Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let Me Just Say: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh....

Hello again, friends.  It seems like a lifetime since I've been in front of the computer, but to the trees and the grass but three days have passed by.

It is exactly 11:12 PM as I write this: our house has been without power since 10:30 AM Sunday. That's 60-plus hours if you're scoring at home, or even if you're by yourself.  Tootsie and I have officially cried "Hold! Enough!" without fear of being damned by MacBeth, and have hied ourselves to a Comfort Inn in Seekonk, Massachusetts, with the twin attractions of a hot water shower and air conditioning, as well as electric power, so we don't have to retire with the sun like farmers of yore. Tootsie is watching Chelsea Lately on the last tube TV to exist in the civilized world and in addition to (hopefully) entertaining you with my overbloated prose I'm sitting in my skivvies, a towel around my neck, relishing the wonderful feeling of being clean, not having cleaned any part of me with anything but ice-cold water since Saturday. Let me tell you - and I'll warn you in advance this is likely an overshare - but I could have cleaned myself this afternoon with the flat end of a butterknife and made progress.

Today I did my best to give myself a halfway-decent whore's bath - what a friend of mine calls "a cat's lick and a promise" - and went down to Foxwoods to see if I could duplicate the success I enjoyed on Saturday at the $1-$2NL tables. I'm pleased - maybe even a little giddy - to announce that today went exactly like Saturday did: I turned $200 into almost $600 by playing just a little smart: by that I mean ABC poker with a few adjustments here and there.  For example I busted out a dude who loved Ace-rag, and when he put in a big bet pre-flop and I had AK I knew I was up against no pair and that I had him crushed.  Sure enough, it all fell into place just like I thought.

In one notable hand I made a very smart post-flop check when my pocket pair connected, which is against my nature, and Doyle's teachings, but I knew the crushing mediocrities in seats 2 and 3 (seat 8 for me today) would bite on top pair (there was an Ace on the board) and I got one guy for $40 and the other guy for everything - just by checking that flop.  Yummy chips.

Speaking of yummy, whoever tipped Josie off to the existence of the most ethereal milshakes in existence, and who thence tipped me off, deserves, er, a tip. I had a strawberry shake with whipped cream and was, well, yummy.

I've spoken to Tootsie about this and I'm going back.  I have an actual honest-to-buddha bankroll, a fat wad of $100's in my wallet, with nothing attached to it but the potential to create more $100's, and I'm going to give it three or four days a week to see if I can make actual pay-the-bills money. It's not because I've had two positive sessions in a row - it's that luck doesn't figure into it. I find myself outplaying my opponents, and they just give me chips-a-plenty. I might have finally found my niche at $1-$2NL.  La vie, c'est bon.

One final note: It's Tootsie's birthday today.

She hates the big happy birthday thing, when the idiot flair waitrons come up to the table clapping and singing a public domain ditty about how FUN it is that you're one year closer to the grave.  I stopped making that mistake a long time ago and I do NOT want any shenanigans taking place tableside.  Well, today I told her that I would share a dessert with her (I'm a compulsive anti-sharer), but only because it was her birthday.  Our waitress, whose tooth count had an over-under of 16, and I'll take the under, overheard this and brought the whole hand-clapping song-singing band of idjits to the table and as they started in, I first made the throat-slash gesture, universal for "knock it off," which didn't seem to work in this end of southeast Mass, and I had to actually raise myself out of my chair, and with a voice louder than seven singing saps, said "STOP!" in a voice that conveyed just exactly how serious I was.  They slunk away like they were caught looking in someone's medicine cabinet.

Toots would like it known that she thought I was a big ol' meanie.  I'll take that.  You want to know how mean she is?  A few minutes ago she said "What's that smell?  Oh yeah, it's YOU, clean."

Happy birthday, Douchebag.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Still Owe Her Something Nice, Because the Buffet Friggin Stunk

I never said this story didn't END well...

Of course it started off with a decent plan. Josie was going to play a tournament Friday morning and was taking the Foxwoody equivalent of the Fung-Wah bus to get there from South Station. She would have, in her tiny little fist, money I had earned staking her in an amazing performance at a recent tourney.  I in turn thought I'd try my luck at the cash games; I was just sick of tournaments, or rather my lack of success at them.  I was going to get a decent night's sleep and a good breakfast, wait out any morning traffic, and head down there around noon for a 1:00 start to a day downstairs at the cash game section for some 1-2NL, after I stopped upstairs to get my dough from Jo.

That was the plan, anyway. It all changed in the blink of an eye, or more accurately the shrill ring of a phone, at 7:18 that morning. It was Josie, and she had missed the goddamn Fung Wah bus or whatever rickety-ass crap can was going to do its best to wheeze its way onto Injun territory before it threw a rod and breathed its last.

Anyway, the girl to her credit had a decent plan B. She was already at South Station; she would take the train down to the stop five minutes from my house and down we'd drive; she in time for her tournament and me in time for THREE HOURS LESS SLEEP THAN I WAS GONNA GET.  I scramble to get a load of clothes in the wash and this unspeakable load of human goo into the shower. But ready I got, and even had time to stop at Dunkie's and do the morning right. And really, how badly did I need the sleep?  It's 3:27 Saturday morning as I write this, so that should tell you something.

So we get there largely without incident, my arm only once bruised by the sight of a Volkswagen Beetle. Josie registers herself for the tourney, and I head downstairs to find the No-Limit reg desk and start playing.

I was in seat 1. Seat 2 was an old-timer who confided in seat 3 that he at times couldn't see the cards or hear a bet amount.  Seat 3 would say, "listen pal, it's your money, you should speak up if something isn't clear," and smirk to himself.  So already I didn't like him. The good news was that the deck was hitting him early so he had a bunch of chips that he'd be giving me soon enough.

Seat 4 - well, let's get back to her in a minute.

Seat 5 was this dude who was killing time waiting for a seat in 2-5NL land. He had a rack of chips on the rail, and after every hand he would build his chip stack back up to the maximum. So seat 4, a girl of maybe 26 with hair that had been dyed so many different colors it was anyone's guess what her "real" color was, she decides to douchebag up, and do it right proper. She calls the brush over, and not only complains about the rack on the rail, she flat-out accused him of using the rack chips to bet his hands. He, predictably, gets mad, and this seems to floor seat 4, who couldn't quite understand why anyone would get upset once directly accused of cheating.

So she was the table douchebag, and I didn't have to know seats 6-10, or at least you don't. I settled in to play some cards.

In cash games, my philosophy is a simple one: the first hand I play should be a monster. This serves two purposes:  one, it helps to give me a table image as Tighty McTightman, which helps, but it also forces me to sit back for a minute and study the table, see who is legit and who is just there to see how long they can make $200 last that they've managed to hide from their shrew wives while they blow six rolls of nickels at the slot machines.

Well after about 20 minutes I woke up with AK.  Seat 3 came with a standard open UTG.  Doucheface in seat 4, whom at this point we all hated with irrational, white-hot fury, raised to 20.  I re-raised to $55, and with a sour puss like she was trying to channel her inner Douchy from the Block while eating a lemon, shoved her entire stack in.  And I tank, start talking about how she could be steaming because of the controversy, but that I really didn't think so, and that I hadn't played with her nearly long enough to know, and that, you know what?  Nahhh... and I folded my AK face up. She turned over KK and oohed and ahhed about my fold. So I lost fifty bucks but got a good table image in the bargain.

Over the next hour I got my fifty back and even went up about fifty bucks with some well-timed aggression and sticking with a piece of advice Josie gave me:  in cash games, position is king.  I don't think I played five hands out of position all night, but here's a good story about one.

I knuckled J6h as unraised BB.  The flop came two hearts including the King.  I checked, seat 2 bet $15, and the action folded to me, and I called.  I had him on a King and if I were to make my flush I could keep him on the hook for his entire stack. Turn came a blank.  I bet $25 and he calls fairly quickly.  So now I think he might have two pair, or caught trips or something.

The river brings my heart. Glory and Trumpets! This dude is toast - and BUTTER, baby. First of all I just catch the card out of the corner of my eye, so I didn't stare at it, and made sure I didn't react to it at all.  I thought, how much could I get from this guy without scaring him away.  He bet the flop after I checked, called my big bet on the turn - he definitely had something.  But there were no pairs on the board, so unless he had AXh or QXh I had the best of it.  I decided an all-in would make him think flush, so I opted for a $100 bet - an imposing sight when you shove 20 nickels in two piles into the pot - and hoped that he thought I was protecting a bluff.

He hems and haws a while and says, "I have to call you," and puts in his money.

"Third nuts," I declare, and turn over my flush. He folds.  BOOM! I'm now up over $200 and on my way.

The next big hand, and the tale on which I'll close this already-overlong post, was just two or three hands later.  In middle position I look down at A7c, and call a $7 raise that already had a bunch of callers ahead of me, and would get a couple behind as well.  I think there were six people pre-flop.  The flop brings two clubs, one of which was the K and another was the J. Seat 7 bets $10 and I call.  The turn brings the 9c, filling my flush but leaving me open to Q10c which would fill a straight flush. He bets $30.  I was going to pop him right there but, I swear it was right out of a movie, I heard a voice in my ear whispering the word "patience."  So I just called him.

The river comes the 10c, and I'm officially in a pickle.  Now this schmuck could be holding Qc2d for example and have my hand crushed.  And I think that maybe I betrayed these thoughts with the look on my face because he bets out $75, which is a huge bet for him.  And if you thought I went into the tank before, brother, it was like I was a panzergrenadier in Hitler's Wermacht. And Madame Doucheface in seat 4 whispers to her buddy bud in seat 3 that she's about to call a clock on me.  That's bad enough but to call the clock on someone when you're not in a hand, while legal, is especially douchy. Anyway she didn't, and eventually I decided that with over $150 already in the hand, I was priced in, and I was already ahead and playing with house money, so I put in my crying call, asking him "Do you have the Queen of clubs?"  He said no, so I said, "well I win, then," and show my ace-high flush. He folds face-down and even though I had a right to see what he had I didn't push it.  But I wonder what he could have had that he thought could beat me, unless he was trying to bluff me...I had the Ace, the K was on the board, he didn't have the Q, the J and 10 were out...so maybe he had an 8 or 9 and thought it was good, or maybe he was just bluffing, but either way, I got most all of his chips.

There were other hands, smaller victories, not as worthy of re-telling, that increased my bankroll even more, but for the most part, that was it for the cool stories.

So that's how I turned $200 into about $600 in about three hours, and created a bankroll for future 1-2NL games that are hopefully just as soft as this one was.  Seriously, I was shocked that a game spread at a casino could be so soft.   My biggest mistake was getting up when Josie came by to have a little lunch. I wanted to buy her something nice for letting me stake her, when she didn't really need the dough, so I bought her lunch at the buffet.

Sorry for the long post but thanks for listening.  Until next time, please remember my dear Aunt Sally.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Money for Nothing

And your chips for free...

Let me just say, I recommend staking a good poker player quite highly if you want to increase your bottom line. Especially if that poker player is a damn good one - that helps a great deal.

Last night Very Josie and I settled up the "paperwork" for my investment of a piece of her. When it was all said and done I had a great big pile of money that I didn't have before, and once again Josie demonstrated that her arithmetic skills were better than mine.

I used a bunch of different methods to figure out how much I was entitled to (tax implications make the transaction a more difficult prospect than it would otherwise be), but the funny thing was this: Jo slapped a few numbers together and came up with a number. I spent a tortured half-hour working scenario after scenario and came up with a few dollars more on this one, a few dollars lesson that one, one pretty much right on the nose. All I really had to do was trust Josie's head for numbers and it would have saved me a great big headache.

And there's something else too that I need to say: Josie isn't hurting for money. She didn't need anyone buying a piece of her. She let me stake her because if she won it would mean a windfall for me. I make a lot of jokes at Jo's expense but she really is a good friend - maybe the best friend I have - and I won't forget this kindness.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Game Over

I'll let Josie fill you in on the details - and there are several details - but I'll say this for your comfort: Nobody lost money. And a couple cats you know made some money.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just Got a Call from Josie...

...she's in the money already, there are 22 people left in a tourney that started with about 300 or so, and she's got about 2x the average stack size. To sum up this summing up, she's doing great.

A propos of nothing, it strikes me that if she makes the final table or so, she could make enough money so that my 1/3 stake in her action could actually represent the most money I've ever won in the poker world. This thought is both thrilling and embarrassing as hell.

Good thoughts towards Foxwoods and Auntie Jo, people!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Finally Get a Piece of Josie

No, you fucking pervs, not like that. I'm staking Josie to the tune of 1/3. To me it was an easy decision. Not to make any unnecessary equine metaphors, but Jos is a horse I can back. I've known her long enough to recognize that look in her eye she gets when the Sicilian comes out to the front. She's locked in, and I expect her to make a nice long run - and am putting my money where my mouth is. It's a standard deal: I'm covering 1/3 of her buyin and am getting 1/3 of any winnings, minus some miscellany expenses we agreed upon.

I'm staking Josie. Get it??

So until next time, please remember that when (if) you root for Auntie Jo to make a nice deep run, you're also rooting for the Crafty Southpaw to feather his nest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Best of the Crafty Southpaw: The Day I Almost Got a Ball

The Day I Almost Got a Ball

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story, 100% true, took place August 14, 2005, in a rain-shortened game against the Chicago White Sox. Enjoy.


Sunday I was at Fenway Park, taking in a little Big Club baseball and a lot of water. But it wasn’t all rain, and the day wasn’t all wasted.

It started off pretty poorly, actually. I’ve seen a lot of baseball this summer and wasn’t feeling particularly well all weekend, and truth to tell, I wasn’t looking forward to trekking all the way into Boston (I’m a Rhode Islander) and sitting in the 95-degree heat for three hours. But the seat I had that day was just too kick-ass to pass up. FB 51, row B — three or four seats to the third-base side of the screen, four rows off the field. Closer to the action than the guy on deck. So I had to go, even though on the train and for the first inning or so I was sweating profusely and cursing baseball for taking place in the summertime.

Of course, the weather broke spectacularly when the heavens opened up, so I didn’t have to worry about that for too long. In fact, between the first and second rain delays it was quite comfortable, if you don’t mind being a little waterlogged, which believe me, I didn’t.

In the row in front of me was a kid of no more than 8 or 9 years, with blond hair bordering on white, longer than you normally see nowadays. It was obviously his first game. He brought his glove and kept pestering his dad for a foul ball, as if a word from him would be all that was necessary.

In the third inning, he got his ball. The home plate umpire took a ball out of play and rolled it to the ball boy. This kid went over to the rail and stuck out his mitt, and the ball boy tossed it right to him. The look on his face, predictably, was pure ecstasy.

A couple of minutes went by during which he looked at his trophy over and over again, turning it this way and that in his hands, pretending to throw it for the winning putout of the World Series, tossing it up and catching it. After a while he asked his father a question I couldn’t hear and saw him shrug his shoulders. He turned around to face me.

“Excuse me,” he said, which was the first good sign, “is this your first time here?”

“Umm, no,” I said with a bit of a smile - it was by my count the 32nd time this year.

“Do they [meaning the players] stay after the game and sign autographs?” he asked.

“Not really, no,” I said. “You might want to try the player’s parking lot an hour or so after the game.”

At this, the kid turned crestfallen. His shoulders slumped and his hopeful expression turned blank.

“But listen,” I said, “You’re still a lucky kid - I’ve been coming here since I was your age” — my advanced years must’ve made a suitable impression here — “and I’ve never gotten a ball, ever.”

He gets this thoughtful look on his face - I assumed that my comment had made its desired impact. But then he huddles in with his dad for a little while and turns around to face me again. This time, he’s holding out his ball.

“Here,” he says. “You take it.”

It took six or seven times before I could convince him to put it back in his glove. It’s tough to sound forceful when you have a lump in your throat. He finally did but said to me, “If I get another one, I’ll give it to you.”

I said, “If you get a second one, you can do what you like with it - but you gotta keep that first one.”

Well, he never got his second one, and unless we see each other at the make up game (the game was postponed after a ridiculous 4 hour delay) the point will forever be moot. I’ll never even know the name of the special little kid who made an impression on me that will last the rest of my life.

However, if he does show up, and does get a second ball, I will take it from him, and ask him for his autograph on it - for, as I plan on telling him, we get autographs of people we respect and admire. And that little towheaded kid earned both of those things from me Sunday with that one simple, unselfish, magnificent gesture.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On to Williamsport!

Today the Little League team from my adopted hometown, Cumberland, RI, has made the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, representing all of New England in the tournament.

As of this moment I am watching them thank the crowd for their support, not two minutes after the final strike was recorded, and I find myself watching this spectacle with a big, goofy grin on my face.

I've lived in Cumberland for 11 years and some change now, still not nearly long enough to be considered anything but an outsider to "real" Rhode Islanders, but that doesn't matter. It's nice here; it's quiet here. The houses that make up my neighborhood are nestled in the middle of a giant oakwood and the cutting down that took place fifty years ago was done with great care, so that we are surround by giant oak trees, some hundreds of years old. There's a great breakfast joint a few minutes down the street; the guy who runs the butcher shop I go to lives right across from me. It's a wonderful city, and its fathers and mothers now have the privilege of watching their children vie for the title of Little League Champions.

So congratulations to the 12-year-olds of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Kick some ass if you can! But win or lose, keep your heads held high; you've already covered yourselves in honor and glory.

Well done, kids.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Value and Peril of Self Delusion

"No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities." - Christian Nestelle Bovee

"It's OK, I suppose, to want something desperately. The danger comes when you find yourself believing that just maybe, after all this time, what you want is finally within your grasp. Because in my experience, it never is." - The Crafty Southpaw

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

By Request: The Crafty Southpaw, Live in Concert

A reader asked me to play something, so please enjoy this. It's the first song off that Pink Floyd Album I talked about a couple of days ago, Animals. The song, which thankfully is quite short, is called Pigs on the Wing, Part 1. Sorry about the sound quality, it's just my computer's microphone. Also, for some reason, YouTube created an issue coordinating audio and video; what's up with that? Anyway, enjoy, and if you would like to critique, please be gentle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Little Pink Floyd for a Tuesday

From their brilliant album "Animals:"

You've got to be crazy
Got to have a real need
Got to sleep on your toes when you're on the street
Got to be able to pick up easy meat
With your eyes closed -
Then moving in silently, downwind and out of sight
You've got to strike when the moment is right
Without thinking.

Then after a while
You can work on points for style
Like the club tie
And the firm handshake
The sudden look in the eye
And the easy smile
You have to be trusted
By the people that you lie to
So that when they turn their backs on you
You get the chance to put the knife in.