Chris and Hank’s Excellent Adventure

After a scant week of poker, I anxiously awaited Chris Halverson‘s arrival on Friday, knowing that part of the package was a visit to our B&M of choice. I hadn’t played live for something like 2 months now, not counting a couple of terrible home games, so I was really looking forward to it.
Especially since the cards have been hot for me lately. I was able to sit in a loose $5-10 game late Wednesday night, and after some crazy swings (up $100, down $100) I left up $90 after only 15 minutes. Since my wife’s grandparents were visiting, the only poker I got to play were the late night sessions after everyone was asleep. Sick, tired, and often not very sober, I was happy to leave with a quick profit, although it made me feel like a “fake” poker player. I look at guys like Grubby and DavidRoss and wonder if they’ve EVER played a 15 minute session in their life. Anyway, the following night I had possibly my best run of cards ever: 20 minutes on 3 $3-6ers for a total of $240. That’s an outlandish 66 BB/100, and I was torn between “playing my rush” and going to bed on a high. Of course I took the cowardly route and went to bed, and I’ll never know if the session would have started off a monster run that made me a millionaire. The flops I got were ridiculous, and when they weren’t, I hit my big draws on the on the turn or river. My bankroll is at an all-time high and steadily growing, and losing sessions have been moved into the archive section of my memory. I’m not sure what else I can sacrifice to the Poker Gods, but if anyone has any ideas let me know.
Movie Review: Kaufman’s stride too small
No poker on Thursday night, as we said goodbye to the Grandparents and went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, after Boy Genius and Grubby gave it rave reviews. After Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, I’m always a little wary of Kaufman’s films. I always feel tricked somehow after the movie… while I’m watching his movies, I am engrossed and interested, but on the way home I always end up scratching my head and wondering, “What was the point?” Eternal Sunshine was considerably better than Kaufman’s previous work, but still left me with the bitter taste of trickery. Carrey and Winslet were great, exhibiting the pain of love and long relationships. But in the end, Kaufman’s hero only takes a baby step towards anything heroic, and it’s not clear what love had to do with the growth of either of the two main characters.
I talked about this with Grubby after the film, and he pointed out that Kaufman’s films are generally about the search for identity. Kaufman’s heroes are the neurotic everyman, whose insecurity is the strongest force in his life. And we’re along for the ride as this hero tries to overcome his neuroses in an attempt to answer the question “Who Am I?”. True to form, the lead character in Eternal Sunshine (played brilliantly by Carrey) is no Achilles or Hamlet, and his search for identity is on a much smaller scale. It’s much harder to present the modern average Joe as heroic, and Kaufman makes a serious effort in his latest film. It’s an interesting look at the search for identity and love, but in the end falls a little short in the theme department. As a wanna-be writer of literature, I’ve always thought that good films are woven around a strong central theme. Eternal Sunshine is an excellent movie, but Kaufman’s central character doesn’t resonate thanks to the lack of a central theme. But maybe I’m just too old-fashioned.
Let the adventure begin…
So the Friday workday had me looking forward to meeting Chris and hitting the casino in the evening. Sitting on the bus on the way home, my phone rings, and the vibration sucks up the last bit of battery juice and the phone goes dead. I picture Chris driving around my apartment complex cursing me out, so I kick it up a gear and run home after hopping off the bus. I reach the parking lot relieved to find a couple of blond guys standing next to a shiny bright blue PT Cruiser. The mighty Halverson in the flesh!
The rumor that Chris only speaks in Java code proved to be false, as he and his son came inside speaking fluent English with only a tinge of Minnesota accent (think Fargo turned way way down). Chris even had gifts: a beautiful 15 year old bottle of fine Dalwhinnie Scotch, a bottle of wine, and of course, a 6 pack of Guinness bottles. We ended up polishing off the Guinness, but in a tragic turn of events, I completely forgot about the Scotch and wine and Chris left before we could even tap into them! I might be able to pull off a well-timed bluff, but apparently I have no manners! But a hearty thanks for the fine spirits Chris, and I will pay it backward eventually. (Honestly, I wasn’t trying to save it all for myself, although at this point I’m not complaining…)
We hit up a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and decided after dinner to hit up the closest B&M, Hollywood Park, rather than seeking out more famous venues (e.g. Commerce and The Bike), since they require freeway drives that can take over an hour if the traffic is bad. My wife and Chris’s son took off for Blockbuster to find a Playstation 2 or a decent movie, and Chris and I were off in the PT Cruiser to good old HP.
It had been a couple months since I’d been, and the place was pretty packed, the norm for a Friday night. I put up our initials on the 2-4 list, which was extremely long. Luckily they opened up a new table and cleared the board, and Chris and I were able to sit next to each other after about a 20 minute wait. I checked the time: 8:30, and I settled in for what would be a long night with the fish…
I hadn’t played anything lower than the $6-12 for a long time, and I looked forward to playing super loose and trying to lay some bad beats on the low limit crowd, including Mr. Halverson. Chris said that HP was much bigger than Canterbury in Minnesota, which has about 30 tables. HP must spread over 100, and there’s plenty of room to walk around.
A regular in the $6-12 game came by and tossed me a dollar chip, telling me to hit the jackpot. He must have thought I had gone broke, since he’d only seen me sit $6-12, and I started to understand why the high limit players hate to drop in limit. If you’re a regular player, everybody knows you’ve gone broke, and of course the rush isn’t nearly as great when the pots are tiny in comparison to the higher limit games.
The $2-4 game was ridiculously passive, with 7 people seeing the flop and raises occurring once in a blue moon. I completely threw away my normal, aggressive style and became somewhat of a calling station, as the game was very friendly and raises did not seem welcome. I did throw in a raise from the Big Blind on the first hand I played, and with seven people seeing the flop I was sure my pocket rockets would go down in flames, but most of the field had disappeard by the turn. Some clown ended up hitting a runner-runner flush to scoop a nice sized pot, and I was off to a great start. As a veteran of these types of beats on the .50-1 Party tables, Chris sympathized with my first bad beat of the night.
Chris got off to a better start, winning his first pot with two pair. I realized that this table would be extremely tough to beat, since raises were few, and people weren’t staying in with complete junk. The pots tended to be relatively big preflop, but small afterwords. Combine this with a $3 pre-flop drop and you’ve got a game that’s nearly impossible to beat. When the house is raking a small bet per hand no matter what the size of the pot, the players have to be pretty bad in order for the game to be beatable.
Hand of the night: I’ve got 44 in late position. I call, Chris is to my left on the button and calls. Flop is 4 K rag with two hearts. Checked to me, I bet and everybody (4 or 5 other players). The turn is the nine of hearts, and I figure I’m in trouble, but it’s checked to me. I bet and everybody calls. One of my 4s is a heart, so maybe nobody’s got it… the river puts the fourth heart on the board. I check, Chris bets, and everybody folds! I think about it for a minute, and figure Chris for the heart. I muck, and Chris flashes a King-9 for two pair, but no heart! A nice river bet by Mr. Halverson, and he won the only pot we played against each other the entire night.
As my stack slowly dwindled, the announcer continued to call players for the $100 NL game. I was surprised by this, since the only times I’ve seen the NL game run, it goes on for about an hour, the fish bust out, and then they break the game. But there were actually TWO NL games going on, and the waiting list had more than 10 people on it. Must be the WPT. I walked over to the NL games, which had a couple tough young players which I recognized from tourneys and the $6-12 game. The average age of the NL tables was probably somewhere around 30, compared to something like 50 for ring games. Eventually they started a $200 NL game, and I didn’t recognize any of the players in the game. They were older too, and the game smelled strongly of fish. I was enjoying the game with Chris, but this was an opportunity too good to pass up. Unfortunately the game was full, and the floorman said I’d have to wait.
A few minutes later they opened a $100 NL ($2 and $3) game right next to the $200 game. They had another seat, so after a couple hours of $2-4 with Chris, I figured that I could win back the $50 I’d lost with a single NL hand. Although I did recognize a couple of the players and the game didn’t appear as good as the $200 game, I figured I could get my feet wet in the smaller game, since I’d never played live NL before. The chance to escape the awful rake and make some real money was just too good to pass up, so I wished Chris luck and moved over to the $100 NL game. I can’t wait to read his trip report and see his final impression of Hollywood Park.
But you’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out how my first live NL ring experience went, since I am running out of energy here (we ended up getting home at 4:30 AM on Friday). I will tell you it was a very good night, and I have to thank Chris for both a fun weekend and an excellent night of poker. Oh and of course the Scotch and the wine as well. More to come tomorrow…
Poker Blog Patrol
The mad drunken ramblings of the great Ignatius have reached new highs in the past couple weeks, as the man of guinness cranks out uber-post after uber-post. I will sorely miss the links and ramblings while Iggy is on hiatus, but I’m sure he’ll come back drunker stronger than ever.
As usual, Iggy is the first to discover a new blog, but this one is special. I’m very excited to hear the thoughts of Angelina Fekali, sister of one of the best poker theorists on the web. It looks like Izmet set her up on Movable Type, and Ange has a few entries under her belt already. She’s a $20-40 player on Paradise, and has a history of crushing the games there. Make sure you check out her homepage and the pics as well. Ummm, I wouldn’t mind sitting at her table… I’m looking forward to hearing about some of the higher limit online games, since most of us bloggers are stuck in the low limits (for now).
Grubette is back on PokerGrub, offering a new method of getting nice chips for your homegame:
“What a brilliant idea though, you can “rent” chips for free from your local neighborhood card room (“renting” here refers to getting a rack or two of the casino’s clay chips, carrying them into the bathroom with an oversized purse and dumping them in at the same time a toilet flushes to muffle the sound). Hey I paid for them. I hid the racks behind the toilet and sauntered out, no one the wiser. When I got home I considered washing the chips but then they would be much too nice (and counterfeiting could be suspected) to turn back in.”
Only she could come up with a new meaning for the term “chip dumping”. I’ll have to make another trip to Hi-G so I can watch Grubette in action and take the college kids’ money. Grubette claims that a guy there is in the CS department at UC-Irvine, which is where I got my grad degree. I may have even taught the kid, so surely he can’t be a good poker player.
Pauly is still cleaning up the NL ring games on Party, but hit some bumps after a few too many bad beats. Tuesday night P-money will attempt to parlay his $24 into a 25K seat at the WPT Bellagio championship, after winning his way into the $325 satellite with a 3rd place (of 135) finish in the super satellite last week. Picture Pauly bluff raising Gus Hansen all-in at the final table of the WPT championship. Mind-boggling, and possible. Good luck my man.
3 hours till The First Poker Journal Keeper Tournament, which Felicia has put a lot of time in to set up. Thanks Fel! Seeing as I went out FIRST last tourney, it’s not possible for me to do any worse. But the cards have been good to me lately, so I’m hoping for a big finish from yours truly tonight.
Good luck to everybody, and thanks for reading…

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