Day Four/Five: My first trip to ‘classy’ San Diego

I have literally played zero poker in the past 3 days! Not entirely a bad thing. I’ll be playing 60 hours a week for 5 straight weeks starting on Tuesday so spending some time away is probably a good idea anyway.

It took me 8 freakin’ hours to drive from San Mateo to San Diego on Thursday. Absolutely beautiful drive down from the bay back to I5. I wish I took more pictures but you know.. they say it’s “bad” to stare at your phone for 6 seconds at a time while going 80 mph so…

Was great seeing Alex and Dorothy! Alex was one of my first poker roommates and a heavy influence on the crafting of my poker brain. He moved to Costa Rica after Black Friday many years ago and just recently moved back to the States and picked up a software development gig in San Diego. For you that don’t know – Black Friday was when the DOJ shut down all the poker sites available to players in the US about six years ago. A lot of players moved out of the country to continue playing online, while others (me) stayed in the States to tough it out and either play live or find work elsewhere. Crazy to think it was that long ago. Was seriously like.. mass panic waking up that morning and seeing all of our money locked up and no way to play online.

Anyway, so we vegged out the first night.. and the next day, while Alex was at work, his wife took me out to explore a little bit. I had no idea how BIG San Diego is. First we went down to the beach, walked around the boardwalk, had lunch and drinks at the Baja Beach Cafe, then headed up to this lookout point where you can see like… basically the entire city.

Pretty cool. So we go home, pick up Alex, regroup and hit the bars downtown that night. Downtown SD is actually pretty crazy. Shit load of kids. One chick outside of McFadden’s was literally in the fetal position with her face down into the pavement with like 40 people around her. No idea. Another dude was completely asleep with his face down flat into his pizza. We eventually found Double Deuce which had a mechanical bull that I got to give a go. Should have video of that here in a day or two.

Woke up feeling.. not ready to play poker.. to say the least – so we just had a long breakfast and I headed 5 hours east to Tucson to see another couple close friends: Sean and his girlfriend Dominique. Here are some more photos of the couple days in SD.

Just got to Talking Stick Casino in Phoenix today which is much nicer than I anticipated! I’ll update within a day or so about Tucson and my last couple days before the poker grind starts. Thanks for reading!

Jake

Day Two/Three: Bouncing around the Bay

Alright alright so I already skipped a day updating this thing – but only because I did boring shit Tuesday morning (finally went to DEQ/DMV) and then drove for six hours and didn’t think anyone wanted to hear about it. However the last two days have been super fun! Aside from the shit poker session I just had. Here’s what I’ve been up to..

Tuesday morning I get up in my shitty hotel.. where the cleaning people woke me up TWO FREAKING TIMES BEFORE 9AM (still have to write a mean review) in the heat and bounced around Medford trying to get my car registered. That took an hour and then I drove six hours down to San Mateo to hang with Tabb City and his girlfriend Katie for two nights. The first night was amazing. They let me play on their softball team and I had a freakin’ blast. I’m totally joining/starting a team when I get back if anyone wants to join me. The team we played was pretty good but we came back from a 4-1 hole to WIN 5-4 in the predetermined last inning (6th)! I totally batted in the 2 winning runs too! Oh but wait, the ump then decides fuck it let’s keep playing and they crush the bottom of the 7th and we lose in devastating fashion. Brutal but it was still super fun.

Went home, watched sports, drank wine.. got up this morning and played 9 holes at this pretty sweet par-3 golf course right off the bay. If you look close you can see the Golden Gate bridge and downtown San Francisco way out in the distance. Somehow I knocked in 3 pars and a birdie which is way better than I usually play so I was pretty happy about that.

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a poker blog. So tonight I went and checked out a popular casino in the bay area that I’ve never been to: Bay 101 in San Jose. As far as casinos go – Bay 101 is very small.. and surprisingly is mostly a poker room – at least by floor space. It had a good array of games offered. 1/2/3, 2/3/5, 5/5/10 NLHE. 8/16 and 20/40 Omaha8 and some higher Limit Hold ‘Em. My main complaints with this place is that the dealers were very slow and the rake was uncomfortably high for how few hands we were getting in. Rake was $6 a hand and no high hand jackpots. Action was good though and the action was great.

Unfortunately I had a rough session but I would likely go back because the action was good enough. Barely saw any professionals and people were very engaged in the games. I played for 5.5 hours and suffered a ($815) loss.

That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow I’m getting up, getting some oil in my car and then heading down to San Diego to see my old buddy Alex and his wife Dorothy for two nights. I’ve never been to SD so hopefully he can get enough time off of work to show me around the city.  Goodnight!

Jake

Day ONE: The strife of Oregon poker and my venture to Medford

So I was only 2 hours late leaving my condo – and only had to skip one visit to DEQ in order to make my trip down to Medford a success. Damn you Game of Thrones! I’m FINALLY caught up now though and wowee.. season six finale?? Amiright?

Anyway, I got to spend a night at Southern Oregon Poker Club and had a splendid time. The room is four tables deep and carries a nice casual, chummy atmosphere. Gave me the vibe that most of the people that play here are friends that likely play together at least a few times a week. The owner, Damien, has been in the poker scene for years and has recently taken up full ownership of the club. Super nice dude and very accommodating. Here are few glimpses from the night.

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So shortly after I got in and got the rundown about how things worked at this place – some things started soaking in that really surprised me. Clubs do things here, and basically everywhere outside of Portland, way differently than the Portland clubs do. This is very significant, especially right now, for a few reasons. In order to understand why I need to give a brief history about the state of public poker in Portland for people that don’t know. WARNING: If you don’t care about any of the Portland poker drama skip ahead to the results paragraph below 😉

As long as I’ve been playing cards in public rooms in the Portland area, they’ve been doing it basically the same way. The card rooms there are NOT casinos and have rules that force them to operate much differently. Casinos take a “rake” every single hand that the players play (of around $4) which is where they make the majority of their money. Portland “social (poker) clubs” can’t do that. It’s illegal to make money “from the game” itself so club owners are forced to charge a daily membership fee to enter the room and then make any and all other money from food/drink and merchandise. Then there’s the dealers. In casinos – dealers are paid an hourly wage and then receive tips on top of that. Again, that’s illegal for Portland social clubs to do. Dealers can’t be paid.. so they’re forced to volunteer to deal and pool money elsewhere.

All of this has created a legal grey-area cluster-fuck over the past few years because the casinos over the Washington border are trying to get the clubs shut down. Incentively it makes sense, as the Portland clubs are their competitors, but naturally it rubs everyone the wrong way because we’re getting hassled by out of state casinos that are far more predatory to their clientele than the social clubs are. That and it’d be a total pain in the ass to drive out of state to play in a public setting. The wording of the laws were obviously made by legislators that weren’t very familiar with gambling or poker so the ways around the grey areas have basically been a matter of interpretation.

Long story short, shit has been hitting the fan the past few months and we’ve all been scared that we’re going to get our social clubs shut down. This is where my surprise came from today: They do things so differently here that I was wondering if these rule-gymnastics were quirky enough to get the clubs by in my home town. Instead of making money through a membership door fee – they make their money straight from the players through “donations”. They are not allowed to make money “from the game”.. but here’s where it gets tricky.. the definition of “game”, for whatever reason, is from when the hand is dealt, to when the pot is pushed. This leaves a huge gap open. To leverage this, the clubs simply switch out “cash/tournament” chips for “donation” chips (which you can technically keep for yourself if you wish). The players then donate the “donation” chips AFTER the pot has been pushed. The club then keeps all donations that were donated OUTSIDE the “game” itself. The “volunteer dealers” in Portland are forced to pay a membership fee to deal. This isn’t the case down here. They deal for free. Other than that it seems to be the same. However I was told that contracts were being received in order to prevent dealers from pursuing any legal employment status.

BLAH! Boring, right? This has been BIG deal in the Portland poker scene lately though – and I’m wondering if any of my local poker friends could shed some light and tell me if any of this would make sense for our local clubs. Talking about things down here made me feel a sense of ease that’s been lacking the last couple months.

Aaaanyway, enough of that. I played in a $1/$2 Hold ‘Em game for 3.5 hours tonight and hauled in a +$314 profit. Apparently the big game here I’ll have to miss though. I was hearing they have a juicy $5/$10 Hold ‘Em game on Fridays that involves some… how do I say.. farmers… from around the area.

Tomorrow I’m off to San-Fran-Sisco for a night (maybe 2) to golf, play softball, and hopefully get some poker in with my good friend Steven Tabb and his girlfriend Katie. I’m on my third glass of solo-wine-drinking so I should probably call it night. Goodnight Cleveland!

Oh I almost forgot! My buddy (and hilarious Kiwi) Mark is doing a poker VLOG this summer about his experience in the poker scene and the ups and downs of the journey. Click HERE to check it! He’s actually the one that gave me the idea to do this blog, so naturally I’ll probably be stealing more of his ideas throughout the summer. Maybe I’ll even do mini vlog inserts myself, eh? ehh???? Okay goodnight.

Jake

Day 0 and my last week in Portland until July

Bags packed. Oil changed. Rooms booked.  I think I’m set.

Had a fantastic week trying to stay away from the tables (still got in 25 hours or so) knowing that I’m going to be putting in 60+ hour weeks for the next month and a half. Got out for some disc golf, jogging, recording and a shit load of Game of Thrones.

All in all had a pretty good poker week. I actually played quite a bit online which I rarely do anymore. The ups and downs are a lot heavier online as opposed to playing at a live table. I had a session where I came out ahead $2400 and another the next day where I lost $1700. Ended up squeaking out a small win. Here’s a breakdown of the work week by venue:

Portland Meadows – 4.2 hours +$733
Boom Boom Room – 1 hour ($90)
Private Game – 4 hours +$75
Online – 16 hours +$600

Tomorrow is day 1! On top of keeping this blog updated every day – I’ll be posting even more videos, photos, tweets and updates on other social media. On the right side of the screen here you’ll find links to the other accounts. Twitter will be mostly for hourly updates during tournaments will lots of pokery jargon. Snapchat will serve up random videos throughout the day and IG for photos. Thanks for reading and check back tomorrow!

Jake

Road Trip to Vegas: T-minus 6 days.

Alright so I think I got the logistics down for the trip. I’m going to go for 6 cities over 10 days – landing in Vegas on the 30th. A day before the first tournament that I’m playing on the 31st. Here’s the plan:

Trip Map.png

Monday the 22nd: Drive five hours down to Medford and check out the Southern Oregon Poker Club. I’ve heard quite a bit about this place. Not sure what sort of games they’ll spread on a Monday but I guess we’ll see.

Tuesday the 23rd: Drive six hours down to San Francisco and stay with the stone-cold crusher himself, Steven Tabb for a night. I’m actually rooming with Tabb for 3 weeks in Vegas when he gets down there a few days after me. Tons of places to play around the area. Might hit a casino or just go out and have drinks in town.

Wednesday the 24th:  Drive six hours down to Los Angeles and likely play at Commerce for a night. Commerce is a very popular casino in LA that I’ve somehow never been to in my life.

Thursday the 25th: Drive three hours down to San Diego to see my buddy Alex that I haven’t seen in like FIVE years. He recently got married and moved to SD from Costa Rica. Will likely spend two nights with him and his wife to catch up.

Saturday the 27th: Drive six hours east to Tucson to stay with another guy I only get to see once or twice a year – my good bud Sean.

Monday the 29th: Two hours north up to Phoenix to check out Talking Stick Casino, then six hours up to Vegas the next morning!

I’ll be in Vegas for approx. five weeks grinding my butt off almost every day. A big challenge during series’ like this is trying to keep a balanced lifestyle. It’s surprisingly easy to let yourself fall into ‘zombie-grind’ mode and just wake up, play all day, eat whatever food is convenient and repeat. Planning ahead helps with scheduling your work hours, making sure to get in necessary exercise, and allowing yourself to eat decent meals. They have a “poker kitchen” in the Rio (where the World Series is held) which is comprised of overpriced burritos, sushi, pizza, snacks, etc. A summer full of that is basically death so it’s important to plan your meals out.

The last bit of planning are the tournaments themselves. The Rio might have the biggest brand when it comes to poker series’ (The World Series of Poker), but many other casinos have their own series of events. The Venetian, Golden Nugget, Planet Hollywood, Binions, etc. all have schedules out for their event series’. As of right now this is my tournament schedule. (Date – Tournament Entry Fee and Game – Location):

May 31 – $1100 Pot-Limit-Omaha – Planet Hollywood
June 1 – $1500 Limit Omaha8 – Rio
June 3 – $600 Limit Omaha8  – Venetian
June 5 –  $1100 No-Limit-Holdem – Venetian
June 7 – $400 Pot-Limit-Omaha – Wynn
June 9 – $565 Pot-Limit-Omaha Rebuy – Rio
June 10 – $1500 “Millionaire Maker” No-Limit-Holdem – Rio
June 11 – $400 Pot-Limit-Omaha – Planet Hollywood
June 13 – $1000 Pot-Limit-Omaha – Rio & $600 Big O – Venetian
June 15 – $600 Pot-Limit-Omaha Bounty – Venetian
June 16 – $1500 Omaha Mix – Rio
June 19 – $600 Pot-Limit-Omaha – Venetian
June 21 – $1500 Pot-Limit-Omaha – Rio
June 23 – $1500 Pot-Limit-Omaha8 – Rio
July 3 – $1500 Holdem/PLO Mix – Rio
July 5 – $1100 Pot-Limit-Omaha Mix – Venetian
July 6 – $1500 Limit Razz – Rio

Aaand by then I’m sure I’ll be sick of poker and never want to play again.

So anyway, that does it for this entry. While I’m gone this summer, my band, The Outcome, will be recording a six-song EP of brand new music. This will be our first new-material release since our debut album came out last year. Obviously I’m super excited and have to lay down my drum tracks this week before I take off on Monday. If you’d like to take a listen you can check us out on YouTube, ReverbNation, or our website: www.theoutcomemusic.com. I’ll be going in to record tomorrow so I’m sure I’ll post some photos in the next couple days along with some recaps of the card sessions I’ve put in this week. Oh, and thanks for reading!

Jake

Hi! I’m Jake.

Well hello readers! For any of you that don’t know me personally – my name’s Jake Dahl and I’m a card player/musician out of Portland, Oregon. I’ve been playing poker for a living for about 10 years now. I’ve lived in Oregon basically my entire life aside from a 10-month stint in Las Vegas and still can’t imagine living anywhere else. I enjoy golf, drinking wine and long walks down the Beaverton beach.

Recently I’ve decided to up my commitment to my poker career, start to hit the road more often and take some shots.  My buddy Mark had the splendid idea of starting a blog to archive my travels and VWAH-LAH! Here we are.

While I’m at home I’ll likely only post a few times a week but when I hit the road my goal is to update this thing on the reg. Like.. daily. There will be photos, videos, maps and anything else I can figure how to do on here. I’ll be posting results to every session but I’m going to try to keep the focus on lifestyle. The sacrifices. The freedoms. The good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between of what it means to try to make it in life while depending on a card game for money.

So anyway. That’s what you can expect and that’ll be it for this post. The World Series of Poker is coming up at the end of the month and I’ll be taking a week long road trip (six cities) to Vegas and then posting up for a 5 week grind. Should be a great kickoff as I’ve never done anything like that before.

 

Check back soon!

Jake