Thanks to everyone to offered congratulations on my new gig with UB. And, uh, just to let everyone know, the UltimateBet Online Championships begin tomorrow night! It's a $125,000 guarantee and right now there are only 98 players signed up. Of course that'll change the sooner we get to the start, but those of you who'd might like to see a little extra +EV in their stocking, check it out.
Did some afternoon running around and stopped over at Borders. During my browsing I found myself confronted by a wall display that was all Rachael Ray. Did you know she has SEVEN books out right now? Plus I saw in the music section that she has a collection of holiday classics. And she has four or five shows on Food Network. And a nationally syndicated talk show. Here's my question--is anyone testing her urine?
Ripping on Rachael Ray is pretty much automatic among foodies, so I won't do it here. But I'd like to go on record that the multimedia push to make her catchphrase "Yum-O!" an integral part of our lingo is going to get some people condemned to Hell. If there's any justice.
It gets dark here around 4:30 in the afternoon. We've heard so much about Global Warming--anyone checking into a trend toward Global Darkening? Must remember to see if there's been a dramatic increase in rickets around the world.
Got my first post up at the UltimateBetBlog. I am on the clock! The UltimateBet Online Championship starts on Friday...and there's a H.O.R.S.E. tournament...on December 9th...I know how much bloggers love that horse...
Played the Mookie tonight, got chips early, and then Mr. Speaker and I traded Hammer blows. He pushed me off pocket sevens with an all-in Hammerbluff, and then the very next hand I won the blinds with it. Then after I tucked my tail and folded to another of his all-ins (this time he kindly showed sevens of his own), I got the Hammer the very next hand and won the blinds. Showing down, of course. Oh, the audacity!
And then it all fell apart, so quickly. I won a nice plot when I made a nice re-raise (with sevens again, odd) on an ace-high board, and I started to think I might make a deep run. But then my AQ blundered into aces, and the next hand I was racing with A-6 against pocket threes. An ace on the flop! Right next to the three on the flop! And I'm done in 19th place. Crap!
Here's the good news, and it is very good--the kind and gentle people I worked for in Aruba have decided to hire me as their full-time blogger. So I will be clattering away over at the UltimateBetBlog, which I fully expect you will bookmark and pimp and subscribe to. Because I will be working my little tailfeathers off and I promise you will find all sorts of pokery goodness there.
Here's the bad news--I was thinking about making a midnight run to Vegas for the WPBT festivities next week. But I won't be able to do that, alas, because UltimateBet is hosting the Ten-Day, $2 Million guaranteed, UltimateBet Online Championship during that time. You ARE planning to play several events, aren't you? Of course you are, you poker shark you.
This is, of course, awesome news for me. It's not often you get to do what you love. Actually, it's NEVER happened to me. I think I finally started to get the hang of things my last few days in Aruba, so I'm really looking forward to getting to work.
And it looks like I'll get to fulfill one of my life's ambitions, namely covering the WSOP with Pauly and Otis and the rest of the insaniacs who gather in Vegas 'round that time. Should be interesting.
One could make an argument that, before receiving their diplomas, all US high school students be required to play 100 hours of online poker during their senior year. Each student would be given a $100 bankroll and be allowed to keep whatever remained when they graduated.
Why do this? It would teach these kids so many valuable lessons. About statistics. Money management. Discipline. And, perhaps most importantly, the vicissitudes of fate. Life isn't always fair. Play enough online poker and this becomes self-evident.
I took second in last night's HORSE tournament. Was my play brilliant enough to deserve that spot? Nah. I thought I played OK in spots, but to be honest I flailed around a bit. Thing is, I'm aware that my play wasn't optimal. I gained wisdom.
Today was a pretty brutal day at the tables...but I'm still going to post a small profit. Provided I quit now. I started the day two-tabling and breaking even. Then I hit a few hands in a row and ran up a nice 20BB profit. Then I lost it all on one hand.
I had aces in middle position. A solid player limped, I raised, and the maniac to my left 3-bet. When I call him a maniac I use the proper word--according to PokerTracker he played nearly 75% of his hands and raised a solid 30% of the time. The limper called, I capped it, and we went to the flop.
Which was 6-5-2 rainbow. OK, maybe one of these guys hit a set, and if that's the case, woe is me. The limper checked and I checked--knowing the maniac would bet. He did, the limper called, and I raised. The maniac raised, the limper folded, and I re-raised. Mr. Maniac only had $10 behind, so when he capped it I called knowing we would see the next two cards. The turn was a seven, he bet, I raised, he went all in and I called.
He turned over 4-8. Sooted. He hit his gutshot and I was drawing dead. The sickest beat I've taken in awhile. He re-raised with 4-8. And hit his double gutshot. Sigh. Instead of posting another roll-swelling win I was back to even for the day. The other players tore into the guy for his play, but I stayed pretty much silent. I did type "Unreal" when he showed his hand. A moment of weakness.
So I come back from volleyball and decide to play a bit. In two hands I really soaked this one guy. I had KQ, flopped a queen, hit a king on the river to crack his aces. Next hand I had KJ, he had QJ, we flopped trip jacks. Bang, up a very nice amount.
Almost went to bed...almost. Then I flopped an ace with AK when the other guy had aces, and then a guy with a flush draw hit on the river to beat my top two. Another scrabbly hand and what should've been a very profitable day was...another day spent spinning my wheels.
But, again, I gained wisdom. The game ain't always fair. Nor is life, in case you haven't noticed. In this big scheme of things, this is no big deal. The game goes on into infinity. My game needs work. So, work must be done.
Still wish that bastard hadn't hit that goddam gutshot. Still wish that last goddam club hadn't hit. Still wish I'd quit when I was up 20BB instead of down ten. But wishes, in case you haven't noticed, usually don't come true. It takes work. It takes discipline. And yes, I know how much that sucks.
I decided to play in tonight's WPBT HORSE tournament on a whim. I figured, quite correctly, that I was totally overmatched playing against the cream of bloggerdom in a mixed-game limit tournament. So, what happened? I took second. I am flabbergasted, gobsmacked, whamboozled.
How did I do this? Well, as I told everyone very early on after I made a severely donkified play in Razz, I planned on getting Sick Lucky. And that's exactly how it went down. I played very tight. When I had a hand, I was very aggressive. And when I had a hand, and played it aggressively, I nearly always got there in the end. Sick Lucky.
I should've been out early on but hit a freakish hand against Pauly to double up. And then I blundered into a few more nice pots to build up a stack big enough to get me into the money. And I do mean blundered. A couple of times I had to squint at the screen to figure out what the hell I had. Need to brush up on my split-pot games.
Cracknaces (don't know your URL, apologies) had me by about 2.5/1 when we were heads-up, but after we exchanged Hammer blows on consecutive hands I made my fatal error. I wussed out when I flopped bottom pair and didn't bet out on the turn. He hit a ten and made me pay for my inertia. And after than he wasted little time polishing me off.
I actually thought about unregistering right before the tournament started. Looking over the list of players it seemed extremely -EV, and I'm naturally depressed about the continuing Steeler fiasco. But I felt Sick Lucky. And for a few days I can fool myself into thinking I know what the hell I'm doing.
Casino Royale--A Poker Movie With Some Spy Stuff Tacked On
OK, that title isn't exactly accurate. But there was quite a bit of tense poker action in Casino Royale, which was a great flick you should go out and see. Like a colossal loser I went to see it by myself yesterday afternoon, unable to wait for my friends to find a spare evening to see it before the holidays. It was the first time I've seen a movie in a theater by myself since I saw Wild at Heart at Penn State for a criticism class. I actually kinda enjoyed being there solo. Kicked my feet back, didn't have to pay attention to my jackass friends making whispered comments throughout (I'm looking at you, Ted), and I actually didn't feel like a pathetic wreck of a man. For two hours and twenty-four minutes, at least.
Since this is a poker blog and I write about poker and you're reading this because you like poker, let me say this right off the bat--screw the poker. Eva Green (who plays Vesper Lynd) is strikingly, swooningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful. I don't mean pretty or cute or hot or sexy, though I guess she's those things too. I mean beautiful in a way that makes you wish Michaelangelo was still around to paint her portrait. Or immortalize her in marble. Was Michaelangelo a painter or a sculptor? Or both? I mean, did he paint anything besides the Sistine Chapel? Which I hear is pretty good work.
My point, anyway, is that Eva Green is easy on the eyes. There's a scene where she's in the bathroom getting ready, she's not wearing any makeup, and, wow, the breath leaves you. Beautiful. It got me to wondering...do they have special makeup that makes her look like she's NOT wearing makeup? Because she looked fantabulous.
How about Daniel Craig, how was he? I don't think you can say he's the best Bond ever, not with just one film in the can. But he's so good the potential is there. His Bond is a cipher, you can't put your finger on what's going on behind those piercing blue eyes, but he actually seems to become more...human as the film goes on. He's smart--but not omniscient. He's suave--but gets his applecart upturned quite a few times. He's an Ali-caliber baaaad man--but he doesn't win every fight. It's a great performance by a great actor.
The fight and chase scenes are pretty extraordinary--no more seeing Roger Moore deliver a backhand chop to a henchman's neck and he goes down in a heap. There's blood-soaked clothing and jacked-up faces and screaming and all sorts of nastiness. The gadgets are cool, but they seem technically plausible and don't intrude too much on the plot. The bad guys aren't insane cartoon madmen who want to rule the world, and are therefore far scarier.
So, dammit, how was the poker? Well, a common criticism of poker in movies is that the game isn't presented in a reasonable way. Every hand is high drama, and there's always that big showdown at the end. Well, it's much the same here. I didn't expect them to show hands where Bond raises and wins the blinds (though the poker game does get lots of screen time), but the decisive hands are about what you'd expect from a movie. I won't say what happens, but let me say this--you don't see Bond calling with second pair against a bluffer who missed his open-ended straight draw.
Anybody want me to post hand histories from the film!! No??? What a shocker!!!
There is some actual poker advice in the film. "Everyone has a tell," Bond tells Vesper, before adding, "Except you." This is of course not true, Vesper indeed has a tell, a ten-story-tall, neon-lit tell festooned with blaring sirens. I think you'll pick up on it when you see the flick. Which you should, as it's great. I'll probably see it again. Especially as it'll give me another chance to see a ten-foot tall Eva Green. Hey, did they film it in IMAX too?
UPDATE: A quick stroll through Yahoo images leads me to believe that I need to see a movie called The Dreamers, in which Eva Green spends considerable time spectacularly nude. Golly. Golly gee whiz.
I read today over at PokerNews that the 2006 UltimateBet Aruba Poker Classic will be televised by GSN on Friday, December 8th, at 10PM. This is of course the tournament that I blogged for UB back in September. But of course you knew that, because you followed the action in rapt attention as I blogged it, right? You read every post and told everyone you knew about it and insisted that they too should visit the blog 15 times a day so they didn't miss a hand. Right? Right.
I'm of course curious to watch the show after seeing how the sausage is made, if you get my drift. Seeing cameramen orbiting the tables and the cranes and the makeup people and constant to-do on the set, it'll be interesting to see the final product. I can only hope the editors cut out any and all scenes that might've accidentally caught a certain notebook-scribbling bystander.
Even though you read the UB blog and know who made the final table and who won, I won't repeat that info here just in case you've purged that info from your brain so you can fully enjoy the broadcast. One thing the show won't convey is the heat. It was freakin' hot out there. It's 36 outside right now--it was about 136 standing on the concrete by the pool. Can't imagine how hot the players must've been, under the lights. Could've been the first poker tournament in history where the players required an IV during the break.
So, keep an eye out for it. We're in the doldrums right now, so far as poker-themed television goes. The WSOP just ended on ESPN, the next season of the World Poker Tour doesn't kick off until March or so, and GSN is gearing up to broadcast another season of High Stakes Poker. So the Aruba Poker Classic is an island of delight in the desolate poker landscape. Or is that a bit over the top?
Of course everyone knows by now that Iggy didn't totally close up shop. He just moved to a nicer location with better neighbors--he's blogging now over at PokerWorks. With Linda, who I got to see in Aruba and who quite possibly saved my life by giving me some good medicine when I had a miserable head cold. I for one never quite believed that Iggy was hanging it up for good, especially knowing how he delights in subterfuge and mischief. Something didn't smell right, and I'm very happy that my nose, uh, knew.
When you're reading a really good book, and you turn that final page, read that last sentence, there's a fleeting moment of melancholy. The book may have been funny or sad, uplifting or maddening; it may have changed your life, or it might only have brightened a rainy afternoon. Perhaps my favorite final sentence appears at the end of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, one of my favorite books, and it goes like this:
No doubt all of this is not true rememberance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.
I always liked that phrase, "the ruinous work of nostalgia". Never thought as I read that book that someday I'd see Michael Chabon getting into a brawl on The Simpsons. Which I did tonight.
Likewise, a great movie can leave you wishing that there was just one more reel, even one more scene. Casablanca, for example. Ilsa and Laszlo fly away, and Rick and Renault march off to continue the fight against the Nazis with the Free French. Almost hurts to see the credits roll. Although, reading about the film at Wikipedia I see that there WERE plans to film an additional scene, but David O. Selznick said that changing the ending would be a "terrible mistake". Mr. Selznick was quite correct.
You don't often get this sensation with television programs. The vast, vast majority of TV shows don't choose the moment of their demise. Either they don't survive their first few underwatched airings, or the corporate suits decide during the summer that the ratings just weren't good enough to justify another year. TV shows can really mess with your head, because a show that you LOVE might end up in a sort of dramatic Purgatory, as characters and a story you care deeply about go forever unresolved. I'm still haunted by the fact that we don't know what happens to FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper after the final episode of Twin Peaks. Now, I concede that TP went completely off the rails in the second season, but there was still a lot of great stuff there and I wish they'd could've had an episode or two just to give me some closure.
Of course, there wasn't any closure in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh or Casablanca, but at least the stories ended as the artists intended. Even those TV shows that DO get to end on their own terms tend to end with a whimper, not a bang. The stories lose their power to surprise, the characters no longer amuse. The actors want to make the jump from the small screen to Hollywood, where a series of uninspired romantic comedies await.
I'm in this retrospective mood because I just watched the final episode of Prime Suspect, the remarkable British police series starring Helen Mirren. I remember watching the first series back in 1992 and thinking it was pretty doggone fantastic. Gritty, disturbing, nothing about it cut and dried. Jane Tennison is one of the great fictional characters of our time, and how fortunate there was an actress like Mirren to bring her to life.
The ending was just magnificent, with the killer standing in the dock, having admitted his crimes...and then informing the judge that he was pleading not guilty. And that last shot of Tennison, looking both satisfied and disgusted.
That's a bit how we see her for the last time, as the final episode of Prime Suspect 7 aired tonight. She walks out of the police station, skipping out on her going-away party. It's a sad ending, as a woman who sacrificed everything for her career walks off alone into an uncertain retirement. And after resolving a case that showed exactly what she gave up to have that career. Even though I figured out whodunit early on, and even though the apprehension of the culprit was quick-cutted faster than a music video, it was a worthy end for Jane Tennison.
I actually didn't see Prime Suspect 5 or 6, but I got them from the library the other day so I'll watch them over the next few days. So I haven't seen quite all of Tennison yet. I don't think knowing how she ends up will change how I look at them.
Maybe the Brits have it right about TV--you don't crank out 22 episodes every year until the show gets stale or the audience abandons you. You do six, maybe eight shows. Or you do a 4-hour miniseries every other year. I guess you can afford to do that if you're subsidized by the government. Is the BBC still subsidized by licensing fees? Think so. I guess this is just the market at work--the best TV shows seem to be on cable, who have to put out high-quality content to get you to subscribe. As opposed to the networks, who don't care what crap they put on so long as enough viewers tune in to justify charging advertisers high rates.
I'm a big Helen Mirren fan, she's just a fabulous actress. Enjoyed just about everything she's been in, and as I perused her IMDB list there's a lot stuff I haven't seen that she's been in. I'd like to see The Queen, where she plays Queen Elizabeth II. I haven't seen Elizabeth I, where she played, uh, Queen Elizabeth I. She was great in Gosford Park. One of my favorite movies is the extremely weird The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, which she was fantastic in. One thing about Mirren--she's never been afraid to take, ah, challenging roles. Though she did appear in Caligula, a film that threatened to set pornography back 100 years.
Speaking of pornography (and when am I not in that mood?), one night a few years ago I was sitting in my den flipping through the channels looking for something that might amuse. The on-screen listing showed a movie on Showtime titled Age of Consent. Mmm, that sounds promising, heh heh heh.
Well, yes and no. The film, which was made in 1969 (already limiting it's possible sexiness) stars James Mason as this famous painter who decides he's tired of being rich and famous in New York. So he runs off to this island off the coast of Australia to, I dunno, recharge his artistic batteries. So he goes Down Under and meets this blonde Aussie teenager who inspires him to...paint pictures of her. There's no conflict, as it were, beyond the fact that the girl's mother (who is totally bonkers) doesn't like her child hanging around with a bearded and late-fiftyish James Mason. And this deadbeat loser friend of Mason's comes all the way to Australia looking to borrow a few bucks. But this is more comic relief than anything else.
Much of the film is Mason sitting on the beach painting this gorgeous girl as she swims around and collects pearls, which is how she plans to pay her way off the island. Now, as I watched this blonde girl swimming around topless for about 90 minutes, I had a hell of a time believing that I was looking at Helen Mirren. I knew from the credits that it WAS Helen Mirren, and I knew that when she first took to the London stage she was renowned for her beauty.
Still, when you're used to seeing a person as a hard-bitten London homicide detective, and instead you see her as a semi-nude pearl diver who looks a hell of a lot like an Aussie Anna Kournikova, well, it's a bit of a shock. Actually, I recall during the movie that I didn't quite buy Mirren's accent, it was a bit too broad for my taste. As if I have any taste.
There's absolutely zero sexual tension between Mirren and Mason until the very end of the movie, when suddenly she's upset that he isn't in love with her, but he is, and I guess we're to believe that they live happily ever after. Which isn't quite as good an ending as Casablanca. But one thing that really stuck with me was the credits that rolled at the end of the film. We see James Mason's name, we see Helen Mirren's...but underneath Mirren's name was an additional qualifier, which read, "Ms. Mirren appears with the Royal Shakespeare Company".
So don't get the wrong idea about her! True, she's been splashing around topless in the surf for 75 minutes, but she's a member of the goddam Royal Shakespeare Company. She's a serious actress, so put those lascivious thoughts away! She's not just a pretty girl with a seriously restricted wardobe! She's played Cleopatra! She's played Cressida, for cryin' out loud! You don't even know what that IS but you know it's heavy!
Of course, Mirren appeared nude in Calendar Girls, which she made when she was 58. So she's shown consistency over the years. And even though Jane Tennison has walked off into retirement, Helen Mirren certainly hasn't. I have my two Prime Suspects to watch this week, and then I have a huge body of work to enjoy if I want to see more of her work. Though I think I'll pass on sitting through Age of Consent again. Not that I have anything against a pretty face, but that's not what interests me most about Dame Helen.
I hate to see a bandwagon go by without jumping on it, so today I signed up with ReviewMe, as many other folks have done the last few weeks. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain how it works. Advertisers ask bloggers to review their products/services on their sites, hoping that site's readership is a receptive audience for what they have to offer. The price for the review is set by your site's Google/Alexa/Technorati rank--huh, Bill Rini is ranked a pip higher than me. Well, that's another day ruined.
Each would-be reviewer is asked to review ReviewMe, so let me review it! And let me say up front--I am getting paid to write this. Take that into account. Buyer beware, as it were.
But I like the idea. When I attended PodCamp Pittsburgh last week people were talking about ways to make money with your blog/podcast/whatever, and with most broadcast media they way you cash in is by selling ads. But with about 5.9 million bloggers out there it's hard for one tiny voice to attract an advertiser's eye. It's also hard for an advertiser to get all that excited about placing an ad on a site that might only get 50 hits a day.
But this a totally different concept. Instead of placing an ad on a page, the blogger is the one writing the copy. And while this isn't universally true, you would think that bloggers would be fairly good writers. It's what they do. And since space isn't a limitation (and the blogger's time of no concern to the advertiser) a review can provide far more information than an ad.
What's perhaps more important is the fact that the blogger has already developed a relationship with his/her audience, which was another topic discussed quite a bit at PodCamp. Bloggers spend a lot of time struggling to build an audience. Over time, readers learn to trust (to some extent) the person they're reading. So if the blogger says, "Hey, I tried this product and it's pretty cool", that's going to carry a lot more weight for the audience than the mere placement of an ad. And since there are blogs about every subject under the sun, advertisers can target very small and very specific audiences--and possibly get results far in excess of a traditional, broad-based approach.
So, an interesting idea. We shall see how things progress. If I post reviews here I promise I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Because I love you people, and no sum of money could ever lead me to betray you. Unless it was, like, you know, A LOT of money. Because under those circumstances I know you'd understand.
In my previous post I said that my IQ is in the 99th percentile. This is true. When I took the GRE test I scored in the top 2%. I'm not bragging, mind you--just stating the truth.
And what is the result of all this prodigious brainpower? I can answer that in two words--Fuck All!
After reading Pauly's post today about 2-7 Triple Draw I decided to play a few hands, just for fun. Just to get a little taste of the game. Plus I have a shirt tumbling in the dryer and wanted to do something more productive than the dishes.
In five hands I learned the following:
A straight does not make for a low hand. This isn't Razz, doofus. Making a wheel on the last draw was NOT a spot of good luck.
Oh, and by the way--aces aren't low in TD. Nice one.
So I made a braying jackass of myself. Awesome. I should've scrubbed my frying pan instead. And then hit myself in the face with it. Genius, indeed.
Going to see the movie tomorrow. Going out on the Gateway Clipper tonight (here in the 'Burgh we have these big faux-paddlewheel boats that tour the rivers and they have parties and stuff on them). Then it's Light-Up Night in the city to kick off the start of the holiday shopping season (which really began around, oh, Labor Day). Since this is Pittsburgh, there will be fireworks. And then before, during and after the festivities there will be drinking. So, the movie just didn't fit into my schedule. Though five hands of triple draw did.
I haven't seen Casino Royale yet (it doesn't open here for ten more hours) but after returning home after an evening of volleyball and beer I hit the PG website to see their review. I've read a dozen reviews so far, all of them full of praise. Plus Ryan commented in my previous post that it's perhaps the best Bond ever and the poker action is pretty good too. I'm gonna see it tomorrow.
Anyway, I read the PG review. Now, there's an old saying that goes like this--"Ignorance is bliss". This is in fact total nonsense--ignorance sucks. Oh, maybe ignorance about the fact that your girlfriend is banging Kevin Federline would be pretty blissful (especially if you've just eaten dinner), but 99% of the time you're better off knowing stuff than not knowing stuff. Knowledge is power, that's another old saying.
Anyway, just because you don't know squat about a subject doesn't mean that you should trumpet that fact. Which is what Barry Paris does in his review of Casino Royale. Writing about the poker game that Bond and the villain play, Paris writes the following:
The million-dollar card game in the original novel was chemin de fer, but that has been updated for the new millennium to Texas hold 'em poker, a complex and not intrinsically or visually suspenseful game. Compared to baccarat, it's a bit declasse. The serious poker players I know are apt to scoff at it.
But it'll do.
"A complex and not intrinsically or visually suspenseful game". Has there ever been a sentence written about Hold-Em more wrong than this one? Hold-Em, while a devilishly difficult game to get really good at, is not "complex". As the saying goes, "It takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master". I could teach my cat to play Hold-Em. The rules are that easy. But although tests have shown my IQ is in the 99th percentile and I have an MBA and I've been writing about Hold-Em for three goddam years, I still suck at it. The complexities aren't in the rules. The complexities are in the play. Which goes a long way to explaining why it's so popular.
Hold-Em is not an "intrinsically or visually suspensful game"? Tell that to the folks at the Travel Channel and ESPN who have been televising poker for the last four years. Paris is a film critic--is it possible he doesn't own a television? Perhaps. While Hold-Em isn't as exciting as, say, nude female roller derby (what is!), it can certainly be presented as an exciting game full of drama.
Especially when compared to chemin de fer. To argue that chemin de fer (or baccarat, which CDF is a variant of) is MORE dramatic than Hold-Em is ludicrous. Read the description of chemin de fer from Wikipedia and decide if that game is intrinsically more dramatic than Hold-Em. I say, no way. If you need further evidence, examine the scene in Thunderball when Bond is playing baccarat against Largo. The dialogue goes something like this:
Dealer: Banco suive
Crowd: (oohs, ahhs)
Dealer slides cards across the baize
Crowd: (oohs, ahhs)
This is dramatic? Perhaps, but that's because of the tension between Bond and Largo (and Domino). But is the game itself dramatic? I think not.
Is poker "declasse"? Eh, OK, if you consider a pastime enjoyed by the unwashed masses "declasse". Me, I'm not an elitist. I like the fact that 50 million Americans play poker. I like America.
Paris saves his most ludicrous statement for last, and it's a humdinger:
The serious poker players I know are apt to scoff at it.
"The serious poker players I know are apt to scoff at it"! I would like to say something to Barry Paris and the "serious poker players" he knows. Please, PLEASE, invite me to your next poker game. Let me quote a few "serious poker players" who have said some interesting things about Hold-Em:
"Hold-Em is to stud what chess is to checkers."--Johnny Moss
"No-limit Hold-Em is the Cadillac of poker games"--Doyle Brunson
I don't mean to scoff at games like Stud and Omaha. Every poker game presents its own unique challenge. But scoffing at No-Limit Hold-Em? First of all, read the two quotes above. Secondly, it's the most popular poker game out there right now. Meaning that, for the good players, it's the most profitable poker game out there right now. The vast majority of fish out there school at Hold-Em tables. Unless you really hate Hold-Em, or you're a Stud savant or an Omaha overlord, scoffing at Hold-Em is going to cost you money. Wow, felt like I was channeling David Sklansky for a second there.
So the analysis of the poker action sucked, and sucked large. Like I said, I'll probably go see the movie tomorrow (or, maybe not, as I have a busy day planned and a party that starts early in the evening. And, oh crap, it's already like 2:30AM). But I'm looking forward to the flick. I'll let you know what I think when I see it.
Nice piece in Slate today about UIGEA and what could be the possible ramifications of this blinkered legislation. Nothing that I haven't heard in other places, but a nice summation of some possible consequences. Why I don't usually cheer on the widespread theft of intellectual property, if the WTO gives Antigua the theoretical OK to rip off Microsoft and Disney and gets those two 800-pound gorillas on our side, I'm cool with that. My morality is, as you well know, quite flexible. Plus I like rooting for the underdog, which is Antigua in this case. And me, of course. And probably you.
There is the danger that, instead of doing the smart thing and legalizing all online gaming, Congress could ban ALL of it, even the ponies. But I doubt it would shake out that way. I don't think the religious-right lobby who pushed for the ban still have the juice to overcome those who want gambling legalized (and the billions in tax revenue that would come with it). But, we shall see. Probably not in the immediate future, but someday.
Speaking of gambling, I played a little 5-card draw at PokerStars yesterday. Didn't go so well. I try to avoid playing games where I have NO idea what I'm doing, but I couldn't resist. I wanted to see how you threw away your discards, and they did a nice job of it. Here's a tip--the cards you select are the ones you're THROWING AWAY, not the ones you're gonna keep. I learned that after I tossed away a pair of aces. Whoops! And then I was dealt another ace! Whoops! And I...would've lost to a guy who hit his straight! Whew! I'm a GOOOOOD poker player!
I can't exactly put my finger on why I'm so excited that Casino Royale opens tomorrow. I am a big fan of the Bond movies (though the last few were pretty ehh), and the reviews I've read so far have been uniformly positive. The fact that Bond plays a super-high-stakes game of Hold-Em at the end of course has piqued my interest. And then there's the fact that the series, which had become locked in a moribund, endlessly regurgitated scenario (megalomaniac wants to rule the word, Bond is sent to stop him, Bond flits between two gorgeous women, Bond plays with various not-that-cool gadgets) has apparently returned to it's roots. Bond is a ruthless killer. He's not a nice guy. He's not effortlessly suave. And the bad guys he's up against aren't cartoon characters with frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. They're plausibly evil men who need to be stopped. I may actually do something I've never done before--I might go to the theater at 11AM to see the first showing. By myself. I'll bring a notebook along so I won't look like a total loser.
As I write this and contemplate how I'm going to spend my afternoon (a hike? a bike? a bit of overdue shopping?) I'm watching an old tape of Simpsons episodes I taped. I am a degenerate show-taper--I have hundreds of VHS tapes filling one of my bookshelves. It is fascinating watching these tapes and seeing the old commercials and promos for long-forgotten movies and TV shows. How old is the tape I'm watching? Let me put it this way--there was a McDonalds commercial featuring two members of the US Olympic basketball team--Dan Majerle and Shawn Kemp. That was funny enough, but then I just saw a public service announcement starring a skinny (well, relatively speaking) Jerome Bettis. Who plays for the...Los Angeles Rams. Weird on so many levels. I could do a series of posts just on the bizarro commercials I see going through these decade-old (or older) tapes. A treasure trove of incomprehensible nonsense.
I should admit now that my NaNoWriMo effort never truly got off the ground. I have been writing, but not at a 50K in 30 days clip. Combining two stories into one proved to be a...what's the word I'm looking for? Stupid, that's it. It was a stupid idea. So, I have two stories I'm working on. Well, three. So, once again, I've failed. But I've forgiven myself. For this, anyway.
Still reeling from the news that Iggy has hung up his blog, I tried to think of a way to honor the man. I made a token gesture this morning--I ordered A Confederacy of Dunces from the library. Which I've never read, though I meant to. Today I turned thought into action. And it wasn't that hard!
This past weekend I attended PodCamp Pittsburgh, which I was surprised to find didn't require sleeping in a tent or making S'mores. God, what a terrible, terrible joke. Anyway, PodCamp was a gathering of people with an interest in, or an aptitude for, online media. Especially things like podcasts and vlogs and advanced stuff that I know absolutely nothing about. I don't usually enjoy having my blinkered ignorance exposed, but if it leads me to discover Ask A Ninja and zefrank then I'm all for it.
There are plans to host more PodCamps around the country (there's one in San Francisco this weekend, one in Philly in January) and if you're into this sorta thing it's worth going to. It's very informal, there are three or four different seminars running at the same time, you can float in and out as you please. Lots of smart, interesting people. And the coffee was really good.
You won't come out knowing all the answers, but at least you'll know what questions to ask and where you can do to get some answers. I don't think you'll see me hosting a podcast or posting lots of video, but you never know. It's good to know what's possible these days, even for someone as clueless as myself. I definitely see me dabbling in audio and video. I haven't done any dabbling in months. Been looking for something to dabble in, just because I like saying the word "dabble". And I'll do my best to find more interesting subjects than my cat.
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the people who attended PodCamp. Not one of them asked me to autograph their copy of Pittsburgh Magazine where my blog was featured. Star-struck, I guess.
Actually, this didn't hit me until a few days ago--they wrote this article about bloggers in Pittsburgh...and they didn't post the story online. They didn't post it online. I mean, come on. It's a story about blogs, about online media...and you don't post it online. No links to click. So much for increasing my traffic. Sigh.
There was an article in the Post-Gazette about PodCamp, if you're a weirdo who prefers getting your information from an established media outlet.
A few days ago I posted a funny little video made by UltimateBet that demonstrated, in a subtle and understated way, how many poker players feel they've been treated by sites like Party and Paradise who gave US players the boot after the UIGEA passed. As I wrote at the time, while there's nothing more painful to a guy than getting kicked in the balls, watching someone ELSE get kicked in the balls is the height of mirth.
So imagine my surprise--no, shock--when I get an email from Grace (who I worked for in Aruba) telling me that YouTube has PULLED THE VIDEO. Go ahead, scroll down and try playing it--you'll get a message that video is no longer available.
YouTube has banned the video. This is an outrage. There are currently 307 videos on YouTube featuring people getting "kicked in the balls". There are currently 4961 videos on YouTube featuring "poker". So...why ban THIS particular video? Is this yet another salvo fired by the Powers That Be (in whatever sinister form They take) in a battle that has yet to be truly joined?
(If you didn't get a chance to see it and would like to, it's playing over at Ultimatebet.com.)
As Bill said the other day, the election results on Tuesday were very good news--but they came AFTER the UIGEA was passed. That law is still in effect. Now is not the time to relax and think that, eventually, someone will step up and get the law reversed or poker legalized. We can't sit on our hands and hope the big corporate players work together to get this done. We still have a part to play in this. There's still a lot of work to be done. In fact, the work hasn't even started yet.
In a related story, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE TAO OF POKER? Pauly, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you. I got a case of the vapors when that redirect to Absolute Poker happened twice in a row. I speak for poker people around the globe when I say, no, shriek, "WTF!!??"
UPDATE: Cancel DefCon5. Stand down the missiles, recall the bombers. Pauly is back, fully operational. Whew.
I mentioned in my previous post that Ernie likes to lie down across my shoulders. In case you couldn't quite visualize what that might look like, well, this is what it looks like:
Friday is traditional for catblogging, so I decided to wait till today before introducing the newest tenant here at chez MeanGene. My wife (ex-wife, dammit) took all three cats when we sold the house, so they wouldn't bother the suckers--I mean, prospective buyers--looking the place over. After it sold and I moved into the flat we figured I'd end up taking at least one of the cats off her hands, but they all got along OK and the transfer never took place.
Lately, however, Ernie the Cat had taken up some old, bad habits. Like rummaging around the bedroom at 3AM, whining and knocking things off the dresser. Jody couldn't get a good night's sleep and couldn't give Ernie all the catttention he craved because she has two other kittens to deal with. Plus Ernie was never her favorite. He always seemed to gravitate toward me, so after one too many sleepless nights I agreed to take Ernie on.
Rather an emotional moment, the night when I picked him up. Ernie and Bert were littermates and have never been separated. How would they react? And after the divorce and selling the house and all that, splitting up the cats seemed like one final partition in our lives. Of course, all that melodrama was just, uh, melodramatic. She needed to get some sleep. I need a companion to keep me from getting even more peculiar. It's a win-win.
Ernie seems pretty happy to be here. In fact, as I write this he's lying across my broad, broad shoulders (one of his favorite resting spots) and purring away. Bert and Izzy seem to be adjusting well. Jody is sleeping through the night. And while Ernie has, on occasion. woken me up in the wee hours by knocking my alarm clock off the dresser, he does at least give me someone to talk to. Besides the invisible people who are always talking behind my back...
So it's nice to have a roommate. Even one who sheds on my clothes and needs a daily pill to prevent seizures. He's a good cat. And I promise this blog won't take a cat-centric turn.
But what the hell:
OK, now even I think this is overkill. I'll write something about chicks or guns or something later on.
No more Rick Santorum. How delicious to say those words. Melissa Hart's office is a 2-minute walk away--should I leave flowers on her doorstep? The Democrats have the House and, once the recounts in Virginia and Montana are done, they may well control the Senate as well. I thought Karl Rove was a genius? Guess not.
Very satisfying to know that the electorate is smart enough to muck a bad hand. Very, very satisfying. Electing George Bush twice is something we still have to answer for, but at least this time we got it right.
Hopefully it won't take a series of catastrophes to keep the voters interested in the future. We need to hold the Democrats who are taking control of Congress to the high standards we set for them last night. Seeing Rahm Emanuel nearly dislocating his shoulder patting himself on the back this morning did not please me. They all did a very good job. Kudos. Now the real work begins.
Stay involved, people. I for one am wondering how receptive the new Democratic majority would be to, oh, passing a law making online poker a legal and taxable activity? You know these perfidious Democrats, tax and spend, tax and spend, that's all they know. How about raising $3 billion a year by legalizing poker and taxing it. Think of all the welfare queens who could use that money! Think of all the fabulous gay weddings! Maybe I'll drop by and chat up Jason Altmire, once he moves into Melissa Hart's old office.
UPDATE: CNN is reporting Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down. Thank. God.
There are conspiracy theorists out there who think that Bush would have Rumsfeld step down, appoint Lieberman as Secretary of Defense, and then let Connecticut's Republican governor appoint a new, Republican senator to replace Lieberman. Shifting the Senate back to the Republicans. Seems a bit sketchy to me, I have some difficulty understanding why Lieberman would want to spend two years trying to clean up Rumsfeld's mess when he could enjoy being a power broker in the Senate, but what do I know? Other than Rumsfeld is apparently out.
I got this emailed to me today and as Bill just posted it I can't let it sit. A little video made by the UltimateBet folks I worked with/for in Aruba. Isn't it odd that there's nothing more painful for a guy than getting hit in the balls, and yet there's nothing funnier than watching SOMEONE ELSE get hit in the balls. Over and over and over again. It never gets old. We are sick animals at heart.
I was about to post that the Post-Gazette is reporting Melissa Hart had caught and passed Jason Altmire, but CNN is calling Altmire the winner! Oh please, oh PLEAAAASSSEEE, let this be true. For me, for you, for everyone who plays poker in the great nation of ours!
UPDATE: Sorry, according to the PG blog about the election Altmire has said that he now has the votes to beat Hart and that "I don't think this is a tight race. I think we're going to win this decisively." Yeeeee-haaa!!
Sherrod Brown wins in Ohio, Whitehouse in Rhode Island, Cardin in Maryland...oh, dare we even dream that the Democrats could get control of the House and Senate.
Could John Kyl get the boot in Arizona? Oh sweet, sweet vengeance!
Chocola goes down in Indiana! More, more! More blue on that map!
Bill Bennett is one of CNN's analysts. Think he'd be up for a $20 prop bet on the number of times Wolf Blitzer says, "We are now projecting..."
It's rare for a poker blogger to be rooting for the donkeys, but let me say this--"HEE HAW!! HEE HAW!!!!!"
UPDATE: In his concession speech to his rapidly-thinning crowd of supporters (according to the PG) Santorum called Casey "a fine man". This a day after accusing Casey of funnelling state money to terrorists. I think the mots justes would be "weasely lying scumball".
CNN analysts are saying, with a straight face, that Santorum might run for President in 2008. He got ANNIHILATED. He's a LAUGHINGSTOCK. Santorum wants to run for President? Go knock yourself out. He's a viable and/or appropriate candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America? My candy ass.
While I'm not liveblogging the election a la Otis, I'll be posting here and there tonight. And first off we have the wonderful news that Rick Santorum has been defeated by Bob Casey. Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day. To quote Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross, "Fuck you, go home and play with your kids!"
The hacktackular Jack Kelly, who is liveblogging over at the Post-Gazette, says that Santorum is "my favorite Senator". Kelly has also called Santorum's speeches during the campaign "Churchillian". And a buffoon like that has a syndicated column. Enough to make one shake one's head.
I think a celebratory beer is called for. Yuengling, anybody?
OK, boys and girls, just one day left until Election Day. And you are going to vote, right? Of course you are. You're intelligent, sensitive, courageous, sexy (oh, don't be coy, you know you are). Of course you're voting tomorrow. You vote every election day. You, as the noted philosopher Terry Bollea said, are a Real American.
If you don't vote, shame on you. Shame on you, because there are billions of people living under the yoke of oppressive governments or warlords or tyrants who can't vote. Who would give anything to vote. Who, when they make their voices heard in an attempt to gain control over their lives, end up in a camp or gulag or a ditch. Vote. With the rights bestowed to us in the Constitution come responsibilities. Voting is the most important of them. A democracy without voters is...well, I don't know what it is. I guess it looks a bit like our messed-up government.
And so it is very, very important that you vote in this election. Our government IS messed up. And, as I've said before, it's time for us to muck out the stalls. There are too many people in Washington unworthy of serving in Congress. And, yes, I know that particular bar is set very, very low. But when you look at what has happened in this country over the last six years, it's up to us, the voters, to save the day. And that's what we're tasked with on Tuesday.
Whether George W. Bush is the worst President of all time is a question I will leave to the historians. Although, if someone DID ask me that question, I would say, "Isn't it obvious by now?". Whether the 109th Congress is The Worst Congress Ever is, again, a question that deserves considerable study. Again, I would say that it is the Worst, and even if it ain't, it's been bad enough that we need to break out the brooms and sweep these morons out of the Capitol and down to K Street, where they probably feel more at home anyway.
On Saturday I went to the Kiwanis Club's pancake breakfast, which they hold every Election Day. The candidates come by to be seen and gladhand and pass out flyers. I go for the pancakes and sausage, personally, but it's always interesting to see politicians in the flesh. Well, in person. One can't always be sure that the candidate in front of you is human or an animatronic robot.
The two candidates for the House that I have to choose from were there. Jason Altmire, Democrat, walked around the tables shaking hands and apologizing for his voice, which was just about shot. Melissa Hart, the Republican incumbent, showed up a few minutes after we sat down in a tour bus packed with flacks and supporters. I though that was pretty tacky, the candidate showing up with a small army of people, none of whom sat down to eat pancakes. Hart came around to us (she didn't offer to shake my hand though, in all fairness, I didn't offer mine to be shook). She made some statement about how she was there because she wanted people to hear what she was about after all the stuff that was out there about her that wasn't true. Or something nonsensical like that.
As Hart walked around she was followed by a lemony chap in a starched blue dress shirt, some manner of handler or manager or flack making sure nothing untoward happened toward the candidate. Like a guy storming up to her demanding to know why she voted to ban online poker. No, I didn't do that. Should I have? There were lots of little kids around, watching some loon verbally assaulting an elected member of Congress might sour them on democracy for life. Nah, I chickened out. I'll retaliate tomorrow by voting for Altmire.
And I encourage everyone in the Fourth District of Pennsylvania to vote for Jason Altmire. Hart voted for the Port Security Bill, which the UIGEA was tacked on to, but I can't properly pillory her for that because it's the way the UIGEA was attached that was low and slimy and she didn't do that. Though, according to Wikipedia, Hart is quite chummy with Bill Frist. Hart voted for the Military Commissions Bill (also, and more accurately, known as the "Torture Bill") and she also voted for the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act (better known as the Warrantless Wiretapping Act).
In other words, Hart thinks it's OK for the President to listen to Americans' conversations without a warrant, for those citizens to be arrested without charge, to be held indefinitely without charge or right to counsel, and to be tortured while they're incarcerated. She's also against online poker. She needs to go. Vote for Jason Altmire.
On thing that disturbed me--at no point during the breakfast did Hart and Altmire acknowledge the other. At one point they were walking down the same aisle, shaking hands, and I got out my camera to take a picture of the candidates standing together. Hart reversed course and walked the other way. And at one point they were standing two feet apart, backs to each other, and they didn't speak to each other. I found it somewhat disturbing that our political process is so poisoning that two candidates can't even be bothered to exchange insincere "Good mornings!" to each other. The race has been testy at times, but no claims of AntiChristy tendencies in either campaign. I should've asked if they could hug so I could take a picture. On second thought, nah, I don't want to see that.
Rick Santorum is a disgrace and has no business acting in the name of Pennsylvania and it's people. Santorum's latest ad accuses Bob Casey of funnelling $6.5 billion of state money to organizations that support terrorism. Uh...huh. Santorum of course doesn't say WHO these evil organizations are or exactly how they support terrorism or how exactly Casey managed to get the money to them, but truth and honesty has never been high on Santorum's list of priorities.
I mean, if this story were TRUE, wouldn't it be Santorum's duty to report this to the FBI? Wouldn't this be, like, a really huge story? Of course it would be. And of course it isn't a big story, because it isn't true. It's desperate nonsense. If you're reading this and you live in Pennsylvania, please, PLEASE, vote for Bob Casey.
Not that I'm a big Casey fan. Or a big fan of the Democratic Party. Tomorrow when I vote it won't take me long--I'm voting straight Democrat. But if there was a lever that had an "R" with a slash through it, I'd pull it. I'm not voting Democrat--I'm voting anti-Republican. Because they've been in control the last six years, and their record is a unique blend of incompetence, stupidity, and arrogance. They've done incalculable harm to our nation. They NEED TO GO, people. If we don't hold them responsible NOW, after how badly they've botched everything they've touched, what is the point of our democracy?
And if you think I'm just your typical ranting left-wing liberal pinko commie tree-hugging hippy, then I invite you to read blogs written by a few card-carrying conservatives and get their take on the madness that has seized our government. If you don't already read John Cole, Greg Djerejian and Andrew Sullivan then I invite you to dig in before you head to the polls.
This is important, people. Vote tomorrow. Give the Republicans who failed us and the nation the boot. And don't let your involvement end after you pull that lever, punch that chad, poke that screen. If the Democrats win they don't get carte blanche. We have to keep them honest too. While I don't go into the whole "V for Vendetta" ethos that "people shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people", representatives should be fully cognizant that, if they screw up, and screw up royally, they're gonna get fired. By us. The voters. Because we don't play that way. Right? Right.
UPDATE: Amy Calistri points out in the comments that Melissa Hart co-sponsored the House bill attacking online gaming. Dammit, I didn't know that. I even did some digging on that and didn't dig enough. Had I know that I WOULD'VE gone up to her during the breakfast and said What the Fuck? Though I would've couched it in more diplomatic terms.
See, this is what happens when the electorate is not properly informed. I mean, I knew I was voting against Hart, but I didn't fully understand all the reasons why I shouldn't want her re-elected. And Hart's Pittsburgh office is literally 200 yards from my apartment. Did I picket, did I protest? Did I get arrested and undergo a cavity search? I did not. My bad.
As I lay in bed last night I tried to figure out why my NaNoWriMo efforts have been so agonizing. Why am I struggling so? Why aren't I having any fun at it?
And it was then that I had an epiphany. I've been trying to write a "good" novel, something where the quality really matters to me. But I should just be trying to write A novel. Trying to write my best while conforming to an artificial 30-day deadline is, well, unbelievably stupid. That's not the point of this exercise. The point is doing the work, day in, day out. If you hope to sell a novel the first thing the publisher asks isn't, "So, how fast did you write this?" The amount of time you put into it doesn't really interest them.
So, having given myself 58 hour handicap, I'm going to start over. I just need to think of something to write about. Something I can enjoy writing about. Which means it'll probably be something stupid and absurd and not a little bit sick.
Well, I'm on my way. This here blog was mentioned in a blurb in this month's Pittsburgh magazine. Following in the wake of my appearance on the front page of the Post-Gazette, I will soon be the most famous person in the history of the world.
The article isn't online, but I'm so desperate for affirmation I scanned it and I'm posting it here:
Notice that a shot of my blog is featured--it's not just my posts that dazzle, it's my mad web design skillz. Here's what the article says:
"Mean Gene's 'Poker Blog', for instance, became popular internationally because it drew attention from poker enthusiasts."
Don't know why so many folks put "poker blog" in quotes (I know I just did it right there, but I meant in relation to my own blog. You know what I mean). The magazine I believe wrote the piece thanks to the attention garnered by the good folks who started the Pittsburgh Bloggers site. There's another blogger gathering next Thursday down that I'll be going to. One thing I've noticed--when bloggers of any stripe gather in groups, alcohol is always involved. Interesting.
The issue this blogger piece appeared in features an article about forty of Pittsburgh's best and brightest people under 40 years old. I know two of the people who were mentioned. I'm under 40. I wasn't featured. Tears can dry.
Wrote about 500 words today on the novel. It would've been less painful to stick my fist in the disposal. This is gonna be a fun month.
Poker has been an utter bloodbath the last three days. And I didn't even play yesterday. Took a day off to shake whatever evil spirit was dogging me. Didn't work. Tempted to cash out and call it a career. In the state where I don't believe I'll ever win a hand again.
Even when I hang a brutal suckout on someone it doesn't pay off in the end. Played the Mookie tonight for the first time and hung a bad one on Hoyazo. I raised with KJ, he smooth-called. Flop comes Jack-high with 2 clubs and I bet the pot. He raises and I know I'm beat. Well, no I don't, because I push all-in (I would've been pretty short had I folded). I convinced myself he was on a flush draw right up to the point where he turned over his cowboys. "Bye, gl everyone" I typed, slowly enough that when the Jack fell on the river I had time to delete it and type, "Wow".
Did nothing after that. Maybe staying alive as long as I did kept me from a real catastrophe tonight.
Wrote about 1,000 words today for NaNoWriMo, each of them utter agony. I have trouble forging ahead when I'm not 100% happy with the sentence (or word) I've just left behind, and today was one of those days when it wasn't happening. Tomorrow is another day.
I guess the brutal run I'm on is good research for the novel. Hopefully my dark mood won't kill that too. Think I'll go stick a fork in my eye and go to bed.