AdamJohnson

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2013 KC Royals Season Outlook

April 03, 2013

As i write this on April 3rd, the Kansas City Royals are only one game back from first place. They are on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series back in 1985.

As i write this on April 3rd, the Royals are on pace to lose 162 games.

Both statements are 100% accurate.

In those forgettable 28 years of no postseason baseball I have entered this world with a modest amount of hair, grown a full head of hair, and then subsequently lost it during this 28 year run of futility. Are those things related? Would i have flowing locks in New York?

Tis the beauty of Spring baseball, where optimism or skepticism can seem totally justified. For myself i'm always dressed for the sunny weather until storm clouds roll in. Spring training stats are always inflated and its very easy to look at stats of individual players and team records and get excited.

Exhibit A) The team your rooting for wins the league its in during Spring Training (what the Royals have done this year) and although you know its just Spring Training you think to yourself, "Well its better to be playing well and winning games than not right? My team is in a groove and rolling downhill heading into Opening Day. Would it be better to be losing?"

Exhibit B) Your team isn't exactly playing well, perhaps your a Phillies fan and Roy Halladay is getting shelled topping out at 88mph. Your reaction. "Ahhh its Spring Training it doesn't mean anything, the goal isn't to win games but to work on your deficiencies and stay healthy and settle position battles, the game isn't managed to win its structured to evaluate talent."

It becomes very easy to interpret Spring Training through any lens but at the end of the day most people seem to be optimistic. Why not? Its April right?

As it relates to Royals fans' optimism, P.T. Barnum usually has the last laugh come June when the Royals have effectively been eliminated from contention.

"There's a sucker born every minute."

In Kansas City, there's a lot of suckers spotted every Spring.

Despite a very reliable historical record to suggest the opposite, i always get excited during the Spring. There's always been a bevy of prospects coming around the bend which makes Spring Training all the more exciting because there's that unknown factor of what these players are going to become. As a Royals fan thats what you're left hoping for. We have to grow our own stars. We can't buy em'.

Last Spring Eric Hosmer was perhaps the most hyped prospect in all of baseball. He had the elite pedigree of a top ten overall prospect, blending plate discipline with power & the ability to hit for a high average while being an above athlete who can defend well. There wasn't a blemish on his body of work and playing well the previous half season only lit the fuse for the bomb Royals fans were expecting to explode last year. I remember listening to a national baseball podcast before the season had started and Hosmer was someone analysts tabbed as a darkhouse AL MVP candidate, envisioning a situation where the Royals broke through and Hosmer had that monster season. That actually was a good call, they just picked the wrong prospect, it was 20-year-old Mike Trout. The Las Vegas Hilton even had a line set on Hosmer's over/under total for home runs which is an honor in of itself as only a handful of players deemed relevant to garner action make the proposition sheet. The fact that an unproven youngster from Kansas City made that sheet speaks to the buzz he'd created.
Then the 2012 season happened. Hosmer hit two bombs in his first series against many experts projected World Champs, the Anaheim Angels. The Royals roar was beginning to build as they took 2 of the 3 on the road in Anaheim. It was about time right? Finally a Royals prospect that didn't take years to water....wait.... and bloom like Alex Gordon. This was our Ryan Braun, our Prince Fielder, an elite prospect who became an elite player from jumpstreet. Then the Royals reality check bounced and Hosmer's play plummetted....HARD. The Royals had a 10-game home losing streak to start the season, putting Hosmer and the Royals in a funk they could never recover from. Hosmer's 2012 season line, .232 batting average & only 38 extra base hits over 152 games. Oh yeah, if you bet under on Hosmer's 22.5 homers, you were collecting tokens without much of a sweat as he finished with 14 homers & tallied a meager five homers in the second half.

That's what they call a sophomore slump i suppose. Welcome to Kansas City cuz, where sports fans come to die.

Perhaps fueled by an extremely disappointing 2012 campaign, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore decided that he was tired of folding and waiting for a good run of cards to transpire. After all, he'd built up a good stack of chips from amassing a slew of prospects even objective observers afar were jelly off and this was the time to leverage that equity and to make a bold move. It was time to go all-in.

As a Royals fan, i was always extremely frustrated with the Royals mentality of never going all-in, never going for it. We were always the team trading away major league talent for minor league prospects. Phrases like "its a process" & "5-year plan" were the mission statements of this company. For Royals fans it wasn't "Wait and See" but "Wait and Wait". We'd waited for that Mark Teahen check to cash but as usual, Billy Beane knew it wouldn't. What was that P.T. Barnum line again?

I never thought i would be disgusted as a Royals fan that my team "went for it". But i'll never forget the moment the Royals traded Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and a few high ceiling lottery ticket prospects in former elite prospect Mike Montgomery and young hitter Jake Leonard. In return, the Royals finally addressed their glaring deficiency, starting pitching, bringing back James Shields (2 years) and Wade Davis (5 years). Add in re-signing Jeremy Guthrie who pitched well since being acquired in the second half and signing enigmatic but talented Ervin Santana and all of the sudden the Royals had amassed a rotation that perhaps isn't amazing but at least recognizable. When's the last time a casual baseball fan outside of KC would have heard of a few of our starters before?

My main issue with the move is that it didn't really transform us into a playoff team, although i agree it definitely made us closer to a playoff team or put another way, gave us a higher percentage chance to be a playoff team. When the trade happened i thought and even posted on Facebook "The Royals just mortgaged their future to be like a 78-win team" which is funny because thats about exactly what Vegas has projected for the Royals this season and given they take in millions and millions of dollars based off these lines, i tend to have a very healthy respect for the numbers they come up with. If a number is off by much, very sharp and well capitalized bettors will pound on any market inefficiency. The Indians and White Sox are projected right at about 80 wins and the Tigers are projected at 93. After this bold move, the Royals are still on the outside looking in to make the playoffs which effectively comes down to winning the division, which sportsbooks have at 7-to-1 odds against which too me is nowhere near enough to justify trading away Wil Myers and company. We won 72 games last year, how likely is it really that we leapfrog a Tiger team projected to win 93 games and two other teams in the White Sox and the Indians that are right there with us. Seems like a pretty big illogical leap.

To be fair, Shields is not a one-year deal, and we rate to be an even better team next year that should have more than have a punchers chance to make the playoffs but to me i think its foolish to trade away all that cost controlled talent for what effectively comes down to like a 15% chance to make the playoffs this year and a 25% chance to make the playoffs next year.
People also look at this trade very fundamentally wrong, they say, "Well if we didn't get Shields and Davis our rotation would give us virtually NO chance to contend this year. You have to start trying to win at some point, you have to change the culture," they say. That's a very valid opinion if you're one to look at Point A and Point B and assume there's only one path between those two points. There were other ways to upgrade our rotation without giving up all that talent. Shaun Marcum, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, Dan Haren, Brandon McCarthy, etc were all available during free agency. I'll not include Anibal Sanchez or Zack Greinke here, who to be fair were too expensive for this small market team. While all those affordable guys may not be as good as Shields, is it unrealistic to think they can be 75-90% of Shields? Can you envision a scenario where they outpitch Shields?

Not only did we trade away perhaps the most talented young hitter in the game but he directly addressed a massive hole we have in right field replacing Jeff Francouer, who according to sabermetric stat geeks was the worst position player in baseball last year. Not only was he not productive and a disappointment, he was historically terrible. If we traded away a third base or first base prospect i could live with it way easier as it has way less of an impact on our team in the present and future for obvious reasons but trading away Myers for Shields and Davis is addressing one need at the expense of another.

Trevor Bauer was an uber elite starting pitching prospect who got traded away for pennies on the dollar basically because of personality issues with the Diamondbacks brass, not talent. Why weren't the Royals closing in on that one? Whats the harm in taking a shot there? We could have given up way less than Myers to get Bauer. Perhaps your argument is Moore knows more than i do and your contention is that FA pitchers wouldn't sign with the Royals which is a very fair and reasonable point i think fans fail to realize very often. Your point is the Royals had to make a trade that hurt to get a valuable proven starter but i have a hard time believing that at least one of those starters would not have signed with the Royals. Edwin Jackson committed to a lousy Chicago Cubs team, a team projected to win only 72 games this year and doesn't rate to be contenders in the near future. Marcum signed with an equally helpless Mets team, who just traded away its proven star R.A. Dickey for prospects. I'd much rather trade Cheslor Cuthbert or whatever package of prospects for Trevor Bauer and sign Edwin Jackson whose 5-year deal is about as much money as we're committing to Shields and Davis while also still having the best hitting prospect in baseball replacing a black hole in right field for seven years at an extremely favorable contract.
Everyone says prospects are very unpredictable which is a true statement but is one that is painting in very broad and misleading strokes. Not all prospects are created equally and when looking at prospects the caliber of Myers, they aren't that hit or miss really, quite often they hit and hit big. There's a big difference between a guy who ranks as the No. 2 overall prospect in baseball or No. 58. Don't put every prospect in the same bucket. Its a great way to frame an argument to look right but it's not very accurate when you actually look at it critically.

Clouding this questionable decision is many factors that i think led to the rash move made not in the best interest of the Royals but in the best interest of the man pulling the trigger, Dayton Moore. This is a GM who hasn't had success at the major league level yet in his first run as a GM. He's fully aware that the next bad season by the Royals could be his last as a GM. Does Moore make this "Win Now" decision if he's signed on for the next ten years? I really wonder. If Moore made this move because he has real doubts about Myers than i'm fine with it. If he thinks Myers is closer to the "Can't Miss" prospects that missed like Delmon Young or Jeremy Hermida than he is Ryan Braun than i'm on board. But if he traded away Myers thinking he just traded away an All-Star caliber bat for some much needed starting pitching than i have a massive issue with the trade for above stated reasons. There were other ways to acquire starting pitching while keeping this potential cost controlled All-Star hitter. And you could make a very strong argument that the window to gamble and make a bold move for the present isn't even this year, its next year at the earliest. But guess what, Moore's contract is up at the end of 2014. For him its time to crap or get off the pot and this prospect dump is one that stinks for the future of the Royals.

The unnoticed and often unmentioned part of this trade is Wade Davis, who the Royals have for five years. He's been decent as a starter but was pedestrian enough to lose his job due to finding himself in the best rotation in baseball. He elevated his stuff last year, however, dominating in the bullpen increasing his strikeout rate by leaps and bounds from his days as a starter. Will he be able to maintain that newfound stuff in a starters role or will he return to the guy who would be a decent No. 4 starter on most staffs? Given i don't think the Royals have that great of a chance to make the playoffs in Shields two years as a Royal, i think Moore wins or loses this trade mostly on the back of Davis, who has the chance to be the most valuable player in this trade, potentially anchoring the rotation for five years. If he flounders as a starter, he will find himself of not much use in a loaded young bullpen. That salary won't play well as a reliever either as his options won't be exercised in the event he's a reliever.

Another element at play in this controversial trade is Moore's love affair with Francouer, a player who he had a part in drafting back in Atlanta when Francoeur was a first-round pick in 2002. Francoeur bloomed into the top prospect of a very talented system and was one centerpiece of the prospects known as the Baby Braves who played a key role in a 90-win campaign along with backstop Brian McCann.

Oh...there was another Baby Brave you may recognize. Kyle Davies. Remember when Davies kept getting shelled but somehow kept getting ran out there every five days as a Royal and nobody could figure out how he kept getting innings.

Hmmmm.

You can accuse Moore of a lot of things but you can't say he isn't loyal.

We all know coaches, scouts, executives and GM's have a strong desire to prove themselves right and often have an unhealthy soft spot in their heart for players they draft high or trade for.

See Luke Hochevar.

See Matt Cassel.

As good as Moore felt about bringing Francoeur to the Royals when he had a good first year with the club, he must have felt even worse about extending him off that euphoria and seeing him absolutely nose dive the next year in year one of a two-year deal. Promoting Myers to the major league roster this season would move Moore's boy to a bench role or less, putting Francouer in a position where it would be impossible for him to make good on the extension Moore gave him. Trading away Myers conveniently keeps the love affair with Francouer alive and makes it possible for Francouer to earn and validate the promise ring Moore gave him after their thrillingly successful romance in 2011.

Moore has stubbornness in spades but Francouer was a hand he needed to flush.

As i'm writing this i'm watching the Royals and they are currently on the verge of losing yet another game and starting the season 0-2. They scored zero runs on Opening Day. They have two runs heading into the ninth. It's always been easy to point at the Royals lack of success recently due to their woeful starting pitching but what goes unnoticed is that the offense has been yielding less runs than the parts would seem to indicate. Why is this? Part of it is the Royals inability to work counts and draw walks. The Royals are always in the basement in walks drawn. Manager Ned Yost also loves giving away outs. Its a key element in scoring runs to him. He loves giving away outs via stolen base attempts and bunting. When will he realize this is an antiquated way to manage a baseball team. It's typing on a typewriter. Its watching a movie on a beta tape. Its watching standard definition television. Given that archaic approach, it should come as no surprise that Yost found a way to get canned as his team was in the midst of a playoff hunt in mid-September!! It was a good move. The Brewers recovered and made the playoffs. It takes a special kind of manager to get fired on September 15th during a playoff run.

The Royals lost.

They're 0-2.

They've managed to score two runs in two games.

To quote one of my favorite movies Major League

"We're Shittay again"

As i've mentioned earlier its April and my mood will not be muffled. Not yet anyways. Given the Royals tremendous offensive potential with Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez all entering their prime or formative years, i just can't help but to realistically project our offense to take a pretty noticeable step forward. The Royals should have a tremendous defense with elite defenders at catcher, shortstop, center field and left field. Their not too shabby on the corner infield either with Moustakas and Hosmer having Gold Glove potential. The bullpen should be incredible. Kelvin Herrera led the majors in average fastball velocity last year and there's a stable of young flame throwers behind him in Tim Collins, Greg Holland, Aaron Crowe and Louis Coleman. There's still potent reinforcements in the minors. The rotation isn't great but it shouldn't be terrible either with a full season of Guthrie, Shields, Davis, and Santana , all who weren't on this roster Opening Day last year. Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy rate to give the rotation a shot of life at some point this season and contributions from prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura can't be ruled out either.
No matter how bad a team is, its incredibly unlucky to lose twelve games in a row. When ten of those losses come at home its even more bizarre and of all the times to have that happen its psychologically the most destructive early and especially crushing when its the first homestand of a season when you're finally projected to break your losing ways. The Royals improvements in the rotation should make such losing streaks less of a possibility. Despite all of that poor luck and terrible starting pitching last year the Royals won 72 games and according to Pythagorus, an old wise man who knows a lot about baseball and stats, they rated to win 74 games last year. Keeping guys like Cain and Perez healthy for a full season, something that didn't happen last year, could go a long way in the Royals finally fulfilling their potential. Throw it all in a blender and i think this ends up being a refreshing yet ultimately disappointing 81-win postseason-less year.

What's new.

I'll find something to do in October anyways. I've done it my entire life.

Euro Trip Recap + Live Poker Tales

February 04, 2013

Once again i found myself in Europe in 2012 for the second year in a row. There's many things i deeply regret in my life, one of them is not traveling more when i was younger when i had plenty of opportunity to do so. I strongly encourage all of you to travel abroad, especially those who play poker for a living or any other job where its not incredibly difficult to take a few weeks off from work. Among the many perks of being a poker player is the flexibility it provides in our lifestyle. Not exercising this opportunity is truly a waste and i may go so far as to say is disrespectful to those hardworking people who would love to travel but aren't afforded the freedom that we have. Don't be rude.
There's so many interesting cultural differences and wrinkles that you're just never really are aware of unless you travel. It's really cool to be in a completely different environment and seeing the similarities and differences of life in different countries. One difference i noticed was how much traveling is emphasized over in Europe. From staying in the hostels (which i highly recommend over hotels) you come across a lot of young travelers in their early 20s and many of them finished college (or as they would say University, college there is like our high school afaik) and it almost seems like a part of their curriculum is to travel upon graduation. And when these people travel....they really travel. I'm not talking about a weekend in Vegas at the Hard Rock followed by a few days at the Grand Canyon, i'm talking about like a minimum of 6-months of traveling various different countries with a backpack and some ambition as their only essentials. Maybe i'm just a diva and i hang around people with similar tendencies but i don't know many people in America that just up and travel around like that. We get bent out of shape when our hotel doesn't have HBO in HD, or when we have one of those old-school box TVs or heaven forbid if our WiFi connection isn't strong enough to stream, let alone a temperamental shower with cold water which you will invariably come across in hostel life. This one girl i met in Ireland was telling me about her plans to travel around for two years after she graduates. This wasn't said with like a pie in the sky enthusiasm, her fingers weren't even crossed, this is happening. I can't imagine telling my Dad right after i graduated, "Yo cuz, college was fun, glad i got this diploma, but i'm just gotta roll out and walk the earth for a few years, i'll holler at these jobs when i get back in a few years. Break me off a few stacks and i'll hit you up on Skype." That would not fly in hardly any traditional American households that i've stepped foot in. You get your courtesy summer after graduating and that's about it. Anything "fun related" is gonna be paid for on your own dime. Time for work. Cue up the cubical. And as each month goes by after that courtesy summer, you're left feeling increasingly bad about not being employed. After all, you're really slowrolling your parents, who are just waiting to tell their friends or parents of your friends who they bump into at the grocery store what their little Johnny is up to. For parents of poker players, that little dance i feel like is a delicate one, each poker players' parents holds out hope and BS those they meet about little Johnny applying for jobs or whatever general answer they can come up with or whatever script they've rehearsed but at some point the levy breaks and the poker vocation is one they have to come to terms with when they speak of their kids whereabouts.

Another difference i noticed from traveling around Italy, France, UK, and Ireland was how different the restroom situation was. After walking around the city center area in Paris, i had to use the restroom, and for the first time i encountered pay restrooms. I believe it cost one or two euros which would be like two bucks. Shelling out money to facilitate a basic need like that made me feel like i had to double barrel it and also pinch off a download while i was there to get max value! Most of the sinks also use a foot pedal instead of a twisting knob like we use. I have to say i like the foot pedal game better. It's also funny how most restaurants or cafe's over their price food, beverages and service. Most restaurants and cafe's will have two different charges for whatever you get, there will be a dine-in charge and a to-go charge, obviously to-go being cheaper. I'm also pretty sure i remember it costing more to eat outside in a patio area as well i think at a few places.
I thought it was funny how in Paris outside most of the cafe's and coffee shops damm near every single person who was eating or drinking their cappuccino outside were all facing the street to watch the all the people and whatever goes on. I guess when paying extra for that outside seat they feel the need to soak in everything going on outside. In London, outside most of the bars, heaps of people drink their pints and smoke outside in the street. Oh yeah, people in Europe love saying the word heaps and sorted. When a situation is resolved its most definitely "sorted". The airport situation is a bit different over there as well, i'm a big fan of not having to de-shoe when going through the security check, i wonder why its not necessary over there but necessary here in the States. Oh yah and there's the tipping phenomenon. Yeaaaaah we tip a lot more money for everything here in America and we tip for way more services. In Australia when i got a taxi from the airport, the guy wouldn't accept a tip. When playing poker, the dealer's couldn't accept any tips either. As i understand it, pretty much in most restaurants where there's not a service fee added, tipping seems to be pretty optional, and if you decide to be above the rim generosity wise, a 10% tip is greeted with a very warm smile. It makes sense to me to make the employer and not the customer pay for its employees wage. However, not surprisingly as a result, the service in most situations is better in America as a result of the worker having more incentive.

Vincent Vega (John Travolta) also noted a few subtle differences between American and European life in probably my favorite movie of all-time in Pulp Fiction, "You know what the funniest thing about Europe is....it's just the little differences, I mean they got the same sh** over there that we got here its just a little different. You can walk into a movie theatre in Amsterdam and buy a beer and i ain't talking bout a paper cup i'm talking about a glass of beer and in Paris you can buy a beer in McDonalds."

True Dat Mr. Vega...True That.

I wouldn't be a poker player worth my salt without posting at least a few hands i've played or encountered along the way.

Persons of Interest: Phil Laak
This hand happened about eight months ago actually but it came to my mind the other day when playing with Mr. Laak again briefly. I'm sitting about 8k deep at 10/20 NL at the lovely Commerce Casino and Mr. Laak not too surprisingly has me covered. He's terribly partial to the teal 1k chips at the Commerce. Since this hand is a bit old there's a decent chance raise amounts & details can be slightly off for what its worth. Laak makes it $70 from middle position, gets two calls, i re-raise to ~$300 with AA, Laak calls, others fold. Flop is Ac7d8d, Laak checks, i bet ~$350, Laak gets familiarized with my stack and throws in a stack of teals, putting me all-in. I call rather happily and ask Laak if he wants to run it once or twice at which Laak, rather shrewdly i mite add, says he wants to run it only once. (For those unfamiliar, in all-in pots you can run out undetermined cards and extra time, say in this instance the pot is 16k, if we ran it twice it would create two 8k pots where there would be a turn and river resulting in one board, one 8k pot, and another turn and river for the other 8k.) The turn is the 3d and the river is a blank and Laak ships the pot with AdJd.

Persons of Interest: Freddy Deeb
Another hand which was played months ago but playing with Freddy Deeb recently reminded me of a hand we played. I need to start writing these hands down ASAP so i can preserve the details of the situation better. This hand is more fuzzy in a few spots but it was $10-$20NL, I can't remember if Deeb opened or called a raise preflop, i believe he opened, but he either opens and a few calls by the time it gets to me in bb or its opened and he is one of a few callers. In any event, i get AQ in the bb and re-raise to ~$400. Mr. Deeb calls like $300 more, others fold. Flop is JT2 and i bet ~$450 at which point Mr. Deeb looks at me... figures out what i had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and raises to like $1200 with like $1000 behind. I begrudgingly fold and Mr. Deeb shows like K4o no pair no draw.

Post WSOP Reflections/Sleep Issues/Live Poker Stories

September 19, 2012 2 comments

It's kind of interesting to go back and read something you've written or said that's in the past to see how your thoughts meshed with what followed. I maybe alone in this regard but i kind of like listening to some sports or other podcast where people make predictions and listening after the fact. Its kind of funny to see how in tune people were with their opinions about future events. I guess this blog is kind of one of those situations. I had planned on finishing this pre-WSOP, then planned on finishing it pre-Main Event, so as you read this you maybe have to hop in a time portal like Bill and Ted did and take a ride with me through these different junctures of my life.

(Pre WSOP Adam)
Super stoked about this year's WSOP. Every year heading into this i always tell myself i'm going to play more tournaments but it never really happens as i end up getting engulfed by cash games and get sucked into all the social trappings of having so many friends in town and so many compelling things to do like music festivals like EDC, which i didn't make it to last year but will be a decision i'll have to make this year...EDC or get to bed earlier and keep a tournament routine for those days. Each of the last two WSOP i've played like six or seven tournaments each year, Main Event included, with one min-cash in a $1500 for my efforts which is pretty dispiriting. Every time i play these tournaments and bust out i'm just like 'wow what a waste of time, could have just played cash games during all those hours i spent playing tournaments or went to that concert.' Then of course when i play cash games and see some civilian clip a tournament or someone who i've played in cash games with i always get real jelly and am like "Man i wonder what would have happened had i played those tournaments instead?" Your imagination gets real optimistic after the fact. Ideally, i'd like to play like 10-12 tournaments this WSOP and still intake a steady diet of cash games.
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(Pre-Main Event Adam)
So that's what i wrote pre-WSOP, i dragged this blog out so long I never got around to it finishing it promptly and after getting here in time for the first tournament, here i am on the 26th of June and my tournament record this summer is 0-5-1 leading up to the main event. Luckily my inability to fall asleep one night ended my losing streak of poker tournaments as i walked down to unregister from the tournament, winning $1500 for my decision, and adding a 1 to end of my ledger which at that point was like 0-3 before i unregged making it 0-3-1. If boxing and other sports can have a draw, then surely a game comprised of actual draws should have an outcome of a draw right? Leading up to the Main Event i've once again got some pretty uninspiring volume and results. I guess old habits die hard as i got wrapped up in cash and getting to bed and waking up around noon has proved difficult for me. Patience is definitely a strong suit for me, i never give up in these tournaments, or anything for that matter, and somehow i've yet to make a dinner break, or even win a pot more than 3k which is pretty wild. Normally this just sounds like laziness only playing that many tournaments in three plus weeks but for myself its actually rooted in something that goes beyond ambition and is more clinical in nature. I've tried to play 3-4 more tournaments to date but the same problem recurs, i go to bed around 3-4am, i roll around in bed unable to fall asleep and its 8am or later, and just like that i decide that i don't want to play a tournament on like 2-4 hours of sleep so i end up not playing. Its super maddening, one of the main reasons i come out here is to play tournaments, i've always had issues falling asleep when i have pressure to wake up the next morning. My inability to fall asleep has had a fairly negative impact on my life, it prices me out of a lot of activities i'd like to do with real life people (those outside the poker world who do things pre-2pm), it caused me to miss my sister's wedding which is the embarrassing thing i've ever done. I stayed the night at my parents the night before, went to bed at like 3am (had to wake up around noon i think) i was still awake around 8am and apparently my Mom came down and told me to get up and i told her i was getting up and that everything was cool and the gang. I absolutely don't remember that conversation at all. Surprisingly they never went downstairs to check on my status again before they left and next thing i know i'm waking up to phone calls like a few minutes before it starts. Given i was isolated downstairs with no windows or connection to world outside my REM in addition to the fact i've got a prolific history of being a slow starter and late sleeper i'm shocked they didn't come down again before they left, i'm sure like most people they got super busy and forgot i suppose. I'd guess probably around 20 or so nights a year it takes me longer than 3 hours to fall asleep. I finally went to see a sleep professional after my recent debacles this WSOP in Vegas which followed my sisters wedding. He diagnosed me with Psycho-Physiological Insomnia. I told him how many nights i'd lie around and roll in bed for hours and hours. He told me that although its counter-intuitive, that its prudent to get out of bed and that you must do so if you haven't fell asleep in like 30-40 minutes. Ideally u go to another room and do something else until you get tired and then you go to bed again. He also said it's bad to just lie in bed for extended periods of time before going to bed watching tv, reading, surfing the internet, etc. You want your mind and body to associate going to sleep with lying in bed and doing other things in bed like those i mentioned confuses that relationship. Hopefully this can help others with similar issues.

(Post-Main Event Adam)
So i end up finishing the WSOP at 1-5-1 thanks to my 492nd place finish in the Main Event. I've played the Main Event 3 or 4 times without cashing, was really exciting to go deep and cash. At the same time all the more frustrating to bust out with like a 40-50 big blind stack with pocket kings to pocket aces in most prestigious tournament in poker, a tournament with a great 2-hour level structure and so much history and money to play for. At that stage in the game you have so many people following your progress and hoping for great things to come that its so deflating when the all the air gets sucked out and you bust. I was so pumped when i got dealt Kings on the button.... was then so sad when everyone folded to the cutoff..... then so happy when this young buck raised from the cutoff. That's all she wrote for me in the main, couldn't hit my 2-out shout.

Here's a few interesting hands that stood out since my previous blog.
So i'm playing $10-$20 at the Wynn, the game breaks and i move to the $5-$10 game which is short-handed. Game gets down to me and this 35-year-old dude from San Francisco and we play heads up for a few hours. He was playing fairly passive but loose preflop. Match is going fairly well, I upped my pre-flop raising size given he was calling so much out of big blind, never 3-betting and folding so much postflop, raising my pre-flop raise size amounts to extra money for me when someone plays like that, think i was making it $50-$60, as opposed to a more normal $20-$30 open. Brad Booth wanders into the upper stoop area at the Wynn where our game is around 6am and asks if he can join. I'd rather play HU obviously but i feel its bad form to object, it makes the guy your playing potentially feel like prey. Had i been stuck it would feel more appropriate to ask for it to continue heads-up but i wasn't gonna cause any friction to make it 3-handed unless SF did. So within a few hands, Booth asks to kick it up to $10-$20, we didn't object. A few hands later, Booth asks to kick it up to $20-$40, we didn't object. He may have even asked for $40-$80 even. Strangely enough, during talking with Booth during the game he asks me a funny question, "So you flush right?" I respond... 'Probably not by most people's definition of flush, no...no i'm not.' I'm also keenly aware of where a question like that leads to and it never behooves you to answer yes to that question. You're way better off having people think you have less money than you have then the inverse, i can think of so many reasons where that is the case, especially when it concerns your interactions with strangers or those you barely know or just met. Then he starts asking about getting staked for the upcoming WSOP tournaments and cash games. I don't know much about his situation other than knowing he's lost a bundle on the Ultimate Bet scam apparently, which he talked about a ton, but i guess we have a little different philosophy on money management. If i was asking for a stake i probably wouldn't turn a $5-$10 game into a $20-$40 game in three blinks, i'd probably just grind it out at appropriate limits and not elevate a game to where i have like 60 big blinds or less, turning the game into way more of a preflop gamblefest.

Hand 1
So it's $10-$20-$40 NL 3-handed, Brad Booth and dude from SF, I have 6s5s, Booth opens $140 on his button straddle, sb calls, i call in big blind. Flop is 6h5h2d, SF checks, I lead for $300, BB makes it $1200, sb cold calls $1200, i jam (have everyone covered, like a 6k effective bet with SF, BB has around 4k behind) Booth folds, SF calls rather quickly with 87o, we run it twice i win both. Not a super interesting hand really, just the one hand that stands out from that short-handed match with Brad Booth. I think Booth said he had Kings.

Hand 2
JJ Commerce (a short stack late night reg) opens to $50 at where else but the Commerce, i make it $150 with AdKd from late position, asian reg guy whose name eludes me makes it $600, a guy who also plays the bigger fixed limit games at times, we like 6k+ deep, i call, JJ folds. Flop is 963dd, he bets $700 i call, turn 5o he bets $900, i jam $4350, he tanks and tanks and folds. Raise calling flop would have been extremely reasonable here i just kind of figured in a weird way i had a better chance getting him to fold his hand on the turn then on the flop while also potentially making more money off another barrel which is somewhat counter-intuitive as someone gets more committed in the hand and you have less to leverage with less money behind. I just kind of had the feeling if he had an overpair and i raised, he'd be the type to play the "i put you on a flush draw or lower pocket pair game" and go with it whereas if i flat and raise over a turn bet, it looks way more likely i have a set or something that turned more than one pair. That may sound kind of wack but it made sense to me in the moment. I thought i had little fold equity to get him to fold overpairs with a raise on flop, perhaps that isn't so but i liked the potential of my hand better flatting then raising overall, i definitely feel like that board is way better for my range than his and he will realize that.

Hand 3
In a $10-$20 game at the Wynn. There's a few civilians in the game, one of which as shown the tendency to bet pretty much any time he flops a pair even in multiway pots not even last to act, but especially when checked to. He open limps late position as does the button and i raise AJo out of the blinds to $140. PairBettor calls, other folds and we see the flop heads up. Flop is 962r. I check, PairBettor bets $250, with about $900 behind. I check raise him all-in as i think he often is playing the AK, AQ game here with me putting me on those hands that missed, and likely assumes when i check i'm done with the hand unimproved, so he can bluff or bet his pairs for "protection". I think it's a pretty good spot to jam because he's shown the tendency to just bet any pair often and once i check raise him i think he's folding pretty much anything but top pair and surprisingly sometimes fish even fold like a T9 here and just precisely put you on trapping overpairs and they give themselves a big pat on the back. I often like checking hands like this to stacks like these and players like these, often your c-bet will get little credit and you get floated by any draw or pair and it becomes much harder to win the pot, especially vs a stack like this whereas once you check raise you give them them the opportunity to bet air they'd fold to a c-bet or bet pairs for protection that fold to a c-r but would always call a bet, and often on a flop like this they are going to check back or bet smaller with stronger hands as well. Just another example which touches on my earlier blog post that mentions how paying close attention is so important. Had i been jacking around on my IPad, i may not have noticed how liberally this guy was betting post-flop and i may have just check folded flop or bet flop got called and not been in as advantageous of a position.

Hand 4
Playing in a $10-$25 NL game at a casino i'd like to keep a mystery, it's a 5k min buy-in game comprised mostly of characters i've played extensively with in the Kansas City and Wichita area (hint), all except an Ole Boy from Arkansas i'll anonymously name Johnny. Now, Johnny has shown himself to be a bit of an adventuresome type thus far, he bet called or check called (understand there's a fairly big difference there) AK on like a K98 T 4hhh board on the river for a large bet over like 4k and his hand was actually good, giving him that positive reinforcement you love to see when people make calls that are going to be losers like 95% of the time. So Johnny's feeling himself and a few hours and about seven High Life's later, his chips keep getting closer to the ceiling. There was a hand where on a four heart board where he called an all-in on the river and shockingly lost to the Ah, Ole boy unfortunately had the Kh and his neighbors heard about how much of a cooler that hand was. Life's Hard. A few High Life's and curious plays later it becomes evident that Johnny's chips have a pretty short shelf life on them. At this point in the night, the game had turned to a $10-$25 $50 on the button straddle game. Given Ole Boy's play and a few other civilians play, this game was really good and was playing pretty big. So i get dealt red Kings UTG after the blinds call $50, i decided to jack it up pretty big and make it like $350, before this hand happened Ole Boy had mentioned he was going all-in as cards were being dealt (he'd lost a decent hand previously) i thought about limping in given his comment but decided to raise anyway as i can't really be so sure he was going to follow through or even raise. In any event, Ole Boy calls as does my friend Brian, a good friend of mine whose a very tough player. The flop comes 9d4d2d. Oftentimes i'd bet here but sometimes with a hand like red aces or red kings i'll check here as i'm not too concerned about my hand getting outdrawn and i'll often check boards like this with pairs without a diamond or overcards i'd raise without a diamond. If it gets bet, my hand can potentially play well as a c-r or even a check call depending on who bets and what i decide. After i check, not too surprisingly Ole Boy bets 1k. Now my friend Brian raises to 3k. I'm ~10k deep at this point, Brian and Ole Boy cover me. I'm somewhat concerned Brian may have me given he's raised a guy that's pretty much never going to fold to him, although at the same time given this player tendencies, i know Brian has every reason to believe that he can expand his raising range for value against a guy like this given that Ole Boy may or may not know which state he's in not to mention that even in top form, this is a guy whose a very raw and inexperienced poker player. Another potential problem with this is some of those value hands i would like to put Brian on like AdQx, AdTx, AdJx, QQ, JJ, TT, he may 3b with preflop to get me out of the hand and to isolate Ole Boy to himself, but that being said i did come in for a very large raise UTG after a few calls from the blinds, and i think Brian definitely flats a decent % of the time even with a hand as strong as QQ potentially, as it would be a disaster to 3bet fold your way out of this pot with a hand with great value when he could ensure having position on all of us postflop in a deep game. I also believe Brian is going to raise Ole Boy with any Ad hand a very high percentage of the time. I also feel like Brian presumes that after i check this board in this situation that he is disregarding my attendance in the hand to a decent extent and is proceeding with the all but inevitable likelihood that this pot is going to be played just between he and Ole Boy, which will often be a correct assumption, especially if he raises Ole Boy's bet. All of this puts me in a precarious position. Given that i thought this was a very good chance to double through Ole Boy who likely was gonna go bust any minute, and that i was doing fine vs Brian's entire range here, i decided folding wasn't an option. Even against hands that Brian can have which have me beat like sets and flopped flushes i have pretty reasonable equity, 11 outs vs a set, 7 outs vs any flush except the exacto Ace high flush, and as i mentioned previously i think there's hands Brian can be raising Ole Boy for value that i'm ahead of or flipping with like overpairs, Ad with overs, Ad with a pair, etc. I ended up shoving which probably isn't the best play given it makes it more likely to push out Ole Boy and i'm never getting Brian to fold any better hands really and he likely won't call with any worse hands (Brian ended up flopping the exacto Ace High flush the one hand i have no equity against...cool) but that said this guy was so wild and "ready to go" that getting the money in on the flop and getting called by a worse hand by Ole Boy wasn't that far of a stretch of reality either the way he was trending. Normally when i read statements like the one i just made I am like, ok this kid wants to justify a play with an outcome that isn't very likely to happen and is overstating an element of the story to justify it but a few hands later Ole Boy called and open, then got 3b by Brian, and then 4b off like an 8k stack for a huge overbet with A9o and my friend Brian called and held with 88. I wasn't really playing around or exaggerating that this guy was teetering on the high wire, had he flopped anything reasonable in that hand vs me when i had KK, he would have sent it in as he was way too many Zima's in to think clearly.

Upcoming blog: Songs I'm Feeling & an Update Power Rating of TV Series i've been watching like Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Etc, Plus more Poker Stories

Poker Blog- The Bilzerian Game

April 18, 2012

So i'm playing 10-20 NL at the Bellagio on the opening week of March Madness. I always wanted to check out Vegas during the opening week of March Madness as i've heard its quite the crowd scene. The 10-20 feeder game i'm in is somewhat average when Brian Rast shows up, he seems to always pop in at my 10-20 when i'm playing. Cools. Fortunately, a few of these French guys randomly show up at like 1am. One of them mentions something about PLO, and Rast is like "I'm down". Then a negotiation of stakes takes place, and Rast mentions something like 100-200 20k buy-in, then they like decide to raise him and are like lets make it 200-400 100k buy-in. Rast is like "Uhhh ok yeah sure whatever lets just get the game started and we will go from there." A few minutes later Rast pulls out a 100k in chips to let the guys know he's not full of hot air. One of the French guys involved in the negotiations was railing his friends and he went to the casino cage to get 100k. I was thinking like man, unreal, must be fun to have elite PLO skills and a bankroll to play that big & bink the timing lottery of something like this which just happens organically at your 10-20 table while you're essentially just dicking around on Tuesday night. I get moved to the main game as does Rast, and as it turns out the game doesn't happen, which isn't too surprising although Rast, who i'm sure has seen many of these situations play out a lot, thought that it was actually quite likely the game was going to happen despite people's tendency to talk a big game but not follow through. Right as the excitement of this big PLO game not happening began to quell, none other than Dan Bilzerian shows up. I've heard quite a bit of Dan Bilzerian, i follow him on twitter and i've heard many stories. From all accounts, the guy is a man of action on and off the felt. That being said, i'm always leery of stories i hear second hand, so i assumed 70 percent of what i heard was accurate as far as scale and extent of the tales go, i totally believed that the guy was an animal though i just assumed each story had a decent bit of built in exaggeration for effect. He rolls up the top stoop of the Bellagio high-limit side and does a stop and chat with Rast and Matt Marafioti (ADZ on stars) and a few others at my table. Those who know him kinda make a "Hey we will make it 10-handed for you" jokes and sure enough he decides to sit in and play despite not really intending on playing 10-20 from what i remember, perhaps he heard about the PLO game and surfaced. He sits down and within a few minutes produces like ten or more 10k banded stacks of cash. Between he and Rast there's like a quarter of a million at the table. Definitely gave me an inferiority complex about my measly 8k stack at the time. After a few rounds of play it becomes evident Blitz is gambling quite a bit and has some serious waggle to his game. Within a few orbits the game turns to 10-20-40 predictably. Here's a few hands that i stand out to me.

Throughout the game Blitz is betting 1k with this guy at the table on the flop being black or red dominant. I wasn't paying super close attention but at some point, he tossed the guy he was playing with an extra 1k chip, i think it was perhaps for the guy being honest in a spot where he could have taken advantage of him perhaps, it also could have been something else as well but i just saw him toss the guy an extra 1k chip and he was like 'wow i guess i'll take a free 1k' or something and then Blitz tosses two other 1k chips across the table for no apparent reason other than just to make it rain i suppose. It was kind of like being at a strip club minus all the women and cleavage. Andre, a super nice kid and regular in these high stakes games who goes by like IKA something online, felt kinda dirty about taking the money and tossed it back, but then Blitz promptly tossed it back to him. I've played a lot of poker but have never seen a guy just shower 1k chips or anything near that on guys at the table for funsies effectively. If i was super busto or devoid of any pride at that point i would have done my best Wally voice and been like "Wow Blitz that's so cool you just made it rain 1k chips" or something to that effective perhaps mentioning how i just missed the 1k chip landing in front of me by a few inches and i feel like he definitely would have made me not feel left out and dropped another rain drop.

Hand 1
Blitz makes it 80 from utg, a few people call, i make it like 400 with black kings out of the big blind, i have around 13k at this point. It gets back to Blitz, he makes it 2400, I make it 4500, he calls. Flop is Tc 7s 4c, pot now has like 9k in it, i bet 3k, he hems and haws and thinks for awhile and is like 'Well i guess this is a fold?" and turns over 8h3h face up. Had i known that Blitz could potentially have that wide of a garbage range in a 5b pot where he's put in like a third of my stack, i probably would have checked or bet like 1k to $1500, i really feel like there's a super good chance if i check he plays the AK game and ships and maybe even does that over like a super small 1k bet. If he has anything that's calling my 3k bet he's prolly gonna bet flop himself if i check or call or raise my smaller bet anyway so i feel like betting smaller just is a way better overplay in hindsight knowing how wide his range can be in a 5b pot. In a hand like this betting for protection is somewhat moot because if he has anything that can end up beating me like a gutter or flush draw or open-ended or a pair that can turn two pair he's calling most flop bet sizes of 3k or less anyhow. The pot is also so big preflop, i can easily get my money in by betting 1k on flop and inducing him to raise or float super wide and then decide on my sizing on the turn. I just think he has too much testosterone to let me win the pot by betting 1k into 9k, but when i bet 3k i allow him to do the right thing with his air. A 3k bet is still small given the pot size, and would be appropriate in a lot of situations, but i just think betting even smaller is even better since he's such a pervert. If he flops any pair, any straight draw or flush draw, he's calling my small bet of 3k likely anyhow, so i mine as well bet an even smaller amount to get peels from air or even something like KJ, QJ, AQ, AJ etc, that can find folds to a 3k bet when i have only 6k behind.

Hand 2
I make it 140 on button when its 10-20-40 with AcQc, Blitz makes it ~800 from the bb, i call. Qs7h4c, he bets 900 i call. Turn is the 7c, pairing board and giving me a nut flush draw, he checks, i check. River is a 9h, he leads out for ~2500, i call, he has 99. Fine with how i played that, just didn't work out, could have bet the turn but i think i induce bluffs and potentially value bets from worse on river from him and probably expand his calling range on river perhaps too than if i bet turn, i also give him some chance to hit a pair and pay me off on river. I'm not sure he calls turn with 99s he probably peels i suppose but i also don't think i'm getting 3 streets from him too often when he checks turn with that type of hand, and he's also quite capable to put in a huge raise if i bet turn, putting me in a tough spot since the guy has a colossal sack.

Hand 3
I open JJ to 120 when its 10-20 utg. Blitz calls as do 3 others by the time it gets to this French guy who had been playing 10-20 like every night for the past few days. Super cool dude but he was definitely a civilian and wasn't the type to fly all the way to Vegas to muck hands for amounts of money that are nominal to a man of his affluence. He 3 bets to 800 from big blind. I have around 8k at this time and call, Blitz and two others call. Flop is Kh Jh 4c. The French aristocrat leads out for 3k, its on me with like around 7500. I contemplate calling or shoving and decide to ship it in. Blitz tanks forever and eventually folds and asks around if he should have peeled or not. French dude calls with QQ. Turn brings another club and Blitz goes nuts because he would have turned a backdoor club draw with his pair of Jacks and says i would have tripled up had i called flop.

Hand 4
I'm at the feeder game playing 4-handed with a very aggressive younger kid to my left. I open JdTd on the button to 60 and he makes it 200, i call. Flop is Kc 6d 4d, he checks i check. Turn is Ah, he leads for 300, i make it 800, he calls. River is a 9c, he checks i jam for around 2500, he tanks for a good bit and folds.

Hand 5
Have to classify this possibly as my WPOY (Worst Play of Year) hand of 2012 probably. It's not only a hand i believe i butchered but it hammers home a pretty important lesson i need to starting abiding by and not just saying i will which is paying real close attention to the game. I used to be super attentive back in the day when i was starting out and playing on a shorter roll, there also wasn't twitter and smartphones with facebook and NBA league pass and texting wasn't as big of a part of my lifestyle as it is now. All those thing absolutely cut into my winrate to some degree, perhaps even to a decent degree ashamedly. This hand is an absolute example of that. It's a 4-handed 5-10 NL uncapped game at Wynn, there's a young good solid reg, a 50-year old i've never played with but recognize as a semi-reg to full blown Vegas reg, and there's an Indian guy who was the straw that stirred the drink. I had just seen him call like a 1k bet on the river on a like a 789Jx board with pockets aces a few minutes before this hand. He opens to 40, the 50-year-old reg calls, and i reraise with AK to 200. Indian guy predictably calls, who has like 3k, and it gets to the older reg, who now reraises to 800! I'm like what, the play definitely caught me off guard. I have around 3k at this point like 45 minutes into the session, and the guy's stack is south of 2200 to start the hand. I basically just made a demographic read and folded based on the fact that he's an older guy and a reg, that combination usually leads me to believe he's probably way more likely to be a nit than otherwise. He also has no reason to believe i'm out of line as its early in our session and older guys in this spot rarely do heroic moves preflop, especially a backraise, and often slowplay hands like AK, JJ, QQ (and sometimes AA & KK) because well people like this generally are overly passive and trappy preflop. I go through some of my show the bluff antics i'm known to do and he says he had AJ and he reached to his cards near the muck and revealed a J. He said by the time it got back to him there was a lot of money in the pot so he decided to make a play. I made two big mistakes here. For one, i didn't take near as much time to consider all the aspects at play, and secondly, i was jacking around on my phone at the time so i had no idea what his actions were like during the hand leading up to my raise. Had i been paying close attention to the game i probably would have noticed that after the fish raised, he called rather quickly without giving much thought to re-raising, deciding to slowplay, etc. If i was paying close attention, it's very likely i would have seen that, which makes my ship a rather trivial one. As far as taking time is concerned, i would have realized that it's a pretty bizarre play to just call a fishes raise on the button, especially in a 4-handed game when there's only two people behind you, not to mention that neither of those two behind him have given him no inclination to slowplay to induce a squeeze, which is super optimistic anyhow. Of course, older guys like this do sometimes do the over elaborate slowplays which make little sense which is why they are who they are, but all things considered, if he happens to have AA or KK 4-handed then God bless him. I gotta go all the way! Super embarrassing gaffe on my part. I get super scared when older dudes start shoveling in money, and often give them too much credit, although i do think that their ranges are pretty tight in these spot for the most part.

Have a ton more stuff to write about, most of it being sports, but i don't want this blog to be so long so i'll break it up and do a sports and other stuff blog in a week or two.

Adam Blog Commerce Diaries Part I

September 01, 2011 1 comments

Once again i find myself inside the not so majestic confines of the Commerce Casino. After playing in Vegas all summer a few weeks ago in places like the Aria, Bellagio, and the Venetian, the Commerce seems like even more like a relic of the past. That being said, there's probably no better place for a cash game player to be. Unfortunately my trip seems to be poorly timed, as the games here have been pretty dry, probably due in large part to the tournaments going on at the Bike. On Sunday night, the 10-20 NL game broke at like 11:30pm, which is pretty hard to believe for the Commerce, and on the weekend peek times, i think there was only 3 games, i remember seeing at least four when i came out here like a month before the WSOP. The games were so much better then in quality and quantity.

Part of what makes the Commerce great and live poker in general are the characters you see and meet playing. If you play on the high limit side at all in the Commerce, you will probably have heard of the mysterious, legendary creature named Juan. He's a middle-aged skinny asian guy with little to no eyelashes, pretty much always wears a long sleeve colored dress shirt, isn't averse to complaining about his luck or making a snide comment to a player. Sorry for the perhaps overly detailed descriptions, but i'm assuming you maybe trying to play the "Do i know that Asian game" right now in your mind.

Not a lot is known about Juan, although i have heard he lives in the Commerce, and has for many years. But after numerous games of telephone over the past few years, the stories and legend of Juan grows. He's rumored to have went on a heater in the 20-40 NL (perhaps PLO too as he plays that) where he won 700k to 2.5 million depended on who tells you. I've also heard one day at the tables that he lost like six to seven figures like in one week or something absurd betting props with like three guys in the game, one of the names was Kenny which i would assume could be Kenny Tran. Again, if you ask 5 people you could hear very different figures on all these tales, but what most regs there will tell you is that's he's one of the most fearless players you will play against and that he's been one of the bigger winners in the big bet games. Another character in these is games is former 12-year NBA veteran and NBA champion Jack Haley, whose a 6-10 white guy that played for the Bulls team that won 72 games. I've never played with Jamie Gold, but playing with Jack is probably as close as i'll ever get to that experience. He's always trying to tell you not to bet, or that he has the top pair or that he's never folding. In this particular hand, he and Juan were jousting, and somehow Juan bet enough on the turn to get Jack to fold his hand. Jack does a rabbit cam on the river and sees that he would have made like a flush or trips or something but the board was paired as i remember. They push the pot to Juan, but he hasn't meshed it with his stack yet. Jack is like, "man i wish i could play that hand over again now!" Juan, who still has his cards is like "Oh we can play it still, if you call the $900 and your hand is good, you win the pot." Jack is like "You know what i think i will, and grabs nine white $100 chips, and he starts playing with them and starts to push them in Juan's direction but pauses and starts to think. Everyone at the table is paralyzed at how the "hand after the hand is over" is being played, a type of thing you could probably only see at the Commerce. Juan eventually jumps on Jack and says "Come on quit wasting these people's time if you wanna call do it, quit jacking around" Jack disgustingly folds and Juan pushes his hand toward the muck. I of course am like "show the bluff, show the bluff!" and he doesn't budge. So then i say, "I'll respect the hell out of you if you show a bluff there" That ultimately was too much for Juan to pass up and he grabbed his cards out of the bottom of the muck and revealed an inferior hand to Jack which also made sense for him to have given the action. I don't know a ton about how technically sound Juan's game is at this point, from hearing about a few hands from friends, it seems he probably has some wholesale leaks, but i think that hand probably exemplifies how Juan's been able to be successful. He probably just has a really good feel for what people are going to do and is completely fearless and treats money like absolute dirt, and to be honest that's often going to be a pretty good trait to have if applied in correct spots with accurate reads. As Jack Haley once told me when talking about Juan, "Juan thinks two things about you in a hand, you either like your hand or you love your hand, and if he knows you like your hand he'll make you hate your hand."

Here's a few key hands that stood out from my play at the Commerce.

Game: 20-40 NL.
I bought in for 100bb's and have about $4200 to start the hand. This is probably 30 hands into my session. An online reg i know through mutual friends (a kid whose done quite well in HU online games but who is also known to be a very straightforward player with elite bumhunting skills) opens utg to $140, i have AhKd in mp. I call, this huge fish, a brother named Will, in the BB calls. The flop is As9s7h. Online kid bets $300, i call, Will calls. Turn is an offsuit 3. Kid bets 1k, i call, WIll calls. River is an offsuit Ace. Now i have like $2600. The kid and the fish are like 15k deep plus. The kid throws out a 5k chip and announces he's betting 5k. At this point, in fact i was even a little on the turn, i'm becoming quite concerned about my hand. A kid i've heard is a very tight, not often out of line player, not only raised UTG, bet flop and turn into two players, including a fish, is now betting 5k on the river in what is a horrendous bluff spot as its quite likely one of us has three Aces. Although on the other hand i feel like he also knows we never have a boat and prolly have AQ at the very best likely as played. I obviously felt he was quite strong here, but at the same time my hand is very underepped, he could be value betting worse and i'm getting pretty compelling pot odds and there's really only a few hands he can have that beat me (although only really a few hands he can have that i beat as well), especially considering i don't think he cbets 33 and folds A7o and A9o probably 100 percent, and perhaps folds A9 and A7 suited UTG. The 5k bet is pretty alarming too but at the same time, only the fish, who has a pretty wide calling range, is the only player 5k effective, my $2700 stack is only like %65 of the pot. It seemed like a really borderline spot all things considered but felt like a call, although not too overwhelmingly, feel like i'd fold AQ. I tanked and called, and the fish folded and the kid had 77.

Game 5-10 NL
I raise JJ to $40 utg and get 3 callers, a young asian reg named Steve calls in the bb. I have played with Steve a handful of times, i know him to be a very good tight reg who is always in the 5-10 game there. The flop is 7c7h4c. I bet $110 everyone folds around to Steve in bb, who calls. At this point i feel pretty confident Steve has a 7, an overpair, or a club draw here. Turn is an Ah. Steve checks, I check. River is the Kc, completing the flopped flush draw. Now quite surprisingly Steve leads out with four white $100 chips, slightly overbetting the pot. Now i haven't played a ton with Steve but i don't believe i've ever seen him table a bluff although i'm sure he does on occasion, but when he does bluff i doubt its in a spot like this and he probably isn't overbetting when he decides to show some waggle i'd imagine. I really felt he put me on a pot controlled Ax here or perhaps a flush i suppose, and was trying to level me into a call with his big bet, having like 44, or potentially a big flush. Now given that Steve flatted in the BB to multiway action, i know he absolutely never has AA or KK here, and i'm fully aware that he knows i'm not only capable of having those hands but would very likely play it in the same manner, betting flop and checking turn if i had AA or KK in his eyes. I also know he never plays K7 and not A7o there. Given that, and the fact that i don't think Steve has seen me reveal a big bluff in our time together and has no reason to expect it, i thought he would absolutely hate his life if i raised him here. It's not often that i put someone on a really strong range including full houses and raise, but i really thought all the factors at play made it the right decision. So i make it $1800 total, $1400 more, we both have like 4k plus to start the hand. He is like "wow this is so sick" and disgustingly folds his hand and says "what do you do with 44 there". I should have showed the bluff but since i like and respect Steve i didn't feel like turning this into a WSOP televised table moment and showing him up with theatrics. I later told him what i had after he asked and the whole table thought i was nuts and i think Steve was a little hesitant to believe as well, i still don't know if he did, but i think he may have believed i had it actually for some reason as time passed.

WSOP recap Blog

July 18, 2011

So once again, this WSOP seemed to be a bit bittersweet. That's not too surprising of course as it's a rigged decked and like 95 percent of people probably walk away from the WSOP with those feelings, as its very hard to make a final table or better, especially when you only play six large field tournaments like i did. I do feel a bit remiss for not playing a few more events, there were definitely opportunities were there 1ks or 1500s that i was in town and available to play that i elected not to because i wanted to play cash or decided to go out the night before. I really do think my approach to this WSOP was the correct one for myself which was to pretty much only play NL tournaments that drew over like 2k players, and on days where there were larger buy-ins or even 6-max NL tournaments i think i was better served playing cash. Perhaps i'm being too selective tourney wise, but i just don't think those 6-max tournaments aren't near as great of a value, although perhaps still a good value i'm sure, but particularly those that are like $2500 and up i wouldn't think are too Charmin soft. There's so much value in these WSOP tournaments because they have so many "Larrys" in them, like your typical dude who has a 9-5 job but comes out to wet his whistle in a few tournaments, with his Oakley's, a fanny pack, and a picture of little Junior on hand. But those types of people i think typically avoid the 6-max tournaments, leaving the 6-max tournaments with smaller fields and a lower "Larry" to good player ratio.
Tournaments can be so frustrating. I ran quite card dead in pretty much every tournament i played, i never really had like even a 2x average stack at any point. I did have one min-cash but that was bittersweet as i got all-in pre with JJ against 44 and lost, leaving me with like 2bbs left. I went out a few hands later, the exact hand where the bubble bursted and made money fortunately. Its funny because i ran pretty hot in my cash games sessions for the summer. I flopped sets and big hands left and right but didn't flop a set and get action or win a big pot preflop in any of these tournaments.
Meanwhile i would look around and see so many like 55-year-old civilians with monster stacks, and when they came to my table they like never played a hand. How do these people get these stacks? I'm sure often its from some young buck trying to play them off their hands but of course the "Larry" refuses to fold his top sets while the young kid cherry bombs off his stack in the name of having a blocker. The cash games were pretty good i thought. As usual, the 10-20 seemed to be the clear cut-off as far as getting in pretty juicy games were concerned. I would say a quarter of my time was spent playing 10-20 this summer. It's not so bad having 10-20 being somewhat dry because i always could find a good deep 5-10 game that played fairly close in scale to 10-20 with like a way softer lineup.

I wished i could have watched the US women's world cup game against Brazil. I saw the highlights and man did i miss an epic game. I did find a few things quite funny about it though. The US women's coach afterward said, "Someone's writing this book!" I mean i think that's a bit comical to say the least. You have the No. 1 ranked team according to FIFA and all your team has done so far is lose to an inferior Sweden team, getting your one goal off a misheaded ball struck from the shoulder late when you trailed 2-0, and beating a very good Brazil team in overtime after trailing the whole game thanks to penalty kicks. Helluva comeback and a big win for US women's soccer for sure against world power Brazil, but let's hold off on contacting Mitch Albom just yet. All you have done is sneaked your way out of the quarterfinals with the Boss team. I also found it interesting that after the Sweden game the team did a little celebratory dance. It wasn't in your face, it wasn't pompous. I can't remember which announcer made the comment but she said something to the effect of, "I think that's a bit much, etc." I mean when your the dog team and you knock of the Boss team i think a fun celebration is completely in line. Meanwhile, after the US women's team wins, our own coach of all people, does her best Ted Nugent cat scratch fever impersonation, gyrating with some Guitar Hero riffs and proclaiming that a book is being written. And when that's done its completely appropriate

NBA Playoffs Thoughts

May 29, 2011

Hey all. I hope everyone else is enjoying this NBA playoffs as much as I have been. If you know me at all, you've probably heard this take from me before, but, man, the NBA Playoffs just completely crush March Madness. For the shade-tree basketball fan, I think March Madness probably has the edge, because there are so many games in such a short period of time -- which, of course, leads to a lot of upsets and everyone gets so vested in their brackets. I think Blue Collar Bob loves to get behind the George Masons and Northern Iowas and VCUs, and there's definitely a David-and-Goliath element at play that is absent from the NBA playoffs. Of course, that completely ignores the fact that oftentimes teams like VCU don't deserve to play for a title in the first place. In the Colonial Athletic Association, the Rams finished two games behind a Hofstra team that was playing in the NIT and didn't boast any impressive non-con victories, either. Under what criteria did they get in? They didn't do well in conference, they didn't distinguish themselves in the non-con, and they didn't even finish strong in their last handful of games, winning three of their last eight. #grounds4investigation.

I just can't take college basketball too seriously when the best team so infrequently wins the championship and teams that have no business being there -- like VCU -- completely disrupt a tournament full of deserving teams. The format makes for an entertaining experience, for sure, but to me it's kind of like watching the Fast and the Furious series: it's a helluva good time, no doubt, but in of itself nothing I'm going to nominate for critical acclaim. How can million-dollar contracts and the futures and fortunes of so many men that run these programs be decided by this ridiculous format? Actually, wait a minute ... this sounds a lot like the tournament poker circuit. Butler coach Brad Stevens was the huge beneficiary of these "basketments." (To non-avid poker players, cash game players, the most skilled segment of poker players, refer to poker tournaments as donkaments, because often donks -- or bad players -- win). During his back-to-back championship game run, his teams won so many games where it literally could have gone the other way. I'm still trying to figure out how the Bulldogs won that Pitt game, where a Pitt player missed a free throw late that essentially would have ended the game with 1.4 seconds left. Instead, ole boy misses the free throw and somehow Butler's Matt Howard gets fouled like 90 feet from the basket while attempting an impossible full-court shot. As my fellow Bostonian friend Kissler would say "Are you Seriousssssss!!!!???" Of course, kudos to Stevens for having his team in every one of those games, but he had some incredible luck to get to consecutive championship games and got a 12-year extension and millions from it. Shaka Smart made out in this, too, going from a coach that didn't even have his team together for a Selection Sunday rally -- can you blame him? -- to a guy who somehow got in the tournament and rattled off upset after upset en route to a Final Four. Knocking out Kansas was probably the biggest shock of the tournament. The result? Being courted by programs a few tiers above his, ultimately forcing VCU to throw eight years and millions Smart's way. Weird how things can play out in the fantasy world that is March Madness, where if you replayed the tournament five times, you'd have vastly different results nearly every time. They could probably play last year's tournament 100 times and you wouldn't see Butler and VCU in the Final Four. It's insane, really, and that madness is what people love. Perhaps I'm a basketball purist, but I like seeing the absolute premiere talent in the world play a best-of-seven games series and seeing who comes out on top in a back-and-forth chess match of adjustments and matchups.

It's amazing that after watching these NBA playoffs so many surprising transformations took place. Kobe and the favored Lakers aged four years in less than four weeks. Dirk went from a great player who was known for a Finals meltdown to one drawing Larry Bird comparisons. Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies became an unstoppable team you didn't want to play, knocking off the No. 1-seeded veteran-laden Spurs squad, and the Heat transformed into a cohesive, clutch team that made others cry. Remember those late fourth-quarter stats where Heat were so inept all season? It was so hard to believe.
Probably two of the hardest things for me to believe during these playoffs was the ascension of the Grizzlies and the Mavs. How does your team take off like a rocket in the playoffs with a top-two player being out due to injury? Most would say Rudy Gay was the Grizzlies best player going into this season before he got hurt, as most would agree Caron Butler was the Mavs second-best player. With these guys, these teams weren't supposed to factor into the power structure of the NBA this season and battle for a title. Months later, without them against the top teams in the playoffs, they've swept the Lakers and completely dismantled the Spurs and Thunder. As my friend Harp has been known to say, "$hit's Wild!" So what happens to these teams had their stars been healthy? Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.

I think the Heat's story this year is so fascinating. Once the trio united this off-season, they took so much flack for joining forces. Let me get this straight: If an athlete goes for the money, perhaps at the expense of a title in exchange for more stats and money, he's a joke and maligned, yet when these superstars joined forces, almost assuredly sacrificing their stats and money, it was something to flame? Interesting. Of course, how they did it was a joke, and LeBron didn't need to slow-roll Cleveland like he did, not to mention make a TV show out of his "Decision", but at the end of the day, these guys signed together because they wanted to win. I can't crucify them for that. After all, when you end your career without a ring like Marino and Barkley, it can be a lonely island with no return flight. If i'm an elite athlete who cares anything at all about my legacy, I'm going to do whatever I can to give myself as many cracks at a title as I can. It's funny how at the start of the year so many NBA experts were saying how good the Heat were going to be and how it was almost unfair. A lot of the basketball talking heads were saying, "Oh, Jordan would have never done this; he wouldn't have teamed up with Magic, etc, etc."
Basically it seemed like the ethics of free agency and the competitive balance in the NBA for the foreseeable future was in question because now all of the sudden three of the top 15, and arguably the very two best players on the planet, were now on the same team. Of course, I always found it interesting that Lebron was blasted for joining with Wade and Bosh, creating this allegedly unfair superpower. As I remember, they weren't even the favorites to win the NBA title heading into the season, the defending champion Lakers were. I suppose Kobe's titles should have asterisks by them because he was with Gasol, Odom, and Bynum? Where was all this superpower hatred when the Celtics did precisely the same thing a few years prior when KG and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce and Rondo?

Here's how the narrative changed just a few months into the NBA season. "Oh this is a terrible model to build a championship team around." "You can't win a title with two and a half players and a team full of scrubs." "Stars and scrubs won't work." "Give me a team full of working parts like Chicago." "Give me a gritty, experienced, deeper Boston team." "Give me Kobe Bryant, two dominant 7-footers, and the multi-talented near 7-foot-tall Lamar Odom." Another easy angle was, "So let me get this straight, you're going to put your faith in Eric "looks like he could be a substitute teacher" Spoelstra?" "I'll take Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers!"
It all made so much sense in the moment, as the Heat were tripping over their own feet, losing, seemingly, to every good team they played. They even lost to the newly assembled Knicks, and they couldn't stop a nose bleed. Now all of a sudden the Heat were a transparently terribly flawed team that nobody was picking to win the Finals. I think their topsy-turvy journey was perhaps the best route they could have taken, making their potential title triumph come with a lot more respect and a lot less hatred. Just think about it. Had the Heat ran through the NBA season like everyone thought they would, winning 70 games and won the Finals, all of those aforementioned pre-season sentiments would be brought to the forefront again, and everyone would be saying, "Of course they won, they have three of the top 15 players in the league!" Everyone would be clamoring to turn off the Heat. (Sorry had to insert one meatball media-esque Heat pun). That anti-Heat hate would be intensified. But after seeing them fight and struggle (and cry) like most teams do en route to a title, they are so much more humanized, and it seems like more of a triumph that should be applauded, not questioned with disdain. It was completely by accident of course, but I think this season played out for them as well as it possibly could have assuming they win it all.

All of that is nice, but I actually think the Mavericks are going to win the Title. Their offense is the most ridiculously fluid, hard-to-defend offenses I've seen in awhile. They have the most unstoppable player in the league at the moment who can get his shot off literally on anyone at anytime. How do you stop a 7-footer that shoots with a one foot fadeaway from as far out as the 3-point line who can also put the ball on the floor and score 48 points without making a single 3-pointer while missing only two shots? It seems like every possession Dirk isn't scoring, the ball is kicked out to someone behind the 3-point line. That player then pumps and the defender has to close out hard because everyone on this team can nail 3's. That guy either waits until the defender is in the air and draws a foul if possible, or waits until the defender flies by and drills the open 3. Or he just kicks it out to someone else who is wide open, or drives to the basket for a jumper or some other scoring opportunity presented from a five-on-four. Remember that closing game against the Lakers? I've never seen a team move the ball around and shoot like that. It was like they were playing with a six-on-four power play advantage the entire game. (With some of the fouls in that game, a penalty box would have been appropriate). It was ridiculous.
The Mavs also have that Ponce De Leon fountain of youth factor going on. If I'm opposing teams in the league, I'm launching an investigation into what's being dispersed in that locker room. Marion is playing like it's 2004, Kidd is playing like its '99, and J.J. Barea (the Danny Woodhead of the NBA) is playing like one of those guys who dices people up in those half-court three-on-three games at 24 Hour Fitness. And I haven't even mentioned Peja, whose career fell off a cliff before coming to the Mavs and somehow Jason Terry is playing the best basketball of his life in his 11th season. How are all of those things happening simultaneously for them in the playoffs? It's unbelievable if you think about it. You have to give a lot of credit to Dirk, who is the alpha dog and leader of this group, with a team full of aging veterans who seemed near their NBA expiration date, he's swept the defending champ and favored Lakers, and completely destroyed a young and very talented Thunder team in five games. Pretty damn impressive. What the Mavs have done this playoffs is way more impressive than the Heat, who have beaten a Celtics team whose most valuable player was playing with one arm and a Bulls team whose best player is a one-dimensional scorer yet to develop a jump shot and whose second best player is Carlos Boozer, who seems to always wear down and underwhelm in the post in the playoffs.

Black Friday and more

April 26, 2011

Hello, all. Last Friday was a day that i'll definitely remember for awhile. I was sitting at Toyota dealership with my girlfriend getting my car serviced and get a call from my friend who hosts a sports talk radio show in Kansas City. He goes on to tell me that he's at the station and he just read on the wire that online poker is getting shut down, threw around the Department of Justice, indictments, money laundering. My initial reaction, perhaps fueled out of self preservation in this instance, is to not put much stock in people not in tune with online poker talking about online poker.

I was thinking 'ok maybe he's misinterpreting something, perhaps they're aiming at shutting it down but it's not shut down, etc, etc.' It became real when i got home and couldn't even log on and had seen on twitter what everyone was saying. It felt like i had lost a love one by the number of calls and texts i got about it, i almost wanted to reset my voicemail and be like 'Yes i'm aware that online poker is getting shut down and i may or may not get my money back and i may or may not be able to continue to make a living as i have in the past...Have a Nice Day!'

Although i know everyone that called me and texted me was doing it out of concern i think i actually like ignored a few calls or texts that day which i never do, i just didn't even want to talk about it really. Part of it too was that i didn't even know how serious it was at the time or how it's going to play out, nobody does. Trying to say UIEGA (or whatever the correct ordering of those haunted letters are, for some reason i always doubt whether i just said it correct every time i say it), let alone explain it to people that know very little about online poker is a pretty futile and tiresome conversation to say the least. Frequently asked post Black Friday questions.
* So is it illegal to play online poker?
*Are you going to get your money back?
* Don't you feel like you get cheated on there, i mean can't like a bunch of guys tells their friends what hands they have?

ETC, ETC, ETC. And then probably to my favorite post Black Friday question. 'So how much money do you have on there?'

I don't know man, how much money do you have in your bank account? How much you got in your 401K cuz?

Perhaps i'm being like overly sensitive or cranky here, but like asking someone (poker players, seem to get this a lot) how much money they made last year, or how much money they have online, which essentially is like a bank account, seems like a fairly inappropriate question to me, even more so if your asking someone that you just kind of know in passing or are more or less acquaintances with, let alone in front of like 10 or 15 people. Poker players constantly get asked how much they make, how much they made last year, it's a question that everyone i think realizes is a rather tacky question to ask someone in any line of work yet for some reason that logic and social tact doesn't apply when talking to poker players. I've always found that interesting.

Playing live poker that weekend was kind of annoying, probably got asked like a dozen times how much money i have online. I mean it's a completely i guess "newsworthy" and pertinent question if you will so i guess i get it, but again, i think a question of that nature is somewhat personal in my opinion, and probably only appropriate to ask someone you know fairly well. I got pretty good answering that question, "Man wish i had less on there that's for sure" probably ended up being my default, go-to answer.

That Sunday was probably the day it really crystalized for me. Typically Sundays were the days i chased the dream of popping off in Sunday tournaments during the day and usually played cash games later on at night. Always kind of sucked because Sunday is such a great day to watch sports, hang out with friends and family, golf, go to a sporting event, etc, etc, but i pretty much always missed out on all that fun leisurely activity for poker. It was kind of nice having all that time available. I ended up going golfing, going out to eat with friends, working out, and if not for a few friends flaking out last minute, almost got a few games of bowling in. Was maybe going to go to Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond but 'i don't know, i don't know if i'll have enough time!'

New Favorite Song

Lil-Wayne to the Office beat

What other songs i've been wearing out

YG - Toot it and Boot It (Rap) *starts like 45 seconds in, btw how amazing is the kids Bill Cosby sweater, who jumps out of the Escalade in the beginning

(Above, YG) couldn't find a version that sounds anywhere near as good as my Itunes version, but if you remotely like it buy it on Itunes.

Deadmau5 - Sophie Needs a Ladder (House)
On my "What i should do now that i have extra time because i can't play online poker" To Do List:

1. Get a Bill Cosby Sweater
2. Learn PLO

Upcoming Blogs, Aussie Millions Recap Trip Report (Sorry for the delay brahs) NBA Playoffs, Baseball season, Evan's Bachelor Party Recap.

YEAH Buddy!

January 05, 2011 3 comments

Hello All. I'm not sure what the proper first blog post should be about or consist of. Perhaps getting to know me is a good start. I'm very excited to become part of the PokerNews Strategy community, where i will be posting videos and hosting a podcast in the near feature.
I'm super excited about NFL playoffs coming up. My Kansas City Chiefs (from and live in KC) are not only in the playoffs, which is a shock to all given their ineptitude past few years, but are division champs and hosting a playoff game this Sunday. Got tickets to the game this weekend. Pretty stoked about it. My college buddy Zeke from MU is coming in town for it, as well as Evan (Macdaddy) and a true brah by the name of "Tech", which should make for a very fun weekend. Chiefs are a 3.5 point dog, i'm not a big sports betting guy, at least not vs a house vig but i do often dabble with bets between friends. I have toyed with betting on the Ravens creating a win either way scenario for myself, but am tempted to just go all out and punt on the home team, would kinda suck to bet on Ravens and kind of rob the moment if the Chiefs do win but i lose monies. Kind of sucks we drew the noon start time, i have such a wack schedule, going to bed around 8am and waking up around 4pm, the night game would be ideal, get there around 4 or 5pm and tailgate. Guess i'll fire off some quick hitters below, and let you know a little what i'm about.

Most Recent Purchases: Jordan Take Flight basketball sneakers (Blue-Gray), Mountain Hardwear Jacket

Currently reading: The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, Fooled by Randomness, Slam Magazine

Currently watching: The Sopranos, Season 6

This leads me to my passion for TV shows, went my whole life never watching anything but Sports pretty much, with Beavis and Butthead, Fresh Prince, and Seinfeld sprinkled in.

Here's my power ranking of all the TV Shows i've watched in the past year or so

The Wire - 9.8 - The best TV show i've seen by far. Show is incredible. Definitely the best character development of any show i've ever seen, i could write a a 5 page paper on the spot on like 20 characters. Show is an absolute masterpiece that so thoroughly delves into every part of a community from the streets to the police station to the school systems to the news room. Its Realism makes it so legit too, as often shows step outside those boundaries to catch or keep your attention often mocking your intelligence. If i had to knock this show i will say that it does start out slow, if you're not a patient person you may give up after the first few episodes but much like in poker, you just have to grind through the downswing and know that it will get better, a lot better.

The Sopranos - 9.4 - Even though i'm about 7 or 8 episodes from finishing it, i have no problem rating this show this high. Show has great character development, great drama, provides some laughs and also doesn't seem far fetched at all. Paulie is probably my favorite character, dude has a sick haircut with the gray wings on the sides and his super old school nature is really funny. This is definitely a guy who probably never has read or sent an email, let alone texted or tweeted!

Entourage - 9.4 - I think this was the first series i got hooked on. Show has super funny moments and at times leaves you at the end of your seat wondering what's going to happen next. Many shows successfully do one of those two things, but not many do both so well like Entourage. Another show that develops the characters really well. Ari and Johnny Drama are definitely my favorite characters. Even the secondary characters like Josh Weinstein and Adam Davies and Lloyd are incredible. The show did hit a bit of a lull toward the past few seasons, but the most recent season was really good. Probably my favorite aspect of this show is how it shoots every scene at actual locations in Hollywood, LA, Vegas, Sundance, Cannes, or wherever they are. It uses real players in Hollywood, like when Vince is competing for jobs its against actors like Leonardo Dicaprio for example, or like actually having James Cameron in episodes when Vince lands a role in a James Cameron movie. The cameos are incredible, from Chuck Liddell, Seth Green, Dennis Hopper, King James, Snoop Dog, Hugh Hefner and yes, to drop down to a Death Valley level in Q rating by comparison, somehow Antonio Esfandari weezled his way in the mix in an incredibly brief but cheesy poker scene, where i'm pretty sure Esfandari bravely says "I'm All-in like he was in some hoosier WSOP promo. There are many more examples which add to the realism of it all that just makes the show really good in my opinion. The writing is great too, the dialogue between all the characters is really funny and is in tune with how many young people talk and act today.

Lost- 9.3 - I went into this show not really being too excited about it given its sci-fi nature, but after prodding from my friend Zeke and needing to start a new series i gave it a shot. Its a really solid show with incredible character development and drama. It does kind of manipulate you like an impressionable elementary school kid with like nearly every episode ending in some Cliffhanger like one of those Goosebumps books you read back in 3rd grade where the end of every chapter had something monsterblock thing happen, hustling you into reading another chapter. It does kind of get a little too crazy near the last few seasons but all in all its a helluva show. Ben Linas is definitely my favorite character, followed by Hurley and John Lock. I also like Desmond quite a bit since he ends every sentence with the word "brotha" when talking to a brah.

Dexter - 9.2 - Drama is definitely the strong suit of this show. Dexter is a great lead character who is developed really well, you will definitely have a really hard time not feeling like you know him really well or not caring about him through his journey. However, i do think the show kind of does a poor job of really developing many other characters that you truly care about or feel like you know really well, probably due in large part to focusing on getting you in lockstep with Dexter so much. I think James Dokes was a pretty good character who i thought was a great villain in the show, and Bautista is a solid guy who you will root for and Masuka is a really funny quirky character who you wish you got to know better.

Eastbound and Down - 9.2 - Its kind of hard ranking a show that is pretty much strictly a comedy with only like 7 short 25-minute episode seasons in comparison to shows like The Wire, Lost, and the Sopranos. Either way, this show is absolutely hilarious and unlike those other epic shows i mentioned, it is easily digestible with so few and short episodes. Your life isn't going to get postponed like it will if you start Lost. Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) is unreal funny, and his sidekick Stevie Janowski has an absolute coming out party in this show. The guy is so awkwardly funny its unbelievable. He plays a "desperate, starved for attention, nerdy who tries so hard to fit in guy" as good as one can. Will Ferrel has a prominent role in a handful of episodes, his dialogue with Kenny Powers is truly memorable.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - 9.2 - Perhaps i should have created a subcategory for comedies as i feel like perhaps i have under rated Curb and Eastbound here. Larry David plays himself as the lead character in this comedy that is probably unlike any show you've ever seen. Obviously given David's involvement in perhaps the most successful TV show ever in Seinfeld, his comedic genius is well documented and comes out once again in this series. I may even go so far as to say i like this show better than Seinfeld, although i have probably only seen like half of the all the Seinfeld episodes to be fair. Just the situations David thinks of and puts himself through in this show are just unbelievable. How he thinks of these scenarios and angles is truly incredible. David has an incredible knack for cultivating these situations to where his response seems so out of line to most people but completely in line to himself, but of course the thing is you can see where he's coming from, but of course the only difference is Larry acts on these impulses which pretty much nobody does. I mean who calls out a guy in a wheel chair for using a non-handicap toilet in the bathroom. Larry does that's who. The season where they adopt the African American family who lost their home in Hurricane Katrina is unbelievable. Vivica Fox's brother Leon is such a funny character and the budding relationship between him and David is really funny.

Mad Men - 9.1 - Perhaps the best developed lead character of all these shows is Don Draper in Mad Men, played by Jon Hamm, who actually had a decent little role in the Town, a movie i thought was good but not great. I feel like i would appreciate this show a little more if i was like a 55 year-old given that it takes place in the 60s, i probably miss out on a lot of the attention to detai stuff l in this show given that i'm not super in touch with how things were in the 60s, much like how i appreciate Entourage for being so spot on with current pop culture. Nevertheless, it's still kind of cool to Bill and Ted's your way back to a time gone by and see just how different things were back then.

Californiacation - 8.9 - Really funny show which David Duchovny is the lead character in. He's a great character who has some really funny sharp and witty dialogue in nearly every episode which carries the show. The themes and story lines in the show get kind of redundant as it goes on, nearly every episode involves Duchovny randomly bumping into some hot chick who he bangs like minutes later, and this of course creates tension between his like 14-year-old daughter who is aware of it all, and his ex-wife who is always in and out of the picture romantically.

Boardwalk Empire - 8.8 - Kind of hard to review a show with just one season out but i'll go ahead to take a shot. This show started out really slow and i always found myself watching it probably at the wrong time right before i went to bed and it wasn't really capturing my attention. It picks up quite a bit halfway through and ends pretty strong. For whatever reason i just have a hard time associating Steve Buscemi as this tough guy dictator who like smashes guys skulls on the craps table to make a point. Isn't this the same guy who like was always some squirrely eccentric character in like every Adam Sandler movie like Big Daddy where he plays a homeless bum or in Big Lebowski where's he Donny, the friend that like everyone picks on?

Big Love- 8.8 - Pretty solid show but definitely a show that i got roped into watching with my girlfriend. It is kind of interesting watching a show about a polygamist family. Bill Paxton is a pretty damm good actor and does a pretty good job as the lead in this show who pretty much spreads himself too thin with three wives, a few kids, owning a pretty successful big business, and later on getting into politics. Dude has so much on his plate and is stressed out of his skull nearly every episode dealing with everything which is pretty much summed up by Johnny Drama in an episode of Entourage where he downplays the allure of polygamy by saying "Dealing with one girl can be tough enough, managing eight is nearly impossible bro!" Spot on Drama, spot on.

True Blood - 8.8 - Another show i went into not really wanting to buy into given its sci-fi elements but i actually ended up enjoying the show quite a bit. Pretty good character development and pretty decent drama and even comedy at times. Didn't enjoy the most recent season as much as i did the first two.

Weeds - 8.6 - Pretty entertaining show with pretty good characters but in the end it just gets a little too far fetched for me with all the things Nancy gets involved with and does.

I'm definitely leaving out a few shows i've seen for sure, but those are the ones that stand out the past few years. Any suggestions on what shows i need to add to that list?

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