Archive for May, 2019

Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 7

May 31, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 31, 2019

After busting from the national championship, I headed out from the casino to decompress for a few hours. After whiling away some time in Wilkes-Barre’s main public library and in a local coffee shop that I like, I decided to spend a little time playing at the $1–$2 cash tables.

I spent about two hours, roughly doubling my starting stack of $120 before losing most of my gains. I stepped away from the table after about two and a half hours, cashing in $241 in white one-dollar and red five-dollar chips. Of the specific hands I played during this span, I can tell you approximately nothing. (I think I had pocket jacks and pocket queens and/or pocket kings during this span. But really, that’s about it…)

Actually, that isn’t entirely true. I remember raising preflop with pocket nines, possibly from the small blind. The man to my immediate left, in the big blind, reraised, and I called. Much to my delight, the flop included a nine, giving me a set. I bet all my chips, and my foe dithered a bit before calling, apparently against his better judgment. He never showed his hand, but I think he had aces. I raked in quite a big pot.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 6

May 29, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 29, 2019

The national championship dealers were told to stop dealing cards about 10 minutes after noon on Tuesday, May 21, only a little while after I’d relocated to my second table of the day. Moments later, we were told that we’d made it into the Pit. After relocating, we filled out a short questionnaire, took a group photograph and made pit stops.

Play began in the Pit around 12:35; I occupied seat four or five at table 141.

On the first hand, I folded queen-nine, both hearts. From the small blind, with no callers, Adam T— shoved queen-five off. Fellow New York player Jim M— was in the big blind with ace-king or ace-queen unsuited, I believe, and it held, eliminating Adam.

Later, I shoved with ace-queen and got no callers.

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Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 5

May 28, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 28, 2019

I thought I’d fall into bed around midnight on Monday, if not before then. But I was extremely excited about the conclusion to the national championship and how it would play out the next morning. I think it wasn’t until around 2 a.m. that the sandman visited me.

I woke up a few hours later and had trouble returning to sleep. I decided to skip that day’s 9 a.m. meeting for World Tavern Poker tournament directors and just show up around 10:30 to check in for the finale of the finals. I ran a little late, getting in line around 10:45, but I was in my seat several minutes before cards started flying.

There were 50 players still competing for the championship. The most prosperous of us by far was Gerald F—, a gentleman I did not know who possessed more than 518,000 in chips. Shaun, the victor in Monday’s infamous “man storms off and flips the bird over his shoulder” hand, was in fourth place with 300,000, while Jeff H— was two spots behind him with 274,000. Thirteen of our number had 49,000 or fewer chips — not a favorable situation with blinds at 10,000–20,000 with a 2,000 ante.

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Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 4

May 23, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 23, 2019

After about three hours of play in flight one of the national championship on Monday, May 20, my first table was broken up. I went to seek my fortune at seat eight at table 151. Nancy A— sat to my immediate left. We were both seated between the button and the small blind, which meant we had to sit out a hand.

The very first one that we saw, but did not participate in, turned out to be dramatic. The man in seat four pushed all in. The man in seat 10, name of Shaun I believe, contemplated what to do and then called. “Good call,” the aggressor said before displaying king-ten off-suit.

Shaun rolled over the queen and ten of spades, and the flop contained two spades. The river was a king… of spades. Seat four initially thought he’d won; he was extremely irate when it was explained to him that Shaun’s flush was in fact the best hand. He shoved his chips toward Shaun and then angrily flung his commemorative marker in the same direction.

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Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 3

May 22, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 22, 2019

Nancy A—, North Carolina player, was moved to our table perhaps 90 minutes into the national championship finals. At some point, a universally beloved World Tavern Poker employee named Scooty walked up to our table with a smirk on his face and told her, “You drive however many hours and end up playing with this yahoo?” The three of us chuckled.

There was a wild hand sometime around noon. A man in late position made a big bet. Action folded to Mickey, the woman sitting on my right, who was in the small blind. After some consideration, she pushed all in.

I had Mickey covered, and I think she had the aggressor covered, but there were a lot of chips at stake, and I turned out to have unsuited seven-two in the hole. That’s the worst starting hand in holdem (check the bottom-right corner of the chart on this page), so after a fleeting flirtation with making the call, I mucked my cards.

The dealer sorted the pots. Mickey showed her cards, which were pocket jacks. The original bettor showed his cards, which were the other two pocket jacks. The table gasped when when we realized that pair was pitted against identical pair.

In a heads-up all-in situation like this, the pot is typically chopped, meaning that the chips in the middle are split equally between the participants because their hands are of the same strength. In fact, in a these circumstances, there’s only one way to avoid a chop: Four cards of a single suit have to appear on the board, thereby giving one of the players a flush.

There was a seven on the flop. If I’d called, I would have been extremely excited. Mickey and her rival could not hit a set or four of a kind because all of their outs — the cards that could help them — were in their hands and therefore no longer able to be dealt as a community card. However, a third player who hits a pair on the flop has as many as six outs. In my case, had I participated, my outs would have been the other three sevens and the other three deuces.

The river, of course, was a deuce. “I would have had two pairs!” I exclaimed. “I folded seven-deuce! Of course, that’s what I should have done, but…” I shrugged; the pot was chopped; and play continued.

Around 1 p.m., our table — which still had five of its original 10 players — was the scene of a dramatic hand involving yours truly. It would turn out to be the last hand at that table.

Mickey, the woman to my immediate right, shoved all in for 82,000 in early position. I looked at my hand as her chips were being counted and discovered pocket jacks. “I’m going to need a minute,” I mutter, half to myself, half to the dealer and the rest of the table.

Mickey did her all-in chair dance, patting her shoulder blades with alternating hands and saying, ”Good luck, Mickey. Good luck, Mickey.”

I had 55,000, and my sneaking suspicion was that Mickey had shoved somewhat light, meaning that her hand was not super strong; I put her on pocket nines.

After a minute or two, I called. Everyone else folded.

We put the cards on their backs. She had pocket kings, meaning that I was in a world of hurt.

Mickey addressed Brian, our dealer. “No jack, no jack,” she implored.

The flop included a jack. I turned my head and looked away, over my left shoulder, as the next two streets were dealt. Mickey asked for a king, and I think she also tried some reverse psychology and asked for another jack, but I could tell without looking that my set remained good. The win was a huge relief for me, not to mention a big score chip-wise.

And that was a wrap for that table. We racked our chips, collected the laminated red-and-white cards bearing our seat assignments, and went looking for our new spots.

To be continued

Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 2

May 22, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 22, 2019

Shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday, May 20, flight one of the World Tavern Poker national championship finals got under way. For this, my second event of Open 26, I was assigned seat six at table 124, which was located in the back of the ballroom, near one of the large video screens. I would keep that seat for the better part of three hours.

I got into trouble during an early level when I woke up on the button with the ace and seven of hearts. I raised, deterring perhaps two limpers but leaving us four-handed going to the flop.

The flop featured two hearts, which left me this close to securing an ace-high flush. Of course, a third heart never found its way to the board, although an ace appeared on fifth street, giving me top pair with a weak kicker; the community cards also included a pair of deuces. My rival, a guy sporting a Boston Red Sox T-shirt and baseball cap, made some sizable bets on the turn and river — 3,500 each time, I think — and I called. Ultimately, he turned over ace-nine; unfortunately, his kicker played, leaving me roughly 10,000 chips poorer than when the hand had begun.

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Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 1

May 21, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 21, 2019

Author’s note: This post contains some profanity near the end. MEM

Seconds before the digital clock metaphorically struck 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, I started my vehicular conveyance and began driving from my parental unit’s domicile to Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The skies were bright and clear, the weather was warm and the drive was fairly straightforward.

I got to my lodging a little after 5:30 p.m., checked in, shuttled a whole mess of stuff from my car to the room, changed clothes and took a load off my feet for a little while. Around 6:50 p.m., I made my way through one of the expansive parking lots that surround Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, moving briskly because the once sunny skies were now heavy with rain.

I walked toward the casino and found one of the players cards terminals. I have two players cards for this venue, thanks to my participation in national World Tavern Poker events the past few consecutive springs. The first card I swiped instantly displayed my name; I stowed the other.

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Three entertaining Connie Willis novellas journey to space school, future Hollywood and a remote planet in ‘Terra Incognita’

May 13, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 13, 2019

American author Connie Willis was named a grand master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2011. She’s best known for a quartet of novels in which historians from the University of Oxford travel through time to conduct their work; all four books won the Hugo award, and three of them also won the Nebula.

Terra Incognita, a 2018 anthology, collects three tales by Willis, presented by date of publication; I’ll be discussing them in reverse order.

The last item, “D.A.,” which appeared in 2007, is the slightest of the works, both in length and substance. The story is narrated by Theodora Baumgarten, a senior at Winfrey High School in Colorado who has her heart set on attending UCLA.

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Cheeps and Chirps for May 11, 2019

May 11, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 11, 2019

Let’s fire up the old tweeting machine.

• Politics

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Recent Readings for May 9, 2019

May 9, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 9, 2019

Author’s note: One of the articles linked below involves a porn star; the article is not particularly explicit, but I wanted to give warning. Also, two of the articles below contain upsetting details about violent crimes. MEM

Gosh, I haven’t done one of these in nearly two and a half years. Let’s see what’s been running through my mind lately!

• “The Sunday school children: The little-known tragedy of the Sri Lankan Easter attacks.” Rebecca Wright, Sam Kiley and King Ratnam of CNN take a detailed look at one of the bombings in the terrorist assaults that killed about 250 Christians and tourists last month. Be aware that this story is filled with a number of heartbreaking details.

• “Student slated to attend Western Michigan University beheaded in Saudi Arabia.” This was one of a series of government executions, the particulars of which should shock the conscience of every American. Alas, it’s hard to imagine that our freedom-loving pro-life president giving this matter more than 30 seconds of thought. As I tweeted: “The details presented here are shocking, and comprise a not-so-gentle reminder that this nation produced 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.”

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Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids: Brian Aldiss examines whether the human species has a future in ‘Finches of Mars’

May 4, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 4, 2019

I gave passing mention to British science fiction author Brian W. Aldiss about two and a half years ago, in the first part of my examination of which science fiction grand masters have had the most works translated into television and film. But only recently have I ever read any of his novels.

Finches of Mars came out in 2012; it was Aldiss’s last science fiction novel, although he subsequently published an original anthology, a revised novel and a non-genre novel before his death in 2017. Somewhat like Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station, Finches of Mars features a narrative that, at least initially, floats almost aimlessly from character to character and even, in this case, planet to planet. (However, I have no indication that Aldiss wrote the chapters as individual pieces or intended them to work on their own, as Tidhar appears to have done.)

The situation Aldiss posits is rather dire: Roughly a century in the future, Earth is even more conflict-riven than today. About four million people live on the moon, but they must rotate back home every three months to prevent deleterious effects of longterm exposure to low gravity. A consortium of schools, UU, or United Universities, has established humanity’s first beachhead on an entirely different planet: Six residential towers, segregated by region. (Westerners, Chinese, Russians, Singapore and Thailand, South America and Scandinavia each have their own building on Mars.)

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