Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 World Series of Poker Schedule (Day-by-Day)

2012 World Series of Poker Schedule (Day-by-Day)The last couple of years I’ve posted a day-by-day schedule of the World Series of Poker here as kind of a reference during the summer, so I thought I would do so again this time around, even though the sucker has already gotten underway.

I’ve included links to structure sheets whenever a new event begins. I’ll also put up a little banner over on the right linking to the post until mid-July when they stop at the Main Event final table. I like having the post as a kind of quick reference where I can click and see instantly what will be happening at the Rio on a given day.

By the way, the WSOP website is providing a live stream from all of the final tables this summer. I believe they are still working out the kinks a little, but will be having some commentary to along with the stream as well at some point. Here is the page where you find those live streams that also includes a schedule of what they are going to show and when.

All of this is subject to change, although the WSOP generally stays the course pretty closely unless something very unusual comes up. And any errors here are mine, of course.

Sunday, May 27th
12:00 -- #1: Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em ($500), 1/2

Monday, May 28th
12:00 -- #2: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #1: Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em ($500), 2/2

Tuesday, May 29th
12:00 -- #3: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em / Pot-Limit Omaha ($3,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #2: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #4: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 1/3

Wednesday, May 30th
12:00 -- #5: Pot-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #2: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #3: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em / Pot-Limit Omaha ($3,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #4: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 2/3

Thursday, May 31st
12:00 -- #6: Mixed Max, No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 1/4
1:00 -- #3: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em / Pot-Limit Omaha ($3,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #5: Pot-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #4: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 3/3
5:00 -- #7: Seven-Card Stud ($1,500), 1/3

Friday, June 1st
12:00 -- #8: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #5: Pot-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #6: Mixed Max, No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 2/4
2:00 -- #7: Seven-Card Stud ($1,500), 2/3

Saturday, June 2nd
12:00 -- #9: No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry ($1,500), 1/5
1:00 -- #6: Mixed Max, No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 3/4
1:00 -- #8: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #7: Seven-Card Stud ($1,500), 3/3

Sunday, June 3rd
12:00 -- #9: No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry ($1,500), 2/5
1:00 -- #6: Mixed Max, No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 4/4
1:00 -- #8: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #10: Seven-Card Stud ($5,000), 1/3

Monday, June 4th
12:00 -- #11: Pot-Limit Omaha ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #9: No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry ($1,500), 3/5
2:00 -- #10: Seven-Card Stud ($5,000), 2/3

Tuesday, June 5th
12:00 -- #12: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 1/4
1:00 -- #9: No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry ($1,500), 4/5
1:00 -- #11: Pot-Limit Omaha ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #10: Seven-Card Stud ($5,000), 3/3
5:00 -- #13: Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3

Wednesday, June 6th
12:00 -- #14: No-Limit Hold’em Shootout ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #9: No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry ($1,500), 5/5
1:00 -- #11: Pot-Limit Omaha ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #12: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 2/4
2:00 -- #13: Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #15: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($5,000), 1/3

Thursday, June 7th
12:00 -- #16: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #12: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 3/4
1:00 -- #14: No-Limit Hold’em Shootout ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #13: Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #15: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($5,000), 2/3

Friday, June 8th
12:00 -- #17: Pot-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #12: Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 4/4
1:00 -- #14: No-Limit Hold’em Shootout ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #16: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #15: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($5,000), 3/3
5:00 -- #18: Razz ($2,500), 1/3

Saturday, June 9th
12:00 -- #19: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #16: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #17: Pot-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #18: Razz ($2,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #20: Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 1/3

Sunday, June 10th
12:00 -- #21: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #17: Pot-Limit Hold’em ($10,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #19: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #18: Razz ($2,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #20: Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 2/3
5:00 -- #22: 2-7 Triple Draw, Limit ($2,500), 1/3

Monday, June 11th
12:00 -- #23: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($3,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #19: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #21: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #20: Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 3/3
2:00 -- #22: 2-7 Triple Draw, Limit ($2,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #24: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($5,000), 1/3

Tuesday, June 12th
12:00 -- #25: Limit Hold’em Shootout ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #21: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #23: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($3,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #22: 2-7 Triple Draw, Limit ($2,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #24: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($5,000), 2/3
5:00 -- #26: Pot-Limit Omaha ($3,000), 1/3

Wednesday, June 13th
12:00 -- #27: H.O.R.S.E. ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #23: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($3,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #25: Limit Hold’em Shootout ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #24: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($5,000), 3/3
2:00 -- #26: Pot-Limit Omaha ($3,000), 2/3

Thursday, June 14th
12:00 -- #28: No-Limit Hold’em, Four-Handed ($2,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #25: Limit Hold’em Shootout ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #27: H.O.R.S.E. ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #26: Pot-Limit Omaha ($3,000), 3/3

Friday, June 15th
12:00 -- #29: Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship ($1,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #27: H.O.R.S.E. ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #28: No-Limit Hold’em, Four-Handed ($2,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #30: 2-7 NL Draw ($1,500), 1/3

Saturday, June 16th
11:00 -- #29: Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship ($1,000), 2/3
12:00 -- #31: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #28: No-Limit Hold’em, Four-Handed ($2,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #30: 2-7 NL Draw ($1,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #32: H.O.R.S.E. ($10,000), 1/3

Sunday, June 17th
11:00 -- #29: Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship ($1,000), 3/3
12:00 -- #33: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #31: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #30: 2-7 NL Draw ($1,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #32: H.O.R.S.E. ($10,000), 2/3

Monday, June 18th
12:00 -- #34: Pot-Limit Omaha, Six-Handed ($5,000), 1/3
12:00 -- #31: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #32: H.O.R.S.E. ($10,000), 3/3
2:30 -- #33: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 2/3
5:00 -- #35: Mixed Hold’em, Limit/No-Limit ($2,500), 1/3

Tuesday, June 19th
12:00 -- #36: No-Limit Hold’em Shootout ($3,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #33: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #34: Pot-Limit Omaha, Six-Handed ($5,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #35: Mixed Hold’em, Limit/No-Limit ($2,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #37: 8-Game Mix ($2,500), 1/3

Wednesday, June 20th
12:00 -- #38: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #34: Pot-Limit Omaha, Six-Handed ($5,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #36: No-Limit Hold’em Shootout ($3,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #35: Mixed Hold’em, Limit/No-Limit ($2,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #37: 8-Game Mix ($2,500), 2/3

Thursday, June 21st
12:00 -- #39: Pot-Limit Omaha ($10,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #36: No-Limit Hold’em Shootout ($3,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #38: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #37: 8-Game Mix ($2,500), 3/3
5:00 -- #40: Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($2,500), 1/3

Friday, June 22nd
12:00 -- #41: No-Limit Hold’em ($3,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #38: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #39: Pot-Limit Omaha ($10,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #40: Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($2,500), 2/3
5:00 -- #42: Omaha/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($2,500), 1/3

Saturday, June 23rd
12:00 -- #43: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #39: Pot-Limit Omaha ($10,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #41: No-Limit Hold’em ($3,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #40: Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($2,500), 3/3
2:00 -- #42: Omaha/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($2,500), 2/3

Sunday, June 24th
12:00 -- #44: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #41: No-Limit Hold’em ($3,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #43: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #42: Omaha/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($2,500), 3/3
5:00 -- #45: The Poker Players Championship, 8-Game Mix ($50,000), 1/5

Monday, June 25th
12:00 -- #46: No-Limit Hold’em ($2,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #43: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #44: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #45: The Poker Players Championship, 8-Game Mix ($50,000), 2/5

Tuesday, June 26th
12:00 -- #47: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #44: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #46: No-Limit Hold’em ($2,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #45: The Poker Players Championship, 8-Game Mix ($50,000), 3/5
5:00 -- #48: Limit Hold’em ($3,000), 1/3

Wednesday, June 27th
12:00 -- #49: Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #46: No-Limit Hold’em ($2,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #47: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #45: The Poker Players Championship, 8-Game Mix ($50,000), 4/5
2:00 -- #48: Limit Hold’em ($3,000), 2/3

Thursday, June 28th
12:00 -- #50: No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #47: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #49: Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
2:00 -- #45: The Poker Players Championship, 8-Game Mix ($50,000), 5/5
2:00 -- #48: Limit Hold’em ($3,000), 3/3

Friday, June 29th
12:00 -- #51: Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship ($1,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #49: Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #50: No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 2/3
5:00 -- #52: 10-Game Mix ($2,500), 1/3

Saturday, June 30th
12:00 -- #53: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #50: No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #51: Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship ($1,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #52: 10-Game Mix ($2,500), 2/3

Sunday, July 1st
12:00 -- #54: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #51: Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship ($1,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #53: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
1:11 -- #55: The Big One for One Drop, No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000,000), 1/3
2:00 -- #52: 10-Game Mix ($2,500), 3/3

Monday, July 2nd
12:00 -- #56: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 1/3
1:00 -- #53: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #54: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 2/3
1:11 -- #55: The Big One for One Drop, No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000,000), 2/3

Tuesday, July 3rd
12:00 -- #57: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($10,000), 1/3
1:00 -- #54: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 3/3
1:00 -- #56: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 2/3
1:11 -- #55: The Big One for One Drop, No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000,000), 3/3
5:00 -- #58: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($3,000), 1/3

Wednesday, July 4th
12:00 -- #59: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 1/5
1:00 -- #56: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,500), 3/3
1:00 -- #57: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($10,000), 2/3
2:00 -- #58: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($3,000), 2/3

Thursday, July 5th
12:00 -- #59: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 2/5
1:00 -- #57: No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed ($10,000), 3/3
2:00 -- #58: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better ($3,000), 3/3
5:00 -- #60: 2-7 NL Draw ($10,000), 1/3

Friday, July 6th
12:00 -- WSOP National Championship bracelet event, 1/3
1:00 -- #59: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 3/5
2:00 -- #60: 2-7 NL Draw ($10,000), 2/3

Saturday, July 7th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 1a/7
1:00 -- #59: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 4/5
1:00 -- WSOP National Championship bracelet event, 2/3
2:00 -- #60: 2-7 NL Draw ($10,000), 3/3

Sunday, July 8th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 1b/7
1:00 -- #59: No-Limit Hold’em ($1,000), 5/5

Monday, July 9th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 1c/7

Tuesday, July 10th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 2a+2b/7

Wednesday, July 11th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 2c/7
1:00 -- WSOP National Championship bracelet event, 3/3

Thursday, July 12th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 3/7

Friday, July 13th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 4/7

Saturday, July 14th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 5/7

Sunday, July 15th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 6/7

Sunday, July 16th
12:00 -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), 7/7

Sunday-Tuesday, October 28th-30th
TBD -- #61: No-Limit Hold'em Championship ($10,000), Final Table

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Best Hand in Hold’em, The Worst in Air Passenger Travel

The Best Hand in Hold'em, The Worst in Air Passenger TravelI am home.

As I finally drove back from the airport a little while ago, I was contemplating the cliché about bad beat stories and how no one wants to hear them. I mean I knew I wanted to share something here about how the trip home from Uruguay ended up taking about three times as long as it had been scheduled to take. But I don’t really want to write a post that’s just a rant about American Airlines, even if AA deserves as much.

It’s probably because I’ve heard more complaints about AA in the last two days than you can possibly imagine. Not just referring to the poor souls who were on my scheduled flights, both cancelled, but many more as well. This is the airline, by the way, that after screwing up a colleague’s flight on a previous LAPT tried to tell him amid rescheduling hassles that Uruguay was in Brazil. I am not making this up.

I do want to share one little part of the story, though, which was kind of interesting in a poker-related way.

I wrote yesterday’s post while still in the air, and still with hopes of making it home last night. We landed and as I mentioned the four of us who’d been traveling together all quickly had to go our separate ways. I hit the ground running as I had to get through customs and other hurdles, then make it all of the way down to Gate D60 at the Miami International Airport -- all of the way at the end -- in order to make my connecting flight. Where the American Eagle flights mostly go. Or mostly don’t.

Got there with about 15 minutes to spare, pretty much soaked in sweat from jogging with my bags and in the Miami heat. Was ecstatic, to be honest. Saw my flight was “ON TIME” and all was good.

Found a seat next to a passenger bound for Richmond who said her flight had been delayed -- they needed a plane, apparently, and had been told one was incoming from Tampa for them. A third flight also leaving from D60 was late as well, and I immediately sensed a pattern developing that was similar to what we’d endured in Montevideo the night before.

When our flight status changed to being 15 minutes late, I knew the jig was probably up. Announcements were being made to all three groups listing various outstanding needs for each flight -- a pilot, a crew, a plane, etc. -- and the young man delivering them wasn’t necessarily being as clear or even as serious as one would like.

AA says 'we're glad you're here'Once he began his announcement with a big grin, saying “We’re glad you’re here” (the American Airlines tagline). It was obvious he was being sort of ironic in saying the line. A few chuckled, but most just steamed even more. It was absolutely the wrong way for him to be playing this, I realized.

As far as our flight was concerned, he was telling us a flight attendant scheduled for our flight had just landed elsewhere in the airport and was coming. Once that person arrived, we’d be good to go, although the fact that the young man on the PA was saying “when ‘he or she’ gets here” sounded more than a little sketchy. His cheeky demeanor wasn’t helping, either.

More time passed. Our departure time was pushed back a full hour. Much grumbling followed, and this amid people still waiting for the other two flights who were becoming increasingly incensed as well.

Then suddenly -- with absolutely zero warning -- an announcement was made that boarding was about to begin for the flight bound for Richmond. Right after that came another announcement, which for me was like an opponent giving away the weakness of his hand with an unmistakable tell.

Our original flight attendant was “too tired” to fly again, we were told. That is what he said. Another one was coming, and it would be an hour more.

I instinctively knew this was a lie. The young man might be the one lying, or someone might be lying to him. But like a weird overbet on the river after the draws fail to come in, the story simply didn’t add up.

I decided to investigate.

I walked up to the young man making the announcements who asked if he could help me. “Two things,” I said, holding up two fingers.

My intention was to ask him about the truth of the flight attendant story, to which I expected a straightforward confirmation that it was, indeed, true. The second item I wanted to convey was to point out to him that he needed to be more professional with the announcements, as people weren’t taking kindly to his method.

I asked him point blank if the story were true, sensing others gathering behind me as I did. He then did something unexpected. He stammered a bit, starting to say it was true, then when the angry passenger beside me started to speak he immediately lost it, his voice cracking as he surprisingly blurted out that he had to take a walk.

Poof, he was gone. We never saw him again. One minute later, the status changed from delayed to cancelled. No shinola.

It had been a lie. And when forced to answer a direct question about it, he wasn’t up to it. There were three flights scheduled to leave from D60 last night, but only enough crew to man a single plane. They made up stories for all three groups, then when the plane did arrive they gave it to the earliest scheduled, and intended to keep the rest of us waiting longer until eventually telling us we were going to have to stay in hotels and get flights today.

Remain calm, all is wellAn ugly scene ensued. A crowd swarmed about the desk, and soon I was behind them all watching from afar. People were cursing, babies were crying, and the few remaining AA employees looked as though they were about to crack like their colleague had.

It took more than an hour for me to get back up to the desk to get my flight changed -- “anything but American,” I said, and they were able to put me on US Air -- and obtain my hotel arrangements.

“This must be tough,” I said to the poor guy at the desk. Then I ventured a question. “This is happening a lot, isn’t it?” He exhaled, for a moment allowing himself to be a little human when really it was in his best interest not to.

“You get used to it,” he said wearily.

Like I say, I know we’ve all had bad travel experiences, just like we’ve all had bad beats, and so also am aware my story isn’t particularly special. But they still catch us off guard sometimes. That is to say, we don’t really get used to them, and so we feel compelled to share them.

No, we don’t get used to bad beats. Unless we exclusively fly AA, I guess.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Departure

Clouds over South AmericaAm writing this post somewhere over South America, finally winding my way back after an unplanned for extra night in Uruguay. Listening to Judee Sill’s first album, an appropriate soundtrack for looking out the window at the soft, cotton-like carpet of clouds extending into the distance. Kind of sight makes it hard to avoid lapsing into those quiet, pensive ruminations that tend to sneak up on us in such spots.

You know what I mean. The what’s-it-all-about applesauce we never have time for except in these moments when we’re neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. And free to think. Or damned to.

I say finally coming home because after a week’s worth of run good for your humble scribbler, our group encountered a hiccup on Monday that suddenly halted our progress homeward, thereby lengthening our stay.

Our colleague F-Train escaped on an earlier midday flight without incident. Meanwhile our group of five -- myself, Mickey, Will, Josh, and Lynn -- all had tickets aboard a later one departing early evening. From Montevideo to Miami we’d go, at which point we’d split into our individual paths onward, eventually to reunite in Las Vegas at the WSOP.

Those four will all be back on the floor of the Amazon Room in the Rio by week’s end. For me, I’ll have a bit of extra time until I’m due once again to climb into one of these magical metal tubes, ascend above the clouds, and eventually join back with my friends to watch and report on still more groups of people playing cards.

The beach at Punta del EsteMonday started out quite relaxing, with a morning walk on the beach, not unlike I did the last time I was in Punta del Este and about to leave. By early afternoon Josh, Will, Mickey, and myself passed some time playing PokerStars home games for play money (natch), although we did wager a few bucks on the side.

Had one memorable hand versus Josh in which we got all of his chips in preflop with him holding pocket nines to my A-K. The A-2-2 flop appeared nearly to seal it for me, but the turn and river brought two more deuces to create an improbable chop and our little sit-n-go continued.

We would joke later that the hand was symbolic, unexpectedly prolonging our tourney much as would happen with our trip. Let me explain.

Our shuttle taking us from Punta del Este to Montevideo arrived on time, and about an hour-and-a-half later we were at the American Airlines desk checking in about three hours early. Passed the time having dinner in the terminal and playing more card games -- among them nine-card Omaha and Golf. Soon came the announcement that we’d be boarding in 15 minutes, and we all began to contemplate how we had just a couple of steps more left to go before returning stateside.

Or so we thought.

Alas, just a few minutes later came a different announcement that we’d be 20 minutes late departing. Soon that was followed by another that the delay would be two hours, the explanation accompanied by two words most air travelers don’t care much to hear -- mechanical problems.

Then, even before the announcements in both Spanish and English came, we noticed our flight listed as cancelled on the screens up above. We’d be spending another night in Uruguay, our flight having been rescheduled to noon Tuesday.

Adding an extra wrinkle of anxiety was the fact that while I’d taken a moment to chat via Skype with Vera a little while before, the man sitting next to me saw my headphone case (with my iPod inside) sitting under my chair, and for some reason decided he’d deliver it to the desk rather than see if it belonged to anyone nearby. That led to a bit of extra running around -- the case was ultimately handed off to airport security as an unattended item -- before I got it back.

More linesDidn’t seem like a big deal at the time, although when the others chose to wait the few extra minutes with me to get my case and iPod back, we necessarily found ourselves in the back of the long line to go back through customs, get back our luggage, then get a taxi to the hotel where we’d be staying.

We’re probably talking a little after 10 p.m. when we first learned our flight was cancelled. Took until at least 11 or so to get through customs and secure our luggage. And it wasn’t until after midnight we were finally in taxis heading to the hotel where we were being sent, located nearly a half-hour from the airport and strangely named the After Hotel.

Got there about quarter ’til 1 a.m. and found ourselves in another, agonizing line as the single desk jockey needed around 10 minutes per person in order to get anyone checked in. We waited a full hour-and-a-half there, then, incredibly, at about 2:15 a.m. we were informed they were out of available rooms.

That’s right. American Airlines sent us to a hotel without ensuring there were rooms available first.

I studied that name -- “After” -- etched in the glass doors that kept automatically sliding open and closed whenever we edged too close to the electric eye. As in “After all this, you’re telling me what?”

We briefly considered just getting taxis back to the airport and waiting it out there, but before we could collectively muster the combination of surrender and resolve needed to make the move, we were told that rooms were available at the hotel across the street, less weirdly-named the Palladium.

Off the coast of MontevideoMore incidental madness ensued at that check-in before finally the night culminated with getting to sleep around 3:30, the alarm set for 7:30 a.m. so as to be able to get a shower and eat something before getting rides back to the airport. Did get to see some more of the picturesque coast on that trip back, of which I snapped a photo or three. So did Will with my phone, who I think took this one.

This time we didn’t breeze through to the terminal, but were forced to wait in line a solid two hours as AA only had a single person checking all of us non-priority people with connecting flights. Spent part of the time chatting with a neighbor in line, a friendly fellow from San Francisco who plays a little poker and was thus intrigued to hear about the tournament we’d just covered.

Among the things I told him about the event, I shared the story of that wild hand involving Angel Guillen, Vladimir Dobrovolskiy, and Leandro Rubinsztain -- the one I mentioned here a couple of days ago in which Rubinsztain flopped a straight versus Guillen’s pocket kings and Dobrovolskiy’s pocket aces, but running cards on the turn and river gave the hand to Guillen. I brought it up in the context of his having correctly noted that even though poker requires skill, players -- good and bad -- still get lucky.

As I was nodding in agreement, I thought about our situation, one in which we’d both run into some pretty bad luck. And somewhat improbably, too. I certainly hadn’t had a poker-related trip go as badly as this in terms of travel woes were concerned. Lynn said she hadn’t either, despite having flown over 200 times all over the globe. (She and the others are looking at perhaps spending yet another extra night in Miami, while I may be able to catch a late one to my final destination.)

Josh Cahlik waiting in Montevideo airportMeanwhile, this was Josh’s very first international trip -- poker or otherwise -- and he’d been dealt a bad hand right away. That’s him on the left in line this morning,

But Josh is a good player. Despite his relative newness at the traveling reporter game, Josh sent out a wise tweet sometime around 3 a.m. noting how the ordeal was a lot easier to handle given that we were experiencing it together.

Josh hit upon it, I think, just as squarely as that fourth deuce hit on the river in our sit-n-go, surprising us as we realized we were both playing the board.

’Cos well, that is what it’s all about. I’m talking about these trips and all the rest of it, too. It’s the companionship, the joining up with fellow travelers, the bonding and camaraderie and sharing what it means to hurtle ourselves around through this life as we do. And helping each other out along the way, too, when needed.

Have reached the end of that Judee Sill album, the last track of which (“Abracadabra”) begins with the line “Here’s to the man who forgot his way home, who silently narrates the confusion of his fight.” One of many by Sill that feature characters, all based on herself no doubt, seeking some sort of clarity about existence.

Think I’ll start the album over. And look out the window a little more. And maybe try to work out some things.

Postscript: Looks like I’m getting one more night to indulge in such pondering, as my American Airlines flight from Miami home was cancelled as well. More tomorrow.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Day 4

Heads-up at LAPT Punta del EsteAnother longish day yesterday at the Mantra Resort, Spa & Casino here in Punta del Este, Uruguay as we followed the playing out of the Season 5 LAPT Punta del Este Main Event. Marcelo Fonseca and Angel Guillen began the day eighth and ninth in chips, respectively, out of the final nine, but ended up being the last two at the table, with Fonseca ultimately winning out.

There were a couple of deals -- one three-handed, then another at heads-up -- to flatten the payouts a bit at the end. Fonseca ended up taking away $144,420 for the win, with Guillen grabbing $126,240. Afterwards we all grabbed a late dinner at the buffet (forgoing the massive, meaty addendum of parilla this time around), then made it back to the home-away-from-home sometime after 1 a.m.

Got up this morning reasonably rested and looking ahead to the long day-slash-night-slash-day of travel I’m facing. I saw my partner in crime F-Train off this morning as he has an earlier flight than the rest of us. Was great fun as always trading off posts with him as we reported from the event all week over on the PokerStars blog.

As often seems to happen among groups like us who find ourselves away covering events such as those on the LAPT, we talked a lot about the nature of tournament reporting, including sharing ideas about what makes for a worthwhile record of an event that is entertaining and useful to those following as well as satisfying for those producing it.

Couldn’t help but think ahead to the summer and all the reporting that’s going to be happening from the Rio as the WSOP unfolds over the next seven-plus weeks. I mentioned before I’ll be back with PokerNews starting a little after mid-June and will be there until they reach the final nine in the Main Event four weeks after that.

Kind of incredible, really, to think about how the reporting side of things at the WSOP (and tourneys in general) has gotten more and more involved over the years, even since I first got into it all. For fans there’s no end of information about these 61 WSOP events, it seems.

Was hearing something over the past few days about how apparently dealers at this year’s WSOP will be helping track chip counts via Blackberry Playbook tablet devices at every table. Sounds like they’ll be keeping track of players, checking them in when they sit down, recording them as busted out when that occurs, and updating stacks during breaks. Here’s more about the system, about which I guess I’m kind of in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode

Mickey Doft counting chips at the 2012 LAPT Punta del Este final tableSpeaking of counting chips, to the left is a picture of legendary chip counter Mickey Doft, taken yesterday by the great Carlos Monti. Both Mickey and Carlos are tops when it comes to paying attention to details.

Will be interesting to see how all of this stack-tracking stuff goes at the WSOP. Still think there remains a place for well presented narrative accounts of poker tournaments, whether in the form of hand reports or longer form essays summarizing highlights and/or delving deeper into interesting details or side stories along the way. But the stats geek side of me also likes the idea of discovering ways to gather still more “surface-level” or technical data about how tournaments play out, too.

Gonna save thinking on all that until later, though. Will try to rest as much as I can on the flights home, then enjoy the respite I’ll have for almost three weeks before returning to the airport again for another poker-related journey.

Talk to you again on the other side.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Day 3

2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Day 3The third day of the 2012 LAPT Punta del Este Main Event was a lengthy one -- as expected -- although not as long as we thought it could be earlier in the week. Took about nine-and-a-half levels or so to play from 76 players down to nine, which is where Tournament Director Mike Ward decided to stop things.

That means we’re technically one more elimination away from the official eight-handed final table, although all nine of the remaining players will be gathering around a single table when we begin a little while from now.

In ninth is Angel Guillen of Mexico, looking to make his second LAPT final table, the first in fact coming here in Uruguay back in 2009, right at the start of his career. In fact, I think that final table (where he finished third) came before he’d actually become a full-time pro.

Guillen was involved in what was easily the most remarkable hand yesterday by far, really the wildest of the first three days.

I mean, we’ve seen bigger hands. And no, I’m not talking about the Monumento al Ahogado. There was the one last night in which Francisco Baruffi used pocket queens to crack Juan Garcia’s pocket aces. They were 1-2 in chips at the time, got it all in before the flop, and a queen arrived on the turn. That was something close to a 1.6 million-chip pot, good enough to catapult Baruffi into the chip lead to start today.

The Guillen hand, though, was much more jawdropping.

The hand started with a min-raise from Guillen in early position, a flat-call by the Russian Vladimir Dobrovolskiy in the cutoff, and Leandro Rubinsztain of Argentina accepting the invitation to call from the big blind, too, and see a relatively cheap flop which came QdTs8c. The trio were all interested enough in continuing at that point to get all of Guillen and Rubinsztain's stacks in the middle, and most of Dobrovoskiy.

Guillen had KsKc. Dobrovolskiy had AdAc. And Rubinsztain Js9c! Looked like the Argentinian was primed to crack both kings and aces in a single hand.

But the turn brought the Kd, giving Guillen a set and hopes to fill up or make quads. Dobrovolskiy also was still alive, too, with a gutshot to Broadway.

Then came the river -- the 8d! Guillen had made the runner-runner full house to triple up (putting him in second at the time), Rubinsztain was out in 23rd, and Dobrovolskiy was knocked back down to about five big blinds or so. The Russian climbed back, though, and in fact has more chips than Guillen to start today's final day.

A plate of parillaThat hand happened to have been the very last one before our dinner at the buffet located across the lobby from the poker room. There we filled plates with lighter fare, then were surprisingly served a second plate of parilla, an dish of assorted cuts of beef, different kinds of sausage, and chicken. After dinner, I ended up writing a post about the big hand that also referred to our big meal titled "A lot to digest."

Would be neat if Guillen can improve his status in the early going today and perhaps stick around a while as we play down to a champion, although by now we're somewhat invested in all of the remaining players, with any of them emerging as the winner at the end likely to make for a nice story.

I know you're probably more distracted by the World Series of Poker kicking off today or WSOP fantasy drafts or the conclusion of the World Poker Tour $25K event, but if you're curious to see how things turn out down in Punta -- and how my blogging partner F-Train and I tell about it -- trip over to the PokerStars blog.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Day 2

Day 3 about to begin at LAPT Punta del EsteAnother short one yesterday here in Punta del Este, as we just played six levels again. Looks like things will pan out well enough, though, as just 76 players made it through to today.

We’ll definitely have a longer day today -- the plan sounds like 10 levels -- with an eye toward getting sorta kinda close to a final eight-handed table before night’s end so we can finish the sucker up on Sunday in decent shape.

The day went well, with a few interesting stories arising along the way, including one involving last year’s LAPT Punta del Este winner Alex Komaromi. We were tracking him, obviously, but soon became aware that his father, Pedro, was also in the event.

Drawing on the collective memory of the regular crew of international bloggers for various sites, we remembered Pedro had actually stone-cold bubbled this same event two years ago (in Season 3). That led to a kind of fun post about the pair of them titled “Padre e hijo (Father and Son).”

Alex eventually busted yesterday afternoon, but Pedro survived with a slightly below average stack of 85,600. With just 20 players to go until we reach the money, have to say I’m kind of hoping Pedro makes it that far this time.

Later in the day, well after writing up that post, we discovered that in fact Alex’ mother played in the event as well. In fact, she survived into Day 2 -- longer than Alex did -- before being eliminated. We missed that story, thanks mainly to the fact that she doesn’t have the same last name (Lina Gecelter). We met and talked to her afterwards, though, and included that part of the story with a reference in the end-of-day wrap.

Just six levels meant another relatively early night -- ending around 8 p.m. -- which was nice enough, but then we were all treated to a free meal afterwards at Zafferano, one of just two restaurants (I believe) here at the Mantra Hotel Spa & Casino.

Our crew was joined by Team PokerStars Pros Angel Guillen and Jose “Nacho” Barbero (both of whom are coming back on Day 3 to above-average stacks). Entertained the brain with lots of good conversation. And filled the belly with a tasty bowl of butternut squash soup, an especially flavorful filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake.

Signing off now as play is about to get underway. Check that PokerStars blog today and tomorrow for more poker from Punta.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Day 1

The view out my hotel window in Punta del EsteThere’s a shot out the back of my hotel suite, the Atlantic ocean lapping up onto the shore here during the early days of a mild Uruguayan winter.

It was a relatively calm Day 1 at the tournament yesterday. Short, too, as we only played six one-hour levels.

Apparently the reason for only playing six levels -- as opposed to the usual eight or ten -- had something to do with the availability of dealers and their union not permitting them to work more than seven-hour-long shifts.

With the large field here at the start of the tourney there’s a need to spread more tables, and thus a need for more dealers. Once the field shrinks, however, they’ll be able to split up the dealers they have into early and late shifts, and so we’ll be able to play more at that point.

I believe the plan today, then, will be another six-level day, which means tomorrow’s Day 3 will probably be extra long, and Sunday’s final day may be as well. A total of 375 ended up coming out for this one, down a little from the 422 they had back in August, but still a big group. They played down to about 274 or thereabouts yesterday.

Had a chance to write some fun “color”-type posts yesterday with my blogging partner F-Train, which made the short work day even more enjoyable. My favorite of the day was one about the wild sculpture in the sand just up the road called the “Monumento al Ahogado” or the “Monument of the Drowned.” That’s the one with the four fingers and thumb coming up out of the sand (see a picture in my Tuesday post).

I managed to pull together a post about the sculpture that told the story while relating it to poker, and was able to include a couple of neat pictures as well. Reinaldo had a cool one of himself standing amid the sculpture, and our awesome photographer Carlos got me a picture of stacks of poker chips that I incorporated into the post as well.

Then the title kind of wrote itself: “Have I Got a Hand for You.”

Thanks to the short day we were able to take a cab back down to the Isidora, the waterfront restaurant we’d enjoyed during the last visit and which a couple in our group (F-Train and Josh) hadn’t been to before. I made sure to get the delicious rabas (squid rings) again.

At the end of the meal, someone mentioned playing credit card roulette for the bill, and while we decided against doing so, Mickey thought he’d see what would have happened if we had. My card was picked first, continuing that run good I’ve been having on the trip thus far, and with what seemed like utter inevitability, Mickey’s own card was last.

“Unbelievable,” he said. Which all who know Mickey will find believable.

Got back to the room in good shape and am reasonably rested for today. Am vaguely aware of other big happenings in the poker world, including the WPT Championship winding down and the WSOP about to crank up. But enjoying a little respite from that frenzy for now amid the relative calm of Punta.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Pregame

Welcome partyMade the short trek last night down the beachside highway from where we’re staying here on the east coast of South America to a little gathering place for the LAPT Punta del Este welcome party.

We arrived early to find a sparsely-populated scene in which attendees were then outnumbered by staff. Soon, however, the place filled with poker players and others, meaning we left a loud and festive scene a couple of hours later.

Besides enjoying some food and drink and reuniting with a lot of friendly faces with whom we’ve worked before on the tour, the night included LAPT President David Carrion and others announcing various honors for the recently completed LAPT Season 4 such as player of the year (Pablo Gonzalez), shorthand player of the year (Daniel Ospina), online qualifier of the year (Engelberth Varela), among others.

Lynn and SergioLynn Gilmartin and Will Thomas arrived to shoot some videos with players and others. Among the interviews Lynn conducted was one with our buddy and fellow PokerStars blogger Sergio Prado, and I snapped a quick photo of Sergio delivering predictions about how the Season 5 version of LAPT Punta del Este would go.

Last August this event attracted 422 entrants. Sergio thinks we’ll probably see a similar-sized field -- perhaps even larger -- this time around. That means players will be scattered all over the Mantra Resort Spa and Casino for today’s first day of play.

Once again we’ve descended on Punta del Este during what is essentially off-season for what is really a summertime destination. Sergio was telling me last night that he was told there are around 10,000 people in the city currently, whereas on New Year’s Day (the summer time) there were like 600,000 or 700,000 (!).

Highway on the beachWe noticed last year how the roads were mostly calm and quiet when we went out. Such was the case during our walk to and from the party last night as well.

That won’t be so a few hours from now, though, once the cards go in the air and hundreds of players start the process of trading chips back and forth until just one remains. If past LAPT events are any indication, things will get a little more animated at that point.

Check out the PokerStars blog today for reports on how it all goes.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Arrival

Flying southAfter a 24-hour plus journey consisting of three flights and another 70-mile trek via shuttle van from Montevideo to Punta del Este, I’ve successfully traversed the necessary 5,000 miles or so to help cover the next stop on the Latin American Poker Tour here in Uruguay.

A little bit bumpy at times along the way, but such is to be expected. Never mind traveling from one hemisphere to another, we came all the way from summer to winter, too. But I’m not complaining, as I enjoyed some especially fortunate “run good” to make each of my flights and make it here pretty much on schedule.

Met up with tourney reporter extraordinaire Mickey Doft in Miami last night, where storms all day and night had backed up everything for everybody by an hour or so. Our late departure there made it appear highly doubtful we’d make our connection in Santiago, Chile, and in fact we landed just a few minutes after our next flight was supposed to leave.

Approaching ChileCould tell even before getting off the plan that Chile was, well, chilly. As we disembarked, we had resigned ourselves to an extra wait in Chile, and likely another long one in Montevideo, Uruguay, since we’d be late catching that scheduled van. We were told by an airline official how we’d already been rebooked for a later flight, and so in no hurry Mickey and I decided we’d try to find that Starbucks with wi-fi we’d visited during a previous visit to the Santiago airport.

As we walked and talked, we heard an announcement in Spanish in which we recognized our original flight’s number and “Montevideo” being uttered. We also heard what sounded like a gate number, one that just so happened to be coming up on the left. Intrigued, we picked up the pace a little and were amazed to see our original flight still on the screen up above, punctuated by the words “LAST CALL.”

We walked over and could see the plane below. Sure enough it was our original flight, somehow delayed more than a half and hour. Within minutes we were aboard, and not long after that were airborne once again. Uruguayward.

From Chile to UruguayAll of which, as I say, ended well for your humble scribbler. In fact, later on we learned that next flight -- the later one we had thought we’d be taking -- was in fact cancelled, with the next one not leaving until something six hours later. So we were even luckier than we realized to have heard that announcement and gotten on board our original flight.

Not much to share since the last post, then, beyond pictures out plane windows. Up top is on the way to Miami, in the middle approaching Chile, and this one to the left on the way to Uruguay. Temps here are actually milder than the snow-capped mountains suggest, with highs in the 60s all week.

Pre-tourney party happening in a little while, and Day 1 tomorrow. More to come.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Packing for Punta

UruguayA quick post today to relate I’m heading back to the southern hemisphere to Punta del Este, Uruguay to help report on this week’s Latin American Poker Tour event. It’s a return trip for me, as I was there last summer as well for the LAPT. The tourney runs from Thursday through Sunday, so if you head over to the PokerStars blog later this week, you’ll see F-Train and I doing our best to share what’s happening from the event.

By the time I return, the 2012 World Series of Poker will have already gotten underway. The first event, the $500 buy-in Casino Employees Event (Event No. 1), kicks off on Sunday, May 27. On Monday comes the first open event, a three-day $1,500 no-limit hold’em tourney (Event No. 2). Then on Tuesday two more events get going, and the sucker gets rolling for real all of the way through to early July and the Main Event (Event No. 61).

I will be heading back to Vegas once again this summer to help PokerNews with their coverage of the WSOP. Gonna do similar to last year and go out a few weeks in, arriving a little after mid-June. Will be the fifth year for me at the Series, which seems hard to fathom.

Am looking forward to this short trip, which ought to serve as a fun warm-up for the more intense scene I’ll be reporting from in Vegas come June. Will be good to experience a little live poker, too -- if only as an observer -- after having spent so many hours of late watching the online guys pushing chips back and forth.

Anyhow, there are bags to pack and other matters to which to attend, so I’m signing off. Expect I’ll try again to submit a few travel reports, if I can, from the coastal city of Punta del Este, where I know for sure I’ll be seeing at least one big hand.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Old Stall Re-Stall

I'm WaitingSaw something kind of interesting I’m not sure I’d noticed before while following some of the SCOOP stuff over the weekend. Incidentally, thanks to the turnouts for the final events on Saturday and Sunday, PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker ended up exceeding pretty much all expectations regarding total prize pools to push past the $65 million mark, bettering the 2010 SCOOP and in fact becoming the biggest online poker tournament series ever.

I’ve written here before about the topic of players stalling as the money bubble approaches in online tourneys. The tactic isn’t of much use once they get to hand-to-hand, of course, but sometimes in the bigger field multi-table tourneys you’ll see short-stacked players letting their time banks run down when they get a couple of eliminations away from going hand-for-hand.

The stalling strategy comes up in regular tourneys now and then, for sure, but in SCOOPs and WCOOPs the prize pools are often quite large and so the stakes are higher for those looking at perhaps missing the money. Also, the time banks are usually increased as well for these events, which probably encourages stalling a bit more.

The two-day, $10,300 buy-in SCOOP Main Event kicked off yesterday and attracted 517 players to create a prize pool of more than $5 million. The top 63 got paid, with almost $1 million of that money due the winner. The schedule was to play 20 half-hour levels yesterday, and as they approached the end of Level 20 the field had in fact shrunk enough to approach the money bubble, getting down to 66 with about 20 minutes to go in the night.

There was some stalling happening as the next couple of bustouts happened, although it didn’t seem especially egregious. In any case, they got down to 64 and hand-for-hand, and as it happened a player busted on the very last hand of the night to ensure all of those who made it to today’s Day 2 also made the money.

Anyway, the slowdown that marked the end of the night reminded me of another, more conspicuous example of stalling occurring near the money bubble in an earlier SCOOP event, the $5,200 “high” version of the six-handed, fixed-limit hold’em event (Event No. 34).

Just 62 players played in that one, meaning only the top nine got paid. With 11 left the stalling began in earnest when Dan “djk123” Kelly, down to just over 8,000 chips (five big bets), dipped into his time bank for a good long stretch in a hand where it folded to him in middle position before the flop. Any sort of delay is all the more noticeable in an LHE game, of course, where the decisions aren’t usually as difficult as in no-limit.

Anyhow, at the time Kelly was essentially tied for 9th out of the final 11 with another short-stacked player at his five-handed table, while over at the other six-handed table one player sat in last place with less than 2,000 chips, and Sorel “zangbezan24” Mizzi also was on the short side with a little over 11,000.

Staring contestOnce I realized Kelly was going to be taking at least a couple of minutes before folding, I took a look at the other table where a similar scene was taking place. The action was on Bryn “BrynKenney” Kenney, who was sitting UTG with a comfortable-sized stack, and he, too, had dipped into his time bank before making any action. Conversation in both chat boxes clarified the situation.

“i got 300 seconds too,” typed Kenney over at Kelly’s table. He then explained to his table that “other table is stalling” and “otherwise i wouldn’t be,” adding further that “ive never stalled in my life.”

Mizzi agreed with Kenney that “we alll have to,” and the pair continued to discuss the matter, with a third player, “MaiseE,” joining in as well.

zangbezan24: sick how its come to this
BrynKenney: its a joke always in all the high limit tourneys
MaiseE: ya i know just saying its pointless ;)
BrynKenney: when its 2-3 from the money
BrynKenney: everyone stalls like crazy
BrynKenney: and nobody has any chips after

Was kind of interesting to consider the whole stalling-to-combat-the-effect-of-stalling strategy. From Kenney’s perspective -- i.e., a player with a healthy stack of more than 25 big bets as the bubble approached -- he would rather have everyone play as usual so as to play more hands before the stakes increased and thus lessened (somewhat) the advantage of having a bigger stack.

I suppose, then, that Kenney’s stalling was primarily a tactic meant to discourage Kelly from doing it subsequently. In any case, it certainly negated whatever benefit Kelly was trying to get from stalling. I can’t remember whether or not it worked and Kelly no longer stalled after realizing Kenney (and perhaps others at the other table) were going to stall in return. In the end both Kelly and Kenney would cash, finishing third and fourth, respectively. Mizzi ended up finishing seventh for a min-cash, while those other two short-stacked players referred to above ended up bubbling.

Some players get quite animated over the issue, of course. See for example Daniel Negreanu’s response to stalling in that earlier post of mine on the topic. I also noticed some tweets last night during that final half-hour of play as well from players lamenting the stalling.

Dani “supernova9” Stern (who busted shy of the top 100 in the SCOOP ME), tweeted that the allowing of stalling meant “they are basically making it mandatory, or else you are losing on the bble.” And Jon “FatalError” Aguiar, who made it today’s Day 2 (18th of 63), tweeted “Stalling Championship of Online Poker #SCOOP @pokerstars.”

As Stern points out, by allowing the stalling it has become a somewhat unavoidable part of the game. I guess I’m less bothered by it than some, given how stalling is not presently against the rules (not yet, anyway). Then again, I’m a lifelong UNC Tarheel fan who remembers the days of Dean Smith’s pre-shot clock, “four corners” offense.

The 'four corners' offenseI remember the 1982 ACC tournament final between UNC and Virginia in which the Heels led 44-43 with eight minutes to go, went into the stall, wiped out most of the remaining clock, and managed to win the game 47-45.

I also barely remember that infamous 1979 game against Duke when the Heels went into the four corners at the beginning of the game and it didn’t work out so well, as the halftime score was 7-0 Blue Devils. (No shinola.) Of course, I have tried to forget that one over the years.

The “four corners” was usually effective, though. And was within the rules. Until they changed them.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

On SCOOP, and the Stars-FTP-DOJ Scoop

What's the scoop?A ton happening at the moment, both in the poker world at large and for your humble scribbler. As far as the latter is concerned, there’s a bit too much going on for me at the moment to spend too much time here today, I’m afraid.

One of the activities that has occupied me a lot over the last two weeks has been helping report on results of the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker. Not too surprising to have seen this year’s SCOOP consistently draw huge fields for event after event, routinely crushing the conservative guarantees for each.

The overall guarantee for all 120 SCOOP events totaled $30 million. That figure was already eclipsed a few days ago, actually, having tripped up over $40 million for the first 90 events. And there’s $5 million worth of guarantees scheduled for the three Main Events alone (the "low," "medium," and "high") coming up this Sunday.

All of which means this year’s SCOOP series has already beaten the 2011 version in terms of total prize money, and may well ultimately produce a total that comes within shouting distance of the 2010 (pre-Black Friday) SCOOP in which 114 events featured prize pools adding up to $63,802,405.

Speaking of PokerStars thriving, I’m also kind of passively following those rumors about the Stars-FTP-DOJ deal possibly being finalized as early as next week. Like you, I imagine, I’ve clicked on some of those links to sites providing vaguely-collected inside dope regarding the status of the deal, yet in some cases stating in non-vague, even definitive-sounding terms when the announcement of a deal will be made.

I remain in “believe-it-when-I-see-it” mode. For those looking for more in-depth and more informed reporting on the matter, check out Haley Hintze’s two-part article from earlier in the week for the Kick Ass Poker blog titled “The Big Muddy.”

In Part 1, “Mixed Signals Everywhere on Possible Stars / Full Tilt / DOJ Deal,” Haley addresses both the rumors and those reporting them. Then in Part 2, “Fine Print in New Jersey Legislative Pact Emperils PokerStars Deal,” she steps back to consider the fate of the deal within a broader, constantly-changing context of legislative machinations, particularly with regard to recent moves in the Garden state.

And for more on the latter, check out Grange95’s discussion over on the crAAKKer blog as well, titled “A Poison Pill for PokerStars in New Jersey iPoker Bill?

Will be very interesting, obviously, to see if anything comes of the possible deal next week -- or ever -- although as this year’s SCOOP success is once more confirming, one senses Stars is going to be okay either way.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

WPT Takes Center Stage

World Poker Tour Takes Center StageThe World Series of Poker is about to consume our collective consciousness for the foreseeable future, with the summer’s first events kicking off just 10 days from now. Between now and then, however, we’ll be distracted a bit by the wind up of Season X of the World Poker Tour at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The traditional WPT World Championship event starts this Saturday, the $25,000 buy-in tourney that has served as a culmination for the tour ever since it started a decade ago. There will also be a three-day $100,000 buy-in “Super High Roller” event beginning next Wednesday which will surely draw a lot of attention as well.

Season X saw a record 23 events on the WPT schedule (including both the Bellagio ones coming next week). Over the last year the tour has visited Spain, Slovenia, France (twice), Malta, Morocco, Prague, Italy (twice), Ireland, Austria, in addition to numerous U.S. casinos.

Yesterday the first half of the Season XI schedule was announced, and it appears there’s no slowing down as far as the number of WPT events are concerned nor its extending to new places to visit, with stops in Cyprus, Copenhagen, and one in Casablanca (rather than Marrakech) on the schedule this time around.

Kind of amazing, really, to think about how the WPT has thrived over such a long period. There was that stretch a few years back when the tour seemed on relatively shaky ground, having scaled back in events and been forced to move around from the Travel Channel to the Game Show Network and finally to Fox Sports.

But things today appear better than ever for the WPT, one of the few constants in the poker world since the “boom” began around 2003 when the show first debuted. By the way, if you’re curious to read more about the WPT’s remarkable decade, I did a brief overview for Betfair poker last week, noting how the tour has fared over the last ten years and significantly grown in scope of late.

A WPT title remains a much-coveted goal for pros and amateurs alike, having retained its cachet despite the tour’s expansion and other changes -- both to the WPT and the poker world in general -- over the years. Indeed, whoever wins those two WPT events next week will be justly regarded as having achieved something of value and celebrated as such.

At least until the WSOP begins, anyway.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Human Interest

Just had a chance to read and enjoy Phil Galfond’s latest blog post, the first part of a kind of mini-memoir detailing his path to becoming a poker pro. He’s titled it “My Poker (+other) Story.”

If you’ve read Galfond’s blog before, you know he’s a thoughtful, smart guy and a good writer, too. Thus does it come as no surprise to see the discussion of his journey extend beyond the same-old-move-up-through-the-stakes tale so many other online grinders have told.

And really, it’s usually the “(+other)” stuff that makes any poker player’s story more interesting, isn’t it? More human.

I’ll just mention a few reflections I had as I read, then let you go check out the post yourself.

One was how easy it is for me to identify with Galfond, despite the fact that his achievements as a player obviously dwarf my own.

He talks about being obsessive, sort of an introvert (but still social), and intellectually curious. He mentions both friendships and family and makes it clear how important relationships with others are to him. And he also shows a well-founded appreciation of the need for balance between work (or pursuing one’s personal goals, such as in poker) and leisure.

All stuff I can understand and relate to, for sure. You, too, I’ll bet.

His post additionally covers his college career and how his pursuit of a philosophy degree was cut short by poker. He talks a lot about classes that interested him and other aspects of the academic life that did not.

Here is where Galfond and I went in somewhat different directions. I’m one who ended up going on with higher education as far as it would take me, getting graduate degrees and eventually teaching at the college level. And even though I got a ton of value out of taking that path and have no regrets about doing so, I share some of Galfond’s cynicism about the importance of degrees and grades and other ways we use higher education to measure ourselves against one another.

I like Galfond saying how he decided to be a philosophy major simply because the classes were interesting, and not worrying about where such a degree might take him, career-wise. “I didn’t know what it would lead to in life,” he says, “and I didn’t much care.”

I’ve had a lot of experience advising college students. While I always try to be practical with my recommendations to them, I also always attempt to make sure they understand that whatever major they choose, it had better be in something they find interesting. If they have some ability in that field and can do well in those classes, so much the better. But they gotta like it... at least something about it.

Thus when students ask me about being an English major, I ask them if they love to read literature and write about it. If the answer is yes to that, then we can talk about how you don’t have to be an low-earning English teacher after graduating with an English degree. In fact, you can do just about anything in which being able to read and write is needed.

I never tell students it doesn’t matter whatsoever what major they choose -- they don’t want to hear that -- but I have thought it numerous times. Because really it doesn’t. Not that much.

People joke about the relative value of humanities degrees a lot. Even Galfond parenthetically asks later on when talking about not graduating “what’s a Philosophy degree worth anyways?” But he’s not talking about translating the degree into any dollar amount or other measure of value, a mistake some students make that all but ensures they’ll get as little as possible out of their college years. Not entirely (I don’t think).

No, Galfond is talking about finding something interesting and worthwhile, and continuing with it until it stops being either. The classes were worth it for him, for a while, anyway. Finishing and meeting arbitrary requirements for a degree was not.

Phil Galfond winning a WSOP bracelet in 2008I had one other, more personal thought when reading Galfond’s post, namely the memory of having been there at the Rio back in 2008 when he won his WSOP bracelet in the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event (with rebuys). That was my first WSOP with PokerNews, and it just so happened Galfond’s win came at one of the first final tables on which I had ever reported. Change100 and I were there for that one.

I’d have to go back through the blog to recall details of the tourney and final table, but I remember it being a fairly dominating performance by the guy we kinda vaguely knew at the time as that “OMGClayAiken” dude who crushed online.

So I’m looking forward to Galfond getting to that part of the story, too, so as to learn more about what the experience was like for him that night. And to learn more about both the “pro poker player” and the “person,” as Galfond describes himself atop his blog.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Playing Poker with Sanford and Son

'Sanford and Son' (1972-1977)One of my favorite shows as a kid was Sanford and Son starring Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford and Demond Wilson as his son, Lamont. The sitcom about a widower junk dealer and his son ran from 1972-1977, and reruns were on for many years after that, which is when I ended up catching them.

It wasn’t until many years later I found out Foxx had produced a ton of comedy LPs during the late ’50s and ’60s from his nightclub act, so-called “party records” with material too risque for kids. Had a roommate in college who had one and later on heard several, discovering them all to be uniformly hilarious.

Hadn’t really thought about the show for a while, but amid doing some other poker-related scrounging on the web I realized there were a few episodes of Sanford and Son featuring poker that I’d forgotten about. All are on YouTube in their entirety.

The first titled “The Card Sharps” came early in the second season, initially airing on October 27, 1972. Like most episodes, it begins with Fred slacking off (in this case sleeping), Lamont coming home, then Fred pretending like he was hard at work.

Fred suggests a game of cardsLamont explains he has plans that night to have a group over for a poker game, and Fred objects. “Not in my house,” says Fred. “You know what your mother called cards? Fifty-two devils in Satan’s army!”

He goes on to explain to Lamont how his mother made him swear off cards before she died. Lamont isn’t deterred, however, pointing out how the only reason his mother made Fred promise not to play was because he was terrible and always lost.

Lamont explains that he’s played once before with the guys coming over, including one, Skeeter (Thalmus Rasulala) who apparently just got out of jail. “How much did you win?” asks Fred. “How did you know I won?” asks Lamont. Fred goes on to explain how “it’s the oldest trick in the business,” that is, to let a sucker win once, then the next time “break him… take everything they got.”

Fred immediately warns Lamont not to play with Skeeter and the others, knowing for certain they’ll cheat his son. He offers to watch the game and signal with a flyswatter if anything fishy arises.

Fred gives Lamont a signalThe guys arrive, and once Skeeter produces his own deck with which to play and suggestions are made to raise the stakes from what they played the last time, Fred becomes increasingly concerned. Thus it’s no surprise that when Skeeter gives himself an ace when determining who will deal, the signaling starts even before the first hand (see left).

The game they play is five-card draw, and Lamont starts losing right away, including one hand in which Skeeter beats his full house with a straight flush. “Flush is right,” says Fred to Lamont. “Yo’ money going right down the toilet.”

Check out the episode if you’re curious to see how it goes. I won’t give away the ending, except to share Fred claiming to quote scripture near the end: “Deal unto others as they have dealt unto you.”

Later in season 2 came another episode with poker, this one called “The Kid” (first airing March 9, 1973). This time the show begins with Fred playing solitaire -- and cheating -- rather than working, and when Lamont gets home Fred hastily hides the cards inside an accounting ledger, which Lamont immediately finds.

“Bookmark,” explains Fred. “Fifty-two of them?” asks Lamont. “I lose my place a lot,” says Fred with a sheepish grin.

This episode involves a young nine-year-old named Jason (Lincoln Kilpatrick, Jr.) who comes around wanting to hang out at the junkyard. Against Fred’s wishes, Lamont invites Jason to stay for dinner and even to spend the night when Jason explains he has no father and his mother is working.

When Lamont offers Jason some milk to go with his dinner, Fred offers him an alternative. “What about a beer?” he suggests. “Pop, children do not drink beer,” says Lamont. “What's wrong with that? It’s just got some barley and some grain and stuff in it. You know, it’s just corn flakes in a can!”

Fred plays poker with the KidFred eventually decides he likes Jason, and the next day they play some five-card draw, keeping track of how much they are winning and losing on a notepad.

A hand arises in which Jason discards four. “Four?” asks Fred incredulously. “That ain’t no way to play poker. Only a dummy would draw four cards.”

Predictably, Jason wins the hand, ending with four kings, and Fred now owes him $650 according to their tally. Fred then hastily suggests a new game.

Fred deals Jason three cards, then four for himself, then two more for Jason, then three more for himself. A betting round follows, and Jason is confused.

“How do you know who wins?” the kid asks. “How many cards you got?” says Fred. “Five,” answers Jason.

“I got seven, I win.”

A third episode with poker came late in the fourth season, one titled “The Stung” (from February 28, 1975). This one features another poker night with Lamont inviting series regulars Julio (Gregory Sierra) and Rollo (Nathaniel Taylor) over, and they bring along a brawny buddy appropriately named Arms (George Reynolds).

Meanwhile, Fred’s old friend Al Banks (Richard Ward) turns up, who just happens to have been a professional gambler, and the two of them cook up a scheme to win back money Fred has lost to the fellows over recent weeks -- or if not at least to have some amusement at their expense.

Like the other two episodes, this one has lots of funny lines throughout, such as when Fred is plotting his scheme and Al says he knows he’s up to no good from the look in his eye.

“I’m past no good,” explains Fred. “I’m up to evil… and approaching treachery!”

Later when Julio arrives, he apparently is wearing a shirt he literally won off of Fred at an earlier game, and Fred facetiously compliments him by telling him it looks good on him.

“It would even look better if you washed it,” he continues. “And starched it. And ironed it. And then folded it up real neat… and shoved it up your nose.”

There’s less actual poker shown in this episode -- the game they introduce early on is seven-card stud, but we never see a hand play out. In any case, I’ll let you take a look at the episode rather than give away how Fred and Al’s “sting” turns out.

Fred Sanford cleans upMaybe it’s a bit of nostalgia tugging at me, causing me to laugh a little more loudly than some might at these shows. But there’s just something about Foxx and his delivery that instantly makes me smile. And Fred Sanford was a perfect match of a character for him, too.

The dude was aces.

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