Not much poker for me the past two weeks. I've successfully made the move to LA, and I hope to find some sort of routine soon. On Friday I had a somewhat notable, out-of-the-ordinary poker experience. My girlfriend Brigid has just joined the statistics department at UCLA as a PhD student. One of the professors in the department, Tom Ferguson, just finished his 50th year as a member of the faculty. He's an expert in several fields, including game theory (I've actually read one of his papers). More interestingly, he's the father of Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, probably one of the five most recognizable poker players in the world. Anyway, to commemorate Ferguson's 50th year, the faculty organized the "first annual Tom Ferguson Invitational Poker Tournament." The tournament was free and open to department members and friends, with prizes donated by the faculty.
Most of the 28 players were very inexperienced, with a reasonable idea of how the game worked but almost no grasp of appropriate strategy, so I felt a little bad winning their first prize of the iPod Nano. I quickly handed it over to Brigid so that at least there was some feeling that a department member was involved (Brigid won a prize too with her 9th place finish). My victory was far from a certainty, though. With M's starting below 6 and blinds increasing every round, it was imperative to get in and gamble. I was fortunate enough to double up with AA on the fourth hand and to win some coin flips after that. Although it was fun to play some poker and meet Brigid's new colleagues, the main reason I wanted to go was that I hoped Chris might show up for his dad's party. Unfortunately, he didn't make an appearance.
Later tonight I'm off to play in Aaron's weekly home game. Actually, I might be playing in a lot of home games this year. Aaron's invited me to another weekly game down in Orange County that I haven't been to yet, and supposedly the stats department has a monthly tournament. I also live about a mile from the UCLA frats, where I suspect there may be some poker, but I'm not the type of person who's good at talking my way into games like that, nor am I particularly comfortable with it. In fact, I'm not perfectly comfortable playing in Aaron's home games, despite actually having been invited. A little discomfort might be worth sparing me from driving through the traffic to the casinos a few nights a week, though. Given recent legistlation, I'm not very optimistic about playing on the internet.