The Week of the $25k

Tough blog to write as I’m a bit bummed right now. I left Shelley today, the woman that I’ve spent more time with than any other in my life, and it’s not fun.

The week was good otherwise. Did a bunch of pokerroad shows, played some poker taking 3rd in the 100r on Wednesday for 17k, winning a few bucks today playing 10-20 at the Bellagio, and showing a profit in the cash games and sit-n-goes online on Ultimate Bet. I went 3-4 in $50+5 sng’s on Wednesday :).

Venetian $2500 tomorrow, day two or online Sunday, Caesars WSOP-C $5k on Monday or Tuesday, then done pretty much until the series.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Montreal and Back to Vegas

So I played Friday, pretty much was in cruise control all day and ended with just shy of 50k, slightly before average. No problem. Along the course of the day I met two dudes who I knew from the online realm, Anthony and Jay, and they were solo also, so we formed a trio. Anthony had a car, had intended to head home to New York after play and came with nothing, but due to circumstances beyond his control needed to stay in Canada for the duration of the tournament. I had a floor he could sleep on. We headed back across the Mercier bridge, in way worse condition than it’s poker playing counterpart, and went adventuring that night. We heard that Crescent street was the place to be, we went there, and had a good time.

Next day was a day off. We slept late, woke and headed to Tim Hortons, and then began shopping since Anthony had nothing. We ended up at this sweet mall on Rue Ste Catherine that was a crazy big five floor mall that was dug into the ground. Levels 3 and lower were below ground level. It was a pretty cool place and the whole afternoon of experiencing the town was quite enjoyable. It’s by far the most European town I’ve experienced in mainland North America, slightly behind the towns in St. Maarten, however I suppose as far as actual cities that’s the most non-American culture I’ve experienced yet. I liked it.

After shopping we headed back to the room and played Chinese for a while, with a deck of cards from China which was given to my friend who just returned from a missions trip there, and the game started innocently enough for $1/point but ended aggressively at $15/point. We’re such degens. After that Jay wanted to play some cards and Anthony and I decided to have a nice civilized evening. We went to dinner at Moieshe or something like that, pronounced moy-SHEE, and it was an awesome steakhouse. We then decided to head back to Crescent Street to find a nice quiet pub to chill out in.

We found it at Ziggy’s pub. We were having a nice quiet evening until a short old man started pouring car bombs. I asked him to make two extra. That’s when things went wrong. An Irish Car Bomb is two thirds of a pint of Guiness that you drop a shot glass with half Jameson and half Bailey’s in it into the Guiness and then chug. It hits you like an Irish car bomb. Somewhere along the line Harris and his girlfriend Cam showed up, who we met the night before playing Ninja or Pirate, a game where you walk around the bar asking people the question, “My friend and I are gambling on your answer to this question: Ninja or Pirate?” And you gamble on it. And the loser picks the next horse, winner gets choice, and loser asks. So you get to talk to people, gamble, and it’s a ton of fun. It was an interesting discussion coming up with other questions that could work as a replacement, and it’s pretty tough to do. Try it sometime, it’s a great one. Glass got broken, my brother runs a bar so I decided to be the guy to clean it up, and by the time the night was over I was a pseudo bar back, keeping the front of the joint sharp and free from glass shards, walking behind the bar to dump broken glass and opening employee only doors to replace brooms and dustpans. It was a good ol time, everybody spoke English, and I finally realized this was significant and inquired. Turns out that there’s a donut hole in the middle of Montreal that is English speaking, thus why it was Crescent Street instead of Rue Crescent and everybody at the bars spoke English. But they were all native and most were born and raised there. Very fascinating culture and city.

The following day was day 2/final day of the tourney. I felt pretty good about my chances, maintained my stack til the last hand of the 2nd level and received a punt with KK when the action went open to 5200, call, I re-raise to 14,800 with 30k behind, folds to the initial raiser who folds, and the flatter calls. Flop K9xr, he jams, I snap obv and hold over 89s. Nothing worked after that and I busto’d in a blaze of glory where in about 15 hands UTG jammed 16bbs and I called with 99 on the button and lost to AA, got it in vs. Hollywood Dave for 12bbs with my JJ to his AA, next hand get KK, jam 8bbs and everybody folds, next hand jam over an open with QQ get called by AJ and hold, and a few hands later jam over an open with AK and lose to QQ. Oh well. Busto like 35th, 25 paid.

That afternoon I spent some time on a walk through the campus of McGill college and it was awesome. Came back to the Omni to meet Hollywood Dave and go on an adventure, picked up this dude Tim to join us in the lobby bar, and then went food/alcohol hopping around downtown, having apps and beer at one place, pizza and beer at another, and then finally a meal at the last place chased with more beer. We were the village idiots that night and had a good time.

Monday I headed home through Toronto, and somehow I managed to get myself searched going each direction this time. I really need to start saying that I’m a teacher on holiday instead of a poker player with cash.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Montreal, eh? Oui.

Well that HORSEament took f’n forever. I busted somewhere around 3am, 21 hours of play, fourth. Five handed, Chris Tryba was the chip leader and busted 5th. Four handed I was the chip leader and busted fourth. Three handed Hollywood Dan was chip leader and took third. Live poker is so rigged. Hardest I’ve ever had to work for a $2k score. It took us longer to get the black chips out of play than it did for me to win Rincon. It’s good practice and all, but a $300 tourney doesn’t need to take 3 days. You should be in the money by the end of day one.

I slept good and hard afterwards. HORSE is so much more mentally exhausting that any other game imo. Even more so than 8-game. A higher percentage of the games have a lot of information to process (ie stud games) and to play them well you have to process this information. I’m more of a Commodore 64 than a Pentium so these things hurt my head after 21 hours. I slept til 4:30pm Wednesday, woke up feeling great, had a bowl of Frosted Flakes, and then went upstairs to my grinding station.

I didn’t bust a tourney until like 8pm which is great, and ended up cashing in the teens in the UB $1k and the FTP 100r 6 max. Both disappointing but enough to make the day a winner, and I feel good about getting deep consistently lately.

I then headed to Wal-Mart and had a celebratory dinner at McDonald’s. For here, please. Walked around the store with my orange soda and bought some new carry-on luggage. I figure the most expensive bag has to be like a Tumi, right? Went home, finished laundry, and packed for Montreal.

Usually when I leave Vegas by airplane I’m tired and everybody else is broke and hungover. One time on a flight this dude passed out, the flight attendant asked for a doctor, then asked again, saying, “I know there’s a doctor on this flight I have the manifest.” The dude that passed out was the doctor. The Sunday night flights to LA are amazing, bunch of tore up hookers and strippers going back to college. This one however, was the most excited group of people ever for a 4 hour flight out of Las Vegas. And they all spoke French. All of them. Quickly before the plane left I downloaded a French reference teaching book thing onto my Kindle. I was overwhelmed, suck at the phonetics, and my foreign language mind has been set to Spanish for a dozen years. That and the languages are similar enough that when I try to speak French a Spanish accent comes out of this gringo.

The French have always intrigued me, ever since my first time being immersed in their culture in St. Martin in 2008. I have always loved the Canadians. And they’re both here. My first twelve hours in this city have been awesome, except for the cab driver dropping me off at the wrong hotel. I even asked him again, you sure this is the Omni? I mean c’mon, I celebrated the Canadian’s victory with you, even though I couldn’t understand the French commentary on the radio.

Anyways, I’m here to do battle at the Poker Pro Canadian Classic or something like that. It’s a $1590 buy-in with 3 day ones that you can rebuy into if you busto one of the days. Today’s day 1b so I’m gonna give it a shot today and tomorrow.

Oh yeah, my room comes with a bidet and a douche bag. Check out my vlog.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Pet-a-Palooza, Holyfield, Sunday, and HORSE

Saturday I got ready and fired up for Pet-a-Palooza, an outdoor music festival that you can bring your dog to. Or iguana, snake, and one brave pet owner brought their cat. Five for Fighting said, “You can be our bodyguard anytime.” I unfortunately couldn’t wander around barefoot at this festival. I made it in time to get food, find the only beer tent in the joint, and catch the start of Chris Allen. I had no idea who this guy was but really dug his first tune. It was him and some other dude just on acoustic guitars. Then he talked between songs. Lots of name dropping, very much a vibe of check out how cool I am. It made me like him less. I’m like, shut up and keep playing your awesome music.

After that came the hairest dog contest. A poodle won, which just shouldn’t be allowed. The dumb dogs don’t do anything but win dog contests. Then on came an acoustic version of Five for Fighting, the dude (John Ondrasik?) on piano and lead, a percussionist playing a cajon, and the bassist. They were good.

Bare Naked Ladies were the headlining act, and right before they came on stage several of the 94.1 radio people came up with STACKS of extra Holyfield tickets for that night. Seriously? I mean they had like hundreds. Gave them away. Shelley and I nabbed two and had plans for the night. BNL kicked all kinds of ass, I’ve always kinda liked their music, but they were phenomenal live and I really enjoyed their show.

We went home, cleaned up, and headed to the Thomas and Mack Center for the Holyfield fight. It was really weird. Nobody cared. Nobody was there. There were like 25 empty seats directly in front of me, seriously nobody for five rows, and our seats were decent, $75 face value. It was a title fight for some non-important boxing organization, but was still a pay-per-view event. Place was at like 20% capacity. We had fun, went home, had a George Clooney marathon watching Into the Air or whatever that he travels all the time movie is and The Men Who Stare at Goats. Both were excellent, the first got me thinking a bunch and the second made me laugh a bunch, plus I knew enough of the back story from listening to Coast to Coast to make it pretty relevant to me.

Sunday was online. Meh. I was one tabling early without a cash, ran that into a min-cash +1 and losing with AK to A5. Bad day but coulda been a zero cash day.

Monday I played the 4pm $350 HORSE at the Venetian. It’s the best structured $300 buy in event I have ever played. Too much so. 96 entered, started at 4pm, played hour levels with 15 minute breaks and a 40 minute dinner break, 8k starting stack, and after completing day 1 at 2am there are 29 players left, average stack about 25k, we’re playing 1k-2k now, finally things might start moving. I mean, a tournament with a first prize of less than 8k shouldn’t take 20 hours to complete. But hey, good for them, it just kills both my and the dealers’ hourly. I’m pretty sure I’m the chip leader, I have almost 83k, good for 10% of the chips in play.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

River Adventures and Springtime in Vegas

The following day we woke up and hung out at the house for a bit.

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Jay picked up this piece of (single wide 1970′s model trailer) property for $5k and has to pay $500 a month to lease the land. Then we got in this boat and went to the same bar for breakfast.

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After that much of the day was spent floating down the river drinking beer, turning on the motor to drive back up river, getting to the Parker Dam, telling dumb jokes like, “What’d the fish say when he ran into a wall? Dam! Hahahahahahaha.” Turn off the motor, crack another beer, float. It was in the mid 70′s and white boys were getting their first tans of the season. Life was good.

Back to the bar to eat, etc, eventually make it back, put the boat on the trailer, and go to sleep. After the first night I learned that it might be more optimal to have my own living accommodations. This hippie came prepared. I hid myself between the air conditioner and swamp cooler on the side lot, invisible to drunken shenanigan makers.

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I hid from the sun in the corner of my tent until I couldn’t anymore, sometime around 8:30 or so. I can do mornings when I’m waking up in a tent. Happy after a good night’s sleep I was ready for another day of… the same thing. Mr Liver was pretty pissed at this point, but we rallied for one more day.

The following day Jared tried really hard to get out of work, I protested and said I’m going to play online on the porch if we stay, he didn’t care and I don’t blame him, but he couldn’t get the day off work anyways. We had a great drive back across the desert, the first bloom fully maturing, whites of wildflowers and reds of Indian Paintbrush and purples of the Barrel Cacti in blossom as far as the eye can see. It’s truly a magical time in the desert, I’m going to have to make sure and spend some time outside in the next few weeks.

Friday I played the Venetian $300+50 NLHE event. I punted in glorious fashion, one I haven’t pulled off in a while (because it usually works obviously :). Folds to the small blind who limps, I raise to 1125 at 200-400/25, he makes it 3k, I don’t believe him and shove for like 16k total with the eight-five of spades, he thinks, he asks for a count, he’s folding, he thinks a bit more, he says ok I call and turns over kings. Ya got me nice call.

Went and met Billy Kopp who was with Carter King and Alan Keating at Applebees, which lead to a spontaneous trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame which is amazing, which lead to Half Shell, which lead to a few beers before we have to go to a movie, which lead to me leaving them all there at 2am.

Pet-A-Palooza tomorrow, outdoor concert with Five for Fighting and Barenaked Ladies that you can bring your dog to. Seven bucks.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Back to Church and the River

I knew we had a good night the night before when I wandered back into Half Shell Saturday night after picking up my car and everybody was pissed. “Oh, it’s the guy who decided to win something and order Jaeger last night. **** you.” Hahaha. I have vague memories of hanging on the roof behind the bar with Billy Kopp and some other knuckleheads being idiots. I’m a big believer in celebration, and it’s been a while since I’ve had something worth celebrating poker wise. I’m now pretty fired up to play and have a completely refreshed mental state after cashing for over $170k this month after a quarter million downswing over almost two years.

Sunday morning we woke up early to meet Gavin at his church The Crossing. Of all the influences in my life, I never expected the one that gets me back inside a church first would be ol G Smith. But I loved the church, it’s the perfect size imo, not too big that you feel lost, not so small that there’s no energy. Gavin introduced me to his friend Paul who I immediately recognized as a pro also, and I think it’d be really cool if we could generate a community of professionals who are Christian and I think building a group under the roof of a church is a brilliant idea. Pretty excited to go back and talk to people on a non-crazy day.

Sunday afternoon I played online alllll day, had several small cashes and a final table min-cash. Sundays are so exhausting. I honestly feel like showering after a long Sunday more than after camping. Which is what I left to do on Monday.

After waking up I hopped in the car (quickly too because it was windy and raining) and started driving south with the river near Parker, AZ being my destination. Crappy conditions to start a river trip in. Generally my uniform for these trips is one pair of boardshorts and two t-shirts. It was an awesome drive across the desert. The further I got out of Vegas, the more the clouds were breaking. It’s April and the red rocks turn green with vegetation announcing the first bloom of the desert, white wildflowers on a three week pilgrimage in the wind. The sun was barely breaking through as I descended toward the dry lake bed and Searchlight and I just enjoyed the hell out of that drive.

I made it to Echo Lodge RV/Mobile Home Park 11 miles north of Parker on the California side about 4:15pm. We’re in a single wide that my buddy picked up for five dimes and inheriting the lease, $500 a month. It’s pretty awesome. Court would fit right in here. I changed into boardies but left my shirt and hoodie on and walked over toward the beach to meet the fellas on the boat and join the party. They picked me up and we went downriver to Fox’s, a bar on a dock in the river. Pull up your boat, tie it up, have cocktails. There’s $1 bills written on by people going back tens of years all over everything. Jared and I have one up there somewhere from Labor Day 2003, the last time we were there. This time we put up another that just says, “J-Rod, Devo, AGAIN.” Commence the shit show, somebody had the idea to order Jaeger Bombs, and toward sunset it was time to leave and go to another bar. On the water. Called Roadrunners. They had tacos. It was fantastic. I met a guy named Crazy Snyder who told me the most legit Vietnam stories that I have ever heard. The boat was leaving, I just needed to get in the boat, but I made them wait so he could finish talking. It was well worth it.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Poker in Vegas and Chicago at the Hilton

Friday afternoon I found myself playing a $300+50 Venetian event as part of their second Deep Stack Extravaganza this year. I had zero desire to be around the Bellagio and their cluster fuck of a Five Diamond schedule. 18 $1k rebuys was just the worst idea ever. 21 people showed up for the first one. 31 total rebuys. It lasted two days, three guys making the money then coming back the next day to play it out.

So they realized their mistake, abruptly changed their schedule, and added a few levels to their structures. If they had listened to us in December, or perhaps responded to the petition in January in some way other than saying no and releasing a July schedule identical to the one we’re complaining about, then we wouldn’t have this problem. Now they want us back. It’s too damn late. The Venetian has been running these things for a few years now, listened to their customers, and things are pretty damn close to perfect now. Hot coffee that’s self serve. Almost every level and 40 min levels for a $300. They eliminated an early level because they realized that really deep stacks aren’t good actually and make for really short stacks when things are important. They run satellites effectively. They’ll bend over backwards to help you start any cash game you want. They care about their customers, will shake your hand and smile, and will put your name on the list if you call ahead instead of moving you up for a $20 bill.

At the Bellagio we tried to start a $20-40 twelve game once and it was like pulling teeth, and we couldn’t play every game we wanted to. The Bellagio has been in this business longer than anybody else in Vegas and effectively sabotaged what was once the best tournament series of the spring in the world. I’ve never been a fan of the Bellagio and it’s $8 hot dogs and 10 handed tables and general attitude they’ve carried, but have always had to play there because you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. I don’t have to anymore. I feel like my equity in a $300+50 with 330 runners and a $1k rebuy with 52k in the prize pool are getting pretty close to the same. So kiss my ass Bellagio, see ya for the Cup main event in July since it’s not a $10k cubed anymore, and if your shit is together by October I’ll see ya then.

So I’m crushing this $300 event. The skill gap between these things and the players in a 100 rebuy online is insanely wide. I was close to the chip lead, and then these things happened. Folds to the small blind who limps, I look at his stack it’s 15bb’s, I intend on jamming anything, find AQs, jam, and he beats me to the pot with T9ss. Heh, I just learned something. T9ss is 54% v any two, I thought it was a dog. So anyways, I got trapped but actually had something, and I lost that hand. Then I get a text message from Gavin: “I have 2 extra tics to Chicago at the hilton tonight, old scool rock! :)” I like that he’ll go out of his way capitalize the C but not the H. I still have a ton of chips so don’t intend on punting, and then this hand happens.

Cutoff opens. I’m on the button with KQo and just flat due to awkward stack sizes all around, and then the big blind shoves for 22 bbs and I reaaaaaalllly don’t think he’s got it. People don’t screw around in these spots as often live though so I usually let it go in this spot for half my stack when I have a pile in a soft tournament. But after the cutoff folds I snap call with this speech, “I’ve got tickets to Chicago, I call,” because going with a read is much easier when you have an excuse. He rolls over the QJdd, makes a flush, and I’m left with 15bbs. Get it in a bit later as a flip, and thank God I lose, because grinding a 20bb stack to like 9:30 and not cashing would have put me on the suicide watch.

Jessica Wellman who’s gonna be my date contest, narrowly beating out Scott Seiver and Pam Brunson. We all met at the Hilton around 7:45, watched the show, laughed at the Tromboner, and kinda just took in the crowd dominated by a generation our elder. Things are definitely done differently. But we’re next in line and our kids are going to do things differently too, and they’ll probably make fun of my button snaps or something.

We headed up to Half Shell afterwards for a might as well celebrate in Vegas with my brother celebration, I bought a lot of rounds for the bar, and caught a cab home around 4am.

Peace and good luck,

Devo