Make me an offer for 500 poker chips

The story ...

Last summer, I won sixty cents in a free poker tournament at I planned on playing until I lost it all, but decided not to take U.S. players for real-money games when Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. I cashed out and asked my readers what I should do with my sixty-cent check. One suggested I try to trade it for something better. So here I am, trying turn my sixty-cent check into a World Series of Poker Main Event entry through a series of trades. And while my plan may seem ridiculous, it's no more ridiculous than the UIGEA.

Currently available

Limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI football signed by former New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri. Trade includes certificate of authenticity, and also includes autographed picture of Patriots' safety Rodney Harrison. Want more information? Go to the trade post. Want to make an offer? Shoot me an e-mail at . Want to know how I got this far? Go to the trading history.

24 hours of poker ... again

Like a freshman in college waking up with his first raging hangover swear he'll never drink booze again, I swore I’d never play poker for 24 hours ever again after accomplishing the feat last year. And just like that same freshman finds himself out with a cold beer in his hand the next weekend, I found myself playing in a 24-hour poker game for the second year in a row last weekend.

You can learn a lot about yourself, your friends and your poker game if you sit at a table and play poker for 24 hours. Here are a few of the lessons I learned in the latest 24-hour game.

1. Budweiser has roughly 20 percent more alcohol than Bud Light.
After playing for 18 hours without a sip of alcohol last year, I rivaled the rates of consumption seen only in my fraternity days during the final six hours, which led to a long, slow recovery as I found myself unreasonably inebriated at noon on a Sunday.

This year, I vowed to avoid the same mistake by limiting myself to no more than one beer per hour. We ran out of Bud Light after about 16 hours, so I had to switch to regular Budweiser. (Since we were in for the long haul, it was a diet of cheap, canned beer.)

My liver was doing a pretty good job keeping up with the 4.2 percent alcohol in Bud Light, but the 5.0 percent in regular Budweiser was a little bit too much for it to deal with each hour, especially since I’m out of practice -- you don’t really have time (or desire) to do much drinking with an infant in the house. By my third hour on Bud, Ryan noticed that I had become much more “philosophical.” Thankfully, my switch to Budweiser happened in the last few hours, so I was able to hang on.

2. When you’re going to play for a full 24 hours, it helps to play at lower stakes.
Last year we played $1/$2 limit games and I was down more than $100 in less than two hours. That’s a pretty significant loss for me, but there was no way I could quit because I’d organized the game and needed to write about it. But I started doing the math in my head … “Keep losing at this rate and you’ll be down $1,000.” Granted, it would have been almost impossible to sustain that terrible run of luck, but it was possible. Thankfully, I turned things around and was basically even for the rest of the game.

This year we halved the stakes. And even though this was a real poker game and we had winners and losers, nobody walked away feeling bad about how much they’d lost. Since we’re all friends, this is an important aspect of our game.

3. When you’re playing for a full 24 hours, it sucks to play at lower stakes.
We were more than seven hours into the game when I did a quick chip count (breaking Kenny Rogers’ rule) and found myself up a grand total of 75 cents. Yep, I was winning at a rate of a dime an hour.

In the end, I think it was the right decision to play a smaller stakes game, but it did take some of the fun out of raking in a “big” pot.

4. The liquor store near Ryan’s place opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.
Thankfully, we merely had this information in our back pocket. Two trips on Friday night proved to be enough.

5. No one will understand why they didn’t have the correct odds to play a hand after 20 consecutive hours of poker if they didn’t understand why they didn’t have the correct odds to play the hand in the first hour.
Note: This did not prevent Ryan from trying to give poker lessons on Saturday afternoon.

6. Never trust the Red Sox schedule on
Part of the reason we decided to start the poker game at 8 p.m. on Friday night was because the Red Sox were scheduled to play Texas at 8 p.m. on Friday and again at 2 p.m. on Saturday. I swear. I looked everywhere and have found 10 different schedules that say the Saturday game was always scheduled for 8 p.m., but those schedules lie. Seriously. I saw it with my own two eyes.

7. Seven poker players who have played through the night cannot eat 17 scrambled eggs.
Especially after drinking cheap beer all night. Twelve is a far more appropriate number, or maybe 14 max.

8. No one likes stud as much as me.
Everyone always bitches about how much stud I try to inject in the game. Everyone else wants to play just Hold’em and Omaha. Personally I’d much rather play a wide variety of games with up to 50 percent of them being stud games. I guess I’m the only one though. Note to my opponents: I’m actually much worse at Stud games … it’s in your financial interest to play these games against me.

9. With eight people, you can easily play a round of two-deck Chinese Poker.
Unfortunately, I was the only advocate for the game so we didn’t play.

10. JimCo can do anything if you bet him $5 that he can’t.
Last year, JimCo passed out on my couch at about 6 a.m. His snoring was so memorable that I made a $5 side bet that he couldn’t make it through the full 24 hours without passing out this year. I felt pretty confident when I returned from the liquor store bearing a bottle of Jack Daniels meant just for him. But JimCo survived (mainly because he wouldn’t let me mix his drinks), so I had to toss him $5 of my hard-earned winnings. It was worth it just to keep him in the game though, kind of like how everyone at the table paid Mike Matusow $1,000 to keep playing in the second season of High Stakes Poker.

So will the group make this an annual tradition? It remains to be seen. I don’t think I ever want to do it again. And oh yeah, pass me a beer, eh?

NOTE: Even though he didn’t play for the full 24 hours, it would be a crime to ignore Noah’s participation in the game, as it was one of several key events in La Semana de Noah.

It’s official: I have part of Jimi Hendrix’s House

I met Pete Sikov at the Copley Square Hotel on Monday afternoon. Since we hadn’t met and I hadn’t seen a picture of Pete, I knew I wouldn’t recognize him. So I told him I’d be fairly easy to spot, since I’d probably be the only guy in the lobby holding a red, white and blue ABA basketball.

It wasn’t as tough as I expected, as the lobby of the Copley Square Hotel is pretty tiny. Pete popped off the elevator, and when he said hello, I instantly recognized the deep voice that I’d talked with on the phone earlier that morning. After a quick handshake, we made the swap. An interested onlooker was nice enough to take a few photos for us, and after Pete went back to his room to drop off his new ABA basketball, we headed to a local bank to get a notary to sign the certificate of authenticity that we were including as part of the trade.

Pete was in Boston to attend his daughter Danielle’s graduation from Tufts. We started our walk with Pete’s brother-in-law and mother-in-law. But his mother-in-law was on a mission to check out Trinity Church and left us in the dust -- so we soon were on our own.

Pete told me he was part of the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation that bought the house several years ago. At the time, the foundation planned on using the house as a community center focusing on youth and music. The foundation moved the house a few blocks so a housing development could be built in its original location. Seattle officials implied that the group would be able to buy the plot of land where they’d moved the house at some point, but when the incumbent mayor was defeated, that plan changed. The new mayor demanded that the house either be moved or demolished.

Nearby Renton, Wash., where Jimi Hendrix is buried, tried to convince Pete to move the house there. He scouted the area and found what he believed to be the perfect location right across the street from Jimi’s grave in a mobile home park, but it wasn’t for sale.

So Pete continued his search. And after months of searching for a new location, Pete was reading the Sunday real estate section of The Seattle Times when he saw that there was a mobile home park in Renton for sale with 49 lots. He wasn’t certain it was the mobile home park he wanted, so he drove down to see how many lots there were at that site. Low and behold, he counted 49 mailboxes.

He called the real estate agent immediately, and when his call wasn’t returned, he left another message the next day at 9:01 a.m. When he finally got a response, he found out that the site was in the final stages of an agreement, but he insisted on leaving his number in case the deal fell apart. A few days later, the real estate agent called Pete back to see if he still wanted the property. Pete did, and the next thing he knew, he owned a mobile home park across the street from Jimi Hendrix’s grave. Pete moved the house there in September, 2005.

Pete is no longer affiliated with the foundation and is now the sole owner of the house. The plans for the house have also changed, and Pete now plans on restoring the house’s look and feel to the mid-1950’s, when Jimi lived there, including playing period music that would be similar to the music played in the house at the time.

Interestingly, when the Hendrix family lived in the tiny house, they actually rented one of the two bedrooms out to help pay the mortgage. One man who rented the room may have been partly responsible for the musical genius Jimi became, as he often played his jazz records in the house.

As we neared the end of our afternoon together, Pete’s daughter found us on the street by his hotel. I was amused at how she seemed to tolerate her father’s little side project on his trip to Boston. I could almost hear her thinking, “Oh, here goes Dad again with another one of his crazy ideas.”

It’s an amazing story, and an even more amazing coincidence that Pete happened to be in Boston over the weekend. Pete said he has been amazed by the synchronicity of the events that accompanied his involvement in the house, and our chance meeting in Boston is another example.

Pete was nice enough to take an hour out of his trip to make this trade and tell me his story, so before we went our separate ways, I wanted to know why he was interested in trading with me. He confessed that he looks on Craig’s List every so often to make trades. He saw my story and thought it was fun, so he wanted to be involved. Pete also says he’s been known to play poker, though not as much as he used to. I’m willing to wager it would be fun to sit down and trade stories with him over a game of cards.

So now the pieces of Jimi Hendrix’s house are in my possession. Send those offers my way! The WSOP is less than seven weeks away, so get those offers in fast!

What you’re trading for:
  • Two small pieces of the house Jimi Hendrix lived in from age 10 – 13
  • One is a small piece of wood from the roof area with old paint
  • One is a small piece of asbestos siding
  • Certificate of authenticity, signed by Pete Sikov (owner of the Hendrix House) and notarized

Trade number three is in the books!

There’s a red house, over yonder
That’s where my baby stays
I ain’t been home to see my baby
In 99 and one half days
- Red House, Jimi Hendrix

Next week, I’ll be trading the ABA basketball signed by the 1975-76 Indiana Pacers for two small pieces of a house that Jimi Hendrix lived in while he was growing up.

And just as the basketball had a colorful history, this house’s history is fascinating.

Pete Sikov got in touch with me after seeing that I was trying to trade the basketball on Craig’s List in Seattle. He told me he had “an entire warehouse full of stuff” that I might be interested in, but that he wouldn’t deal with me if I wasn’t local.

While I live near the coast, it’s the Atlantic Coast, not the Pacific. But after I told him that I lived in Boston, he mentioned that his daughter would soon be graduating from a nearby college and that we could meet while he was in town for the Commencement ceremony.

Great -- now what are we going to trade? After thinking about it over the weekend, Pete offered me a small piece of the house Jimi Hendrix’s father owned from 1953-1965.

According to , the house was moved a few blocks from its original location to South Jackson Street in Seattle in 2003, and the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation planned on turning the house into a youth center with offices or housing upstairs.

Two years later, the city decided to take back the land and demanded that the foundation move the house again or it would be demolished. After some legal wrangling, the foundation found a suitable location in nearby Renton, Wash., across the street from Greenwood Cemetery where Hendrix is buried.

So how did Pete get these pieces of the house? Well, he actually owns it. And from 2001-2006, he was the treasurer of the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation. While the house was being moved there were some pieces that were removed and were not replaced, so he decided to offer me two pieces of it.

One piece is old wood with some old paint on it from the roofing area, while the other is a piece of broken asbestos siding. Pete advised me to avoid eating it. Even if it wasn’t asbestos, I wasn’t going to eat it, because then I wouldn’t be able to trade it. And that’s what this project is all about.

So I’ve completed the negotiations for my third trade and am now accepting trade offers for two small pieces of a house that Jimi Hendrix once lived in. The pieces of the house come with a certificate of authenticity, so you’ll know they’re the real deal.

So start sending those trade offers my way! Remember that I’m eventually trying to trade my way to a seat in the World Series of Poker. You don’t have to offer me the seat right now, but the offer should somehow get me closer to getting that seat.

You can reach me at . I look forward to reading your offers!

Write your Congressman, part II

In December, I wrote a letter to my Congressman asking him to rethink his vote on the UIGEA. Now that there are two bills in Congress that have been referred to committees that would deal with Internet gambling in a different way, I thought it was time to write to him again.

I urge everyone who used to enjoy, still enjoys, or might like to enjoy gambling on the Internet to write your Congressman. Even if you don’t want to gamble on the Internet but believe that Americans should be able to choose how to spend money freely, write to your Congressman. If Congress decides that gambling on the Internet is unacceptable for Americans, what’s next?

I don’t believe e-mails work. They are too easy. When you sit down and write your own letter, put it in an envelope and pay for a stamp, your Congressman will know that you put some effort into it and you really care about the issue. Be informed and be articulate, but most importantly, be involved.

Read my latest letter to Rep. Lynch.

Joe the Pro: Internet poker mockumentary

“If you don’t exercise, you’re just not going to be able to Internet poker for 13 hours straight.”

That’s just one snippet of wisdom from Joe the Pro, a YouTube mockumentary created by Joe Vu, a 27-year old Internet poker player who lives with his parents in Toronto. The series has become an instant cult classic among Internet poker players, with the nearing 10,000 views.

The series profiles the life of a professional Internet poker player who lives with his parents, and the semi-autobiographical result is almost painfully hilarious.

“When you play pro cash game poker, you have to disrespect money,” Joe the Pro says in the . “You have to treat money as a unit and not it’s true value. If you lose a big hand, and you start thinking ‘Man, I could have bought like a two-liter bottle of Coke with that money,’ then you’re going to start playing with scared money, and you’re going to make mistakes. If you lose, you lose. It’s more important you made the right play. Like take me for example. Last night there was a big bet on the last card. I had the odds to call, so I called, but I lost. I didn’t think for one second, ‘I just lost like two McValue meals.’ No I just didn’t eat lunch or dinner that day, borrowed my parents’ credit card, redeposited and continued playing my A-game. That’s what a pro does. “

Vu started the series in part to pay homage to another Internet mockumentary, “purepwnage,” which chronicles the lifestyle of a professional real time strategy (RTS) gamer.

“When I was in university I was addicted to Starcraft,” Vu said. “I had always been attracted to unconventional professions, so I practiced quite a lot and I was playing with actual professional gamers. I soon found out that only the smallest fraction of top gamers made a decent living and also that I was failing most of my university courses.”

Vu gave up on being a professional gamer, but while teaching English in Japan for a year, he took up Internet poker as a way to supplement his income. Since returning to Toronto in late January, Vu has yet to get a “real job” and is planning on spending a year playing poker while looking for other opportunities.

Based on his “Joe the Pro” series, Vu should consider applying for a position on NBC’s hit mockumentary “The Office.” Vu combines exceptional timing with dead pan delivery, making his one-man scripts surprisingly lively.

“If a fish draws out on you, it’s your duty as a pro to teach that fish a lesson,” says Joe the Pro in the second episode. “When I see a fish being lectured and screamed at by another player, how they shouldn’t have made a call based on implied or pot odds or position, I’m like ‘You tell that fish.’ It’s like they’re wasting 15 cents. They shouldn’t be making those calls anymore. The training wheels are off man.”

Vu had no experience in film “except that I enjoy watching them” prior to starting the “Joe the Pro” series. But he’s become a quick study, picking up tips from Internet sites and actively thinking about scene composition while watching movies.

Vu doesn’t currently profit from his series, but he points out that “No PRO poker player wouldn’t try to think of a way to make money from this.” Right now, all he gets is the satisfaction that he’s producing something that thousands of poker players are enjoying.

“If it wasn’t for the support I’ve received from my friends, YouTube comments, and forums like Full Contact Poker, I wouldn’t make any more episodes,” said Vu.

But because of that support, Vu has just posted his in the series. The latest episode details how being a poker player can help get girls.

“Sometimes my Internet girlfriends ask me, ‘Don’t you feel bad taking money away from people?’” Joe the Pro says. “And I think that’s such a dumb question. Did they every ask Spud Webb if he ever felt bad dunking on people? Or do you ever hear Gary Kasparov say ‘Yeah, no problem, take back your move?’ Or like, how about a boxer, having to apologize every time he accidentally bit your ear?”

All four episodes of Joe the Pro can be seen on YouTube, or at his Web site,


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