Archive for October, 2017

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New Music Friday – 10/27/2017

October 31, 2017

New Playlist Additions

Snoop DoggMake America Crip Again (hip-hop/rap) – Snoop has released approximately three projects since Doggystyle that I’ve been a legitimate fan of. Needless to say, I don’t care about this, but I’ll let it spend a couple weeks in my most prominent playlist and see if anything catches my ear.

Big K.R.I.T.4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (hip-hop/rap) – There was a point in time when K.R.I.T. was unquestionably one of the best up-and-coming rappers. I admittedly haven’t listened to his last couple albums and that’s probably because they didn’t get overwhelmingly positive feedback –
but also because I was kind of in music hibernation. I will give this a dedicated listen at some point this week and I really have no idea what to expect.

YelawolfTrial By Fire (hip-hop/rap) – I wouldn’t say Yelawolf is exactly my cup of tea – his style definitely has a southern and country twang to it – but he’s plenty capable of making some good rap music. His last album Love Story had multiple songs that made my Best of 2016 playlist. Yelawolf has proven he’s worthy of checking out, so I will also give this album a dedicated listen this week.

Other Notable Releases

Yo GottiI Still Am (hip-hop/rap)

Ty Dolla $ignBeach House 3 (hip-hop/rap) – I maaaaaaay add this to my playlist, but I’m pretty sure this dude doesn’t grab me.

Kelly ClarksonMeaning of Life (pop)

WeezerPacific Daydream (alternative)

112Q Mike Slim Daron (r&b/soul) – I was just wondering the other day what happened to 112… I guess I could find out?

Previous October Albums

Brent FaiyazSonder Son (r&b/soul) – I’ve listened to this album about 3.5 times now and I’m loving it. There are multiple songs on here that sound like old classics and that I’ll eventually be adding to my Best of 2017 playlist. It’s early, but this could possibly be my favorite R&B release of the year.

H.E.R.H.E.R. (r&B/soul) – Can’t say much about this yet because I’ve only listened to two songs so far.

Hustle GangWe Want Smoke (hip-hop/rap) – Hustle Gang is a lot of T.I., some B.o.B. and a bunch of guys I’ve never really heard or care about. I’ve listened to one song so far and I doubt I’ll ever give this a full listen.

Wu-TangThe Saga Continues (hip-hop/rap) – I’ve listened to the first half of the album four times and the second half twice, so I’m still getting a feel for some of it. I know this much: Method Man absolutely destroys over multiple appearances. He not only sounds completely rejuvenated, but as good as he ever has – so many quotables from Meth: “Mayday! Mayday! But no charge, I’m nutty with the bars/ that’s a Payday, so bruh (sober), this ain’t even a bar, this is AA.” The production is also a massive highlight. I stopped giving albums numbered ratings, but I can say this much: this Wu-Tang album is inching up my Very Good category and getting consideration for Top Notch, which puts it in Albums of the Year territory.

dvsnMorning After (r&b/soul) – I learned something new this weekend: this dude’s name is pronounced as “division” – I’ve always sounded the letters out individually. Interesting. I gave this a full listen driving back to Washington from Reno and while I found it enjoyable enough, nothing really jumped out at me like “In + Out” or “With Me” did on last year’s SEPT. 5TH. I can’t imagine I will give this many more dedicated listens, but it will remain in my top Playlist for a while.

BeckTrue Colors (alternative) – My play count says I’ve listened to zero songs so far, but I know I’ve heard at least one. Either way, I clearly have no opinion yet. I’d really like to branch out of the hip-hop and R&B genres, but I rarely know what albums I should be listening to. Beck has been nominated for Album of the Year three times at the Grammy Awards, which seems pretty strong.

Dame D.O.L.L.A.CONFIRMED (hip-hop/rap) – NBA star Damian Lilliard is also an accomplished emcee that goes by the name Dame D.O.L.L.A.. CONFIRMED is his second major release, following last year’s The Letter O which sort of shocked me and I found to be very good. After a couple listens, I’m not liking this album as much. Compared to his first album, this one seems to be lacking in substance and I didn’t notice any actual growth from Dame vocally or in his songwriting. I don’t have a full grasp on the album yet, but I’m pretty confident there’s a handful of songs I never need to hear again.

New Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“Found A Way” – Dave East, Paranoia: A True Story

“If Time Is Money (Fly Navigation)” – Wu-Tang, The Saga Continues (Method Man solo)

“Memories On 47th St.” – Vic Mensa, The Autobiography

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Three Crazy $20/$40 Hands

October 28, 2017

So my goal with these session blogs is to do a couple of week and last night I didn’t take any notes for my $20/$40 limit hold em session at Fortune, but there were three hands that I don’t need any help remembering and really feel the need to share:

Hand #1

Hi jack opens, a player I don’t have a ton of experience with but I imagine is quite good three bets on the button, the small blind calls and I have KK in the big blind. I decide to just flat. As I said, I don’t have much history with the button, but I know he’s astute and I feel like capping it here out of the big blind will really tip my hand strength. 

The flop spoils my dastardly plans by bringing an Ace, as well as a 6 and a 2 and two spades. I check to the cutoff and he leads right out; the button calls, small blind calls and I call, holding the King of spades in my hand. 

The turn pairs the Ace, which is a pretty good card for me, but I’m still playing defense and check it to the cutoff and he fires another bet and now the button springs to life with a raise.

The small blind folds and I go deep into the tank. I felt like I’m supposed to fold here. I really can’t imagine what hands the button is flatting, with two players behind him, on the flop that have me beat. Surely, he would be raising an Ace on the flop. The cutoff can definitely have an Ace, however. 

I wanted to fold, but I could feel something telling me I would regret it and, in the past, when these “easy” folding spots have come up and something doesn’t feel right, my instincts have almost always been correct. Unfortunately, I have made about 5-6 folds in substantial pots that I would have won and I almost always had this feeling beforehand. Like, folding seems standard, but something is off. It’s my instincts telling me: “DON’T DO IT!

This time I decided to make the tough call and slid the $80 cold into the pot. I believe the cutoff folded and then the river bricked out and the action went check-check and I won the pot.

Hand #2

This is an insane hand. It’s especially crazy because I had logged a total of less than one hour lifetime with the villain in question to this point. I also rarely consciously use physical tells to make my poker decisions. Every once in a while they may factor in, but most of that is so subconscious that I’m not even aware of it. But I had noticed something about this player that I couldn’t help but inventory. He was a confident dude, to the point where I felt like he was bordering on cocky, but more importantly, he practically dripped with hubris when he was betting the best hand. 

So when he raised my big blind and I defended with the K3 of diamonds heads up, I checked it over to him on the 752 rainbow flop and I couldn’t help but notice that when he bet, that glaring cockiness was missing.

Time to execute: I check-raised. 

He called and I led into him on the 9 of hearts turn, which opened up a backdoor heart draw. My read was really being challenged when he decided to raise me. Again, his strength wasn’t convincing, but I had King high with literally no draw. I felt like I should probably just fold and give it up, but what’s the point of picking up these tells if you aren’t going to utilize the information? I really believed what I detected was true, so I went ahead and three bet him. He called pretty quickly.  Shit.

The river was a 2 of hearts, completing the backdoor flush and pairing the board. There was a chance that he rivered a flush and I felt like he would never ever fold a better hand than me at this point, so I just checked it over to him. Would I call a bet here? Absolutely. Sure, it may feel like a torch, but I’ve come too far now. I didn’t have to call though because he checked behind.

I announced, “King high.”

He waited me out, so I said, “is it good?”

He asked, “King high flush?”

I said, “no. King high.”

I tabled it and…

…he mucked!

Don’t try this at home, kids.

Hand #3

I have moved back to the third $20/$40 game at this point and I am playing four-handed near the end of my session when this hand comes up. 

 The button opens, a really bad player in in the small blind calls, and I defend with A7 offsuit. 

 The flop comes 752 with two hearts (I have the Ace of hearts) and the small blind leads out. Obviously, I have an easy raise here, but I also have a massive amount of intel on the small blind at this point.

 In the past, I’ve seen him donk the flop with top pair hands and quality draws – this will be important later.

 So I raise and now the button three bets it and we both call. 

 The turn card is a beautiful Ace of spades and we check to the button; he bets, the small blind calls, I check-raise, and they both call. 

 The river is a 6 and now the small blind leads out. Okay, now I’m officially perplexed. My first instinct is to call. When I’ve seen the small blind lead out on the big bet streets he has been pretty nutted, so flatting and trying to get an overcall from the button made a lot of sense to me – it may save me a bet or two when I’m no good and it will probably win me the same amount when I have the best hand. 

 But then I really started thinking about it and realized that his most likely drawing hand was 43 and that hand made a straight on the turn and all he did was call twice then. 

So I raised. I didn’t think about it long enough. 

The button folded and then the small blind three bet me. I mean, this is basically a fold now. I think if I thought longer about the river and realized that this player can actually show up with a hand as bad as 66 here or that he may have started with 98 of hearts, I would have determined that calling was my best line. 

He didn’t have either of those hands. I reluctantly made the call and he showed 98 offsuit. Ouch. 

 I had never seen him bet the flop with a draw that weak, so I wasn’t even considering the 98, but for whatever reason I overlooked the fact that he could have 98 of hearts and because of that I cost myself an extra $80.

On the bright side, it was a pretty amazing session for me considering I spent about 8 of my 9.5 hours in very bad, super nitty lineups. I ran pretty good in one of the worst $20/$40 games I’ve ever played in – so bad, I would probably play something else if I didn’t get off to such a hot start. Plus, for whatever reason, I have a tendency to get unwarranted action even from normally tight players. All in all, I was pretty happy to book a +$1445 win under these conditions.

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PLO Wednesday!

October 27, 2017

Wednesdays are Pot Limit Omaha day at Palace in Lakewood, but the game doesn’t start until 6 PM and I had to be up early the next day, so I tried to be at the casino by 4 PM so I could leave around midnight and still get about eight hours of play in.

This meant I was going to do some game-hopping. I was like 4th or 5th up for $8/$16 limit Hold Em but $6/$12 limit O8 had a seat open, so I started with some split pot four card poker.  The game was unreal – one of the best O8 games I’ve ever seen.  There was only one other player folding before the flop and she limped with 9883 in a kill pot, so who knows what kind of hands she’s not playing.  That’s a lot of dead money in every pot.  I did win about $70 but I ran far below average in the few hours I was playing, considering how much overlay there was in every hand. 

There were a number of pots I got unlucky on – specifically my premium suited A2 hands were coming up with no pieces – but this was probably my favorite hand of the session: everybody is in for one bet, I call 9932 single suited on the button.  The flop comes A85 rainbow and it checks to me and I bet my nut low.  One of the blinds calls, a limper raises and both of us call.  The turn pairs the Ace, the middle player bets, I call, and now the other guy check-raises.  We both call.  The river is another Ace and it is a bet and call to me.  I actually say out loud: “can you ever have 88 here?” before calling and to my pleasant surprise the bettor has 55xx with no low and the other guy has the nut low, so the fives full are counterfeit and I win the high with Aces full of nines and split the low.  The player with the 55 verbally expresses his pain and misfortune and all I can think is “wtf are you doing on the river, buddy?”

$1/$3 PLO starts at 6 PM and the lineup is amazing, but I get off to a terrible start by making a loose flop call that ends up costing me around $400 when the turn greatly improves me to an expensive second best hand.  It’s one of those spots I look back at and realize I’m still not very good at this game.  “Small” mistakes can lead to huge losses in big bet games.  

Very next hand, after reloading, I 3-bet an AA hand to $50, bet $120 into $150 on the 963 rainbow flop in a three way pot and then stack off when the blind check-pots it.  I dunno… maybe this is a fold?  At best, I’m against a random two pair hand, but I’m more likely against a set or something like 9876.  I might have to look at this spot closer because when I bet the $120, I thought I was committing myself and maybe that’s not exactly true.  Anyways, I’ve been playing less than 30 minutes and I’m already down $800and that’s a bad spot to be in a game where lots of players love to hit and run and the game tends to not have very long legs; a four hour spread is not uncommon.

Next interesting spot I try to isolate a fun player with KK52 with hearts and both blinds call, as does the limper.  The flop is an amazing AK9hh, giving me middle set and the nut flush draw and I bet $40 into $80 when they check and only the limper calls.  The turn is a black ten – one of the few cards I hate – and he checks but doesn’t seem strong, so I confidently bet $85 and he calls again.  The river is a black 8, which doesn’t really change anything, and I bet $125 and he folds.

I call a min-raise from the big blind with K5ssJJ and bet $20 into $50 when I flop the nut flush on AT4.  A middle position player calls and so does the small blind and then we all check when the Ace pairs on the turn, an absolutely terrible card for me.  The river is a 9, the SB checks and I check for pot control and to throw the action player some rope because he bluffs a lot.  He bets $75 and the SB calls and now I’m perplexed.  The river bettor can easily be bluffing, but can the SB ever be check-calling a full house?  It seems unlikely, and I doubt he’s folding flush to this particularly gut, so I don’t see how I can fold the nut flush in this spot.  I call and they both show full houses.  The river bettor has A9 after flopping a Jack high flush and the small blind has 99 after flopping a nine high flush. Pretty sick run out and super unfortunate because the player with A9 is the type that will pay off for the max with a Jack high flush.

I then got AA97 all in preflop for about $500 effective and was pretty fortunate when his AAxx hand flopped a flush draw and bricked out for a chop. I later stacked this same player when I had T766 in the big blind and got him all in on a Q96 flop vs his 987x hand.

My last key PLO pot was perhaps a missed opportunity. I limped behind with AK73 doubled suited on the button and one of the blinds made it $15 to go. Four of us saw a flop of KK4 with two clubs and they all checked to me. I bet $20 and only the preflop raiser called. The turn was a ten, I bet $60 and he called again. I thought he had naked Aces or maybe a hand like QQJx, so when the river came an Ace, I can’t say I was overly excited about it. Granted, I’m blocking AA, but just because you’re blocking a hand doesn’t mean they can never have it. Still, it would be ludicrous to check my hand behind, so I bet $100 and I wasn’t exactly thrilled when he check-raised me to $300. I then did what no respectable player should ever do: hemmed and hawed about my misfortune before calling with the second nuts and winning the pot (he had JTT9). My antics are deplorable here, but really, no reasonable player would check-raise the river with his hand so while my fear of losing to AA here might be valid in a normal game, this one is full of all sorts of wonderful surprises.

I won solid pots on the last two hands I described and chipped away at my early deficit and managed to book a small profit of $101 when the game broke at 10 PM.

I was considering calling it a night since I was planning to leave around midnight and I loathe playing short sessions. Plus, I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning, but my wife was still wanting to play and the $8/$16 game looked pretty good with some unfamiliar faces. “Allow me to reintroduce myself – my name is…”.

The game had some empty chairs and one of the first pots I played, I opened with K9 of clubs and barreled all the way when I flopped a flush draw and rivered a club. I didn’t show my hand, but I couldn’t help but notice one of the players (not in the hand) staring daggers at me the whole time. I don’t consider myself cocky, but I’ve been doing extremely well at limit Hold Em for many years so I carry myself with a lot of confidence at the table. I think this sometimes puts a target on my back and I’m perfectly okay with that. When people try to go out of their way to beat me or show me up, it’s usually pretty advantageous to my bottom line. Anyway, I could sense I was about to enter into an ego battle with this guy. I’d like to think I don’t play with ego, but I am aware of when other people are and I try to adjust accordingly.

The first hand I play against this guy, I open from the hi jack with 98 of spades and only the two blinds call, including him. The flop is 772 with one spade and they both check-call my continuation bet, which is not surprising as this board doesn’t induce many folds – people will literally call with any two cards. Because of this dynamic, I will typically double barrel my bluffs on the turn even when I miss completely – and I don’t have a lot of bricks. Any J, T, 9, 8, 6, 5 or spade give me a pair or a draw, and cards like Aces, Kings, or Queens are good bluffing cards. Needless to say, I’m betting a lot of turns when I’m not sensing any strength from my opponents. A Queen hits the turn, I bet, and I’m now heads up with my man. The river is an Ace and he quite mindlessly leads out. I already know the guy is going to try to outplay me and he looks blatantly weak, so I feel this is an easy bluff-raise spot, something that basically never comes up on the river in limit Hold Em. I raise, he folds, and I can’t resist the urge to show him the 9 high. Sometimes you gotta give them what they want.

One of the downsides to showing a hand like that is that it raises the stakes of the ego battle a little. Rather than looking for a spot or two to show me up, this dude is now 100% gunning for me and has moved two seats to my left. We definitely prefer to have him on our right under these circumstances.

In this hand, an early position player raises, another cold calls, and I have 88 on the button. I can definitely three bet here, but I feel like the under the gun player is tighter with his aggression and decide to just flat. The small blind calls, as does our new buddy in the big blind. The flop comes down T63 rainbow and everybody checks to me. This is an obvious bet. The SB calls, our friend check-raises and both players in between cold call. Well, I wasn’t expecting that. I call and the five of us see the Jack of hearts on the turn, putting two hearts on board. Everybody checks to me again. At this point, I don’t really know what’s going on. Someone could definitely have a T or a J, so I check back. The river is the Ten of hearts, completing the backdoor flush and I get checked to again. This is a super thin spot, but when you really think about it, it seems apparent that I have the best hand. The problem is, can I get called by worse? I certainly think so. I doubt anyone would check trip tens on the river even though the backdoor flush came in and it seems pretty obvious that the two early position players have nothing, so I’m targeting the blinds with a value bet here. I’m almost certain the big blind has a weak pair here and that he will pay it off, so I bet. He does call and so does the preflop raiser, but I confidently table my hand and win the pot.

I’m not done with this guy quite yet. It folds to me on the button and I raise with 98o and he three bets from the small blind. I call and he checks to me on the 854 with two diamonds flop. He checks and is holding his chips across the betting line waiting to call like he is never folding. I bet, he calls. Turn is the 3 of diamonds and he does the same thing. I bet, he calls. River is the 9 of diamonds, putting four diamonds on board and giving me top two pair. He does the same thing he’s done on the flop and turn and waits for me to act, but I have no diamond so I check behind. And then he bets. I look at the dealer like WTF and I can see that he wasn’t watching the river action and now the big blind is yelling at me for saying he checked when he didn’t do anything. Yeah, okay buddy. I’m new here, I have no idea what’s going on. The floor gets called over and since I’m not sharing my side of the story I know it’s going to be ruled a bet because the dealer wasn’t paying attention, so I just put the call out there expecting to pick off a bluff the majority of the time anyway and that’s exactly what it is and I win the pot. Then I have to listen to his yammering about saying he checked when he didn’t do anything, even though after my initial objection I haven’t said anything about it.

I play one more hand with this dude before he physically threatens me. I have the QT of spades and call his raise from the big blind in a multiway pot. The flop basically bricks me completely except for the Jack of spades and I get trapped for a cap on the flop on the off chances that I can hit a backdoor Royal Flush for $35,000. Yes, that’s a real number. The Spade Royal Flush is over $35,000 right now at the Palace in Lakewood. I’m not going to be the dude that folded a $35k Royal because I didn’t want to make loose calls on the flop with only backdoor potential. Anyways, as I’m getting owned for the four bets on the flop, I tell the player capping it on my right “this could be ugly” – an advance quasi-apology in case I end up winning this pot with a hand I would almost always fold.

I missed the turn and did not continue, but after the hand, the dude I’ve been battling with says something to his friend in their language and then says things like “I don’t like that shit” and “that’s why I moved over here” in English. I can’t help but feel like he’s talking about me and because of my comment to the other player during the last hand, I kind of feel like he’s insinuating that we are cheating in some way and attacks against my integrity are about the only thing I won’t put up with while playing poker.

So I say, “wait, why’d you move over here?”

He responds aggressively with “am I talking to you?”

“No. I just wanna know why you moved over here.”

This goes on for a little bit and he doesn’t share what he said to his friend, but continues to talk loudly to me and say things like “I’m the wrong one to mess with.” I dunno. I’m never looking to fight anyone, but if someone is accusing me of cheating we are going to have a conversation about it because I pride myself in playing a very fair poker game.

The floor comes over due to the commotion and now the guy is telling me I’ve been playing “straight up” and acting like he wasn’t talking about it.  Eh.  Whatever.

He ends up leaving soon after and that’s too bad because he probably would have enjoyed watching me get massacred from that point on.

First, my AQ loses to TT on a AJ5TJ run out where the TT player has to put three bets in on the flop before spiking his set.

Then I get four bets in on the turn with J8 vs 87 on 8328 against a guy that has no clue what his hand value is and he gets bailed out by a 3 on the river for a split pot.

Finally, a hand so unbelievable it will seem like I have to be making it up – but I have witnesses!

We are playing 5-handed now so I have little respect for a cut off open and I three bet with KT offsuit.  Both blinds come along and the cutoff also calls.  The flop is QTT and I bet when it checks to me, the SB calls, the cutoff raises, I three bet and both players call.  The turn is a 6 of spades, putting two spades on board, and the cutoff donk again.  I raise, the SB calls two bets cold and the cutoff now folds.  Lol.  The river is the 7s, completing the backdoor flush and the small blind leads out.  I kind of thought he had a ten and the only missing ten was the spade so it seemed pretty likely his trips backdoored a flush and I just called.

He shows the 93 of spades.

To recap: he called three bets cold from the small blind before the flop; he pays three bets on the QTT one spade flop to see the turn; and he calls two bets cold on the turn when he finally has a prayer.

God bless him.  Poker is far from dead.

I ended the $8/$16 session down $85 and called it a night with a meager win of slightly less than +$100.

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So Many T.V. Shows!

October 24, 2017

Ratings
5 – Must Watch
4 – Good Stuff
3 – Decent
2 – Not Recommended
1 – Terrible

I’ve powered through a number of seasons of various T.V. series recently, but haven’t shared my thoughts yet, so here they are:

Game of Thrones, Season 7: The biggest event show on television is still must watch stuff. Season 7 featured a bit of ridiculousness (like, travelling to and fro is no longer an issue for anyone in Westeros – they might as well be apparating), but there were plenty of long awaited moments and lots to cheer about. It’s hard to say too much about this show without spoiling things, so I’ll just say I still find Thrones insanely entertaining and I can’t wait to see how they end this thing. 4.5/5

Iron Fist, Season 1: I hated it. Easily the worst of the Netflix Marvel series so far. The biggest problem is Finn Jones just has no charisma in the lead role and, as such, Danny Rand is not someone you can wholeheartedly root for. I really had to force myself to finish this season so I could watch… 1.5/5

The Defenders, Season 1: How could they mess this up? By making The Hand the main enemy, I guess. It’s fun seeing the four heroes interact with each other (although Iron Fist is still lame), but at the end of the day, the agenda of The Hand just doesn’t make any sense. I literally have no idea what the end game was for them. And who is Sigourney Weaver’s character? She’s the leader of The Hand and she’s supposed to be important, but we are never given any reason to fear her and have no idea why she’s in power. Certainly someone like Madam Gao seems a more formidable leader. Shrug. I thought this long awaited series was good for about four episodes and then it lost me completely. People that are going to watch are going to watch it anyway, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. 2/5

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later: If you aren’t already familiar with this franchise you should acquaint yourself with the 2001 film and the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp first. There are too many back stories and running jokes to fully appreciate this show if you haven’t seen the previous installments. I admittedly did not revisit the film first and I think it dampened my enjoyment ever so slightly. I kind of figured things out and remembered as the new story unfolded, but not having everything fresh didn’t make everything as funny as it should be – and it was still hilarious! Absolutely my kind of comedy, but certainly not for everyone. This shows gets pretty ridiculous and out there, but I’ve really enjoyed both series streaming on Netflix. 4/5

Gotham, Season 3: As a dedicated Batman fan, I can’t stop watching this series no matter how ridiculous or bad it gets. There are just so many things to complain about. To some degree, Bruce Wayne finally begins his actual transition into becoming The Batman, but most of his biggest villains are already fully formed – despite the fact that, traditionally, Batman is the reason his rogues gallery exists in the first place. There is a lot to gripe about but I’d like to highlight a couple of things: 1) So Jerome isn’t The Joker? I really liked Cameron Monoghan as Jerome even though his portrayal was a weeeeeeee bit over the top. I don’t understand how someone that looks and acts exactly like The Joker isn’t actually The Joker. The idea that the real Joker is someone paying homage to Jerome, or a copycat, really doesn’t sit right with me. 2) My goodness, how bad did they botch Mr. Freeze? He looks and sounds absolutely TERRIBLE, plus they turned a formidable anti-villain with a tragic back story and turned him into… Penguin’s lackey? 3) This season has a Penguin-Riddler love story. No joke. 2/5

Better Call Saul, Season 2: Creator Vince Gilligan (also responsible for Breaking Bad) is truly a master. I wasn’t really sold on a Saul Goodman spinoff when I first heard about it, but both seasons of the show have been stellar. The show has amazingly rich character development and plenty of fun call backs to Breaking Bad. Arguably the best show currently airing right now, I can’t wait to watch season 3 and be all caught up. 5/5

Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Season 1: This series picks up 30 years after the events of Evil Dead 2 (I think it ignores Army Of Darkness) with Bruce Campbell reprising his role of zombie/demon slayer Ash Williams. The first season is hilarious, spectacularly gory, and wildly entertaining. Ash picks up a couple of compadres on his quest this time around and they are admittedly still growing on me but at least they give someone for Ash to verbally spar with. This isn’t genius stuff here, but it’s definitely something fans of horror and the original franchise will love. 4/5

Shameless, Season 2: This show is wild, and dirty, but it’s also a lot of fun. The Gallaghers are a crazy bunch and everyone has plenty of flaws, but they somehow still come across quite lovable. I still don’t understand Fiona’s interest in Steve/Jimmy though. It really makes no sense to me. Season 2 is still pretty grounded but I have strong suspicions this show is going to get totally bonkers, to the point of completely unbelievably. Here’s to hoping it keeps its heart and doesn’t turn every single character into a total scoundrel. 3.5/5

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$8/$16 LHE @ Palace: I’m Blessed!

October 23, 2017

Or least that’s what I’ve been told recently. But I’ll get to that later.

First, I’ve decided to continue with my idea to write about my sessions. I enjoy writing about poker, probably more than anything, plus I think taking notes during my sessions helps keep me accountable.

Secondly, I think I finally figured out how to rate music on my blog. I will be unveiling my new method this weekend.

Thirdly, I have a lot of T.V. shows I’ve watched recently that I haven’t talked about yet. I will try to do that this week.

Lastly, I didn’t write any notes while I was in Reno for the Run It Up series, but hopefully I’ll post a trip report sooner rather than later.

Okay, so on to my $8/$16 session at the Palace today. I mean, it started off innocently enough. Actually it started off in $6/$12 Omaha 8/B, but I didn’t stay there too long and quickly took my $29 profit to the $8/$16 game. I actually really enjoy playing Omaha and it’s a nice change of pace, but it’s hard to justify playing in a split pot game at lower stakes when the all the quads on the PSJ board are $499, the Spade Royal is over $33,000 and two other Royals are $6000. It’s not like I play for jackpots, but at those numbers, I just have to play in the Hold Em game.

Like I said, my session didn’t start off well and after an hour I was down about $200 overall and it was mostly because of this hand:

Button straddles, I three bet TT from the small blind, everybody folds and I’m heads up with the button. The flop comes down 752 rainbow and I check because the button likes to bluff and will probably put me on overcards. He does bet and I check-call, planning to raise the turn. The turn is a Jack and I execute my plan and the button just calls my check-raise. The river is a blank and I go for some thin value because I expect him to be a little confused and pay off light and he raises me? Now I’m confused – and I don’t fold when I’m confused, so I call and he shows me a set of Jacks!

I continued to trend down when I opened the AJ off from early position and got called by a somewhat tight and passive player on the KK5 flop. The turn was a 3 and we both checked and I paired my Ace on the river. I don’t think betting is wrong here – he has a small pair or medium pair often enough to justify a value bet, but bet-calling the river was a mistake and he showed me KQ after I paid his raise off. This is definitely a player I can reliably bet-fold the river to.

Next, I opened with AA and got three callers and was check-raised by the big blind on the JJ2 flop. I know this player is capable of trying to run me off an ace high hand and he’s also capable of having a Jack here, so I decided to turn my hand into a bluff catcher and just call down, like I would with AK. The turn was a blank and I called another bet. I would bet the river if he checked to me, but it paired the 2 and he fired again. I called and he showed AQ high.

At this point, I was trending back up and I was talking to the dealer in the box about how my buddy said I’m “blessed” while we were down in Reno, indicating that I really have nothing to complain about when it comes to poker. I hate losing, especially in tournaments, and it’s natural to feel bummed out when you bust events, but looking at what I’ve done over the past couple years it was hard to argue with him. Variance has really been on my side lately. I’ve been cruising at an ROI of 331% since November 2015 in live tournaments. That’s insane!

So as we were talking about being “blessed”, the dealer (a friend of mine) was saying how it’s true and that I never seem to miss a flop in limit Hold Em either. On cue, I’m dealt the TT in the big blind, raise five limpers, and get the T32 with two spades flop. As if that’s not sexy enough, I’m heads up on the turn with a player that has an Overs button (Overs buttons increase the betting to $12/$24 when those players are heads up) and he raises when the 8 of diamonds hits. I three bet and he calls. This is a pretty tight player, so when he raises the turn and a brick hits the river, I think there’s some merit to trying to check-raise again. We know where 75% of the tens are and I would expect him to have at least two pair when he raises me on the turn, so he seems heavily weighted towards sets of 2s, 3s, or 8s. So if the river bricks out, it’s really hard to imagine him checking those hands behind. But the river was a 6 of spades and I thought he would check that card back a lot, even when he had sets, so I bet and got paid off.

I was up $60 overall after a couple hours, but the run good was activated now. I raised the small blind with QJ of diamonds, bet the AJ5 one diamond flop, check-called the 5d turn and check-raised the Kd river. Then I limped along on the button with 98hh and stabbed at the A63 one heart flop, got one straggler, fired the 3h turn, and then raised the river when he led on the Jh. That one got him talking to himself!

Then I started flopping sets all over the place. I flopped sets of 8s and 6s for massive pots. I flopped a set of fours that won a good pot. I had 44 on an A52x3 run out. All in pots that were raised before the flop. I triple barreled with AdQc on the J42dd8dQ board and my rivered pair was good. Then I got the AAxA board with AQ and this was actually a weird one. I had raised before the flop and then I bet the flop and turn and my opponent raised me on the turn and then folded when I three bet? I mean, that is just comedy. What hand is he trying to represent? What is he trying to get me to fold? I guess he’s bluffing there, but what a crazy board to try and bluff a preflop raiser on.

All in all, it was a great session that started off slowly before I started running so hot half the table was mumbling to themselves. Normally, I’d never leave when I’m running this good and playing well on top of it, but I haven’t seen my wife in ten days and wanted to make sure I was home before she got off work, so we could at least spend a little time together before she went to bed. So I booked a hefty $1120 win for the day and called it an early night.

Welcome back to Gotham, TDK!

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$1/$3 PLO Session @ Palace

October 12, 2017

I always have blog ideas running through my head and I don’t always execute them, but my poker blogs are almost always my most popular ones and I’ve been thinking of ways to write about poker that is interesting to read and isn’t too time-consuming for myself. Sometimes I will write about a whole tournament series I play and it takes me like a week to write it and I imagine it can be exhausting to read. So I had the idea of writing about my day-to-day sessions and just noting the biggest and most interesting pots I played. I don’t know if this will be a continuing trend or not – or if it’s even going to be entertaining – but I’m curious to see what kind of response it gets.

So yesterday I went to the Palace in Lakewood without much of a plan of what I was going to play. When I got in the shower around 3:30 PM there was a full $6/$12 Omaha 8 or better game with 6 people on the list and that looked promising enough. This a new game to the Palace spread and I hadn’t played it yet, so I was pretty happy to see that it was going strong and that I was going to be able to get some playing time in.

When I arrived at the Palace around 4:15 however, the $6/$12 O8 game was 5-handed and within seven minutes of me sitting down two players busted and another one left and then the game broke when one of the three remaining players took a $4/$8 hold em seat. I don’t know if the earlier list was misleading or not – or if my timeline is a bit off – but the game went from 9 seated players with 6 waiting to dead in roughly an hour. I played about two short-handed orbits and lost $2 before having to move on to other things.

When I arrived I had put my name up for the $1/$3 PLO game starting at 6 PM and for $8/$16 hold em, which is my main game. I got a seat in the second $8/$16 game around 4:50 PM and kept my name up for PLO, not really sure if I was going to play or not. There were like 20 players on the list and I wasn’t one of the first 9, so I would be making my decision based on who was playing and how long I had to wait to get in.

I’ve been reading Tommy Angelo’s Painless Poker the last few days and in an effort to refocus myself at the table, I set some new goals for my session. First off, I set a timer to take a break every hour. It’s seriously important to get up from the table at least once every two hours or so and walk around a little bit and take your mind off the game – even if it’s just for a few minutes. I chose 60 minutes because of my second goal for the night: to not be distracted by my phone while I was playing. Set timer, put phone away, and don’t look at it again until the timer went off. It was obviously easier to remember hands for one hour than it would be to remember them for two hours. And my last goal for the session was to look left for playing and folding tells on the opponents with immediate position on me. This is such an underrated observation and I can admit I don’t use it often enough. Last night I got crystal clear tells on the two players to my left and I always knew if they were going to play or not based on what they did after they looked at their cards. This is pretty important when you’re thinking about limping behind with a marginal hand from the hi jack or cut off or isolating a weak limper by raising when you’re not the button. For instance, a weak player with a wide limping range called from middle position and I was in the hi jack seat. I saw that the button was planning to play his hand and I looked down at AJ offsuit. This is a clear raise, regardless, but had I looked down at sometime like QT off, I would have elected to just fold. The button ended up 3-betting me and I check-folded when I bricked the flop.

I only played $8/$16 for about 90 minutes, so I didn’t have a lot of interesting hands, but these were my key pots for the session:

-Several limpers, I raise A9 of clubs from the small blind. Flop comes King high with two clubs and I have a clear lead for value with my nut flush draw and I get three callers. The turn bricks me and I elect to check-call now since I feel I don’t think I’m getting many folds and there is not enough players to bet my draw for value. The river is a 4 of clubs and I lead out, the turn bettor calls, and last position raises. I make it three bets and get paid off by the last player and win my first sizable pot of the night.

-I complete 95dd from the SB after a few limpers and check-raise the 975 flop. Heads up to the 2 on the turn, I bet and he calls. The river is an 8, which isn’t ideal, but I feel confident that he has a 9 with a decent kicker and while he could have 98, he will never raise the river with it. It’s possible that he could have 76 suited or JT, but this is a player that I can snap-fold the river to if I get raised and his body language and timing is in total pay off mode, so this is an easy value bet and my hand is good.

-After taking a break, I post in late position and get the 93 offsuit, a player limps, a good player raises, and I’m never folding for one more bet after posting in the cutoff, so I call and four or five of us see the 954 flop. The player from the previous hand donks out, the good player just flats (which is never a made hand), and I call. The flop bettor is very straight forward, so I feel my hand is never good here, but the pot is too big to fold just yet. The turn card is a 7, which may give me additional straight outs and I call a bet after the preflop raiser folds. The river is a 3, giving me two pair, and he bets again. This is kind of an interesting spot and I took some time thinking about it. This player doesn’t strike me as the kind that will bet the river when the one card straight gets there, if he doesn’t have it, so I didn’t think I could raise. At the same time, I couldn’t really come up with any hands he would take this line with that have a six in them. Confused, I decided to just call and I won the pot after he showed 54 suited. And of course, I look like a maniac because by the time the hand ends no one remembers that I posted, but they will remember that I called a raise with 93 offsuit and I’m okay with that.

I finished my $8/$16 session up $261 and moved on to PLO around 6:10 PM after a number of people didn’t show and I got a spot in the starting lineup, which looked irresistibly juicy to me.

I actually created this game. Well, sort of. I really felt like the entire Seattle and Tacoma area was missing out by not spreading a PLO game anywhere. I think they spread it in Tulalip and maybe at Snoqualmie, but those are two casinos that I never go to and I think the PLO games there play big. So an entry level PLO game was entirely missing from the greater Seattle area. My idea was to spread a $1/$2 game with a $300 max buy in. It seemed like it would be very popular and stakes people could stomach while trying to learn the game. Well, I got the Palace to spread PLO, but they made it a $1/$3 blind game with a $5 bring in and $500 max buy in. So the blinds were in the realm of what I was going for, but because of the $5 bring in, the game was going to play about 2.5x bigger than what I had in mind. In other words, this is no entry level game and it probably wasn’t going to attract any $4/$8 hold em players. And honestly, it’s bigger than I’m comfortable playing. If it attracted mostly solid players with more experience than me, I probably would never play it, but fortunately it tends to be pretty soft and even some of the more experienced players seem to make what appear to me to be clear, massive errors.

As I’ve said, I’m no PLO expert. I have less than 15 sessions of live play lifetime, so I will make mistakes in the hands I share. I’m still in the early stages of learning and I tend to play a very passive, low variance game. For instance, I’m not apt to 3-bet many hands, especially when I’m out of position, because the players in this game just don’t fold. That may seem like a good argument for 3-betting very good hands, but since I lack experience, I’d rather navigate smaller pots with a bigger edge after the flop than bloating them preflop when I’m not a huge favorite against a wide range of holdings.

-My first key pot was entirely exploitive. A very loose and active player opened to $10, there were some callers, and I called with 9764 single suited on the button – a very marginal holding, but my goal is to play as many pots in position against this player as I can. I got a very sexy 532 rainbow flop and I ended up stacking the preflop raiser for about $400 when he slow played his flopped wheel and check-raised me on the turn.

-My next interesting hand came up when I limped the small blind in a 6-way pot with AKT6 with the AK of hearts. The flop was QTT with two clubs and a heart and I led out for $15, which was about half pot. One player called and the button made it $40 to go. I don’t love this spot because he should have QT a lot, but it’s way too early to consider a fold yet and I have nut kickers with my ten, so I call. The turn brought the Jack of hearts, giving me a straight and a Royal Flush draw and I check-called a bet of $100. The river was a K and I decided to lead out for $175 fearing he might check back and got snap-called by… AT42, no clubs! Yes, this game is pretty soft, folks!

-I got another cheap flop from the blinds with K754 and led out for $15 on the K77 with two hearts flop. I got called in a couple spots and decided to turn my hand into a bluff catcher when the Ah hit the turn. I check-called $75 on the turn – heads up now – and then $100 on a blank river and lost to AK7X. Pretty unfortunate situation, but I felt like I lost the minimum, especially with his river sizing.

-Here’s a bad play that worked out well. I decided to limp in with the ATss62dd, which is not only a weak hand, but doubly bad considering I had two active and aggressive players to my left. Of course I got punished by a $20 raise and ended up seeing the flop 6-handed. The board came out K72 with two spades and I decided this was a good board to lead out on with my pair plus nut flush draw. With the King of spades on board I didn’t think I was likely to get popped unless someone had a set of Kings or sevens and I suspected I had plenty of fold equity. In an effort to keep my opponents’ ranges wider, I have been making smaller bets than everyone else in the game and led out for $65 into $120 here. I picked up one caller and had position for the 7 on the turn, which felt like a good card to barrel for $110 and I picked up the pot.

-I open to $15 from late position with AKQ2 with a nut suit. Both blinds call and I bet $20 on the JTX with two clubs flop. The big blind check-raises to $60 and while I like my wrap, I don’t have a flush draw, so I just flat his raise. The turn is a 9 and he leads out and seems flabbergasted when I jam on him for about $320 effective. He calls and my straight holds up.

-I raise a series of limpers to $20 with QJ98 with two clubs on the button. Five players call and we see a very sexy flop of T92 with two clubs, giving me a pair with a 17-card straight draw and a flush draw – an absolute monster. I bet $75 when it is checked to me and I’m willing to get all the chips in if I have to, but instead I just get three callers. The turn is an ugly 6 of diamonds and one of the callers leads out for $300 (which is a max bet). A player in between folds and now it is on me. The turn bettor has about $225 behind and the other player in the hand looks like he’s going to fold. It’s pretty obvious that my opponent has 87 and since it seems like the other player is going to fold, it doesn’t make sense to put in the remaining $225 before hitting my hand, so I just call and then fold when the river comes a 2. He ended up showing the 87 and while I don’t know what his other two cards were, the chances of me losing this pot to an 87 are insanely small!

-I make another loose call with the KTT7 with two spades on the button when the LAG (loose-aggressive) player opens to $15. The flop comes K72 with one spade and I raise his flop bet of $40 with a caller in between to $130. He calls, the other player folds, and I bet $300 on the 3 of spades turn. He calls again and then folds when the river bricks out and I bet $200. I actually didn’t think he had much of a hand to call with, which is why I sized down, but maybe this would have been a good spot to experiment with a funky bet size like, say, $50 and see if I could get the LAG to spazz out.

-I raise one limper to $20 with AKJJ with a nut suit and get multiple callers to see the J62 rainbow flop. There was either $100 or $120 in the pot and this board was super dry, so I sized very small at $30 hoping to sell a weak hand and possibly induce some unwarranted aggression. I got my wish when the most experienced (and who I think is the best) player in the game popped me to $90. Everyone else folded and with my only concern being the gut shots around the 62, I felt like protecting my hand wasn’t a priority and instead decided to sell a weak made hand like AA that he could push me off later by simply calling his raise. I also felt like this player would know I was nutted if I 3-bet the flop and would fold a lot of his range. The turn card was a ten of clubs, opening up straight draws and a back door flush draw, and I checked again and then put him all in after he bet $200. He unhappily called and I stacked him when the river paired the board.

-I open the button with KK42 double suited to $15, the small blind calls, and the big blind reraises to $50. I just call and so does the small blind. The flop comes down AKX with two hearts, giving me middle set and the nut flush draw. I actually saw a player at the final table of one of the WSOP PLO tourneys fold KK in this spot earlier this year, but the big blind is overly aggressive and doesn’t necessarily have to have AA when he 3-bets here. However, when he leads out for $40 on the flop, the only reasonable play for me is to simply call. I don’t want to get all in against a set of aces here and if he doesn’t have AA, then I have him annihilated and might as well let him continue spewing money into the pot. In real time, however, I didn’t think this through and decided to raise to $130 and ended up getting two folds, immediately realizing my mistake.

-As I said, I don’t always play good when I play PLO, so I’ll include my absolute worst hand of the night and one of the worst hands I’ve ever played in live PLO. I limp in early position with J976 single suited, which would be marginal even on the button, but is specifically terrible here as I have two active and aggressive players on my direct left. Fortunately they both limp along, but the big blind punishes everyone by making it $30. Seeing as how I’ve already made a mistake by playing in the first place, it would be smart to just give up the $5 and let this go, knowing I’ll be playing out of position against three players with a bad hand, but… I call? The flop comes K75 giving me a pair, a gut shot, and a backdoor flush draw and the PFR (preflop raiser) leads out for $120. We are both super deep here and I should be in decentb shape against his range, so I call, which would be fine if this were a heads up pot… but it’s not. One of the players behind me goes all in for $390, another short stack goes all in for ~$120, and the PFR folds. So now I’m looking at a pot of ~$900 and it’s $270 for me to call. Considering my hand, this is an easy fold… but I’m not done making huge mistakes yet! I’m not sure what I’m hoping my two opponents have, but I somehow talk myself into thinking I have some sort of reasonable equity here and make an atrocious call. The board bricks out for me and the bigger all in player wins with his 55. Just an all around horrifyingly bad hand by me and I got exactly what I deserved – a hand I should have folded turned into a $400+ loss.

-My final big pot of the night ended up being one of the craziest PLO hands I’ve ever played. I raised to $20 after a limper with As8sKcQc and bet $20 after seeing a flop of K94 with a club and a spade heads up in position. My opponent check-raised me to $75 and since 99 was the only hand I was in terrible shape against, I decided to see a turn with a good amount of back door equity. The turn brought the Ten of clubs and my opponent checked to me. I could see K9 checking this turn, or even a set of 9s, and maybe I should frequently represent the nut straight here, especially since I have a king high flush draw and a couple of gut shots to the nuts. It’s unlikely I will get check-raised very often, so I think betting has plenty of merit, but I decided to take my free card and got a very pleasant Jack of clubs on the river, giving me a King high straight flush. My opponent led out for $90 in what was a $190 pot. I made it $325 and due to some miracle from the poker gods, he decided to reraise me to $525. After going into the tank for a little bit and thinking about his bet sizing, I realized he didn’t even make a legal raise (he raised me $200 after I raised his initial bet $235) and made him put in another $35 before I made it $860 total. At this point, he started berating himself for misreading the situation. He had the A of clubs and the 8 of clubs in his hand and thought that he was blocking the 87 of clubs and Q8 of clubs for the only straight flushes and now realized that KQ of clubs also made a straight flush and that it was the only thing I could possibly have. He was right. I could never have anything else. I would never turn the naked Q of clubs into a bluff here when my opponent had already put $560 in on the river with at least an Ace high flush (he could have 87 of clubs himself) when I can only make it $300 more. It seemed like he wanted some mercy and really took a lot of time to call that last $300 to the point where multiple people at the table were complaining about it. But he did call and I won a sick $1800+ heads up pot.

I ended up finishing the PLO session up $1900 even though I made plenty of mistakes. I thought this blog idea would be fun, but here I am sitting at 3500+ words and a couple hours wasted and thinking maybe this isn’t a great concept. My goal was to spend 10-15 minutes writing about my session and I have far exceeded that. So… enjoy this post! It will probably be the last of its kind!

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Cult of Chucky (2017)

October 10, 2017

Starring: Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky)
Director: Don Mancini (Curse of Chucky, Seed of Chucky)

Bottom Line: It seems unlikely that the most relevant classic horror franchise in the mid-2010s is Child’s Play, but with A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th both failing to reboot and 8 years since the last Halloween entry, Chucky’s second straight-to-video appearance in the past five years has the Don Mancini killer doll as the freshest old school slasher icon.

I’m definitely a fan of the series and I even went on to call 2013’s The Curse of Chucky possibly “the best Chucky film to date,” but having revisited that film this past year, I think I may have overrated it. I do have to give credit to director/writer – and creator of the series – Mancini for continually finding new and entertaining directions to take the franchise.

Cult of Chucky continues this trend of reinventing the series while keeping it familiar. Cult picks up where Curse left off, with paraplegic Nica taking the blame for all the murders of the previous film and finding herself in an asylum that will soon be infiltrated by Chucky. It’s a bit weird, however, because the post credit scene for Curse showed the killer doll sending himself to the home of original nemesis Andy Barclay and getting his head blown off. In this film, Andy keeps Chucky’s head in a safe, where it remains sentient and brings it out periodically to talk to it and occasionally take a blow torch to Chucky’s face. Meanwhile, patients at the asylum are dying and Nica continues to be blamed for the deaths, while insisting that “Chucky did it.” And while we can see that the doll is present, one has to wonder if Nica’s hallucinating and causing the deaths herself, or if Chucky actually can be present while his head is mounted in Andy’s safe. Hmmmmm….?

I honestly had mixed feelings about Cult of Chucky. On one hand, I appreciated Mancini’s ability to take things in a new direction all while bringing back familiar characters and delivering the gore and comedy we expect in a Chucky movie – and really, the gore in this movie was truly spectacular. The film has some of the franchise’s best kills. On the other hand, I found the asylum setting to be a little grating. Between the creepy lead therapist that doesn’t believe anything anyone says and one of the patients “mothering” and breast-feeding Chucky, I was kind of like “uhhhh.” Also, the return of Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay is a cool idea and his first appearance in this movie is fantastic, but when he becomes immersed in the main story again at the asylum, the payoff is a bit disappointing.

Brad Dourif is always great as the voice of Chucky and he gets some screen time as Charles Lee Ray here as well. Dourif’s daughter Fiona plays Nica and while her performance in the last two movies has mostly been average, she does get to steal some scenes towards the end of this film.

Cult of Chucky is obviously a must watch for fans of the series and fans of horror, but I wasn’t blown away by any means. Cult has received pretty favorable early reviews from critics and while I enjoyed it myself, much like with The Seed of Chucky, I can’t really say I get the accolades. Maybe I will learn to appreciate it more if I ever watch it again, but for now all I can say it is another solid entry in this long-running franchise that always manages to stay inventive instead of regurgitating the same old tropes every time out.

Replay Value: I wouldn’t mind revisiting all the films starting with Bride of Chucky at some point in the near future. I’d watch this again.
Sequel Potential: These things never seem to die and this film has a post credit scene that suggests another movie in the future.
Oscar Potential: none.

Grade: 5.5/10 (Watchable)