Thursday, October 28, 2004

It's a Small Poker World After All

The more I play, the more I find that everyone is about one degree of separation from anyone else in the poker world, connected by table meetings and random coincidences. This is true in NYC in general among the people in my age group -- so when you put them together, it's crazy. The weirdest real-life one is that one of the guys who was in my regular Thursday night game turned out to be related to a girl I was really close friends with when I was in elementary school but haven't talked to in years.

Now there's one in the poker blogosphere for me as well. It turns out that one of the poker blogs I read, Sound of a Suckout, is by a friend I used to play poker and make fun of bad poetry with in Texas. I suspected as much from his witty writing style and use of the word "Jebus," but wasn't 100% sure until he linked to me. It turns out he's getting married this weekend, and I hope he has a great day and a happy honeymoon. I'll be looking forward to his posts when he returns.

Not as much as I'm looking forward to playing poker tonight though, I must admit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Chicks with Chips Miscellany

Last Thursday my game was not on, which didn't help my mood -- but a great weekend filled with friends, lots of fried food, and Team America (Fuck Yeah!) turned that frown upside down. Still, since unlike most of the poker blogging community, I don't really play a lot online -- I have a Mac at home and it limits the options, on top of which, since I work in the online world I often don't feel like being at the computer once I get home -- I don't have a lot to say about playing poker lately. Since there hasn't been any. Oh the broken poker promises I have suffered!

On top of which, even though it's been a month since the 20-hour-days at the computer, I still am having a hard time sitting down and writing much of anything. So let's see what some other women players (or their family members) have to say on the subject of poker, shall we?

"It takes a lot to be a winner. You have to be part mathematician, part actor, part psychologist -- and have a real competitive nature. Aggression is also very important in poker." -- Evelyn Ng

"I prefer playing with men. Women tend to be petty—if you beat them, they tell you were lucky. With men, the aggression is straightforward, and I love it. Instead of frightening me, it goads me on. I have a great desire to win, and I love the competition. One of these days, I’m going to be up there in Binion’s Hall of Fame with the other poker greats." --Barbara Freer

"The cardinal sin in poker, worse than playing bad cards, worse even than figuring your odds correctly, is becoming emotionally involved. While the game requires that you fully engage with other players at the table, that you pay attention to their quirks and personalities, you’re not supposed to identify with them in any way. You are, in other words, expected to empathize with your opponents while remaining devoid of all compassion. It is very hard to do." -- Katy Lederer

“I think there’s still some sexism at the table, but nothing like it used to be. It’s even come a long way since I started to play in big games a few years ago. I used to get a lot of, “How does somebody like you learn the game?” I’ve always hated that question. The way they ask it makes me sound like a jockey trying out for the NBA or something like that. How does somebody like me learn the game?
I picked it up the usual way: from my dad when I was a kid. I started to play a little more regularly when I dated a poker player in college. Then, when I moved to New York, I formed a regular game with some friends at my old job. It’s not like I’m a one-armed wrestler, or even a Hebrew Jesus Scholar. I’m just a woman who makes her living playing cards." --Melissa Hayden

"If woman holds a very strong hand, she may want to sometimes play it passively to allow the overly aggressive male to put money in the pot. By sometimes checking and calling you can induce people with weak hands to bet your hand for you....Often if a woman checks the man will assume she is weak and will bet. If a woman bets or raises they will often give her credit for a good hand,” even when the woman is bluffing." -- Kathy Liebert

I have been promised poker this Thursday and next, but I'm hosting my own Halloween Hold'em party because sometimes you just have to make your own fun.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Danger! High Voltage

It has nothing to do with the Yankees pathetic choking of last night, but I'm in a terrible mood today. The bitch-slap over e-mail has already begun between the guys in my Thursday night game and while I'm hoping like hell the game is on tonight, I hope the trash talking is kept to a minimum. Since most of the Bostonians have moved to L.A. over the past few months, I think I'll be okay.

I wish, oh how I wish, I could just get away on a retreat. Maybe to a poker camp? Seriously, I would love to go to poker camp, but I don't have that kind of money to spend on it. Besides, if I went it would ruin the mental picture in my mind...Lederer strumming the guitar and leading the tired campers in a round of "The Gambler." Or maybe some Phish tunes -- I have it from a reliable source that he was once a big fan. Jesus Ferguson would lead a special seminar called "start using cards as a weapon" and proceed to cut though bananas, pickles, and then all three ingredients in s'mores. What delicious fun it would be!

Of course, none of this seems to be listed in the itinerary but a gal can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Favorite Quote I Didn't Even Try to Fit in the Book

I've been on an Insomniac kick lately and it reminded me of this Dave Attell quote about Reno I jotted down early on in the writing process:

Reno, Nevada. Gambling. That’s a great town. All night-drinking, legalized prostitution, gambling. You know what the town doesn’t have? A zoo. There’s no zoo there. Cause after a couple days of drinking, gambling, and banging hookers, you kind of want to see a panda. You really do.

I love a good gambling story, cause it always starts off so dramatic, so full of hope: "I was up $8900. The next thing I knew, I was blowing a guy for a sandwich." What? You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em fucker!

Since I cut out the parts about actual places to gamble, there was no way to fit it in. Pity. It turns out it's not exactly true, anyway. There's a zoo 8 miles from downtown Reno. They don't have a panda, though, just a monkey you can call baby.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Favorite Things Cut From the Book

Tomorrow I hand in the revised manuscript of The Badass Girl's Guide to Poker, and as in all writing projects, a lot of things I really like got cut for length, clarity, or just because they didn't really work. Here are some things you won't learn or hear anymore within it's pages. Here are my top 5.

5. To Pass or Not to Pass the Buck
The phrase “pass the buck” comes from poker. The theory is that back in the 19th nineteenth century, cowboys used markers made of either buckshot or knives with buckhorn handles to show who was dealing. Eventually that got shortened to “buck.” When it’s the next player’s turn to deal, it’s time to “pass the buck” to her.

President Truman, an avid poker player, coined the motto “the buck stops here” to declare that he was taking on full responsibility.

Unless you’re playing strip poker, “buck naked” has nothing to do with poker.

4. A new way to get a woman off your mind?
The king of hearts is also known as the suicide king because it looks like he’s sticking himself in the head with a sword. I wonder what he was thinking?

3. Poker Nation by Andy Belllin Quote
"Poker isn’t about the number of pots you take down, or how fantastic you look winning them (though I do admit to thinking I look really good sometimes). Claiming a pot when you have the best cards isn’t enough to make you a winning player….No one gives you a pile of money for drawing a royal straight flush. Some sucker has to pay you off."

2. Updike Poker Quote
"It’s in my character to feel worse about folding a winner than betting a loser; it seems less of a sin against God or Nature or whatever.”

1. And Finally, the line from Annie Duke that's too NC-17...
"I certainly got called a cunt at the table on several occasions."

I have yet to be called that the poker table, anyway.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Well.... I got a picture

toby and greg fossil man raymer

And I talked to Mr. Raymer for a good twenty minutes -- extremely nice and personable guy. As for the tourney, it was silly -- we all got 1000 in chips, the blinds theoretically started at 25/50 but my table seated late so we started at 50/100 and the blinds doubled every 10 minutes. I played exactly 3 hands, and after folding jacks after an all-diamond flop, I had only 400 in chips left and the blinds were at 200/400. I got dealt a pair of 4s and went all in. Of course someone beat me -- trip 10s. Then Raymer sat down at the table to play. Typical.

Raymer plays

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Cocktails & Cards

So I did sign up for the charity tourney tonight at Bergdorf Goodman's. There will be cocktails and hor d'oeurves, which is one of those words that I unfailingly will read, if reading out loud from the printed word, "whores dirves," which makes me sound oh so cool. It's not that I don't know how to pronounce the word, it's just that I have sort of the same disability as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman in that I will read anything out loud just as it is written. Put a question mark at the end of my name on a telelprompter and I too would question, "I'm Toby Bochan????"

Part of the reason I decided to play is that I got to spend some time with Bill Burton as part of my business trip to LA, and he knows Greg "Fossil Man" Raymer and said he was a fine player and a good guy. Which could be said for Bill himself as well. The Guide to Vegas for Visitors for (where I hold my day job), Zeke, was kind enough to take BIll and I (and a couple of other coworkers) to the overwhelming and amazingly large Commerce Casino, the biggest card room in the world. I had missed it the last trip out and was very curious to see. We didn't play because the queue for any game below 10-20 was about 100 people long at 10 on a Saturday night, but it was still cool to see.

If I lived out there, I'd be there altogether too much. Anyway, now I have to figure out what you wear to one of these things. I'm feeling a little flashy and trashy perhaps.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Cards for Charity

So I just got an invitation to play in a charity event tourney to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS on Wednesday and Greg Raymer will be in attendance. I think I just may do it -- it's a charity I've supported in the past anyway, and it could be interesting. The cost isn't too bad -- no small chunk of change, but not much more than my biggest one-night loss either.

Hmm.... It would be pretty fun to see how the Fossilman plays in person and not when cut together on TV.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Manhattan Hold'em

I tried and tried and failed to get a seat in tomorrow's Manhattan Hold'em event sponsored by Q104 here in the city. I listened all day and called and called, even getting through a few times but never getting the sweet 104th spot. Good thing too, because I'm in LA. And I will be tomorrow too -- it didn't even occur to me that I'd be on the opposite coast at the time of the tourney. Good with numbers, bad with dates.

I haven't played poker in ages it feels like and I'm jonesing. I don't think I'll be able to get away from my business trip business to play at the Bike or the Commerce. What a pity.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Poker Quote & Thought of the Day

Most human beings conduct their lives as a series of risks, some more calculated than others. They may not like to admit it, especially to themselves, but they bluff their way through life’s complexities, both professional and personal, every day.
-Anthony Holden

It's not exactly a risk, but I hereby announce my newest venture with two people who are both professional (I work with them) and personal (they're friends): It has nothing to do with poker, but will be a place for me to hopefully jot down some non-poker thoughts somewhere else and keep more to the meat of the matter here: poker poker poker!

Friday, October 01, 2004


I was at the NYC photobloggers event last night, and I saw a lot of talented photographers. I especially admired the work of joesnyc, who had recently begun taking more pictures of people. In my youth, which I mean not in some ironic I'm-almost-30 way, but truly from the ages of 10-20, I did a lot of photography and almost double majored in it. I always both as an artist and as a viewer, preferred pictures of people to landscapes, objects, and the endless pictures of shadows on the street/ground/wall. (I do however have a weakness for grafitti)

Fantastic pictures like this one really take guts to take. Not only is it truly unique and unreproducible, unlike a picture of a rock or something, there's something about bringing a camera around and “stealing” pictures of people that is literally dangerous. I grew up with the daughter of legendary photographer Bruce Davidson, and he was the first photographer whose work I really admired. I remember when his book Subway came out I was fascinated by the bravery and dangers he literally faced to create it. I think he got his camera stolen/taken twice during the years of shooting. Anyway, I think Joe has the same respect for his subjects as Davidson does, and it shows in the results.

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures with my camera phone on the subway. Though the quality is much, much worse than pictures from my digital camera, I like that a) I’m always carrying around my phone anyway and b) it allows me to take candids, even pretty close shots I wouldn’t have the guts to otherwise. I’m thinking about getting one of the newer 1+ megapixel phone cams for my birthday present to myself.

On the other side of the word guts is the eponymous card game. Which takes no real guts at all – only luck. I played in a new home game on Tuesday night which was dealer’s choice. I haven’t played dealer’s choice since my regular game in Texas and I was surprised to find that I now cannot stand to play games with wild cards and that take no real skill, such as guts, which you lose or win a lot of money in one hand based almost entirely on luck. Additionally, the chooser of this game made the player who had the guts to stay and win then beat the next 4 cards dealt from the deck, which is just not great odds. It’s like playing in a casino against the house – the odds are stacked against you, no matter how you play it.

Maybe I’d feel differently if I had come out $12 ahead for the night instead of behind, but I don’t think so.
(c) Toby Leah Bochan