Saturday, April 30, 2005

Friday Night at the Casino

My buddy Toast and I ventured down to the Casino again last night for some $3/$6 action. This time we were seated at different tables.

I won the first hand I was dealt and then essentially folded for about 30 minutes straight. The tightness paid off eventually when the better cards started arriving.

I ended the night up $106.00, a sum I'm extremely pleased with considering the fact that I had to grind my way through a cold deck most of the 3 3/4 hours spent at the table. There weren't very many exciting hands that I was involved in: most of my pots were on the smaller side with the exception of one where I benefited from the old "big blind special".

I was dealt the powerful hand of 23o in the BB and was able to check my bet when no one raised preflop. The flop came down 237 rainbow and I bet out with a pained expression on my face. 4 callers later we saw the turn card come down, another 3. With my full house, I bet out again and get three callers. River was a 9 and I was able to get the girl to my left to call my bet. She only had a pair of fours but she felt she "had to play it all the way" since she was dealt the wired fours on the previous hand as well and hit quads ON THE FLOP (and took down a huge pot with them). This $69.00 pot was the largest I won all night and it was on a hand I would have folded quicker than you can bat an eyelash if someone had raised preflop. Funny game, poker is.

So, I've profited $318.00 in a little over 6 hours of playing time the last couple of days at the $3/$6 table. The general play was just as bad last night as it was the night before so I don't see myself changing my table philosophy anytime soon.

No poker tonight, however. I'm going to spend some quality time with the lady tonight...a nice dinner on the town sounds like a plan!

I Finally Took a Day Off

It had been over six months since I took a day off from work. Until Friday that is! A long overdue break from my ever expanding workload.

I'm sure I'll chat a bit more in the future about my career but will avoid the topic for now. Instead, I'll discuss the enjoyable day at my second office: the golf course.

I went out with my good friend Jay (also benefiting from a day off) to Whirlpool Golf Course in Niagara Falls, a Stanley Thompson design. Now, both Jay and I (and our buddy Toast) are members at St. Catharines Golf & C.C. but Jay only paid for a 'social' membership at the club this year rather than foot the bill for the golf membership. Jay is recently married and has a five year old stepdaughter that accounts for much of his time these days so the golf membership would have likely gone to waste. He is still able to get in seven rounds a year at the club but we decided to take advantage of the great spring rate at the well-renowned Whirlpool ($49.00 to walk) for our game on Friday. The course was in really good shape, especially the greens, which were rolling beautifully and were amazingly slick for late-April. If you are ever in the Niagara area and are looking for places to play, you can't go wrong with Whirlpool. Golf Digest rated it **** 1/2 recently and Score Magazine rated it the 87th best course (public or private) in the country. The peak-season green fee is around $60.00 so it's a bargain too. I still believe my club (also a Stanley Thompson design) is a more interesting place to play, especially with regard to the topography, but we'll delve further into St. Catharines Golf & C.C. at another time.

My game has been excellent to start the season so I went into the round with an awful lot of confidence. In my four rounds thus far in 2005, I've shot 78, 77, 79 and 76. Not too shabby! My handicap index is currently at 3.7 and I'm hopeful to get it down to about 2.0 or a little less by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, my game did not show up today. We played the blue tees which measure 6701 yards with a course rating of 71.9 and a 123 slope rating. It was about 6 degrees celsius when we went off the 10th tee at about 9:15am (42 degrees for my American friends). The 10th is pretty much the most challenging hole on the course, a par 4 measuring 450 yards. After a badly pulled drive and an excellent 3-iron later (more on that club in another post), I had about a 30 yard pitch left. However, my short game touch was still sleeping and I hacked it around until making double bogey on the hole. I bogeyed the next hole and was 4-over after 5 holes until a birdie on the straightaway par 5 15th got me back into the game. I promptly double bogeyed the short 16th after hitting into long grass well right of the fairway and parred in from there to make the turn at 41.

I'd go on in detail but my back nine was even more atrocious and I finished the incoming nine at 43 for an 84. My ball striking was about as bad as I can ever remember, as I hit only 5 fairways and an embarrassing 4 greens in regulation. I had 31 putts for the round.

My tempo was quick throughout and I had some difficulties with maintaining my posture. I'll have to work on that. I'm just really disappointed because my game (both the physical and mental aspects) had been in mid-season form until today. That's golf for you though! Even with the poor play, I had a smile on my face throughout the day, realizing that a day on the golf course is much preferred over a hectic day in the office. Jay, a pretty solid player himself, shot a balky 89 today. His game suffers from the lack of practice but he too enjoyed the round and that's all that counts!

I just hope I get a chance to redeem myself this weekend. The forecast is calling for rain the entire weekend, with Sunday looking like a definite lost cause. I'll play in almost anything though, so as long as it's not pouring cats & dogs, I'll be out there tomorrow looking to improve upon today's ugly round.

Friday, April 29, 2005

A License to Print Money

"You don't have a gambling problem, do you?"

This is a question asked of myself from my mother about 6 weeks ago. A little backstory is likely required...

I started hosting a weekly poker game among a group of 5-8 friends about 4 months ago. We played $0.50/$1.00 Limit Hold'em for a few weeks along with a couple of No Limit tournament-style games for $5.00. Everyone would buy in for $20.00 and we had a night's worth of entertainment. By popular demand, the limits were raised to $1.00/$2.00, meaning $40.00 buy-ins. No one got hurt. I had two, count 'em, TWO losing nights since I started hosting the game. Overall, I am up about $175.00 in my home game.

Well, one night we had a boatload of people show up to my place for some poker action. 11 guys to be exact, one more than the regulation amount at a table. Therefore, one guy had to sit for 40 minutes until a spot opened up. Harris, a buddy of mine and one of the regulars at the game, decided this was worthy of discussion at his weekly family dinner. His old man, the joker that he is, ran into my old man at the golf club and started pulling his leg, saying I was a gambling junkie, I was losing my shirt on a daily basis at the casino, etc, etc. So I have to actually defend myself from these lies after getting the phone call from a worried set of parents who think their son is in serious financial trouble. I play poker once a week, for goodness sake! I can't tell you how pissed I was after that phone call and boy, did Harris ever feel embarrassed when told about his father's shenanigans.

By the way, it's worth noting that I'm 32 years old.

Now to present day. I haven't hosted my weekly game in over three weeks, mostly due to how much trouble it is organizing everything and then finding that certain people don't show up for the game. A few of the guys hate playing shorthanded (ie: 5 people) and I try to be as accommodating as possible. There are a couple of flakes in the group that can't be counted on to show when they say they'll show and since I don't want to upset anyone, I just have cancelled the games for the last little while. However, the poker itch has been scratched elsewhere...

Elsewhere is Casino Niagara and their brand new poker room. 12 Tables. Lower limits starting at $2.00/$4.00 and ranging up through $6.00/$12.00. They usually have a couple $1.00/$2.00 No-Limit games going as well. I cannot express to you how poor the play is at this casino and how easy it is to win money with a tight philosophy at the tables. As the cliche goes, it's like taking candy from a baby.

I made a trip down to the casino last night to meet up with my golf and poker buddy Toast (click here to read about his adventures). He had already amassed a huge stack of chips at the $3.00/$6.00 table by the time I arrived and I eventually ended up getting escorted to a seat directly to his left on the same table. Now I consider Toast to be a super-tight/aggressive player while I would probably be tagged as slightly looser but equally as aggressive. If I'm in position, I'll throw in a raise on a mid-level suited connector (ie: 89s) just to keep people off balance. I also have an affinity for gapped suited connectors, with 79s being a personal favourite.

Anyway, through 45 minutes at this table I see only three flops and one river where I won a $40.00 pot at showdown. So I'm slightly ahead after losing a bunch of my blinds to raises when I get dealt KQo on the button in what ends up as the hand of the night. Four callers to me (Toast folds to my right) and I raise it to $6.00. Both blinds cold call and the original callers throw in the extra bet as well. Flop comes down KQ10 rainbow giving me top two pair. BB bets out, 2 callers to me, I raise, BB calls and other two follow suit. Turn shows my money card, another Q, giving me queens over kings. BB bets into me, 1 more call, I raise, BB calls while the other guy goes away. River card is a blank. BB bets, I raise, BB re-raises. Now I'm slightly concerned about him having pocket kings but the guy didn't raise pre-flop so I quickly dismiss that thought. We end up raising each other until he puts the last of his chips in (about $24.00 on the river) and I call him down. BB turns over Q10 for a lower boat than mine and I rake in a monster. I felt bad for the guy because he actually had GOOD CARDS.

This wasn't the case the rest of the night. People at this table bet third and fourth ranked pairs like they're the absolute nuts! I can't tell you how many times I winced at the plays being made at this table.

I ended up profiting $212.00 in two and a half hours of game time. My buddy Toast outdid me, cashing in for $226.00 more than he came with. Keep in mind that this is a $3.00/$6.00 table.

This will be the exception, rather than the norm and I know that. I didn't get sucked out on even once so I truly had one of those lucky nights at the table. However, I never got myself into a situation where I was putting money into a pot with crappy cards, a theory that doesn't seem to register with most of the players in this game.

I hope they don't catch on too quick. I look forward to going back soon.

A Mission Statement

Welcome to my world.

An introduction is probably in order but I feel it would be more fun to allow the mystery to reveal itself one post at a time.

Writing is a very therapeutic exercise for me and I plan on being very liberal with my posts here. Opinions on current events, politics, movies, music and anything pop culture will be shared. My day-to-day life will be open for analysis, to a certain extent anyway. You'll be introduced to many of my friends: some you'll get first names while others will be given nicknames out of respect for their anonymity.

There will be some topics that get discussed more often than others. I'm a huge golf junkie and I'll be using my blog as a means of dissecting my game in an effort to become a scratch player (ie: 0 handicap). It's an unlikely goal for 2005 but it's not impossible. Rundowns on all of my weekend golf activity, updates on my success (or lack thereof) in tournament play and reviews of all the different courses I play will be written.

I'm an absolute sports fanatic. I play in a local ball hockey league with friends throughout the year, I play co-ed baseball in the summertime and play co-ed volleyball in the wintertime. All of this will be discussed.

I'm also pretty enamored with the game of poker. I started playing Hold'em about a year ago and now host a semi-regular 1/2 Limit game at my place with anywhere from 5-10 people. The local casino just opened a cardroom about two weeks ago and I've been making some appearances there lately with great success. I'll talk openly about my sessions, whether it's crying about a bad beat or sheepishly talking about my suckout win with 72o out of the small blind.

Let's get on to the show...