. They offer hotel vouchers again but I decide to just stay at the airport and play online and watch sports, one of the advantages of being on pacific time is that evening games on the east coast start at 4. I proceeded to lose $50K playing 1k/2k 8-game and 200/400 cap PLO. I've billed United for this and threatened to sue, but either they didn't get my e-mail or they are calling my bluff.

Eventually it's time to board and everything goes smoothly this time. The flight sucks with them playing crappy movies that I try to force myself to watch. I fail, but luckily they put me to sleep for a little bit. No idea how much I actually slept but it wasn't heaps by any stretch. We eventually land in Sydney and I get to wait two hours there for my connection. At this point I obviously regret not paying the extra money for a direct flight on Qantas or some other reasonable airline. Anyways, the flight is uneventful and I arrive 11:30am, with plans to play the bounty event at 12:30 if I can.

Customs in Australia was hilarious. I forgot to declare sporting equipment (I brought my golf clubs) but they were super friendly about it and much more interested in talking about my playing poker for a living and telling me how awesome that is! Oh and you have to fill out this form for the money it'll only take a few minutes. In retrospect, I was lucky that I got female customs agents as they were clearly taken by my Canadian accent and natural charm (and the tick in the >10K currency box). Wearing the same clothes for two days and being jet-lagged as shit I no doubt had an irresistible glow (read: smell) about me. At first I thought it was just that Aussies are more chill and laid back in general, but in hindsight it was clearly my good looks and charisma that got me through customs with so little hassle.

I ended up making Tony 40 minutes late for the tournament so he could let me in to drop off my bags and get cleaned up, but that's about 37 minutes longer than he lasted in the last one he played so I figure I was doing him a favour. I eventually crossed the street to the casino and got the last seat in the bounty event. I could already tell I was destined to win it to make up for all the bad luck I had on the trip there. I was envisioning the smug, cocky look on my face as I would tell the story, "But then I shipped the bounty event for $150k, so I guess it was all worth it after all." I busted two hours later.

Basically all my friends busted around the same time though, so we started drinking, ate dinner, and then I passed out at 8 from the jet lag and alcohol combination. The next day I went golfing with Stevo and Chris on a glorious summer day in Melbourne, and couldn't help but think; "Well, I guess the trip was all worth it in the end".


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Toronto to Melbourne: Part 1

The itineary was long but pretty straightforward. Leave Toronto 5:45pm EST Jan 17, arrive LAX 8:15pm PST. Depart LAX 10:20pm, arrive Sydney 7:30am Aussie time Jan 19. Leave Sydney 9:40am arrive Melbourne 11:20am. No close connections, and I got to Toronto airport early at 4pm. What could go wrong?

The only possible issue was that due to a set of strange circumstances from last year I had more than 10K in AUD cash on me. Normally I avoid traveling with cash whenver possible (and carrying cash on my person at all for that matter) and just wire money ahead, but getting raped on exchanging the money into CAD or USD and then back into AUD is stupid when I can just carry the cash at no cost. For those of you who have never carried large amounts of cash across the border the whole thing is pretty easy. You tick the box to declare it on your customs card. They take you to secondary inspection and ask you some questions which you answer truthfully and you fill out some extra paperwork for the money. Maybe if you're unlucky they search your bags. The whole thing should never really take more than an extra 30 minutes worst case scenario.

So I stroll into US customs 90 minutes before my flight knowing even with all the silly new US flight regulations I have heaps of time. The first sign of something weird is when the customs agent sees I've ticked yes to the currency question, she asks if I've already declared it with Canadian customs. I'm confused by the question and answer that I have not since I'm starting my trip here. I proceed to the secondary inspection room and there are way more people than I've ever seen in there. I hand them my card then have to sit for 5 minutes before they call my name. I roll my bags up to the desk with a male agent this time and again the first thing they ask is if I have declared my money with Canadian customs already? Again confused, I reply that I have not. He informs me that I was supposed to file the paperwork with them before I got to US customs. I ask how recently this change in procedure was implemented. He informs me that it's always been that way.
It has not always been that way. It's *possible* that it was always technically supposed to have been enforced that way, but it certainly never has been in the past. After a couple more questions he passes me the standard US currency form and says he's going to call Canadian customs and explain the situation, try to get someone to come up from there. He informs me further that I will have to fill out the paperwork again in LA saying I'm taking the money out of the country this time. The absurdity of this rule is somewhat mind-blowing. He says I will have to find US customs in LA and fill out the paper work. First of all, I have no idea how to find US customs in LA. Would they even let me back there since I'm already legally in their fucking country? I'm certain that if I ask someone this in LA they will look at me like I'm retarded. Obviously the same thing applies to finding Canadian customs in Toronto like I was "supposed to". And what happens when driving across the border? Is this a flying-only regulation? It really doesn't make sense, maybe US and Canadian customs could just try communicating the information with each other instead?

I fill out the paperwork and he is able to get a Canadian agent to come with their paperwork. He informs me that technically Canadian customs is allowed to seize the money since I came to US customs first but that there shouldn't be a problem. He was actually very friendly the whole time and he and the agent next to him made a bunch of remarks about how ridiculous so many of the policies they have to follow are, but as they are merely "peons" they just follow the rules. The funniest part was when converting the AUD into USD he got a number greater than the number in AUD. Obviously he immediately recognized this could not be right, but after double checking regulations he just left it that way saying it's obviously wrong but that's how he was told to do it and what does he care really. It's fairly likely this was still his mistake actually but either way I got a good laugh out of it.

Two Canadian customs agents arrive, I fill out their paperwork and they want to see/count the money for some reason. They leave, the US guy does the quickest, least thorough "search of my bags" in history and waves me along finally. This whole procedure took quite a while however and I am in big time trouble and there is a decent chance I may miss my flight. Luckily there is basically no line at security. There is one guy in front of me and one guy who already went through and is having his carry-on checked. This proceeds to last several minutes though as I am sitting there enraged about the possibility of missing my flight. I know it will likely move back my itinerary an entire day if I do unless I can catch another flight to LA in the next hour or so, which may not even exist. I finally get through security with no hiccups and start running for my gate. I stop running about 5 seconds later when I see the secondary search point, now standard for any flight to the US since the events over the holidays, and the lengthy queue waiting there. I am so fucked. My flight is scheduled to takeoff in less than 15 minutes so boarding may be almost over already, and it will take at least that long to get through this line. I'm just praying my flight is delayed at this point, though this seems a very reasonable hope knowing Air Canada.

Salvation: A lady with a walkie-talkie calls my name. "Is there a Mr.Watson traveling to LA in this line?". I raise my hand and go to her and now I am in the front of the queue. Now they know I am here and won't leave without me. That was too close. In their thorough search at the security checkpoint they obviously find my cash (and would have even if I'd tried to hide it so don't bother). I tell them I've declared it. They ask for proof and I tell them that's not how it works, I don't have any. Your job is security for the flight not customs I already went through those and that's why I'm late you idiot (obviously I only actually said the that's why I'm late part). Though I can't blame them for wanting to be sure. Now I stand there another 5 minutes at least as someone runs to customs to double check on me. Fan-fucking-tastic. Also, they had the cash out in plain view for some of this. Clearly no one else in the line was on my flight at this point but show some fucking discretion buddy. I mean the airport is a pretty safe place obviously but seriously use some common sense.

Finally the runner comes back and confirms it's all good, the nice lady with the walkie-talkie points me to my gate and I run there even though they are clearly waiting for me and it's only like the 3rd gate down. I get on the plane, and everyone is already in their seats looking annoyed with me. OK maybe I imagined that part. But I made my flight, and due to favbourable winds we arrived on time in LA anyways. I was still going to be off to Australia that night. Or so I thought.

Check back soon for Part 2: United Strikes Back.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

PCA, Niagara and Stuff

Hey guys! If you've been following my tweets you'll know I was able to min-cash the main event at PCA for $15K. I also played the Half NLHE half PLO event and $1600 side event there but had no luck. Then I flew back to Toronto and drove down to play the $5k event at Niagara Falls instead of staying to play the either the $5k event or high roller event in the Bahamas. I felt really good about that decision when the field consisted of 155 players of which there were probably less than 10 I would consider good. For such a big buy-in it was great value but unfortunately I played a little sloppy and didn't catch many hands in the fast structure to bust early. I leave for the Aussie Millions on Sunday and I'm pumped to get down there to enjoy the weather and try to win some tournaments.

One interesting hand from PCA main on Day 2: I rarely pick up solid reads live but this was one case I should have trusted one.

I open 5h5 in the HJ and the BB, who is a middle aged guy who has shown he's capable of being spewy aggro, calls. The flop comes KT6hh and I check behind. I'd raised his blind several times and he'd always folded to my continuation bets, but he'd shown he's capable of checkraising with air and I felt like I might get played back at a lot this time. The turn is the 3h and he bets like half pot, I call. River 2s, He insta-shoves for like 1.5 times the pot. Whenever I'd seen him act so quickly before he'd always been bluffing, plus the overbet from this type of player can often be a bluff. I didn't end up feeling sure enough of my read at that point and folded, and he showed A9dd =/ I saw the tell once or twice more after that before he busted and it was rock solid, oh well.

I managed to run my stack back up after that hand and after we got in the money I got AA all-in against Jon Aguiar's A9 and lost. I don't think I've taken any other bad beats like that deepish in big live tourneys so I guess I was due for one, oh well. I actually never got out to the beach and water park once the entire trip. The weather was mostly bad though, there were only 1 or 2 days that were nice enough but I felt more in the mood to play poker anyways. Timex ended up winning the $1600 side event for ~$150K.

I played online the last couple nights but had no luck despite making several deep runs. If I keep going deep though I like my chances to hit a big score soon.