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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Time Has Come
Well, we are safely arrived in Santa Monica, and have been here exactly two weeks since yesterday. Moving was kinda tough -- driving a moving truck over the Rockies was particularly scary -- but we're here, and hopefully this willl be our last cross-country move. I will be consulting for my former company for the next several months, then . . . who knows. I'm tempted to write about how fun it is being back in California, how big L.A. seems compared to anywhere I've ever lived before, how psyched I am to get back into surfing . . . but none of that has anything to do with poker.

So I feel the time has come for me to announce that this blog is on indefinite hiatus. My poker playing had been on hiatus for a while now, partly due to the financial stress of our move, but also partly because poker is just not as big a part of my life as it was in the first two years of this blog.

I'm certainly not giving up poker. I love the game and plan to play regularly for the rest of my life. I'll just no longer be posting about it on a frequent basis.

Nor am I going to take down this blog. For one thing, I still get a kick out of going through the archives and reading my more naive 2004 self. But I also think I'll be posting here now and then -- B and I still plan to visit Las Vegas regularly, especially now that we're so much closer to it, and sooner or later we'll be hitting the Commerce Casino and the other L.A. card rooms. I always felt my trip reports were my best posts, so I'll still write a few of those a year. Maybe with the wonders of RSS, some of you might actually read them.

The poker blogosphere is a wonderful thing -- I'm happy to have been a small part of it, and grateful to the founding bloggers who commented and encouraged me in my first nervous weeks. While I won't be posting much, I'll remain an avid reader, so keep the quality posts coming!

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Loadin' Up the Wagon
As I type up this post, the laptop is one of the few things in our apartment that is not in a box. We go get the rental moving truck tomorrow, spend the day loading it up, and then we leave for Santa Monica on Wednesday. We will arrive on Saturday, get all moved in Sunday, and then we plan to spend Labor Day at the beach!

Our last few weeks in Minneapolis have been really hectic. Two weekends ago I was in Indianapolis for work (GenCon), then last weekend I was in Montreal for a friend's wedding, then this last week at work was exhausting, as I tried to get several projects at work finished, squeeze in a couple fantasy football drafts, attend a very nice farewell barbeque, and box up everything we own.

So poker has been on the back burner.

But as Mrs. Cheap Thrills and I keep reminding ourselves, we're hoping that this will be our last big, cross-country move. We're gonna settle down to be fun-loving Californians, complete with regular visits to Vegas and those crazy L.A. card rooms.

OK, back to the boxes . . .

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Texas Hold'em Gumball Machine
Saw this in the window of a candy store at the Mall of America today:



I love that is says "Let It Ride" at the base.

Mrs. Cheap Thrills found us an apartment in Santa Monica this weekend. We head out on August 29th. . . .

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Perfect Poker Gift
We've all seen the poker-related junk that retailers have been hawking for the past 2 years. The most recent example to really make me take notice is a store at the Rosedale Mall called the World Poker Store (it's like a subliminal rhyme). It's filled with poker tables, poker chip sets, poker books and CDs, poker clothing, etc. And it's always empty. It almost makes me feel guilty -- like maybe, as someone who loves poker, I should be supporting my local poker-related businesses. But I already have a poker table, three poker chip sets, plenty of decks of cards (including Kem cards), a poker gremlin, a Scotty Nguyen bobblehead, Tommy Angelo's CD of poker songs, and a rather large library of poker books. What else could I possibly need?

I mention this because recently my buddy Campbool got married, and one of his good friends gave him the perfect poker gift: a stake.

Just a little background here: Campbool actually met his bride-to-be at the poker night we used to host back in Providence. Yes, I can proudly say that they met over my poker table. And at the wedding they even had a few poker-y touches, such as decks of cards and chocolate poker chips in the out-of-town gift bags. For their honeymoon, they went to Vegas, and at Campbool's bachelor party, they sure as hell played some poker.

Campbool being in New England and me being in Minneapolis, I missed the bachelor party, but I heard about. Campbool's good friend Sue (he is actually male, yes it is kinda like the Johnny Cash song) has been very into online poker for the last several years -- he makes more from online poker than I do from my regular job (although that's not saying all that much, heh heh). Anyway, for a wedding present Sue gave Campbool $400, with some stipulations. Campbool was only allowed to use the money to buy into a live WSOP satellite in Vegas, or to play $10/$20 limit Hold'em. If he won anything, he had to use the first $100 winning to buy his new wife a gift. Beyond $100, Campbool had to split his winnings with Sue.

So cool.

The way their honeymoon plans worked out, a WSOP satellite wasn't really an option, so Campbool looked for a $10/$20 game. This was a fairly big deal for him, since he'd only played live casino poker a few times before (one of those occasions was $3/$6 at the Mirage last October with me).

So how did it turn out? Well, Campbool stayed at the Bellagio, and it ended up being a lot harder to find a $10/$20 game (or an $8/$16 game, as the Bellagio spreads), than it would have been to find a lower-stakes game. So he headed over the my favorite poker room in Vegas, the one at the Mirage. He actually sat down with $560 rather than just $400, cause like me he likes to have more than 25 big bets in a live game.

And then he went up $350! Freaking cool. He said that many of the people at his table were there for the WSOP -- having won satellites online, or come to Vegas that weekend specifically to play in a $1500 event or just to watch -- and we speculated that the WSOP is a good weekend for cash-game poker, just cause you have a lower proportion of regular grinders and a higher propertion of poker-playing tourists, whatever their skill level.

Campbool of course did not sustain the insane win rate he set the first day, and ended the honeymoon up $170 after some serious swings. To my mind, that he rose out those swings for a win, having fun the whole time at stakes he wasn't used to, is the coolest part of the whole thing. As per Sue's terms, Campbool's lovely bride went shopping with the first hundred, $100, and Campbool now owes Sue $35.

The $170 is great, but I gotta think the experience is more valuable. Now Campbool's got the confidence of having won at a higher limit than he might have ever played at otherwise. That's what all the guys in Vegas do, right? Well, at least the impression that I get is that between a lot of the regulars it is "Dude, you're smart but broke, here's some cash, go make me and you some money and then remember that you owe me a favor." Well, Sue gave a gift instead, and I can't think of a better one for a poker player.

OK, so now everyone knows what to get me this Christmas, right? :-)

(1) comments

The Dread of Running Short
When I play online, I always sit down with 23 big bets. There's no tipping or drinks to buy, and more cash is just a couple clicks away. But live play is different.

When Mrs. Cheap Thrills and I go the Canterbury, she usually plays $2/$4 and sits down with $100 -- that's 25 big bets. I usually play $3/$6 and sit down with $200 -- that's 33 big bets, and she's made fun of me for it in the past, but the truth is I like to have even more on hand. Leave it to Tommy Angelo to explain this feeling better than I ever could.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

California Here We Come
So the big news that I alluded to in my last post is that we are moving to Los Angeles at the end of August. Mrs. Cheap Thrills has been offered a really great job in Santa Monica, and she's gonna fly out there in a couple weeks to find us a place to live.

I know many people have mixed feelings about L.A., and yeah, traffic and smog are not fun, but B and I are incredibly thrilled to be moving back to California. A quick recap of our moving around the country:

-B's from NYC, I'm from Philly. We met in college in upstate NY.
-In summer 1997, one year outta college, B gets a good job in San Diego and we move out there for 3 very fun years.
-In summer 2000, we move back east to Providence, RI, so that B can get her PhD.
-In summer 2005, B graduates and gets a job in Minneapolis, so we move again.

And here I am following her again. What can I say, she's worth it.

We are kinda bummed to be leaving Minneapolis so soon. We never really thought we'd be here permanently, but we thought it'd be 2 or 3 years at least. And Minneapolis is really fantastic city (with a helluva poker room). I can honestly say that I could live here for the rest of my life and be quite happy, and I can't say that about a lot of cities. I also would've liked to stay at my current job a while longer. Working on board games is fun.

But moving back to California is basically a dream come true. We didn't realize just how much we loved the ocean, the sun, the palm trees, and California's unique culture until we left San Diego. I can't wait to surf again.

And we will be less than a 4-hour drive to Vegas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For the next few weeks, however, poker is going on to the back burner. We've got all the financial headaches of a cross-country move, coupled with my impending unemployment. I'm pretty much scared money right now. It feels a lot like last summer!

Oh well, I'll still be able to watch High Stakes Poker, read about the WSOP, and all that. And as soon as I'm bringing home a steady paycheck again, B and I are gonna make that drive across the desert to celebrate.

Plus, in my last post I talked about how my game was in a rut. Well, there's no cure for stasis like a really huge change, right?

(4) comments
Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stasis
I'm on a temporary break from poker, both online and live. It's a rough time of year to do this, because all the WSOP coverage on the Internet makes me want to play. A lot.

But the truth is that I have been treading water for about 6 months. No incredibly bad losing streak, no variance kicking me in the junk I've just been playing mediocre, break-even poker for a long while now. I hate to use the term break-even, because losing players always say they're breaking even, but my online bankroll really has been fluctuating around the same point, plus or minus about $100, for most of this year. If stasis = death in poker, I am not a healthy man.

A lot of this is a function of my job. When I started this blog in April 2004, I was a freelance book editor working from home. But then we moved to Minneapolis and I got a "real" job. And as I've said before, this 8-hours-a-day stuff is rough!

When I play nowadays I tend to alternate between two approaches to online poker. The first is playing for fun, where I play tournaments (and am actually doing better than I used to at those) or play very loose-aggressive in cash games, and if I drop a buy-in I tell myself it was worth the fun. The second is when I decide to play for a night or two in serious mode, where I grind myself back to even. I rarely chase bonuses anymore. That doesn't really bother me, but the really bad thing is that I haven't challenged myself, I haven't set goals or tried higher limits (I'm still putzing around at $2/$4 online), and I haven't been studying my game.

So I tried to tell myself, OK self, you don't have the time to be as devoted to online poker as you once were. But you love the Canterbury. You should concentrate on improving your live game.

But then I had several losing sessions at $4/$8. This all culminated 2 weeks ago when, on July 3rd, Mrs. Cheap Thrills and I headed to the Canterbury for a day of races, followed by poker and fireworks. I stepped down to $3/$6 hoping it would boost my confidence. And then I dropped $200. This puts me squarely in the red at the Canterbury. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

We couldn't hit a single race all day, which probably put me on minor tilt. And I drank my share of beer, which didn't help. And I played kinda like a maniac. But the thing is, I used to be able to drink beer, play kinda loose, and yet never really worry that $3/$6 was -EV for me.

So I've decided that I have lost a certain something, poker-wise.

I want to get it back. And the silver lining to all this is that I am confident I will get it back. But right now, and for at least the next 6 weeks or so, there is something that's going to get in the way of poker. That'll be the subject of my next post.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Pressure Poker
Doubleas's book, Pressure Poker, arrived today. I probably don't need to tell anyone who reads this here blog that doubleas knows his stuff, but there are a couple other reasons I'm psyched about this book.

First, it's been a while since I seriously read a poker strategy book, so this should do me good. Second, I've got a fairly large library of poker books, but I wonder how much of the advice in them (aside from the basics) is still relevant online, post-boom. Just reading the TOC, this book feels "current."

Hope to be back with a more detailed review soon.

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