Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moving this Blog to CardRunners Permanently

Hey guys,

For the past 2 years I've considered this blogspot blog my 'real' blog and copy/pasted each entry to other poker sites to increase the readership. I've decided now however to just update my CardRunners blog. Why? Quite simply, the CR blog format is so much easier. I can copy text from Word without having to reformat it here, and I can paste photos without having to resize them all manually (and insert them in reverse order). I can also attach YouTube videos much more easily.

So yes, basically I'm moving it because I'm being lazy. With lots of photo blogs anticipated in the future it's just too much effort to go through the whole process every time on this blogspot blog. So, if you'd like to follow my travels in Europe in 2010 and whatever the future holds for me in 2011 (the year I play as a pro), please follow my blog here:

www.cardrunners.com/blog/jcl

Thanks for reading, and adieu!

Friday, July 9, 2010

PCA/NYC 2010 Trip Report Part IV (NYC)


You hear so much about New York City that, before you set a foot in the place, you already feel like you know it inside out. The sites, the food, the people, the culture... you've already lived it vicariously through sitcoms and films and stories from your friends and family. The one thing though that you hear over and over about New York, and the one thing that you can't experience without actually going there, is the electric atmosphere of the place. You hear how you feel alive as soon as you walk into the city - this heaving metropolis full of energy and excitement. This was the New York that I had to discover...

Touchdown!

While we were at PCA all the news channels were talking about the "Arctic Chill" that had swept over NY and much of America. Being from Australia, this was a rather frightening prospect since we scarcely had clothes suitable for a normal NY winter, let alone "the coldest winter in decades". If we ran bad with the weather at PCA though, we certainly made up for it in NY. From the moment we touched down, it never snowed again until we left and the temperature never dropped below -5 Celsius. Given the talk of -15 to -20 on the news, I cannot overstate how much of a relief this was!

Cross Streets

We were staying at the Helmsley on 42nd and 3rd – the room was a bit small but the location was great, two or three blocks from Times Square and right at the heart of Midtown. We always joked that one block closer to Times Square and we would've had the best location possible (pretty much right where the Hyatt is).


Speaking of 42nd and 3rd, is it just me or is it quite thrilling to get in a taxi and say "42nd and 3rd please". You just sound so cultured, so suave, so in the know. At first I was quite taken aback that I couldn't give the exact address of where I wanted to go.

Me: "767 5th Avenue please!"
Driver: "?"
Me: "Sevennnn Huuuuundred and Siiiiixty Sevvvvven, 5th Avenue please!"
Driver: "What's the cross street?"
Me: "????"

But once I got used to it, each day I genuinely looked forward to giving the taxi driver a new intersection to go to.

Settling into a Routine

The first night we wandered around Times Square and hit up an Irish pub at what we thought was the suitably and fashionably late time of 9PM.

The place was absolutely dead.

Upon asking the bartender why that was, he dutifully informed us that we were 3 hours too early. Huh?

After checking out some other bars we verified that he was, indeed, telling the truth. The city that never sleeps doesn't seem to wake up either!

From that moment on though, we perfected our routine. We would wake up at 12, eat brunch at Pax deli at 1 (pastrami roll and OJ for me!), sightsee until 5, shower/watch TV/sleep/lose 5K until 9, then order room service for dinner (invariably a steak or a burger) and finally go out at 11.

Rinse, repeat, awesome!

Sightseeing

A trip to any major city would not be complete without a catalogue of photos at each major landmark, so here's mine...

Times Square




Rockefeller Centre

Great view from the top, cool ice rink at the bottom.






Central Park

I never realised how big Central Park was. It has such a nice tranquillity to it and it's a great place to get away from the noise of the city.















Guggenheim Museum


The Met

I'm big on Ancient History so the Met was easily my favourite museum...the place was massive so I stuck to my guns: Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt...






American Museum of Natural History




This was a pretty big disappointment. It had a cool science show in this dome-thing (the Hayden Planetarium) narrated by Whoopi Goldberg where you look at the ceiling and it zooms you through the Universe but the rest of it was pretty mundane. A lot of exhibits were just plastic models of cavemen and mammoths etc. rather than bones or the real thing (understandable, but lame).

MoMA




I love modern art. The artistic craftsmanship that goes into such fine pieces as these is just unfathomable.





Ground Zero




Ground Zero Memorial

Surprisingly moving. I assume I'm allowed to put these up but if not, someone let me know!








New York Library







Wall Street

I think I speak for everyone when I say I was surprised that Wall Street is a tiny little lane that cars can't even go through!



Statue of Liberty

Doesn't get more cliché than this...


Broadway


We got to be in the audience for a taping of Letterman which was pretty cool. Before you go in they have these guys give you a pep talk to get you in the mood and laughing at every joke like it's the funniest thing you've ever heard. What I actually found funny was that they have to recite their pep talk line-for-line each and every night. You'd think this would drive them nuts but these guys were crazy happy. I remember how one guy's face completely lit up when he saw us arrive: (eyes widening) "HEY GUYS! HOW YA DOIN!?" Once seated we were treated to some music and the clapping and dancing continued. It was like being at a Hillsong Convention, but lots of fun nonetheless.

We also saw Wicked which I really liked but I already had the album and knew the songs so I was probably a bit biased.

Empire State

View from the top at night.


NYU Law School

Just had to take a photo of this :).



Grand Central Station




FAO Schwarz


Piano from the film Big with Tom Hanks.


Abercrombie & Fitch

One thing you must do when you're in NY is go to the Abercrombie & Fitch store on 5th Avenue. I remember being greeted at the door by two guys who I thought were male models. Then, as soon as I walked in, I realised that every employee in the place was ridiculously good looking. The store was actually ridiculously overstaffed and basically a dance party. Music is blaring and all the staff are dancing, including the people fronting the cashiers (which unfortunately meant very slowly lines, but the eye candy more than makes up for it!). There are even dancing girls stationed at the top of each staircase to greet you as you arrive on each level!

Being good at helping customers was obviously not part of the job description however as my question about the whereabouts of an item was met with a pointed finger and an "over there somewhere".

Nightlife

The one thing that we learnt from Vegas is that everyone in clubs in America is really old. So rather than hang out at expensive and trendy joints with presumably 30+ year olds, we decided to hang around Greenwich Village (where NYU is) and, on the recommendation of a friend I met at PCA, Lower East Side. We tried most of the bars around those areas but ended up returning to two places each and every night: Off The Wagon in the Village and Pianos on Lower East Side.

Off The Wagon is meant to replicate a typical college bar, complete with beer pong tables and all. Pianos is a bit more groovy and "dancy" and ended up being my favourite place. It was actually kind of funny how we came across it. That same PCA friend told me about it but I didn't think too much of it other than mentally making a note of the name. I didn't know where in Manhattan it was at all. Then one night we took a cab from the Village to Lower East Side, without specifying where in particular to go (since we didn't know), and as soon as I got out of the cab and looked up, staring me right in the face was Pianos! Destiny!

Off the Wagon


Pianos



Another cool place we happened upon was Spitzer's, also in Lower East Side. More of a restaurant-pub, it had a huge selection of ridiculous strength beers and awesome food to pick on: the Truffle Mac and Cheese was amazing!



My only gripe with the nightlife in NYC is that everything is dead on weekdays, and everything closes at 4AM. The former is completely acceptable for most cities, but not for a city that is meant to never sleep! And the latter is of course also completely normal for most cities, but come on, this place doesn't start happening till midnight! A four hour window is not enough!

In hindsight I kind of wish that we did try a classy martini lounge or a proper nightclub just once, but overall I definitely don't regret doing what we did. Meeting lots of fun people, having late night lamb gyros and Philly Cheese Steaks, and drinking the night away as we hopped from one hole-in-the-wall bar to another – those are the memories that will stay with me forever.

Conclusion

I went to New York with so many expectations and I can honestly say that it far surpassed them. The sites were amazing, the atmosphere was electric, and the nightlife was buzzing. The best thing is, there's a little bit for everyone. When I got back from NY I tried to describe it to a friend who's going there later this year (come to think of it she's probably there right now) and soon realised that she probably would not like it for remotely the same reasons as I did. I personally will remember NY mostly for the bar-hopping and the sightseeing (hence the structure of this blog). Others probably will remember it for the food or the Broadway shows or the shopping or the music.

What's patently clear is that, if you haven't been already, you should definitely put it to the top of your list. You won't regret it :).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Party Pics, State of the Games, "Year" in Review

So it's been a week since I finished exams and a pretty eventful week it was! It started with a friend's farewell party (unlike us Europe-bound exchange students she's smart enough to be going to Harvard!) and a law party on the Friday.

Then on the Saturday it was my two-weeks-early birthday/farewell party! Here's some pics of me plus a general 'action' pic at the end which I really like for some reason.











Sam (from PCA) came up from Melbourne for my party and stayed with me on the Sunday so that we could grind the Sunday majors the next day. I was still self-excluded on FTP unfortunately but I played about 6 tournaments on Stars and the UB major and went my usual 0 cashes. I staked Sam in some $100+ ones too and he went 0 for in all of them as well. Awesome...

He did however manage to go deep in some random small one by which time I had to go out to dinner with some friends and so I left him in my house to fend for himself! Good host I am :).

I've been trying to grind some spending money for Europe this week but it's been really hard since absolutely nothing has been running. Even when the Sunday majors were on the games were pretty quiet and, in the days since, I've woken up pretty early to play and literally only 1 to 3 10/20 games have been running (across all sites). It's quite frustrating and the last few days I basically haven't even bothered to play and have just gone out shopping for clothes and the like for Europe instead (I got an iPhone today!). I'm hoping the state of the games is just because of summer and the WSOP; otherwise I'm going to have to rethink my goals for next year...

So I leave this time next week for a 6 and a half month adventure to Europe. As I mentioned previously I am going to take my RSA tokens with me and give myself the option of playing while there but in all honesty I doubt I'll be able to get many hands in. Even if I could overcome my tiny laptop monitor and the slowness that HEM would induce, I'm pretty sure that I'd rather be making the most of the opportunities that exchange will bring. So, save for one more fruitless Sunday majors grind in 2 days, that's basically it for this year! So here's my sort of pre-emptive year in review.

Online Cash: 124K





Online MTT: -9K

Everything else (live cash, live MTT, rakeback, bonuses, staking cost of poker software and training site subscriptions, purged 1/2 hands from HEM, etc.): -4K

TOTAL: $111,000.

I'm glad I hit 6 figures, but all in all it's been a bit disappointing. Halfway through the year I'm up less than half my total profit for last year, and that's despite playing 2x the stakes. I also didn't finish my 10/20 goal 6-max (100 buy-ins), stalling massively since the 100K mark, though 3/4 through isn't bad (the 10/30 hands are mis-imported 10/20 hands where someone posted a small and big blind).

I don't really have too many highlights for the year other than being able to say that I've now played 100/200 NL with durrrr, albeit ludicrously briefly. I'd probably say the 40K pot from a few blog posts ago was my genuine highlight for this year.

Next year I'm going to be a lot more conservative with my game selection. I have one year to make a lot of money and set myself up for a house and I want to make it count. So I won't be thrill-seeking 100/200 games unless I sell off some action or have a genuinely big edge/bankroll. Nor will I be wasting any more money on HU. I think 40K is a fair enough investment for that learning experience...next year I have to turn it to account in the 6-max games!

I hope to finish my 10/20 goal this year in Sweden (25 buy-ins in 6 months can't be that hard right?) and begin next year playing 25/50+ (if it still runs lol), the major online MTTs, and whatever live events fit my schedule. I just hope that the game doesn't pass me by in the time I'm away. Raptor came back fine (even I will admit that I considered taking shots at the 'rusty' Raptor, but I'm glad I didn't lol), so there's a bit of hope for all of us.

Anyway, my blog is going to take a new direction for the rest of this year. For the first time I'm going to show it to my friends and it's basically going to be a photo blog of my trip and I imagine very little poker at all. If that doesn't suit, feel free to stop reading, but I hope you guys enjoy it and will come along for the ride :).

That's all for now...in my next post I'll finally do the NYC portion of my PCA/NYC trip report and then hopefully the next time you hear from me after that I'll be in Paris! Good luck at the (non-existent) tables!

Rounders

High Stakes Poker - Daniel Negreanu Versus Gus Hansen

Joe Hachem - WSOP Main Event 2005 Champion