Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gulf Coast Trip Report

Last week has been one of the greatest weeks of my life. Amie and I decided it would be +ev for me to take a nice relaxing vacation before the WSOP, so we decided to visit my parents in Pensacola for a few days then to head to New Orleans for a few days. I guess I will just summarize everything by day.

Thanks for Amie for help with this, as my memory is awful and I would have a tough time recalling all the great times, as there were a lot of them. We landed in Pensacola on Tuesday. My parents picked us up from the airport and we went to eat at Shrimp Basket, one of my favorite places. My mom, dad and brother were met there by my Aunt Lisa and cousin Morgan. They had all you can eat boiled shrimp so I got that. They were a bit dry though, so I wasn�t too big of a fan. Amie had blackened shrimp and fish but I don�t think she liked it too much because it was really salty. Bad beat.

As a side note, my dad cooks great blackened fish. Sadly, we didn�t have a chance to get any. After we filled ourselves, we went back to my parents� house. Amie came up with the great idea to get my parents some Godiva truffles. I think they were a big hit. I also gave my Dad the Rolex I won from the $1000 rebuy tournament I won at Bellagio a while ago. I think he liked it. We ended up sleeping in my parents camper outside. I kinda like staying in the camper. It is like a mini house. On Wednesday, we ate breakfast with my mom, dad, and brother at Waffle House. I don�t much care for Waffle House but it was good that day.

After that, Amie and I went to Wal-Mart to get camping stuff. We planned on going to Fort Pickens, an old fort on Pensacola Beach, to camp for a day. We ended up with a tiiiny tent. It was kinda fun, as I couldn�t even stretch out in it. On the way to the camp ground, someone suggested we go by this pecan shop. They had basically every kind of nut you can think of covered in every topping you can think of. We bought some regular roasted/salted pecans, some sugar coated pecans, and some key lime pie pecans. They were good. We finally made it out to the campground and set up camp. We walked around the fort area for a while, which was a lot of fun.

We went to eat at Peg Leg Petes. We had an oyster sampler and other goodness. Afterwards, Amie wanted Ice Cream so we went to the boardwalk to get some. The lady in the shop acted confused when she asked for 2 scoops on a cone. It turns out their cones were tiny and one scoop would barely fit. Two was a balancing act. It turns out the ice cream girl actually broke the cone while trying to put them all on and Amie was left eating a scoop of ice cream out of her hand. It was quite funny. We already had bought smore stuff so we went back to the camp site and made a fire.

We had a few smores then fell asleep. On Thursday, my dad took the day off and we met him at the Naval Aviation Museum to watch the Blue Angels practice. We had to wake up early and pack our camp up, as we were staying at a hotel on the beach for the next two days. We figured one night of camping would be enough for us. Somehow our lines got crossed and the Blue Angels weren�t in town. We toured the museum, watched an IMAX film on the Hubble telescope, and then climbed to the top of the Pensacola light house.

After all of that, we ate at Golden Corral, which is the nuts. After that, Amie and I headed to the hotel. The weather was pretty hot but the beach was amazing. We walked along the beach and watched the sun set. After that, we ordered sickly overpriced room service and watched Lost from Tuesday. Sleep time after that. Friday was a big family day. We woke up and had breakfast on the beach.

My mom, dad, brother, aunt, Morgan, and my other cousin, Priscilla all headed to the beach. We rented a little sailboat and sailed around for a while. After that, we went to eat at Flounders. It was great. We went out swimming in the big waves on the beach. It was awesome to just be out there in the water. I hope the oil doesn�t mess it up. After that, my mom, dad, brother, myself, and Amie went to a wine festival/art gallery festival in downtown Pensacola. It was pretty fun. We had dinner at a little place downtown. I had a fish sandwich that was just ok but Amie had a fried green tomato BLT that she loved. We finished off the night by meeting my Aunt, a police officer, at one of her off duty jobs on the water.

We sat by the pier and talked a lot. It was a great day. Saturday was the day we left Pensacola. We had breakfast on the beach again. We also took one more swim in the Gulf. We returned all the stuff we borrowed from my parents and had a farewell red velvet cake my aunt bought. We drove from Pensacola to Biloxi and ate at Mary Mahoney�s. After that, we went to see David Copperfield. I love good magic shows. His is a good one. On Sunday, we woke up, had a couples massage, and then ate breakfast at the Beau Rivage caf�We then headed to New Orleans. We decided to stay at Ashton�s, an awesome bed and breakfast.

We asked our host, Patrick Ashton, what was going on in town. We decided to go to a little food/art festival called the Bayou Bugaloo. Amie and I ended up getting matching paintings by an artist from Pensacola. We had all kinds of food. My favorite was a great little dish of grits with shrimp poured on top. After that, we watched the Lost finale. Amie liked it. I didn�t much like it, although it is starting to settle better in my head. Monday we had a wonderful breakfast at Ashton�s. We had bananas foster waffles with sausages. We spend the day walking around the garden district, Magazine Street, which was supposed to have great shops but I didn�t much care for, and the French quarter.

We ate dinner at John Besh�s Restaurant August. The food was great but the portions were small. We headed to Caf�u Monde for dessert then slept. Tuesday was the day we had to say bye to each other for a while. Those days are always sad. We had breakfast at Ashton�s again. We had fruit salad with a cheesy cream pastry. After that, we had a crepe filled with egg and spinach topped with a great hollandaise sauce and crab. We went to the aquarium and then to eat at Drago�s.

They had some great grilled oysters. We headed to the airport, cried a bit because we were going to miss each other, then boarded out planes. All in all, this was one of the best weeks of my life. I hope there are many more in the future. The WSOP starts in a few days. I am going to the Rio to sign up for events later today. I feel like I am playing my A game. I just need to win some hands. I am going to try to take the next few days easy and get fully rested up for the next 2 months of solid work. Fun times ahead!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The last few weeks have been great. I have been staying with Amie in NYC and have had lots of fun. We are leaving tomorrow to go to Pensacola, then Biloxi, then New Orleans for a short little vacation. Ideally, it will get me nice and ready for the 2 month grind at the WSOP. I haven�t been able to play too much on Victory Poker lately.

I�m not too sure where my bankroll was at last time I posted, but it is at $10200 at the moment. It was up to $12000 but I had a nice little downswing on Sunday. Speaking of Sunday, I think I lost something like $17,000. There were lots of big mtts, including a $10,000, 2 $2,000�s, and a $1,000 on Stars.

Obviously I bricked them all. I fully plan on playing 0 hands of poker over the next week, so that should be nice and relaxing. Well, maybe not. I love playing poker, so I will probably end up missing it. For those that don�t know, I have a few tv shows I watch all the time. Survivor is one of them. I was pretty sad that even the �pros� at the game couldn�t put their hurt feelings aside and award Russell the win. I feel like I would probably play a fairly similar game as he did if I ever got on the show and I realize that clearly wouldn�t win you the game, as people like to think they are special and don�t like their feelings hurt.

If I was on the jury during this season, Russ would have gotten my vote for sure, mostly because I probably would have hated getting pwned by him. I sure wouldn�t have given the win to the person that did nothing. Anyways, the game that must be played is one where you wreck everyone without ever letting anyone know you are wrecking them. Sort of a Parvati/Sandra mix. It would be tough to pull off, but it is probably doable.

Lost is ending soon. That makes me sad and happy at the same time. I initially loved the show but now, I am just ready for it to be over with. Hopefully they end it well. I am looking forward to the WSOP. I hope I don�t get burnt out. There are a few weekends where I could get away if necessary. I also fully plan on going hiking every few days in the mountains, which should help. What I don�t want to do is grind poker for 2 months straight, like I have done the last 4 years. I have finally learned that happiness is what is important.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sunglasses at the Table

There has been a lot of talk about sunglasses over the last week or two since a lot of the people playing High Stakes Poker brought up the topic. I will be the first one to tell you that I think sun glasses are good for the game and if banned, just might push poker back in the dead age of the 1980�s.

The first and main reason sunglasses are good for poker is because it gives new players confidence to hop into games they normally wouldn't play. Being stared down by Phil Ivey is tough even with glasses. If they told me I couldn't wear glasses, I simply wouldn't play with him. If you check out most major tournaments, most of the weaker players will be wearing sun glasses. If you ban sun glasses, I bet half of those poker players simply would not play because it would make the game unenjoyable. If you take half of the weak players out of major tournaments, especially in the hurting American poker tournaments, you would be left with a bunch of pros paying the rake.

In addition to boosting confidence, sunglasses help players reduce their tells. Some players like to think poker is a game about staring down people, getting a read on them, then going with it. Some people think poker is about math and using logic to figure out what is going on. The math guys tend to prefer sunglasses because they don't rely on tells, as they don't find them as useful as common sense. The feel guys want to cry about sunglasses because they know it cuts down on their edge. I like to think of myself as a mix of both players. Having common sense though, I choose to wear sunglasses in every major tournament I play.

If you give me a weapon that will cut my opponents edge in half, I will use it. It really is as simple as that. Most online players that have moved to live poker wear sunglasses because they realize not wearing the glasses can only be -EV. I like making +EV decisions, so I wear them. Not giving off tells to the guys that have no clue how math applies to poker makes me happy. Simply because the feel players realize their edge is diminishing is not a reason to give them what they want. Maybe they will be forced to become better players.

Sunglasses also help you observe a player without them knowing it. When you are playing poker, you should rarely be looking at the person who is thinking about making a big call on the river, which is where most people look. You actually need to be looking at the guy that made the big bet. One sure sign of a good player is they will be looking at the bettor. If you are a weaker player, or even a good one, you don't want to let the bettor know you are trying to pick up tells. You don�t want them to know you are constantly gathering info about their tells. If you are forced to start right at them though, they will realize this, and then do things to throw you off.

A lot of players, especially older players, complain about sunglasses hurting their eyes because they are so dark. Thankfully in the world we live in today, sunglasses don�t have to be dark. You can pick up a great pair of basically 100% see through glasses from They are pretty inexpensive and work very well.

Another major gripe I have with banning glasses is where do you draw the line? Next year are you going to be banning iPods? Maybe the next year, you won't be able to order drinks at the table because they get spilt from time to time. Maybe you will be forced to wear a suit and a tie to make the game feel more formal and reputable. Taking away the players� right to do something is rarely a good thing as the powers that make the rules rarely know when to stop.

The idea of cheating with sunglasses has also been brought up. Honestly, if someone is dumb enough to use invisible ink to mark cards that can only be seen while wearing sunglasses in a casino, there the penalty is jail time, they have pretty big issues. If you think someone is cheating with their glasses, ask them to try them on and see if you see marks on the cards. As far as I know, I have only been cheated in a poker game once, and that was in a private home game. Cheating simply does not go on in high stake poker games because the penalty for getting caught is much too high.

The last thought about sunglasses is that they are bad for tv. I think this simply isn�t true. Weak players play in televised events because they have a chance to do well. If weak players stop making final tables because they have huge eye tells, that will diminish the concept that anyone can win a major tournament. If you want the general public to watch and play poker tournaments, you have to let the general public make the final table.

That�s all the things I can come up with off the top of my head. If you guys have comments or suggestions, feel free to let me know.