Archive for October, 2018

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1/3/5 Pot Limit Omaha @ Palace (10/17/18 Live Blog)

October 17, 2018

As I write this (at 1 PM), PLO is quite some time away from starting, but there are currently 15 names on the list and I’m not exactly sure where I am on it. I’m praying that I start the game because it is super important to be in there from the jump. The action is usually at its best in the early goings, plus waiting on the sidelines for a game that already starts pretty late is absolutely brutal.

A bit of a recap of my last few days:

If you followed my post on Saturday about my session at Fortune, then you know I reached boiling levels of steaming. I feel like the gap between my c-game and my a-game is not that large – much, much smaller than the average player. For instance, my starting hand selection is so ingrained at this point that when I’m at my absolute worst, I don’t deviate much from my a-game starting hand selection. Those ranges are virtually identical, although I can concede that there might be a little bit of slippage. My post-flop game definitely suffers more. When emotions cloud my rational thinking, I make sloppier decisions and I know for a fact that I start calling down lighter. The biggest symptom that I’m on legitimate tilt, however, is how I feel. Nobody likes losing, but I feel like I stomach it really well, so when I actually start to physically feel the pain of what’s happening, I know I’m in bad shape. That’s where I was at Saturday night. So I took the last three days off – a rare occurrence for me when I’m not on vacation or swamped with non-poker plans.

We spent Sunday with family and friends and ended up having dinner at a restaurant in Renton called Melrose Grill. It was sooooooooo good! Highly recommended! We ordered a sausage platter, two porterhouse steaks, a ribeye steak, beef stroganoff, plus apple crisp and creme brulee for dessert. Everything was perfection. The steaks were juicy and full of flavor and the beef stroganoff was particularly mind-blowing – easily the best I’ve ever had. If you find yourself in the Renton area or just want to try a new restaurant, definitely check this place out.

Monday was a full day off for me and that started at the gym, before staying home to watch game 3 of the NLCS between the Dodgers and Brewers, but as so often happens on my “days off,” I ended up on Global Poker, participating in their Eagle Cup events. Monday had three no limit hold’em events: $3 rebuy, $10 rebuy, and $30 rebuy. That means you can rebuy unlimited times for the first hour of each tournament. I started the day with just over $1100 on Global, so while I could gamble it up in the $3 and, to a lesser degree, the $10, it would be pretty reckless of me to play wildly in the $30 with my current online bankroll size. I also played the nightly $5 rebuy, the nightly $11 limit hold’em, and a $55 multi-table tournament. I busted 3 bullets in the $5 rebuy, 6 bullets in the $3 rebuy, and 3 bullets in the $30 rebuy. I finished 4th in the $11 LHE, but I needed to finish top 2 to cash (LOL). I also busted nearing the bubble of a couple of other ones.

I got in two bullets in the $10 rebuy and made a deep run. I had a very ugly spot come up somewhere near the money where I made a borderline all in call with AJ of diamonds, largely because only one stack behind me could do damage to me. Well, that player ended up jamming on me and even though it was for heaps and I was likely crushed, I was getting a pretty attractive price and ended up calling off about 75% of my relatively large stack. He had AA and I didn’t win.

Suddenly, I was in the bottom 20%, but then I got scalding hot. I think after that hand, deep in the event, I picked up AA at least five times. I won almost every all in confrontation I can think of, leading up to the final table. After that punt/cooler, I could seem to do no wrong and I rode that hot wave all the way to the final two players and found myself heads up for an Eagle Cup trophy.

I couldn’t have had a softer opponent. We started with relatively even stacks, but I had already surmised that this player was playing above his normal stakes and was playing for considerably more money than he ever had on Global Poker. Some people might rise to the occasion, but he had already proven to be incredibly timid. My approach heads up was to make a small raise every button and bet 1/3 pot on every flop. This sequence had an immediate success rate of around 85%. It was absurd. You’d think he would adjust, but he never did. He just kept folding and folding and folding. Eventually, I realized I could min-raise pre and lower my c-bet sizing as well. This saved me chips in the rare spots where he called the flop and I decided to give up. I was also able to size up when I felt it was necessary without worrying that I was tipping my hand strength. When I was in the big blind, I played much more passively preflop, only raising my better hands. He called a lot more frequently on the button and also peeled on the flop more often. My strategy was to check a lot preflop and min-bet the flop 100% of the time. This had a success rate greater than 50%, which is absurd. He was so passive overall, that when he did fight back, it was easy to fold anything marginal because he was just handing me the victory by folding so much.

Needless to say, I used this strategy to grind him all the way down to 3 big blinds.

And then I didn’t win the tournament. It was a true stunner. I absolutely dominated him, but we got all in 7 times and he went 5-0-2 in those hands and that was all he needed to pick up the victory. I can’t say I was devastated or anything, but I was pretty shocked, and it would have been cool to add to my trophy case:

Yep, there they are, tucked away, on top of our refrigerator, behind the wine bottles. My wife is so proud of me!

Still, 2nd of 388 players is always cool and so is $1152.21 for an $11 buy in!

Tuesday I went to see Venom and you can read the review I posted this morning below:

Venom – 3/10

Then I picked these little bros up from their haircuts:

After that, I watched baseball all day and played more poker on Global, booking a 1st place in the nightly $11 PLO tournament for $256.

It is now 10 past 5 PM and I will be headed to Palace after I refresh with a cup of coffee.

6:02 PM: I’m in! Lots of flakes, as expected.

Starting lineup: The Lawnmower Man, nitty plo reg, Muckleshoot reg, nitty baseball guy, aggro plo reg, Part-Time, unknown, The Crypt Keeper

The Lawnmower Man is a new name, but apparently he’s a regular at Muckleshoot and has a similar nickname that naturally leads me to Stephen King’s novel title. I’ve played with him once in the 15/30 at Palace but multiple times in the 20/40 O8 at Muckleshoot, so we cross paths enough to warrant the name, especially if he starts playing in this game regularly.

I hear The Lawnmower Man is someone you build games around, so he’s a welcome sight. The rest of this lineup is not great.

6:32 PM: Welp. I felted $600 already. I’m pretty sure it was a colossal fuck up, so that’s all I’m going to say about that. I usually share when I make mistakes but this one I’d rather digest on my own and learn from rather than getting a bunch of messages from different people weighing in with their unwanted opinions.

Just the start I was hoping for after two brutal live sessions!

6:48 PM: This one I will share. It’s a multi-way pot opened by The Crypt Keeper and I call from the cutoff with AJ77 with three hearts in my hand. It’s pretty speculative, but…

The Q96 all heart flop makes it a bit more nutty. The Crypt Keeper leads with a bet of like $50 on the flop and I’m next to act. Here’s what’s going to happen if I make a large raise here: everyone is going to fold.

If TCK has top set and a flush we are probably going to get it in, but barring that, he’s probably just going to fold, so I’m going to gamble here… by calling. The nitty player on the button overcalls and everyone else folds.

The turn is a brick and TCK bets $65. It’s pretty small, definitely not indicative of a very strong holding, so I stay consistent with my plan to hide information. I’m guessing neither of these guys would expect to play the nuts this way. I can’t remember taking a line like this that I know they have seen. The button overcalls again.

I know I will have to tread carefully if the board pairs, but fortunately it’s a super bricky offsuit deuce on the river – a true beauty. TCK bets $65 again. Since I don’t think TCK will put me on the nuts very often here, I don’t see any point in milking him with a small raise. I think he sniffs that out.

I make it $300 to go. I just don’t think my line looks very credible, given our history. Maybe he can put me on a set with the naked ace of hearts? I don’t really know what other hands would make sense to bluff with here. My plan works and I get max value from a player that would typically never pay off in this spot.

7:15 PM: I limp early with a marginal JT99 with no suits. I’m sure I should be folding this in a game that almost always has a preflop raise, but here we are. The unknown does make it $20 on the button and we go multi-way to the flop.

Here’s how you make a marginal hand look premium: the flop is 998 with two diamonds. I have the super nuts, but interestingly enough, in 4-Card poker, any card that could make a straight flush is a legitimate concern. Surprisingly, The Crypt Keeper leads right out from the small blind for $50 and I’m next to act. Considering our recent history, I decide to immediately raise to $125. The field folds and I do get a snap call from TCK but he folds to my $200 bet on the Queen turn. QQJT one time! Come on.

7:23 PM: Here’s a hand I wish I played before I felted: I open with AAQT double suited from under the gun and get multiple callers.

Flop is 975 with two clubs, giving me the nut flush draw. I’m out of position against everyone and I don’t want to play for stacks here, so I check which puts some nut flush draws in my check-calling range which I think is a good balancing play. It checks through.

The turn is an offsuit King, I check again and the dude that stacked me in that first big pot bets $40. I am the only caller.

The river is an offsuit 2 and we both check.

He shows a set of 9s! Woah. I get the flop check, but that is an ultra conservative check back on the river. Needless to say, playing for stacks earlier against this player with the hand I had was a clear mistake.

7:45 PM: Crypt Keeper raises some limpers, Lawnmower Man calls, and I call AKss88 on the button.

Six of us see the AK3 two diamond flop and it checks to Lawnmower Man and he bets $100 into $120. TLM has around $500 going to the flop so I think I want to raise and potentially play an all in pot with him. I make it $300, the rest fold and he does jam it. He says he wants to run it once and shows… KKJ9. Gulp. I have two outs. I don’t hit one of them and suddenly I’m back to -$500.

8:10 PM: This game is fizzling quickly. We are suddenly 7-handed and all the weakest players have either busted or left. The unknown has been MIA for a while so we are actually 6-handed.

But wait! As I type this, an older Asian man I don’t know is coming over from 8/16. That can’t be a bad thing.

This game fizzling out early is not a good way to hook The Lawnmower Man during his first session. Leave him unimpressed and he might not ever come back. Fortunately, he said his word of mouth was Lee Markholt so that means he might actually show up again even if he sees the worst possible representation of this game tonight.

8:23 PM: Blackjack is also sitting in the game now and he combines with the older guy to put an additional $430 on the table. We got a couple of shot takers in the game! But at least they are filling seats. That makes us 8-handed now, although two players have been missing for some time.

8:35 PM: Mr. Plow is here to save the day. Not only is he taking a seat, but he fills up the game minutes before superstar Lee Markholt walks in the door. Have a seat on the bench, champ!

Lee just sat down in 8/16. Man, I want to take and post a picture so bad. I bet he plays to crush too. What a stud.

8:56 PM: And the MIA player has been picked up and replaced by a legend: Lee Markholt is in the game.

9:15 PM: I’ve been super inactive but I just watched Blackjack get it in on the KQJ flop and the board runs out KQJ-J-A which seems bad for the AT Blackjack obviously has but the KcTc in his hand makes a running ROYAL FLUSH. I think that’s gonna work. I confirmed that was the first Royal Flush he’s ever made in his life in any game. I should have snapped a pic for the kid!

10:01 PM: Two clashes with Mr. Plow:

First hand I limp along late with QJT5 double suited and he makes it $30 to go. Two of the three limpers call, myself included, and we go to a 982 with two club flop. I have the QJ of clubs in my hand so I have a monster draw. I don’t expect Mr. Plow to show any caution so I check to let him c-bet (for full pot) before making it $400 and ready to play for $1000 each.

He folds and since I have queen high I’m okay with that.

I’ll post the other hand later. Blackjack and I are currently playing 3-handed PLO with Lee Markholt. Like total idiots.

10:47 PM: I asked Radio Mike to snap an indiscreet pic of this epic moment in Palace poker history, so apparently he walked next door and took this gem:

11:00 PM: Last hand of the night: Lee makes it $10 on button, I flat with KQJT double suited because… blackjack makes it $30, Lee calls, now I make it $120 which basically puts BJ all in and I’m hoping I can get a fold from Lee and flip for $125… but he calls.

Gulp. Lee and I are both deep. This could be bad.

Flop is K53 with two hearts. I lead for $165, BJ calls for crumbs and Lee calls the full bet. Omg.

Another king on the turn bails me out. Lee just never has a set here so I feel great leading for $300. Lee snap-folds and BJ says he wants to run it once and immediately rolls over K642 with hearts. The river is a heart and he triples up and the game is dead.

Fortunately, Lee’s flop call earned me a small profit on the hand.

Other hand with Mr. Plow, I have forgotten many details now but has AKxx on K77 and check-called $15 before check-calling $40 on an ace turn and then betting $125 when I somehow rivered aces full of kings. It’s funny how you can go from hoping someone doesn’t have something (a seven) to hoping they do have it. It seems optimistic to think someone can call with a 7 here for full pot, but my boy Mr. Plow is not the type to be bullied. He pays it off and I’m good.

Final Score: -$449

Geez, I hope tonight isn’t a preview of what tomorrow is going to look like. This PLO game has been running every Wednesday for 18 months now and I think tonight was the worst lineup I’ve played in. Not only that, but it never picked up and fizzled out early.

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Venom (2018)

October 17, 2018


Director: Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad, Zombieland)
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

Venom was a mess long before it hit theaters, so I’ve never really thought it was going to amount to much of anything. This movie has been in production since before the Sam Raimi Spider-Man franchise died and rumors of Spidey-related spinoffs abounded after the series rebooted with Andrew Garfield. So after Disney and Marvel reacquired the film rights to Spider-Man and Sony decided to plow forward with a Venom movie anyway, well, I just didn’t see how that could end well.

I actually thought this movie had nothing to do with the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, but after doing some digging it looks like I could be wrong. Maybe? As late as June 2017, Marvel’s president Kevin Feige said that Venom is solely a Sony project, but the Sony side of things have claimed that their new universe will be “adjunct” to the MCU and that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man may even appear in future films. I’m not an expert Venom historian, so I don’t know if it’s possible to pull off a Venom movie without Spider-Man and not piss all the fans off, but I imagine DC trying to do a Joker movie without Batman and – wait… that is actually happening.

Then they cast Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and I was officially bewildered. Was there actually hope for this movie? Well, the trailers looked awful and critics were crucifying it, so heading into my viewing of Venom I was expecting to to be absolutely terrible.

Honestly, I didn’t like it much, but I have definitely seen worse. The first hour or so of Venom is brutally boring. We are introduced to Eddie Brock’s world and watch as everything quickly crumbles around him. I actually thought three different people were going to tell him to “have a nice life” in a 10 minute span, but somehow the screenwriters resisted the urge to have Michelle Williams say it during their breakup scene. Basically, the first hour of the movie is a sequence of moments that you can already imagine Eddie Brock getting redemption for in the third act. It’s very formulaic and not at all interesting.

Meanwhile, Riz Ahmed’s character is a super rich science type that has acquired a bunch of symbiotes and he’s trying to figure out how to unite them with a host so that he can… honestly, I don’t remember what he’s trying to do. He probably plans to sell them as some sort of super soldier.

The movie does pick up once the Venom symbiote finds Eddie Brock. It gets very slap-sticky and starts to feel like a buddy film and the humor elevates enough that it made me laugh a few times. Most importantly, the pace and action are picked up significantly.

I think Venom looks terrible in this movie. For 2018, the CGI is awful. Venom looks incredibly fake and the climax of the movie literally looks like two giant wads of silly putty doing battle with each other. It is absurdly terrible. The special effects in this movie are a total embarrassment.

Venom managed to exceed my expectations, only because they were very, very low. This is not a good movie. All the characters are stale and uninteresting, Eddie Brock isn’t really someone you want to root for, and the performances are very uninspired. Tom Hardy is okay, I guess, but Michelle Williams’ talent is totally wasted and I’ve seen Riz Ahmed in some great roles (Nightcrawler, “The Night Of”), but he is straight up laughable in this movie. You think these things might be salvaged a bit when Venom is on screen – and to some degree they are – but the Venom personality is actually kind of stupid and annoying. Plus he looks really cheesy.

But what do I know? This movie has a 7.1 rating on IMDB and an 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, all while breaking October box office records. It’s an absolute smash hit and the general public seems to really like it, so… maybe you will too.

Replay Value: The thought of sitting through the first hour again sounds painful, but I could do the second half.

Sequel Potential: It looks like this will reach $250 million domestically so a sequel is inevitable. I don’t have much interest in Sony’s superhero movies and their history doesn’t suggest they are going to step their game up.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Dina Meter: Dina might enjoy this more than I did, but I would be surprised if she watched it and said “that was good!”

3/10 (Bad)

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$20/$40 Limit Hold’em @ Fortune (Live Blog) and the Best Night of Radio Mike’s LIFE

October 13, 2018

I will be playing some 20/40 limit Hold’em at Fortune tonight, but first I’m sitting on the sidelines so I can recap the last couple of nights.

On Thursday, I stayed home to play the LHE events in the Eagle Cup on Global Poker.

It was a nightmare session. My plan was to play the three Eagle Cup events (with $11, $33, and $55 buy ins), the nightly $5 no limit rebuy, a 6-max PLO rebuy, and the dinky nightly $11 LHE.

First off, in the $5 rebuy, I got in 8 bullets, which is somewhere near my all-time record for that event. I think I may have been in 9 bullets previously but I’m positive I’ve never been in 10. My strategy during the rebuy period is to go all in preflop with any reasonable hand until I double up at least once and if that doesn’t happen as the rebuy period nears its end, I start jamming super light and sometimes it gets pretty ugly.

I didn’t have much of a stack after adding on after the rebuy period closed and in the first orbit after the break, my KK got outflopped by a big blind defend with 97 and that was GG for me.

In the $11 Eagle Cup I busted out without ever winning a hand. I actually ran pretty good, flopping extremely well, but I couldn’t fade a river. Not once. The draws got there… every. single. time.

I was crushing in both the $33 and the $55, sitting on a top 10 stack for most of both tournaments. I can’t remember what happened in the $55, but as we were approaching the bubble of the $33, a player with about 7bb opened from the lojack, the cutoff called, I 3-bet AJ of clubs on the button and they both called.

The flop was QT7 with two clubs – about as good as I could ask for without flopping a made hand. It checks to me, I bet and the shorty check-raises me and I get him all in for a little less than 4bb on the flop. He has K7o. It holds.

What.

With 28 players left and 27 making the money, the same player opened from the lojack again and I 3-bet with JTcc on the button.

We went heads up to a flop of JJ2 with two spades and he check-raised me again. I flatted the flop to raise the Kd turn and he bet-called.

The river was the 4s and he leads right out. I have 1.25 big bets left so if I raise and he has me beat, I eliminate myself in 28th place. So I call and he has the AQss.

Fortunately, I folded my way to the money with less than half a big blind. I ended up quadrupling up with T9o under the gun before busting in 22nd with the same hand from my big blind.

Meanwhile the dude that walked on water against me in those two critical pots went on to finish in 2nd. Of course!

I can’t remember any brutal connections in the $55, but I fizzled out after the bubble burst and finished in 17th place for $100. Yippee.

Even with the two cashes in the two biggest events I played, I still booked a small loss for the night.

Last night we got the 15/30 going around 6:45 PM and the most notable thing about that session was this:

Radio Mike had the best night of his life. Not just in poker, but best night of his entire life. Period. He searched through his mental Rolodex and said he couldn’t think of a single day in his life that made him happier. Not his first wedding night. Not his second wedding night. Not the day he opened his acceptance envelope to the University of California. Not the times he filled in for Rick Rizz to call some Seattle Mariner games.

This is it. This is the pinnacle. He managed this personal best 15/30 win even after running KK into QQ on a KQQ4J board. I went to grab him some empty racks after that hand and he was like, “NO. I can do this.”

Congrats buddy.

Meanwhile, I have nothing interesting to say about my session. I was mostly floating around even for many hours before the wheels just fell off completely.

It did make me think as I was driving to Fortune today. What adjustments should one make when you are running atrociously? Basically what I’m thinking of is when I’m getting a normal or above average distribution of good hands before the flop and raising a lot of pots, but never connecting with the board and almost always having multiple opponents to deal with.

Do you start raising less hands? Do you play less exploitively? Do you start checking your entire range on the flop since you never have a hand?

I do not think it is correct to stop raising hands I would otherwise always raise. It is gross… to be consistently aggressive before the flop and feel like you never have something you can bet after it, but playing passively isn’t making a proper adjustment, it is simply playing poorly.

I do think it’s okay to play less exploitively when your credibility is shot and your image is horrible. When you are playing exploitively, you are playing a wider range and you need to get folds more often than when you are only playing a tight-solid range. But when it seems like you are spewing chips left and right, you aren’t going to get those folds and opponents will be more emboldened than usual to make plays at you.

Anyways, that’s what I was thinking about last night as I was getting smashed on and again as I was driving out here. I lost about $800 overall last night.

I’ve been in this 20/40 for an hour now and lots of interesting things have happened: I’ve already established myself as a maniac and as the table alpha and put someone on tilt after we played this hand:

I have the small on the button and there are two big blinds. We are short-handed so when under the gun raises here it’s similar to a hijack open, except there is more dead money than usual and his range should be even wider. So when I look down at A8hh on the button it looks like a clear 3-bet to me and we go heads up to the flop.

It is 973 with one heart. My image is already bad so I elect to check back here and see if I can get a sexy turn card. Also, my hand is one I’d prefer to show down most of the time so by checking back I don’t have to call three barrels, plus I induce bluffs.

The turn is an 8 and this feels like a clear bet when he checks to me, but I know my range looks super weak here (whiffed big cards) so when I bet, I’m almost expecting this: he check-raises me. I call and I’m planning to call river too.

The river is an ace and he check-calls and does that thing where he’s in disbelief so I twist the needle by saying, “oh don’t act like my 8 wasn’t good. If you can beat that show it.” He says something back mockingly and shows his neighbor his hand (which means he probably had me beat) but doesn’t show me. On the bright side, he’s clearly steamed. He asked to be dealt out the next hand.

5:51 PM: I spent the first hour of play writing this post and I spent the last hour in contact with Apple Support trying to connect a new earbud to my AirPods. That was a no go.

It has been a very active two hours for me, as I have been playing a very high variance style, opening a lot of hands and bluffing more than usual because the pots are almost always heads up or 3-handed.

It hasn’t gone that well. I ran K2ss into A2 a few orbits ago on Q9224. That was annoying. I’m down a little over $500 at the moment.

It’s a little harder to write updates in this game because it is super fast-paced and there always seems to be one or two players walking, so I almost always seem to be involved in pots.

We’ll see how it goes though.

6:24 PM: I’m not sure if the main game is any better than the one I was in, but I was having a hard time at that other table.

So now I have some players I know on my left: FanBoy and Sgt. Rock.

FanBoy is immediately threatening me: “Guess what we’re having for dinner tonight? Barbecue Bat!”

Normally the thought of him doing stupid things behind me would be music to my ears but I’m running so cold and my decisions have been so difficult my last several hours of play that I’m not really embracing this promise of high variance poker action.

Of course, he’s probably all talk and will play his normal, boring abc game. Well, until he reads this!

I just raised three hands in a row and got very little resistance. Ah yes. This is more my speed.

7:40 PM: I am frustrated. This has been a tiresome session. I have spent all of it between -$500 and +$100, but almost all of it on the stuck side of things. Every time I get back over the hump stupid things happen.

I just got rivered in big pots by the same player in the same orbit. First my K9hh loses to A5cc on 954T5 and then he opens early with T9ss, caps the 987 flop, check-calls the king turn, and donks the 6 river to beat my AA.

Pretty damn annoying.

8:18 PM: Q8ss vs Q4 on Q8675. TT < 44. Approaching -$800 now. This is so silly.

8:32 PM: Here’s a win if I’ve ever seen one: I open early with QQ and FanBoy 3-bets me. I call and we are heads up to a flop of 975. I check-raise and he flats.

Turn is a jack and he raises my bet. I call down on a brick river, sighing openly while saying, “I can only beat AJ.”

The bad news is he doesn’t have AJ.

The good news is he does have QQ.

For those of you counting at home, that’s a net profit of $12 for the hand.

The comeback is on!

8:49 PM: Highlight of my night right here: there’s a limp fest in front of me and get hyper speculative with the ole K8o on the button. The blinds are cool and decide not to punish me.

The flop is KJ8 with two diamonds. One of the limpers bets, I raise, the blinds fold, and two of the other limpers cold call. So does the initial bettor.

Okay, now we need to dodge.

8 of clubs on the turn. Wonderful. Now I need them to hit their draws! I bet and only one of them calls. What the hell? One of the cold callers and the flop bettor folded. Wtf is that? Cold call two and the 8 pairs and we can’t continue now? I guess they both had jacks, a holding that just got substantially worse against top pair.

River is the 4 of clubs and my opponent just power folds.

That got me up for High Hand… which amusingly held up for 12 minutes but now JJJAA is up there. Damn.

8:58 PM: FanBoy finally showing how he got the name:

9:15 PM: Woah. I am heating up.

QQ good, AK gets lucky vs KJ on QJx9T, and then AA wins a huge pot that was capped 3-ways pre and 3-bets 3-ways on the flop.

Almost even again!

Just needed The Legend in the box to activate my run good.

9:41 PM: Well I worked my way all to the black but this is why I can’t have nice things – and also why you shouldn’t poke the bear.

Folds to my button and I open 84cc because I have FanBoy and Sgt. Rock in the blinds and they fold around 130% of the time, but FanBoy 3-bets and says, “put this on the blog!”

I call and we go to a flop of Q63 with one club. He leads, I raise, he 3-bets and I call because I can smell something and I can turn good cards.

The turn is an ace and I decide to give it up and he tosses the J9 of diamonds in my face.

Goddammit.

10:57 PM: Bring The Legend back! Seriously. I can’t win a meaningful pot with anyone else, but I won like $1k while he was here. Back to whiffing everything!

Stuck around $300 now.

11:07 PM: What the fuck. Folds to me with small blind on button and I raise without looking.

Big blind check-calls me on flop and turn on AA8Q before donking on the 4 river.

I guess it’s time to look. I have A3o. Part of me wants to call but how the hell do I not have the best hand here? I raise it and he snap-calls with A9, a kicker that plays.

Stuck over $500 again. This is a total joke.

Defend KQ heads up and run into AQ on Q526T. It’s honestly comical sometimes.

11:35 PM: A raise and three callers in front of me and I have AA in the big. I jack it up.

Flop is K62 with two clubs and it gets capped.

She rivers a flush.

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU MAKE A FLUSH?

They make it look so easy. I’ve missed 100% of my flush draws tonight.

Very next hand I have 88 in the small blind against a button open. He’s all in for 3 small bets with AK.

J625… K

I actually thought I was going to win that one because the pot was so small.

I am now stuck over $1k… again.

What a fucking nightmare this is.

11:42 PM: Open AThh, someone 3-bets, and we go to a T82 flop. I check-raise and he flats.

Turn is a 4 and I bet and call his raise.

River is a King. I check-call and he shows AK. Granted, he turned a flush draw so it wasn’t a total punt, but still.

And then as I’m being shown this fucking hand on the river the waitress comes up and tells me they can’t make the food I ordered.

That officially sent me outside to clear my head. I am seriously debating if I even want to keep playing. I’ve already played 8+ hours which is usually my goal, so it’s not like if I reload I’m going to grind it out for six more hours.

I have to admit I’m kind of peeved right now. Which makes me think I should maybe call it a night.

12:11 AM: I was making a little bit of a comeback so of course this hand comes up to fuck things up.

Open A9cc, one flat in position and both blinds defend.

Flop is AK8 with two clubs. It’s the fucking world. What can go wrong?

I bet and they all call.

Turn is a brick and now the in position player raises when I bet. The blinds both fold and I’m sitting there thinking about rage 3-betting because how the hell can I be beat every single meaningful pot? And can I possibly miss another flush draw?

Of course I can. And I will. I don’t pull the trigger on the torchy 3-bet but I do call and whiff and then pay off AK on the river.

Great flat pre. Very expert. You got me.

12:19 AM: Just got an “F bomb” warning because I guess that’s where I’m at right now.

Spewer opens, there’s a call, I 3-bet AQ, and FanBoy calls it cold.

It’s like 5-way action for 3-bets to the AK3 two heart flop and I bet and of course FanBoy pops me, a blind calls, and I just call also.

Turn is a brick and we check-call again.

The river is a Queen and I check, FanBoy bets, other dude folds and I turn to him and say, “I’m at the very top of my range but I’m sure I’m still losing” and check-call. He rolls over AA and I say, “it’s so fucking sick.”

I’m back outside. The only reason I didn’t cash out yet is because I wanted to type this up before telling The Leak we are leaving.

So you want to be a professional poker player?

Final Score: -$1440

The bad run at Fortune continues. This is what my 2018 looks like here:

-$2135 in 5 hours

-$2226 in 6.25 hours

-$808 in 4 hours

+$97 in 10.5 hours

-$1440 in 9 hours

It’s a super small sample. Totally meaningless. I’m sure I’ve had similar runs many times in my years of playing poker.

But I can’t help but feel like every time I come here I just get TORTURED.

And I do. That’s a spewing rate of -$189/hour playing poker at Fortune this year.

No wonder I’ve been staying away.

Goodness.

UPDATE: I really want to put these results in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, they are utterly meaningless, as I mentioned before. But I want to clarify. Those five sessions add up to 34.5 hours for the entire year. That’s less than one week of playing poker for me. That’s less than 2% of the total volume I will put in for an entire year. So as ugly as it looks, it is just noise.

My volume at Fortune has gone from semi-regular to nonexistent. I have played 5 sessions of 20/40 at Fortune this year. Last year I put in 25 plays and overall I have put in 45 sessions of 20/40 at Fortune lifetime. My first session of 20/40 there dates back to May of 2016, so in the roughly 29 months Fortune has been open, I have put in only put in around 10% of my total 20/40 volume there in the last 10.5 months.

In other words, this “year long” torture chamber is only a blip on the radar of my total volume at Fortune. There’s definitely a lingering affect going on, but when you take a step back, it’s easy to see that it is just variance.

My overall results, despite this horrendous run, are still pretty good. My win rate in the Fortune 20/40 has gone from a sexy $47.26/hour to a still respectable, but not very attractive $23.42/hour. I would wager that I’m more likely to be a 1 BB/hour player than a 0.6 BB/hour player, but my overall sample size is still too small to really determine much of anything.

I’ve mostly been able to justify not driving 30+ minutes to play in a tougher 20/40 game by having games close to home that I can expect to earn as much or more in. Unfortunately, since I’ve been back from the WSOP the 15/30 game that was running almost daily before summer has become more of a once a week game. On the other hand, we are now playing PLO twice a week and the 20/40 O8 game at Muckleshoot has become a good opportunity on Saturdays. That gives me four playing days a week where I don’t even need to consider driving out to Fortune.

Still… I’m not really one to back down from a challenge. I know the game is tougher at Fortune. The crazy thing about this year is that I have been experiencing insane variance whenever I play there. While that is not notable in itself, what is notable is the fact that 20/40 pots are generally heads up or 3-handed affairs. It’s not like games at the Palace where every pot is contested with 5+ players. Games like that have high variance. When every pot is heads up or short-handed, the variance should actually be less severe. But I have had the opposite experience this year. Clearly. The vast majority of the time I have been in a heads up pot with a strong hand at Fortune, I have found a way to lose – and it has been messing with my head.

I don’t really plan to increase my volume at Fortune going forward, but it does seem like I should try to play there at least twice a month. One thing is for sure: I definitely need to get this monkey off my back… with a signature Dark Knight huge win!

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1/3/5 PLO @ Palace with special guest Lee Markholt

October 10, 2018

Woah. It’s not everyday you walk into your local casino and a top 5 player in Washington state history is in your game.

Seriously, look him up: Hendon Mob

He ranks 4th all-time in the state in tournament cashes and is one of the most successful and long-lasting pros to come from Washington. He has multiple appearances on T.V., including a WPT Main Event title.

Pretty cool to have him in the game, but also… not cool.

Rest of the starting lineup: Crypt Keeper, new reg, Part-Time, Baseball Guy, Big Baby, nit, and The Man.

Cards are in the air!

6:10 PM: If you are here for the poker, I’m going to steer you in the direction of the A Star is Born review I published today. The movie is phenomenal. I urge you to read what I wrote about it and go see it ASAP!

A Star is Born is the Best Movie of 2018

6:20 PM: Lee almost immediately loses a massive pot to Part-Time. I was typing as this one was brewing but Part-Time flopped the nut flush draw with some straight draws and all the money eventually got in and he ended up making the flush and holding up when the river paired the board.

6:29 PM: First notable pot, Part-Time limps in and it folds to my big blind and I complete with AKccT3dd. I could (and maybe should) raise it here, but bloating the pot out of position with zero fold equity could create some tricky situations after the flop.

The first three cards are AT4 with two clubs and one diamond. It’s a monstah! I have top two pair, the nut flush draw, and a backdoor diamond draw. Unfortunately, I only have one opponent and a dinky pot out there. I bet $5, Part-Time makes a cute raise to $10, and I 3-bet to $30. He calls.

Turn pairs the ace, giving me the nuts. I bet a weak-looking $20, hoping it might entice him into doing something stupid. He just calls though.

The river is the 3 of clubs. I now have the nuts, the third nuts, and the nut flush. It’s hard to imagine what he could have here, but I assume he either has an ace or made the flush and bet $65, which is pretty near pot-sized and he snap calls and I win the pot.

6:52 PM: Here’s a reminder why you don’t play trash hands in PLO.

The Man limps in and I try to isolate him and take control of the hand by making it $20 with T866 no suits from the cutoff and a decent regular calls on the button. The Man also calls. Ugh. So now I’m out of position with a weak hand. Wonderful.

The flop comes 987 with with two clubs. I flopped a straight. So naturally, I check when it’s my turn, the button bets $45, The Man calls, and I… fold.

I mean seriously. How can you justify playing a hand when you flop a straight with it and check-fold? You can’t. Yet, I’m sure that’s the correct play on the flop and all that does is reinforce the fact that this hand should be tossed into the muck before the flop, even if a somewhat attractive situation arises.

7:39 PM: Limpers in front of me and I call with KK98 with diamonds.

Six of us see the A42 all diamond flop and everyone checks to me. I bet $15 into $35 and the small blind and Big Baby call.

The turn pairs the 2, which is mildly annoying, but they both check again and I bet small at $30 and they both call again.

I’m thinking about whether or not I will be betting the river and I’m leaning towards yes because both my opponents are very loose players with absurdly light calling standards, but… the river is a king! I now have what really feels like the nuts and I size up because I don’t care if they have stronger hands now. I make it $110 and the first guy tanks for a long time (he’s the dude that called me for $175 and then $300 with A832 on 854Q4 last week), but he eventually calls and Big Baby snap calls.

The first guy tells me he flopped a flush and turned a boat, but I don’t believe a word he’s saying. I can buy the flush part, but I was going to bet money on the river that he didn’t have a full house. I mean he’s proven that he could call with a naked ace here.

8:22 PM: Five limpers and Crypt Keeper juices the pot from small blind to $25 and I defend the big blind with KTssQQ, happy to play a multi-way pot here. All five limpers also call.

With $175 in the pot, we get a flop of Q65 with two diamonds and I fire $130. Big Baby and The Man call and then I’m kind of shocked to see Crypt Keeper also call. It seems like if he had a hand he call in this spot with he would be leading the flop a lot. Interesting.

The turn is the 9 of diamonds, which is absolute murder for my hand. Someone is ahead me now, whether it’s with a flush or a straight. I am ecstatic to see it check around.

Unfortunately, the river is a king and Crypt Keeper leads out for $150. He should never be bluffing into Big Baby and The Man here, so whatever he has, it has me beat. I’m guessing he has at least a straight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a modest flush with it as well. I fold and Big Baby is the only caller. Crypt Keeper turns over J7dd8X for the win. I wish I would have noted what his fourth card was to see what he deems worthy of raising from the small blind in that spot.

8:36 PM: The Man limps, I make it $20 with double suited AAQ7 and unnamed dude from the previous hand makes it $60, folds around to The Man and he calls. There’s another raise left here, so I can get most of that guy’s stack in pre and maybe, just maybe, The Man will fold in this spot… for the first time ever. The first guy calls and, against all odds, The Man does fold, leaving $60 of his precious dollars out there.

My remaining opponent has maybe a third of the pot behind so I just bet $300 dark and we are going to see all the board cards if he calls.

Dealer brings the flop and I’m typing on my phone while he starts tanking and eventually look up to see a board of AQ9 rainbow. Well, that’s nice. Of course, my boy doesn’t let me down and he puts the rest of the chips in, we run it once, and I have a brief scare as the turn makes JT the nuts, but the river pairs the 9 and my hand is clearly the nuts again.

A few hands later, I’m in a multi-way raised pot with AT97 with a suited ace. Flop is AJ9 with two hearts. My favorite current villain fires $25 on the flop and The Man calls on the button. I think my hand is normally a strong folding candidate, since I have no hearts, but the bet is weak relative to the pot size and the call isn’t strong either. I’m taking a card off and proceeding with caution.

The turn is a ten, giving me a better two pair, but making a number of straights. I check and they both also check. I am quite happy about that.

River is the 2 of spades. My hand isn’t really strong enough to bet here, so I check, planning to call any reasonable bet, but my boy bombs it for the full pot. The Man folds and the action is back on me. I have a pure bluff catcher here, but it seems incredibly unlikely that he would bet the flop and then check any of the straights on the turn. My main dilemma is that he could possibly play a set this way. Maaaaybe AJ. On the other hand, I’m blocking all those holdings. I think I have to call here. So I do. He shows AKKx and I win the pot.

10:06 PM: I have gone cold. The game has changed a bit. Part-Time and Big Baby are out. John Kim and new plo regular are in. Crypt Keeper has over $2k. I have around $1700. Tight-solid guy on my left has around $2500. Lee Markholt has around $2200. Needless to say, the looser players have been getting abused.

I come back from a short break to post in the cutoff and it’s raised to $15 in front of me, there’s a call, and I defend with KK96 with diamonds.

Five of us see the A88 with two diamonds flop and they all check to me. I believe the button also called here preflop, but when the PFR and TCK both check to me, I think this is a good hand and board to stab at. I bet $55 and only the PFR calls.

The turn pairs the ace, so now I’m looking at a board of A88A. He checks to me and I don’t see any reason to bet here. I might have the best hand. If I have the best hand, I also have the best draw. I can’t imagine he’s going to fold a better hand than mine. So I check back.

The river is the 5 of diamonds and he checks to me again. Now I feel like I have a hand I can bet. He needs AA, A8, A5, 88, 85, or 55 to beat me. Nothing he has done in this hand has led me to believe he can have any of those hands. If he has an ace, I expect him to call here. I bet $75 but he folds.

10:23 PM: It’s funny this hand starts off with me limping under the gun with ATddT3 and thinking it’s a bit loose. I literally just got done reading about how if you have a hand with a suited ace and a pair then you want your pair to not be suited with the ace. That way half the time you flop a set, there will be at least one card to your suit on the flop. I just read that before this session.

But here I am limping in the worst possible position and breaking the rule. Not only that, but my side card is basically worthless. So I limp, next player limps, John Kim limps, the small blind makes it $20, and only two of us call.

The flop is T84 with two diamonds. Holy shit. It’s the miracle flop. It’s what PLO players dream about. Seems hard for the PFR to want to bet this board, but he fires out $50, I make it $120, and John Kim calls! So does the PFR. Wow!

Turn is a black 2. Amazing. The board texture is the exact same. I bet $225 and they both call again! Well I know what I don’t want. I don’t want any non-diamond 7, 9, Jack, or Queen. A 6 could also be ugly.

The river is a 9… of diamonds! I bet $300, John Kim tanks for a while and eventually folds (a flush – and I believe him) and the PFR snap calls with a King high flush.

What a pot!

But I probably should have open-folded pre. Next time!

10:38 PM: The Godfather is in the building. This is a nickname that goes way back before my blog became a thing. The Godfather is a legendary spectator of Kitsap County poker games. For years, it seemed like he spent more time watching poker from the rail than actually playing poker. That’s how he earned his nickname because it seemed like the only reason he was in the building was to make sure that the dealers were taking the correct rake.

And thus The Godfather was born.

But he’s here playing poker tonight. He’s next up for PLO, but… I suspect he might not be coming over. This is what his stack currently looks like in the 8/16 game:

Unreal.

11:00 PM: Well, we didn’t get The Godfather and the action in the 8/16 game is so good that multiple players passed on PLO seats, including Mr. Plow and Mighty Mouse. So the PLO list just went from seven deep to three – and I think all three of those guys recycled.

We did, however, get a different Kitsap County legend: Godzilla. Here’s the thing: the dude has the physique of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, short arms and all. I can’t help but think of the infamous carnivore when I watch him walk around the room, searching for plant-eaters to swallow. I considered calling him T-Rex and I also considered Barney and while this player is definitely a friendly dinosaur, I can’t imagine Barney’s playing style lining up with his. He’s a hyper loose and aggressive player and thus I will dub him Godzilla.

Welcome to the club, buddy.

I actually have lots of history with Godzilla from back in my Kitsap days but it has been a long time since we clashed regularly.

Lineup update: Crypt Keeper, solid reg, player that has been trying to donate to me, Godzilla, The Man, nit, Lee Markholt, new reg that has been player very aggro

12:04 AM: Lee Markholt has left the game and we never put bets in on the same hand on the same street after the flop. Zero clashes.

12:21 AM: The Godfather has made his way to PLO. He just booked a $1600+ winner in 8/16 and it’s not like he was even playing that long. He was the main beneficiary of The Santa Claus Game.

12:46 AM: Eek. My recent nemesis just smacked Godzilla and The Godfather both.

First, he makes a straight with A985 vs JJxx and the nut flush draw after being the third player to put in $400 on the J76hh flop. The board runs out J769K. That felts The Godfather and puts a hurt on Godzilla.

Then he has JJ vs Godzilla’s AKJx on KJ83x where Godzilla also has the nut flush draw on the turn.

My boy now has over $3500 in chips in front of him and he tends to go out of his way to play poorly against me.

🙏🏻

12:55 AM: The Leak just tortured me by sitting down in the PLO game for the briefest of moments before the floor mercifully called her name for 8/16 and she actually took the seat.

1:18 AM: I just walked over to have a few bites of The Leak’s salad and she whispered in my ear, “if you look at me the wrong way, I’m going back over there.”

1:51 AM: My first good hand in what feels like hours, the active and aggro player opens to $15, I make it $40 with KKQhJh, and the Crypt Keeper caps the preflop betting by making it $120. The Godfather and The Man call $120 cold! The aggro player and I also call and there is $600 in the middle and five players seeing the flop.

The board comes down Q97 rainbow with one heart and it checks to Crypt Keeper and he bets $300, which is almost his entire remaining stack. I probably would fold here anyway but The Godfather makes my decision super easy by check-raising to $600. Everyone else folds and they agree to run it twice.

The Crypt Keeper ends up scooping with… J976 double suited… unimproved on both boards.

Say what?! That cold four bet! Also, what the heck is The Godfather jamming with? One of the boards had a ten on the river which seems like it would improve any reasonable drawing hand Godfather could have (and would have given me the nuts on that board).

Well that was lame. Instead of punting off his stack with a piece of cheese like J976, The Crypt Keeper is now sitting with over $1300 again on my direct left.

2:11 AM: The Leak is back in the game and she is quickly all in on the flop with AT97 with nut clubs on J83 with two clubs. It’s a monster draw, but for some reason she says she only wants to run it once and her opponent ends up rivering quads.

After the hand, she says, “I’ve never run it twice before. I don’t know what to do.”

I respond with, “running it twice helps reduce variance,” as she digs into her purse for a reload.

She deadpans: “I’ll run you over twice.”

3:39 AM: I think I’m about to wrap this up here. We are 5-handed and one player is leaving. We have been chopping all night so when it folds to The Leak in the small blind and she makes it $15 to go, I figure she is just doing it to be funny but then she says we are playing now. And then I look down at AAT5 double suited. Of course I do. My wife has felted $200 twice and she bought a third $200 bullet and now has over $700 in front of her. So I do what you should do when your wife raises you in a heads up pot and you have double suited aces… I fold.

I have zero interest in playing 4-handed big bet poker with The Leak.

I am racking up to leave now.

Final Score: +$1940

10:00 AM: I ended up cashing out around 4 AM and I didn’t immediately go to bed. Now I have a 90 minute massage in half an hour that I am probably going to struggle to stay awake during. Normally, I would be headed back to Palace for more PLO @ 6 PM, but Global Poker is running its 2nd annual Eagle Cup series right now and tonight all the tournaments are limit Hold’em. I’m not really focusing much on playing on Global these days – since they stopped allowing Washington state residents to depost – but there’s no way I’m not making their big limit Hold’em tournaments a priority. I won’t go as far as to say I’m the best LHE player on the site, but it’s hard to imagine there are many players that play more LHE than I do and with more success. The LHE cash games very rarely run and when they do, it is almost always at micro stakes. I expect to do way better than my fair share in these tournaments. Of course, I’ll probably end up going 0-3. My lifetime record in LHE tournaments on Global Poker is 5 cashes in 21 tries (23%) for a 26% ROI. I have won their nightly LHE tournament three times, but I am 1 for 6 in their series events with my one cash being a min-cash for 39th place. I’m looking to do big things tonight. The first tournament starts at 5:30 and the last one starts at 6:30, so I expect to be playing until at least 9 PM (Global tournaments have very quick structures). If I’m done playing at a decent time tonight, I will head to Palace for more PLO.

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A Star is Born is the Best Movie of 2018

October 10, 2018

Director: Bradley Cooper
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott

My goodness, I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I knew going in from how I perceived the trailer and from a couple of reviews that I read that it could be something special and A Star is Born did not disappoint. It’s a true marvel in the marriage of my two favorite art forms: cinema and music. I spent the first half of the film smiling uncontrollably as Lady Gaga’s character Ally is taken under rock star Jackson Maine’s (Cooper) wing and thrust into the spotlight. The entire sequence that leads up to her stepping on the public stage for the first time is remarkable. It gave me goosebumps… It made my eyes water… It made me want to stand up and clap… and there were 90 minutes left in the movie!

The second half of the film is a different beast altogether and it took me two viewings (yes, I saw this movie twice in three days) to come to grips with how I really felt about it. While the first half of A Star is Born treads through familiar territory – underdog overcomes obstacles and odds to achieve success – the second half finds the film’s characters travelling paths that may make audiences cringe. That’s a good thing. Life isn’t easy and even the most successful and famous people in the world are real human beings with real problems. That’s something that’s easy to forget in a world where we tend to place entertainers and athletes on a surreal platform where their triumphs and tragedies are merely here for public amusement. Nothing pounds this point home like sitting in a packed theater and listening to the audience laugh through one of the film’s most tragic scenes. I can see how it is humorous, but it’s a horrifying and potentially career-threatening moment for Ally and I can assure you, we aren’t laughing with her.

Bradley Cooper has really elevated his star power with this movie. He was already an A-List actor, giving Oscar-nominated performances in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper, but this is the best performance of his career. He really disappears into the role of Jackson Maine and embodies a grizzled, gin-soaked rock star in convincing fashion. And he can sing? And play the guitar? What. Being able to do those things at all is impressive enough, but being able to do them at a high level is pretty mind-blowing to me. I never thought the guy that played Phil in The Hangover could possibly be this talented, but here we are, and Cooper is easily one of my top 5 or so actors of the moment.

Cooper also directs A Star is Born and helped write the script. It really is a monumental achievement as this movie is going to get heaps of Oscar nominations. The script may have roots in previous films, but the chemistry and complications of the two main characters feel entirely genuine and that is a credit to Cooper’s intimate, borderline invasive, direction as the camera is unrelentingly capturing their every vulnerable moment in extreme close up. This is particularly true of Jackson Maine as you see him absentmindedly interacting with the people around him while he’s clearly wrestling with the demons inside his own head. Until he meets Ally. Ally gets his whole attention.

And she will get yours too. Lady Gaga is a revelation. I’ve read that exact sentence about this movie quite a few times, but I don’t know how else to put it. She is absolutely remarkable. Gaga is an international superstar with over 26 million records sold. She’s as famous for being absurdly eccentric as she is for her music. And yet, she embodies Ally as a talented, but unremarkable nobody and is convincingly blown away by her newfound good fortune. It amazes me that the pop star confidently strutting around in a meat dress and the girl trying to work up the courage to step on stage in this movie can be the same person. I suppose Eminem did something similar with 8 Mile in 2002 when he was at the height of his popularity, but every moment of that movie felt like Eminem was simply playing Marshall Mathers. Ally is so far removed from how we perceive Lady Gaga that even though this movie may be semi-autobiographical it still feels like a transformative performance. Gaga is mesmerizing every moment of this movie. She will get an Oscar nomination and she seems like a favorite to win right now.

Andrew Dice Clay plays Ally’s father and Sam Elliott plays Jackson’s brother and both performances are noteworthy. There’s a scene where Elliott’s character comes at odds with Jackson and I could feel Elliott earning an Oscar nomination in that moment.

A Star is Born also happens to feature the best music of Lady Gaga’s career. “Shallow” and “Always Remember Us This Way” are amazing songs and the whole soundtrack ranges from good to incredible. Even the poppy “Why Did You Do That?” has its place and plays an important role in the course of the story. Gaga’s performances brought tears to my eyes no less than three times and even Bradley Cooper’s solo songs are quite enjoyable. That reminds me… the stage performances are incredibly shot. I’ve read that the crew shot the scenes during breaks of actual music festivals, so it’s no surprise how authentic it all seems… because they are real performances in front of real crowds.

Cooper plays an alcoholic in this movie and it really hit home with me. I’m over eight years dry now and I don’t attend meetings and I have fully rebounded from any lasting affect drinking had on my life. So most of me feels completely removed from that part of my life and the majority of the people in my life these days never even knew that side of me, my wife included. But a small part of me stays vigilant, reminding myself not to forget and not to get too confident in sobriety. I’m sure one of the worst mistakes I could ever make is to think I could possibly drink responsibly. Watching A Star is Born is the closest I’ve felt to my own personal hell in many years. It literally broke my heart watching Jackson Maine succumb to his disease. I thought the portrayal was incredibly authentic and every step of his evolution was something I could personally relate to. It’s amazing how walled off you can be to the damage you are causing to those around you.

It’s been a while since a film affected me the way A Star is Born did. It’s easily my favorite film of 2018 and, glancing at my Top 10 lists, might be the best movie I’ve seen in years. This movie really has it all. It’s an absolute must watch that may end up being viewed as a true classic a few years down the road.

Replay Value: I’ve seen it twice already and liked it even more the second time. My wife still hasn’t seen it and I’d be happy to watch it a third time in theaters with her. I will definitely be buying this movie.

Sequel Potential: No direct sequel potential, but since this is at least the fourth iteration of this film, future versions are clearly likely.

Oscar Potential: Tons. Here are your locks for nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Original Song, and Best Sound Mixing. The movie is also drawing live at Best Supporting Actor (for Sam Elliott), Best (Adapted?) Screenplay, Best Original Music Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup, Best Production Design, and maaaaaaaaybe Best Costume Design. It’s basically drawing live at a nom in every possible category and could challenge the record of 14 total nominations. I’m not sure exactly how Best Original Song works, but if one film can get multiple nominations I expect this one to get at least three in that category alone. This movie will win Best Original Song, but I’m not sure for which song. My personal vote would be for “Shallow.” I will be surprised if someone tops Lady Gaga’s performance in this movie and I can’t imagine rooting for anyone else come Oscar night. This is also my clear favorite for Best Picture at the moment.

Dina Meter: I think the second half of this movie is a bit challenging, but I will be pretty shocked if my wife doesn’t fall in love with this movie and if it doesn’t bring her to tears.

9/10 (Phenomenal)

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Tons of Movie Reviews!!

October 7, 2018

I am so far behind on movie reviews it is ridiculous. I haven’t posted thoughts on a movie since before I left for Vegas in late May, so… my list of movies I’ve seen and haven’t rated is quite long. Some of these will be difficult to write since it has been months since I’ve seen them. I’m going to make these quick in the spirit of catching up and starting fresh.

Hellfest (2018) – This was really dumb. I can write a long list of what sucked about this movie, so I’ll just say what I liked: the ending was actually kind of cool. (3/10 – Bad)

White Boy Rick (2018) – Based on true events, White Boy Rick’s story is worthy of being shared. Dude that played WBR was solid and Matthew McConaughey was a scene-stealer in the dad role. I enjoyed it. (6/10 – Fun)

Searching (2018) – I absolutely loved it. Searching manages to tell a compelling mystery through nothing but social media, computer apps, and surveillance cameras – it’s actually quite mind-boggling how well it is all pulled off. I was entranced by the story as it kept me guessing and intrigued, even though I did pick up on some huge clues on my first viewing. John Cho was solid in the lead role, giving the best performance of his career. I think this is a must see and I enjoyed it again when I saw it a second time, but for what it’s worth, both people I saw it with the first time hated it. (8/10 – Must See)

Terrifier (2018) – This is available on Netflix right now and if you enjoy horror movies where a potentially iconic villain terrorizes random people, then Art the Clown is your dude – he was phenomenal, giving Pennywise some legit contention for the most traumatizing clown title. This movie is gruesome beyond belief and highly entertaining if you’re into that sort of thing. Even the victims are less generic than your typical horror slasher. More Terrifier. More Art please. (7/10 – Highly Enjoyable)

Alpha (2018) – What starts off as a dreary tale of survival quickly turns into a story of what could be the first canine to become man’s best friend. This was definitely a feel good movie with some great visuals. It’s slow at times but ended up being much better than I thought it would be. (7/10 – Highly Enjoyable)

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – This was good. A testament that racism and prejudice can exist even within the same ethnicity – in this case, a lower-to-middle class Chinese-American and, well, a “crazy rich” Chinese matriarch with cultural traditions as deep as her pockets. This movie was touching, sporadically funny, beautifully shot in jarring Singapore and has a solid breakout performance from rapper Awkwafina and strong performances from Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh. A fun movie with tear-jerking potential. I recommend. (7/10 – Highly Enjoyable)

BlacKkKlansman (2018) – Another racially charged dramedy, this one’s a bit more poignant with Spike Lee’s adept filmmaking abilities in the director’s chair. A period piece, based on true events – or at least some “fo’ real fo’ real shit” – a cocky, black rookie police officer infiltrates the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan with the help of one of his fellow white officers. This movie is funny, disturbing and sad. Adam Driver is great. John David Witherspoon is fun. I really liked this movie but the lighthearted presentation takes away from the severity of it all. I wanted to feel something more and I think that’s what holds BlacKkKlansman back from being a truly great film. (7/10 – Highly Enjoyable)

The Meg (2018) – This was a fine monster shark movie, but it obviously doesn’t execute as well as Jaws did, or even last year’s 47 Meters Down. It’s not scary or particularly interesting but it’s reasonably entertaining. (5/10 – Decent)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) – A great action flick. Tom Cruise and the M:I franchise keep plugging along, pumping out high quality popcorn entertainment. This movie has multiple phenomenal action sequences and Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has been cooler than James Bond for quite some time now. Superman was a good and formidable villain. This just might be the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in 2018. (8/10 – Must See)

The Death of Superman (2018) – This is the highly touted Superman vs Doomsday death match that DC comics got tons of attention for back in the early 90s brought to animated life on home video. I thought it was great. I forgot enough about the comic book arc that it all seemed pretty fresh to me, particularly the involvement of the Justice League. Also, Clark and Lois have some iconic moments. A must watch for comic book fans. (7/10 – Highly Enjoyable)

Teen Titans Go! to the Movies (2018) – Unfortunately, the reviews for this movie make it seem way better than it actually was. Yeah, there’s a lot of meta humor going on here, but it is overshadowed by sheer stupidity. I had a number of examples of upsetting moments after watching it that escape me now… months later… but this was a tough watch for an adult fan of DC comics. (3/10 – Bad)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) – Jurassic World was enjoyable to me but any hope that this franchise has found new life is quickly destroyed by this terrible sequel. It is laughably bad at times and utterly ridiculous throughout its duration. I desperately want this franchise to succeed because the concept of dinosaurs in the modern world is awesome, but this is the third legitimately bad movie in five tries. The setup for the next one is intriguing, but this movie jumped the shark and there are threats of worse things to come. (3/10 – Bad)

Upgrade (2018) – A high-tech revenge thriller reminiscent of Robocop, Upgrade sees a Regular Joe get some A.I. assistance after getting crippled by criminals and turns himself into a super-powered vigilante. I actually thought the film was walking a very predictable path and it ended up surprising me. Decent enough story with fine acting and great action sequences, this was a solid action flick with a sci-fi twist. (6/10 – Fun)

Baby Driver (2017) – The opening sequence of this movie had me thinking it might end up being a classic. Alas, this was the highlight of the film and everything that followed kind of paled in comparison. Still, I really liked Baby Driver. It had some awesome driving scenes, a fun and stylish tone, charismatic and likable characters, and solid performances, particularly from Ansel Elgort in the lead role. There has been a lot of praise for the soundtrack and music does play a massive role in the film, but I wasn’t blown away by the song selections. This movie is a blast and I’m calling it a must see but it falls a bit short of a true classic. (8/10 – Must See)

Batman & Harley Quinn (2017) – Animated Batman movies are on a cold stretch. This one doesn’t help matters at all. Poison Ivy and some green dude I’ve never heard of are the main foils and the world’s greatest detective inexplicably needs Harley Quinn’s assistance in tracking them down. This movie has more musical numbers than cool Batman moments. It does, however, have a one night stand between Harley and Nightwing. I’m not positive, but this could be the worst Bat-Project Kevin Conroy has been involved with. (2/10 – Horrible)

Truth or Dare (2017) – This is basically Final Destination meets “Fear Factor.” I’m a horror fan but self-mutilation? I’m good. This was bad enough that I would have been okay not finishing it. (2/10 – Horrible)

Note: I thought Truth or Dare came out in 2018. Well, it did. This one I watched and reviewed is the Truth or Dare currently streaming on Netflix, not the theatrical release from Blumhouse earlier this year. So… I guess there’s more of this in my future.

Creep (2014) – A unique take on found footage horror, Creep has comic actor Mark Duplass (“The League”) playing against type as a dying man that hires a filmmaker to videotape his last days, but slowly unveils himself to be… something else. Unsettling and surprising, with a GREAT performance from Duplass, Creep is a must see thriller. (8/10 – Must See)

Creep 2 (2017) – A very worthy sequel to the original that I can’t say much about without spoiling the first film, but it manages to both raise the stakes and find keep things original, all while keeping the same tense and ominous tone. Of course, Duplass is once again fantastic. A solid second entry in an overlooked and surprising franchise. (7/10 – Highly Enjoyable)

Would You Rather (2012) – This is basically the same quality of horror and concept of Truth or Dare, except this time actual humans are enforcing the game. I like to throw low brow horror flicks on when I’m going to bed so I end up watching stuff like this occasionally… but you don’t have to. (3/10 – Bad)

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15/30 Limit Hold’em – 10/5/18 Live Blog

October 5, 2018

Today is starting off better than I expected already. The Leak and I were driving to Palace and there were only two players on the 15/30 list @ 3 PM. That’s not very promising. I would have guessed a game start of around 6 or 7 PM. But then I walked in the door and the game was starting!

We are currently 8-handed with a starting lineup of: total maniac, Part-Time, nit, Fleabag, Rain Man, nit, non-reg.

Heads up vs Part-Time: I open AQss and double barrel AQ5ddd after he cold calls preflop, but he raises me on the turn and I call down and lose to K4dd.

Pretty cool!

3:22 PM: Yesterday I went -$170 in 1.5 hours of 4/8 limit O8 and then +$925 in 6 hours of PLO.

Here are the two most interesting pots I played in PLO yesterday and they happened on back-to-back hands:

I limp early with JTdd77, there’s another limp, Big Baby makes it $20 to go on the button, and one of the blinds and both limpers call.

Flop is 854 with two diamonds. I have a decent flush draw and two blockers to the nuts so it seems like a good hand to bluff the flop with. I lead out $55 into $80 and the player on my direct left makes it $110. Everyone else folds. Let’s think about this: what kind of strong hand makes a min-raise here? I would say not many. So my plan is to call this bet and re-evaluate on the turn. I don’t want to bloat this pot on the flop against someone I think is highly unpredictable and might go crazy with a naked ace high flush draw. Also, it is feasible that I would play some naked straights this way.

Turn is the Queen of clubs, giving me some actual straight outs. I do not think my opponent has much and I can still rep the straight so I bet $175 and he tanks forever and eventually calls.

I don’t particularly want to make my flush here. I think if the board bricks off I will usually win this pot with a max-sized river bet.

The 4 pairs on the river and I would say that qualifies as a good card for my plan. I bet $300 and this time he tanks even long than he did on the turn but… calls it off… with… A832 no diamonds.

That was enough for The Crypt Keeper to blurt out, “what the hell?” after I showed and he tabled his hand.

So I lost nearly $600 on that pot and then this hand comes up:

There are two limpers, Crypt Keeper makes it $25, Big Baby makes it $90, and I have AA98 with clubs on the button. I make it $390 to go (more on that in a sec), which gets about 40% of my stack in the pot before the flop with Aces. That’s a pretty good result. Big Baby is my only caller.

The flop is pretty decent for my hand: JT8 with two clubs. Big Baby leads out $200 and I make it $500 trying to get all the chips in. He just calls though.

The turn is a blank and I have a little less than $200 behind. He checks to me. It seems like my hand should not be good after he bet-calls $500 on the flop and I brick the turn. So I check behind and take a river before deciding if I want to put the rest in.

River is the 9 of clubs. Yay! I bet the rest of it and he calls it off with AA62 and no clubs. I guess it makes sense that he has AA, but what a crazy hand to bet-call off $500 on the flop with.

So yeah, after losing a big pot to a crazy bluff catcher, I felt like I was one club away from turning $1500 into $0 in two hands.

Fortunately, I was freerolling in that last hand and got there – a session saver!

Ugh. Flea just cashed out. That left us 6-handed (plus Part-Time MIA) with two nits in the game. That’s what I call the Danger Zone.

Fortunately, a random dude just sat down with $700.

4:42 PM: Rough start today. I’m down about $400 after winning a couple small pots. Here’s the highlight of my day so far:

Maniac limps, I raise cutoff with K2dd, button calls, so does a blind.

Four of us to the Q97 with two diamonds flop. That’s good enough for me to bet and I get popped by the button and the rest fold out. I call.

Turn is a blank and he does that rapid fire bet where he’s not even thinking about what’s going on (because he has a draw) so I’m already thinking about calling the river if it comes bricky.

The river pairs the 7 and I don’t have to make the call because he just gives up and my king high is good.

4:53 PM: This game is pretty bad now. My last four blinds have been chopped (I had AA in one of those hands). Radio Mike replaced the maniac and we are 8-handed now.

5:19 PM: First battle with Radio Mike: he opens cut, I 3-bet K2 of spades from small blind and he calls. I double barrel on 997-5 before checking the Queen on the river. He checks back… with QJo.

😐✋🏻🧢

5:48 PM: Radio Mike 2, Dark Knight 0

Open 55, Rain Man cold calls, Radio Mike defends.

Flop is 882 with two spades and only Radio Mike calls.

Turn is a 4 and I still feel like I’m good here. My plan is probably to check river if he calls because I’ve seen him slow play big hands to the river in heads up spots, especially against me. He calls.

River is a third 8 though. Can’t imagine what hands he’d play this way that I’m losing to and it seems like I should go for value against 2x and Ax hands, so I bet and he check-raises and I’m pretty sure that is always quads but I’m not folding here either. He shows the 86.

In other news, Rain Man has flopped a set on me three times already, which seems like every time I’ve played a pot against him. I’ve had top pair all three times and twice I rivered trips so he’s basically owning me today.

And then this happens: I open Q8ss and button and Rain Man call.

We check down on J985J and I go for value on the river after Rain Man checks a third time because how the hell can I ever be losing here, but Rain Man has A9 and calls.

Good lord.

Open AJ and a nit 3-bets me and of course I get a jack high flop and clean run out so I’m forced to call down, knowing I’m rarely ever winning with the top of my range here. He has QQ.

Yup. I’m really annoyed right now.

6:06 PM: Sigh. Now we are 6-handed with two nits in the lineup and I am stuck almost $700.

Where are the 9-to-5ers?

6:39 PM: We are down to 4-handed and the first hand of non-chopping I have AA in the big blind and get the Q9958 board against the small blind’s 95.

Yup. I’m over it. I’m going to go watch the 7:20 showing of A Star Is Born.

I might be back later.

Final Score: -$881 in 3.5 hours

I will continue this later if I come back and play after the movie.

Update: The next two showings of A Star Is Born are both sold out so I will not be seeing that tonight but I am also not going to be returning to the casino.

I think I woke up roughly five times during the night and never felt well-rested today. Radio Mike suggested making a trip to Fortune but I’m tired, steamy, and buried – and none of those things suggest I should keep playing poker tonight. I was willing to gut it out at 15/30 locally, but I have no desire to travel or play 8/16, so I’m just watching playoff baseball at home now.

I will be back in action at Muckleshoot for some 20/40 Omaha 8 tomorrow around 3 PM.