Friday, January 08, 2010


You want me fluff your pillow?

Ok, so I've got a lot to write about, but I figured I could knock a few things out right now while I'm sitting at home on a Friday night eating my Costco sushi with a salad fork and trying to recover from last night's epic poker bender. I swear I could use another ten hours of uninterrupted sleep just to feel normal again, even though I drank nothing stronger than Bailey's & Coffee--and I only had two of those all night.

Once I got all the parts moving in the same direction this afternoon, I headed out to run a few errands. The first stop was the mailbox, and inside was further evidence of my advancing years--I now own address labels. Never done that before. I was able to do a custom roll of a hundred of them for around twenty bucks, so I uploaded my Hurricane Mikey logo online and ordered a batch last week. I used the first one at the UPS store today when I sent my dad a box of books. I don't know why, but address labels just seems like something your parents would do. On the other hand, it saves time when I'm writing out the monthly bills, and now I have one less excuse for not sending out Christmas cards, too.

After the UPS store, I walked over to the bank and deposited a stack of hundies, the fruits of my labors at the poker tables the past couple of nights. If I lived anywhere else, I'd be afraid that the bank teller would think I'm a drug dealer, wandering in at random times looking like I just got out of bed and depositing a bunch of wrinkled up Benjamins. But this is Vegas, baby--it's a cash town, so nobody gives you a second look. I swear they should just make the state symbol a wad of bills wrapped in a rubber band because that's what drives our economy.

Once business was taken care of at the bank, it was off to Costco to fill up the tank and do some shopping. One thing that cracks me up about getting gas there is watching the chicks who have no clue as to which side of the car the gas tank access door is on. Oh, and I'm not being sexist--it's always women that do this. They just get in the shortest line possible, and once they get to the pump and realize that the tank is on the wrong side, they have to wrestle with the hose to get it to stretch all the way across their car. That's some good, cheap entertainment right there. Unless, of course, you're in line behind them.

I managed to get out of Costco only spending about $130, and I consider it a big win if I get out of there for under two bills each visit. I just bought the normal stuff--a case of Mexican Coke, a 100-pack of 'forever' stamps, teriyaki turkey jerky, a couple gallons of milk, and another case or two of canned beef stew, among other things. Every time I get a few extra bucks, I load up on the canned stuff for when work slows down and I have to go for a few weeks just treading water. Pretty soon I'll have every spare shelf and cabinet in the house completely stocked up, ready for another Y2K scare or zombie apocalypse. (Which reminds me, I need to get a chainsaw...).

Anyhow, it wasn't too crazy there, and I got in and out with minimum consternation, although I swear there is a definite strata of society who only buy Costco memberships so that they can lurk around all day just eating free samples. I really hate the aisle-cloggers, and I'm painfully aware that when I go to Costco, I'm one of the few people in there shopping with a purpose.

But I'm home now and the groceries are put away, I'm sipping on a cold Mexican Coke and relaxing, raising a silent toast to two of my favorite people, Eddie B and Elvis, both of which have a birthday today.

So lets get to it. First of all, I want to offer up a short review of a book I just finished that T-Rev sent me for Christmas. It was on my Wish List, and it looked like it was right up my alley. It's called Hunting Fish--A Cross-Country Search for America's Worst Poker Players, by Jay Greenspan.

Normally when I do a book review, I provide a link to it on Amazon in case anyone is interested in buying it. Not this time. The author, to put it simply, is a prick. I found his style off-putting and condescending, and by the time I finished the book, my only thought was Wow, this guy needs to be kicked in the nuts and told what's what. Basically, the premise is that he goes on a road trip for several weeks, leaving from his home base in New York City (of course) and travels to Foxwoods, Philadelphia, the Carolinas, Tunica, Dallas, Vegas, playing in legitimate casinos and underground card clubs, and then on to the card rooms of California, with the stated goal of making $20,000 in cash and then playing the $10-$20 No Limit game at the Commerce. It sounded interesting to me, but the reality fell flat.

He spends waaaay too much time trying to tell the reader what an upscale, sophisticated, progressive, and socially conscious person he is, but then spends the rest of the book offering up barely-masked contempt for everyone that crosses his path. Maybe it's because I'm a dealer and I see that type of people on occasion--the ones who think a bankroll is a substitute for wisdom--that it just irked me to no end reading his thoughts. And not only that, but the actual poker stories weren't that good. Oh, there were a couple of decent ones in there, but maybe, as an insider, my bullshit detector was supertuned as I was reading it. Not only that, but he spends a couple hundred pages talking about how smart and savvy he is and how he built a $20,000 bankroll, but then when he loses $11,000 of it in just a couple of days, it hardly merits an entire paragraph. But we can attribute that to Poker Players's Disease. When we win, it's all skill, and when we lose, it had to be because of bad luck.

Anyhow, I thought the book was a great concept, but a sucky execution. All it did was piss me off.


On to the 'reader mail' from the past couple of days...

Nice win. Maybe you should find a place with a below-average wait staff so you can stay focused.


Well, since the M is my favorite place to play, that seems highly unlikely. Every single one of their waitresses looks like they hang around at The Mansion during their off-time. I don't know where they get 'em, but I sure would like to take a tour of that factory. I guess it's just something I'll have to struggle with...

Mikey, Great Poker story as always ! It gives me the itch to go see the local Indian casino in Oklahoma, which is the closest live Poker to Dallas. I have never played Hold'em there though. Do you know of any of your readers who could comment?

--Barry Miller

Readers? Anyone want to chime in on this? I have no knowledge of anything in Oklahoma, but word on the street is that Dallas has a thriving underground card club culture. I'm sure a few discreet inquiries would point you to a local game. Also, don't they have casinos in Shreveport? Isn't that a suburb of Dallas now?

What kind of "chip protector" do you use Mikey? I gotta get me one.


For readers that don't know what a chip protector is, it's basically just a small paperweight that you put on your hole cards when you're playing poker. Anyone who has sat in the seats right next to the dealer and has had their hand accidentally mucked will learn the value of using one. (I learned on a trip to Tunica several years back when I was sitting in the ten-seat and the dealer pulled my unprotected pocket Aces into the muck before the flop!) Also, this happened in the Main Event of the World Series this year. A player went all-in and her cards were unprotected and the dealer pulled them in--AFTER she'd made the bet! What a nightmare.

For a long time I used a polished hematite stone, but somebody stole it last summer. Back in the early days of March Madness, I'd use a miniature bottle of Tabasco sauce, and lately I've been using a round medallion that they give away in our poker room with the company logo on it. But just the other night I got a really cool one from the M. It's solid metal, about the size of a Ghirardelli chocolate square, and it's got a nice solid heft to it:

Honestly, I'd rather go and play without my iPod than play without a chip protector. It's like my glasses and car keys--I don't leave the house without it.

Mikey before getting overly excited about no-limit, have you tried playing a higher limit game like 10-20 or 15-30? Suck outs happen often in those nl games and usually are a lot more expensive.

--Matt R

Hmmm. I'm troubled in overcoming my natural instinct of being a smartass and finding a tactful way to respond to this. The best I can come up with is to quote Floyd from Shawshank Redemption when he said I do believe you're talking out of your ass, Red.

First of all, 10-20 and 15-30 limit games are *much* bigger games than a 1-2 No-Limit. At 90% of the 1-2 games in town, the maximum buy-in is $300. (Some places, like the Wynn and Binion's, have no cap on the amount you can bring to the table, but that's a whole different game). But in a 15-30 game, $300 is only ten big bets--you need a whole lot more bankroll to sit at that table. And in my experience, those bigger 'medium limit' games are a lot more action packed--much much much more sucking out goes on in limit games anyways, no matter what the stakes.

Oh there are still some suckouts in no-limit games, I see it all the time. $300 to me might be a significant hit, but to some people I see on a regular basis, that's just drop in the bucket of their bankroll, so they'll happily call with junk, and if they hit, great, if not, they just re-buy again and again. But if you're in a ram-jam 15-30 game, and every street gets capped, you could be on the hook for $450 on a single hand--hand after hand. Hell, when I play no-limit, I only bring $220 with me to the table each time, and most people only come in with $100 to $150. So with a $300 max buy-in on a 1-2 no-limit game, it kind of keeps things under control. And in all the no-limit cash games I've ever played, my single largest bet ever was only $500, and I've only done that once. (On the other hand, I'm using an extreme example--not all limit games are that crazy with capped flops, but still, you're on the hook for more money, more often, in those games).

If I went to the Mirage and played in the 10-20 game, I'd have to bring a minimum of $300 with me to sit down, but at least $400 to feel comfortable. And the only people that think that river suckouts don't happen as often at higher stakes are people who have never played for higher stakes. It doesn't matter if you're playing 2-4 at the El Cortez or 30-60 at the Bellagio--somebody there has a completely different outlook on the value of money that you do, and they will run you down no matter how much you try and push them off a pot. In a 1-2 no limit game, a $30 bet into a $30 pot shows that you mean business and most opponents will think twice. In a 15-30 game, a $30 bet is just one extra bet, so no problemo--they'll call.

So I shall remain 'excited' about 1-2 no limit for now. Eventually, I'll play some 2-5 to pad the bankroll at a faster pace, but the bottom line is that a 15-30 game is huge stakes compared to the bankroll I'm willing to risk, but 1-2 no-limit is quite comfortable. I hope that makes sense Matt, and no, I don't believe you are talking out of your ass--a lot of people tend to think that 'no limit' means 'unlimited', and 'limit' means cheap, but that's not always the case.

I think that's it for now.

Y'all have a good weekend and try to stay out of trouble.


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