May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, tournament 5

June 11, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 11, 2018

Early registration helped me to secure a seat in Tuesday evening’s grinder tournament. My actual choice of a seat… well, that may have had an interesting ripple effect on subsequent events.

When the poker room supervisor led me to my table, where I was given a choice of two open spots. One was in position nine, two seats to the right of the dealer. The other was in position four. Initially, I headed to seat four, because I think that position affords a better view of the table. (When you’re next to or near the dealer, it can be hard to see the players on the dealer’s opposite side.)

Then I noticed the person in seat three: An older woman, apparently the same person from whom I’d won a big pot in my first cash-table stint the previous evening. Although she seemed to be a pleasant enough individual, I’d gotten the impression that she was the kind of poker player who held grudges. The prospect of spending three hours next to someone who was gunning for me was quite unappealing, especially when there was another open seat.

So I changed course and headed for seat nine. Immediately, I regretted this decision — as mentioned, I don’t like the obstructed views afforded by a spot near the dealer. However, I feared that reversing course twice in the space of perhaps a minute would make me look silly. I resolved to settle in seat nine and make the best of it. After all, isn’t it said that successful people make their own luck?

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Cheeps and Chirps: Trumpian perfectly normal presidency special edition

June 7, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 7, 2018

Presenting some tweets about Donald Trump’s perfectly normal presidency!

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, interlude the first

June 6, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 6, 2018

As previously stated, I hoped that the magic from my golden hour at the cash table on Tuesday afternoon would carry over to that evening’s tournament. The format was once again a grinder, which incorporates elements of cash play into a three-hour event.

The run-up to this event was a bit unusual. After visiting my favorite local purveyor of tea, the Crimson Lion Hookah Lounge Cafe around the corner from the Wilkes University campus, I drove back from downtown Wilkes-Barre and parked near the racetrack.

Most of the tournaments at the pokerpalooza are staged in the casino’s ballroom, which for our gathering is stocked with portable poker tables and temporary poker dealers.

(The latter characterization is no exaggeration. Although all of the staff who handle cards at our events have passed a course on how to deal poker, they spend 51 weeks a year running blackjack and other games. Many of these activities don’t involve cards. Nor do they require casino employees to divide pots that have to be chopped because two or more players wind up with the same hand or to split unequal pots that involve at least one all-in with three or more participants. This can lead to no small amount of chaos, depending on how much the dealer bumbles things and how irritated and impatient the players become.)

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, cash table stint 2

June 5, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 5, 2018

I wound up playing a light schedule at the pokerpalooza on Tuesday. I chose to skip the 10 a.m. bounty tournament because it rewards play that doesn’t suit my natural style. Also, I hadn’t qualified for the national championship finals, let alone become one of the last top 100 players in the finals, who fought it out for the title that afternoon.

It wasn’t until a little after 5 p.m. that I sat down for that day’s first personal poker exploits. As it turned out, this stint at a $1-$-2 no-limit holdem table would be my golden hour — my most magical run of play at the entire five-day conclave.

Unfortunately, thanks to the passage of time, I don’t recall a lot of specific clashes with other players. Even so, I’ll recount what’s stuck in my mind.

The very first hand I sat down to was ace-queen or ace-jack; moreover, I think they were suited. I made a modest raise. The flop had an ace, I believe, and I ended up battling with the player to my immediate left. I think he hit a pair of kings and was working on a straight that never came. I wound up collecting a modest pot.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 2, cash table stint 1

June 4, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 4, 2018

After taking a little time to lick my wounds, I attempted to wash away my dismal showing in the tag-team tournament by heading to the casino’s poker room. Once there, I swapped $120 in cash for chips and took a seat at a $1-$2 no-limit holdem cash table.

My only previous experience in a cash game — aside from bombing out of that afternoon’s grinders event — had come at the previous year’s pokerpalooza, which was held at the same casino in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Following a string of unrewarding tournament runs, I’d sat down for about two hours at a cash table late one night and come away some $20 or $40 to the good.

Obviously, I was hoping to make a bit of dough when I joined the table at roughly 20 minutes before 11 p.m. While I succeeded in doing so, I recall just one hand from this evening, and incompletely at that.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 2, tournament 4

May 29, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 29, 2018

I have a bit of a checkered history with tag-team tournaments, which was the format on tap for Monday evening.

The tag team is unlike every other event played at World Tavern Poker’s national gatherings in that it involves teams. Normally, poker players are lone wolves, battling every other person in the field. The tag team involves pairs of contestants, each of whom starts with a stack of chips.

Every so often, the master of ceremonies will instruct players to take their partner’s seat if, say, they’re married, or if their dealer is male, or if they’re wearing World Tavern gear. A switch can be announced between hands, during deals or while players are placing and reacting to bets. The exchange introduces a certain element of chaos — if you’re switched during a hand and you don‘t know your partner’s strategy, or the tendencies of your opponents, you can find yourself in quite a pickle.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 2, tournament 3

May 24, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 24, 2018

Author’s note: On June 11, I edited the fifth paragraph, which immediately follows the jump. Originally, the passage had wrongly indicated that the winner of a grinder tournament does not get to keep the chips in front of him or her. As usual, additions are marked with boldface text; deletions, with a strikethrough line. MEM

Misplaying my first pair of pocket aces early Sunday evening seemingly sealed my doom in that deep-stack tournament. My next chance at redemption came Monday afternoon in a fairly unusual style of tournament: A three-hour grinder.

I’m hardly a poker expert, but I first heard of this format two or three years back when World Tavern Poker first used it at one their national events. WTP now stages grinders at all of their opens, as the twice-annual league-wide gathering is called. In fact, this time around, the league scheduled a total of four grinders.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying two things: First, I don’t know if this is an established tournament style played at other poker events; and second, it’s very popular at WTP conclaves.

So what is a grinder? The way this league runs it, it’s a three-hour hybrid of a $1-$2 no-limit holdem cash game and a tournament with limited re-entries. Everyone starts with the same amount of chips, and everyone can re-enter as many times as they want over the first 90 minutes of the competition. The blinds are fixed — that is, they never rise, as they would in a regular tournament, because the point isn’t to winnow the field down until one person has all the chips.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 1, tournament 2

May 23, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 23, 2018

On Sunday at 7 p.m., I sat down for a deep-stack tournament that probably wound up having around 300 entrants. This was the second event I played at the pokerpalooza; unlike the first one, which got under way as I was still en route to the casino, I took my seat shortly before the first hand was dealt.

Relatively early on, while sitting in the big blind, I looked at my hole cards and found two aces. Some four or five players had already called. Rather than scare off anyone with a big bet, I decided that I could make a bunch of dough by slow-playing this strong hand. I did a minimum raise, to 800 chips. Everyone who was already in the hand called my bet, naturally.

Unfortunately for me, the flop was a total nightmare: three low and middle cards, all spades. I believe I placed a modest bet, for perhaps 1,800 chips, and the player two seats to my left raised to 3,600 or so.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 1, tournament 1

May 22, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 22, 2018

I’m participating in another spring pokerpalooza. I regret to report that things are off to a rocky start.

In my first tournament, on Sunday afternoon, I was attempting to win my way into the national championship finals. The semifinal qualifier in which I was playing had a shootout format, pitting players at a table against each other until only two retain chips. Unlike a typical tournament, players never change tables as the field is narrowed down. I’ve traditionally been a bit leery of shootouts, but I started to warm up to them this spring when, during a regional championship, I made it through the shootout stage in one of the satellite tournaments.

I didn’t get to the casino for the start of the semifinal shootout. Still, I was in time to join the proceedings, so I paid my $15 entry fee and sat down at a table in the far reaches of the ballroom where the event was being held.

The table had started with about four ghost stacks, each of which had paid blinds as the deal orbited the table for the better part of an hour. When I arrived, we were in the third blind level, 300-600, and the ghost stack I took control of felt rather puny. (Incidentally, a standard casino poker table is designed to accommodate 10 players, although it can sometimes be a bit of a squeeze.)

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More radio memories! (In which I describe an author interview that may not have happened)

May 21, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 21, 2018

Memory is a tricky thing. People have all sorts of odd old things rattling around their brains; or I do, at least. Sometimes, these memories are spot on. Sometimes, they may — emphasis on may — have been made up from whole cloth.

On Friday afternoon, I spent some time searching the web for information on a book, the title, author and publication year of which I was completely unable to recall.

The good news was that I had a fairly specific concept of what the book was about. The work, which either had been written by a Raleigh resident or else centered on the city of Raleigh, was aimed at a general-interest audience of readers, and it described the systems that deliver electricity and drinking water and remove sewage and rain runoff from modern buildings.

Initially, I conducted a general web search using the terms “the four utilities”book and Raleigh. However, “four utilities” refers to a marketing concept, so I changed this search term to simply utilities. I also ran similar queries in the Library of Congress’s online catalog.

I was certain that the book had been released in the United States at some point after roughly 2010, but even after applying those filters, I was left with a lot of irrelevant results.

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