Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

Poker Sites

Cardschat Poker Forum
Barstool Sports
Card Player
Internet Texas Hold-Em
Poker Pages


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    Monday, February 28, 2005

    Buy This Book--But Don't Read It

    In Dark Sun, his book about the development of the hydrogen bomb, Richard Rhodes writes about a problem that confronted the physicists who were nearly ready for the first live test of this ultimate weapon. The problem was this--they were pretty sure they'd figured out how to start the reaction that would get the deuterium and tritium fusing into helium, but they weren't quite sure if the reaction would stop there. The concern was that the helium would fuse into lithium, and then the lithium would fuse, and the reaction would continue until the oxygen in the atmosphere fused, and then the nitrogen, with the end result that the entire Earth would be consumed in one gigantic thermonuclear explosion. And this raised some concerns.

    The only solution was to run the calculations and determine if this in fact was a possibility. The task was handed to physicist Hans Bethe, and in the book Rhodes gives Bethe about the greatest compliment one human can give another. I'm paraphrasing here, but Rhodes said that, if you had to trust one person to do the math to figure out if the planet was about to be destroyed and every living thing annihilated, then that person was Hans Bethe. And once Bethe ran the numbers and determined that, no, their "Super" bomb would not start a runaway chain reaction, that was the end of that. We now know that thermonuclear bombs can safely be exploded with no deleterious effects. Unless you happen to be standing within 100 or so miles of one.

    I say all this because, well, there are some people you trust to know what they're doing, and some you don't. And two people we've all learned to listen to carefully are Iggy and Hank, and they have come up with a guide for using Poker Tracker, which is an incredibly useful tool for the online player. And a lot of fun, too.

    They've put a lot of hard work into the book, which costs $20 and can be purchased through Neteller (as well as other methods), which is very convienient. Poker Tracker itself goes for $55, which may seem like a lot until you realize how much you can make (and save) by using it and analyzing your game. And the game of your opponents, which can give you a HUGE advantage. Think of it as an investment, and a very shrewd one at that.

    I can personally attest to Poker Tracker's benefits. I used it religiously when I first started playing online, and it plugged up some of the "abandon ship!" sized leaks in my game. But I haven't been using it much since I started playing again, which may help explain why I'm running so bad. I haven't used it in large part because my computer is seriously fritzing and half the time I try using PT my system locks up, but it locks up when I hit a mouse key too hard. I think it's about time I got a new laptop.

    So check out both above-mentioned blogs, check out their site, and seriously consider investing in both the book and PT. Actually...what am I saying? Why am I telling you where to go for help to dramatically improve your game? How about this--buy PT, and the guide, but DON'T USE THEM. Just keep the icon unclicked on your desktop, let the file holding the guide sit in virtual limbo. Just keep playing your usual, fishy game. These days, It's about the only chance I have.

    Sunday, February 27, 2005

    Some Fine Tuning

    Some minor cosmetic changes to the blog, the links were in too small a font, and I didn't like the red script. Don't know if this blue is dark enough, I may fiddle with it some more.

    I watched some of the WPT Hollywood Home Game while I folded a ton of laundry this afternoon, and of course much of the play was appalling. But I don't think I'd like to find myself at a table with Mena Suvari. She seems to know the rules of the game (giving her a huge advantage on these celebrity shows) and even how to play rather well. And she has a pretty good poker face...actually, she has a pretty poker face. Is it me, or does she seem younger now than she did when she was in American Beauty? A movie I thought was good at the time but, the more I thought about it, the less I liked.

    But I'm not about to get into a dissertation on film, not even with the Oscars on tonight. I rarely go to the movies, I'm not sure why. I haven't seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture, so I can hardly offer an opinion on what should win or why. I also have no interest in watching the Oscar show itself, even to see if Chris Rock drops a stray F-bomb and gets Disney on the hook for a multimillion-dollar FCC fine.

    I feel the need for an off-topic uberpost (wait, has Iggy copywrited the phrase "uberpost"? I need to contact my attorney) but I don't know yet what I should blather about. Oh, I read Chris Moneymaker's book this weekend (got my car inspected, found a comfy chair at Borders) and I'll be writing a review of it tonight or, more likely, tomorrow. A short read, some interesting stuff.

    I wish I had some interesting stuff to give you tonight, but alas, I do not. Still can't shake this cold, really looking forward to the 3-6 inches we'll be getting tomorrow for our morning commute.

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    Fishy Thoughts

    Today is Friday and like a good Catholic (which, alas, I'm not. Good, that is) I had a fish sandwich for lunch. I work for a large food company, so you'd figure the cafeteria would have pretty good food. It's better than good--it's frickin' fantastic. I just had a superb fish sammich, and what made it extraordinary was that they had this homemade tartar sauce, I can't describe it, it had maybe some cucumber in there, just a hint, and some unusual relish that was too die for. I could've eaten a bowl of it by itself. A company cafeteria with great food, excellent service, beyond reasonable prices...they should spin it off and open cafeterias for other firms. I may need to zip off an email to the CEO.

    Jackpot Jay has posted the third installment of his "Into the Abyss" column. I feel his pain, as I'm going through it myself right now. It was interesting to read that Greg Raymer, before he won the WSOP, was in the middle of a $60K freefall. Me, I've lost like $100, but proportionally I've probably lost more.

    I think I've figured out why I'm not doing well. I'm terrible. No, let me rephrase that--I'm playing terribly. I can play better--I have in the past--but at the moment I'm not. And I think I've figured out why.

    One, after sitting out for 3 months I've forgotten a lot of what I learned, and I was foolish to think that playing poker was just like riding a bike. I need to buckle down, crack the books, and learn me how to play poker again. Thing is, I'm not really interested in that right now. I've had copies of Lee Jones' and Gary Carson's book sitting on my nightstand for a month now, and the Cloutier/McEvoy book as well, but I haven't been motivated to sit there and really read up. I think I've had Ed Miller's "Small-Stakes Hold-Em" book in my hand during a a half-dozen visits to Borders, but each time I've returned it to the shelves. It'd just join my other books, sitting there unused.

    I know that, in time, I'll return to the game with serious intent, but for the moment I find myself far more interested in writing about poker than playing it. I'm sure this is in due in part to the fact that I've been losing lately, and that I'm losing because I'm playing lousy, but as I play less I find myself writing more and not missing the difference. Now, if and when I start playing better I may play more, but hopefully I can keep hitting the keys with the same regularity. We shall see.

    It also doesn't help that my mighty bankroll sits in the high two-figures at the moment, and I'm playing with scared money. You know, you lose a $3 pot and you realize that represents 4.5% of your bankroll. And you go "UUUUNNNNNGGGGGHHH!". This does not lead to bold, decisive play. This leads to tight-weak nut shrinkage.

    But as my poker bankroll slips down into the "if I cash out now I can buy that oil change I've had my eye on" range, my overall net gain from this obsessive little hobby rises ever upward. My third article just posted, and I have another one in mind, so even if I lose my little all at the tables in the next few weeks I can console myself with the knowledge that I'm still way up during this little detour in my journey to, uh, good pokerplayerdom.

    Yes, I'm rambling. Yes, I'm hepped up on DayQuil. I'm still sick. I sneeze and I lose 2 pounds. It's gross.

    To show what a moron I am, only in the last few days did I start using Bloglines. My God, the time I save going back and forth from blog to blog looking for updates...I'm an idiot. So much time, wasted...gone forever.

    It turns out that Hunter S. Thompson shot himself in the middle of a phone conversation with his wife. They were on the phone, Thompson asked her to come home to help him finish his ESPN column, he asked her to hold on a second, and he shot himself. While his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild were in the house. It's bizarre, to say the least. His widow, Anita, has said that he'd been talking of suicide the last few months. Why he decided to do it in the middle of a conversation is, perhaps, forever beyond our understanding.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    It Must Suck Being David Sklansky

    I say this after watching the final few hands of the WPT "Poker By The Book" event. Sklansky is up against Doyle Brunson, they're both all-in, Sklansky has AQ, Brunson 9-10. And someone yells out, "David, what are the odds?"

    And Sklansky thinks a bit and says, "Ummm...about 62 to 38."

    And then the flop comes 8-9-10 and the same moron shouts, "David, what are the odds?!" And Sklanskly thinks a bit and says, "Ummm...I have six cards out of about 45 left with two to come...about 25%"

    And then the turn is a Queen, and once again there's a voice crying, "David, what are the odds now?"

    I wanted Sklansky to shout, "Why don't you go buy a goddam calculator? I'm BUSY here."

    While Sklansky has a reputation as a mathematical genius (a reputation that, from what I've heard and from what I've read of him, is a cross he seems quite willing to bear) I don't think that gives we laypeople the right to treat him as an abacus with legs. I mean, the guy goes to a restaurant in Vegas, a few people recognize him as he's led to his table, and some jackass at a four-top jumps up and shouts, "Hey, David Sklansky! We're having trouble figuring out the tip. Now, the total is $127.37, and we want to tip more than just 15%, but I think tipping 20% is too generous. What's 17.5% of $127.37?"

    So you have a guy trying to have an evening out with friends or family and he's asked to perform like a dancing bear. Leave him alone. Get out a pen and paper and figure it out yourself. Americans are quite deservedly criticized for our general lack of math skills--maybe the boom in poker is just the thing to get our kids (and grownups) interested in math again.

    I say this although, if I saw Sklansky sitting down next to me in a restaurant, I'd probably be the jerk asking for his help settling the bill. I'm not terrible in math, but I'm not good either. Especially figuring things out in my head, I'm just not wired that way. The numbers seem to dance mischeviously as I try to line them up for calculating. And for some reason I can't figure out tips on dinner checks in my head. It isn't the math that makes me lock up--it's like a variant of "performance anxiety". You know, you're in the bathroom, you gotta take a leak, you line up and another guy steps next to you and starts whizzing and suddenly your tap's been plugged. Awful feeling. I get that way figuring out tips. It's not that I can't do the math, it's like I'm afraid that I'll come up with the wrong amount and short our waitron and get my food spat in the next time I show up. I'm so bad that for years I carred a "Tip Chart" in my wallet to spare me this torture.

    I remember one time at Penn State, there were a half-dozen or so of us having dinner at Baby's, which is this Fifties diner-style place. We had a nice supper, got the bill...and spent a half-hour trying to figure it out. Who owed what. What the tip should be. Who owed what to whom because four of us only had twenties the others couldn't break. Sitting at the table that night was a future CPA, a doctor, a stockbroker, a hotel exec and an MBA, and for all our calculating you might've thought we were trying to break the German naval code. I'm pretty sure I still owe Gary a buck-fifty.

    I wonder if Sklansky is taking any grief on the 2+2 boards about the AK he laid down to T.J. Cloutier's AQ. Certainly not an unreasonable play under the circumstances, but when the viewing public knows what hands both players hold and that the player in dominating position laid it down, hooting soon follows.

    If you read Mike Sexton's CardPlayer columns you knew he got knocked out first, but even if you don't you knew he was doomed from the moment he appeared on camera. He was the only guy at the table wearing a suit--in fact, he looked like he was dressed for his normal duties as the WPT play-by-play man. A psychological gaffe, perhaps? Sexton was dressed for broadcasting, not poker, and within 30 minutes that's where he was, seating right next to Vince Van Patten, looking and sounding genuinely embarrassed and upset that he was out.

    Many mock and slam VVP, but I'll hear nothing against his impersonation of Sexton. Hilarious and frighteningly spot-on. Loved the hair.

    In virtually every picture I've seen of Mike Caro it's looked like his handlers released him from his straightjacket just long enough for the shutter to snap before bundling him up and returning him to his cell. And his performance about if the aliens landed tomorrow and offered to play poker against one human for control of the galaxy, that HE should be the one selected to play, because he's that good? It indeed takes a special kind of genius to come up with that.

    Phil Hellmuth was...Phil Hellmuth. He let us know that right off the bat as the first hand was dealt when he jumped up, raised an hand, and shouted out a hello to Van Patten. "Look at me, look at MEEEEE!" he was saying, which got me to thinking. There's a reality show my wife is hooked on called "Super Nanny". You get your typical American family with a few out-of-control little bastards and this British nanny comes in and whips the beasts into shape. The nanny is this brisk, stern plumpish young woman with her hair pulled back in a severe bun and she shows up and puts the wood to these little kids with extreme predjudice (brief aside--am I the only one who finds her strangely arousing? Maybe its because I'm a bad little boy, and I need some discipline).

    It would be DELICIOUS to see the nanny come to the Hellmuth household and put the fear of Albion into Phil. Get him to stop the grandstanding and the pouting and the incessant clamoring for attention. This could be a pay-per-view event, it'd be bigger than Duran-Leonard or Steamboat-Savage.

    Phil talked a bit about his book, which I read and remember little of. Other than the fact that he uses animals to describe the tight-loose / passive-aggressive matrix, which I find silly. I don't know how useful it is to classify a player as an animal, especially as I don't remember which animals he uses or what they stand for. Stoat? Gnu? Unicorn? "I'm none of those," Phil says modestly. "I'm an eagle". No, Phil, if I had to compare you to a bird, I'd pick the one we eat around Thanksgiving with stuffing and cranberry sauce.

    He did play well, though, catching Caro making a move and trapping Brunson for all his chips. But Doyle hit his ace, and soon Phil was talking to Shana and bemoaning his bad beat. Which is what his latest book is about, by the way. Wonder how it's doing? Actually, no I don't.

    I can't say much about the game itself because my sickness has morphed nicely into bronchitis and I felt like I was gonna die most of the night. But it came down to Sklansky and Brunson, the authors of perhaps the two most important books about poker, "The Theory of Poker" and "Super/System". Brunson had a huge chip lead and lost every hand they showed heads up. I don't know if any hands were edited out, but it was almost like Doyle was late for a meeting (or a card game with more than a measly $25K buy-in at stake) and went all-in every hand. And so David Sklansky won his first WPT event. Wonder how that goes over with Hellmuth--he has zero WPT titles, Sklansky one. He'll probably eat his shades.

    Good to have the WPT back, though it might have been more entertaining to have these authors discussing their books rather than playing. would've been A LOT more entertaining if they'd discussed each OTHER'S books. How much fun would it be to have these six guys ripping each other's theories and maxims to bits? Almost as fun as jumping into a flame war.

    The first "real" new WPT show is next week, with actor Gabe Kaplan among the final six. What's the over/under on "Welcome Back, Kotter" jokes Vince Van Patten tells? I'm setting it at 13.

    And now, back to work and DayQuil. I may actually miss volleyball tonight, which means I may miss beer and wings afterwards. What's worse, I'm sick enough that this sounds like a rational course of action. Woe is me.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Thoughts Flitting Hither and Yon

    I've nothing to write about, but I have 30 minutes to kill, so let's see what happens. Oh, my 2nd article is up at I've been working on some poker-themed fiction that I haven't worked on recently, and I may shift my attention from playing poker to writing about it more.

    I did have a good night playing some limit last night, scoring a 20BB win, but alas I was only playing $.25/.50 in an attempt to cool my tilting mind and so I'm not out out buying a new suit or anything. Still, that won back to SNG buy-ins, making up in part for taking the worst beat possible in poker. I mean, if there are only 2 cards in the deck to beat you, and the other guy needs them runner-runner, and they can't get worse than that, right? Statistically speaking?

    I still feel lousy from the flu/cold whatever I had. I didn't do much since Thursday night, when I played volleyball. And forgot to take my kneepads and sweaty clothes out of the bag I left on the front seat of my car. Which I haven't driven since Thursday. Need I describe the odor that seemed to permeate every square inch of my car's interior? My kneepads STINK. I didn't know knees sweated so much, and the sweat they produce seems to be concentrated with the most noxious biochemicals. Yes, I wash them every so often, but even a double-run through the washer does nothing but free up stink-space for the next night's exercise.

    When I was in college I took a racquetball class, and as I'd played most of my life I was one of the better players. One of the other experienced players was a guy who, had he made the mistake of wandering around Iraq at the time of the invasion, would have been grabbed up by some strike team hunting WMD's and paraded before the UN as proof of Saddam's evil plans. Nice guy, good player, had body odor that could strip the paint off a pickup truck. Because we were pretty close in ability we usually ended up playing each other, and being cooped up with this guy, even in a space as large and high-ceilinged as a racquetball court, was like getting a sneak-preview of the gas chamber.

    He didn't look dirty, per se--he came to class looking like he'd showered during the last lunar cycle. Like I said, he was a nice guy, smart guy, majoring in some manner of engineering. And he stunk like a corpse. And for some reason, his was a stink that broadcast itself over a wide area. You didn't have to be standing next to him to get your eyes watering. I'm sure there were folks in the bowling alley down in the basement sniffing their shoes and wondering, "Maybe a yeti wore these last class..."

    I remember this one point, the guy hit a pinch shot in the frontcourt and I tried to pass him along the left wall. He got it and put the ball past me toward the back wall. I had to run past him to take the shot off the wall, and as I raced by I got hit with such a nauseating wave of BO that I whiffed when I swung. I swooned--the stink temporarily blinded me. I think that's the only time in my competitive sports career that I botched a play because I was overcome by another player's crippling stench.

    One class we played cutthroat (3-man) with another guy. We had ourselves a good time, and afterwards hit the showers. As I got my towel from my locker I noticed the third player looking at me, but I could tell he wasn't looking. He was smelling. Gingerly.

    "It wasn't me," I said.

    He tested the wind again and shook his head in agreement. "I didn't think so. How do you play with him every week?"

    "I try to stay upwind."

    He nodded and said, "I'm glad I didn't eat breakfast this morning."

    The only stink in recent memory that could compare to my old RB buddy is my nephew Bryce's shoes. Bryce is six, and he's in a phase where he hates to wear socks. Typical pain-in-the-ass little kid. Anyway, he comes over a month ago, it's like 13 degrees outside, we're going to dinner in an hour, and he takes of his shoes and he's not wearing any goddam socks.

    "Where are your goddam socks?" I ask, and he says he hates wearing them, and I ask he's learned how to spell "hypothermia" or "amputation" in his first-grade class yet. I look at his shoes. At the liners. They should be blue. They're black. My nostrils involuntarily flare. Why oh why did God wire us so that, when we KNOW we're about to be confronted with a really ghastly smell, we feel COMPELLED to lean it close and take a sniff? When I see a glowing crackly orangy thing in a fireplace I don't feel the need to shove my hand in the middle of it. Just a quirk of evolution, I guess. Or intelligent design, if that's your thing. Tho this doesn't seem to be too intelligent...

    I took in a thimbleful of the ambient air. And the world came to an end. I mean, it was like I was standing in the middle of some immense Gothic cathedral and someone slammed their hands down on every key of the hyper-amplified pipe organ. I reflexively pushed the shoe away from my face and twisted my head away. I was about to let loose a stream of expletives, but if I had I've no doubt that my lunch would've come pouring out instead of curses.

    "What's wrong?" my wife asked from the kitchen.

    "Smell this" I gasped through clenched teeth and esophagus.

    Hmm. I'm on my knees, green as pesto, with an expression on my face like I just french-kissed a zombie. Should I have been surprised when she said, "I don't think so," and went back about her business?

    I brought out my arsenal of chemical weapons. First I tried Febreeze. Ha! Febreeze! Like pouring a Dixie cup full of lemonade on an uncapped oil well. I can't use Febreeze without laughing because of a blurb that appeared on The Onion awhile back. They have these little teasers for the "articles" inside, and one read, "BLIND DATE REEKS OF FEBREEZE". I'm sorry, that probably doesn't seem funny to you, but I was on the floor.

    As I was after smelling that shoe. I trotted out the Lysols. Why we have 4 different flavors of Lysol in our house I cannot say, but I blame my cats. There are times you want a nice, fresh bathroom smell from your deodorizer, and then there are times when you gotta get that catboxy funk outta the game room in 17 seconds because company just showed up. Different tools for different jobs.

    I tried the smell neutralizer first. No good, as this was no neutral smell. I tried the industrial strength stuff, the one in the gleaming white can. For the first time we had results--I could get his shoe to within 12 inches of my nose without my gag reflex flexing. Then I tried the potpourri scented one--mistake. I needed to REDUCE the number of olfactory compounds at work, not add them, no matter how pleasing they might be on their own. The effect was like lighting a Yankee candle in a hole containing 500 recently exhumed trout.

    I find it odd that I've just wasted all this time writing about stuff that stinks. Then I remembered how I've been playing lately. About as bad as Bryce's shoes.

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Hunter S. Thompson, R.I.P.

    Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as well as a number of other books and hundreds of articles and literally thousands of letters, died yesterday at the age of 67. He committed suicide, apparently by a self-inflicted gunshot, which somehow seems sadly appropriate. Thompson lived at what he called his "fortfied compound" in Woody Creek, CO, and his love of high-powered firearms was nearly as famous as his consumption of illegal substances. The family will apparently be releasing more information about Thompson's death in the next few days. Somehow I think Thompson, who lived life completely on his own terms, decided to die on his own terms as well.

    I haven't read all of Thompson's books, and I still have his second collection of letters up on my bookshelves. Reading his first collection of letters, The Proud Highway, just floored me. Here was a man who decided to follow his own path, no matter the hardships along the way. He was fearless. He traveled the world, writing articles and an almost endless stream of letters to friends, family, editors, and enemies, keeping copies of everything he wrote. The sheer output is staggering. I've written about 175,000 words in this blog; I'd wager Thompson wrote that amount every month. Maybe every week.

    For as ludicrously prolific as Thompson was, he was frustrated in his attempts to write fiction. His one and only novel, The Rum Diaries, was published in 1998 but he spent the better part of 35 years working on it. Then again, there are those who say that much of what Thompson wrote was fiction, though he described it memorably as "Gonzo Journalism". His writing was intense, uncompromising, outrageous, and brilliant. In his later years Thompson wrote a sports column for ESPN; my God, that he might have started a blog, about anything and everything. It could've been huge.

    Think I'm gonna stick my DVD of the movie Terry Gilliam made of Fear and Loathing, which has long been a favorite of mine, for some reason. I've never fired a weapon deadlier than a Paintball gun, I've never taken a drug stronger than grain alcohol (the nitrous oxide I huffed was in a dentist's chair), and I've never been to Vegas. But I've learned to appreciate the occasional genius that comes from Madness.

    Somewhere in Fla, Dr. Pauly is in mourning.

    My Worst Beat Ever

    I try not to tell bad-beat stories, but I just endured my worst beat ever and, what the hell, this is my goddam blog and I'm gonna vent. I'm playing a 2-table SNG at Stars, with the usual gaggle of nincompoops. The guy to my left loses 2/3 of his stack calling an all-in bet with Q-10, so when he goes all in next hand and I have AQ I call. He has AK and this time I go down. Then I double up by check-raising my set of fives against a guy with top pair. So I'm at about par when this happens:

    I'm dealt the Ace of Clubs and the Queen of Hearts. Two limpers throw in $50 and another guy raises it to $100, and I decide to crank it up to $350 and hopefully just take it there. But of course I'm pretty much committed to play all my chips. The raiser puts me all in and I call. He turns over the Ace-Five of spades. OK, have him dominated, I just don't want to see any spades on the flop.

    No spades on the flop--in fact, all three cards are clubs, and I have the aces of clubs. On top of that, one of the cards is a Queen. So this guy has no flush draw, no straight draw, and I have top pair and the nut flush draw. In fact, there are only two cards in the deck that can save him--the five of diamonds and the five of hearts. And he needs them back to back.

    Do I need to tell you what happened?

    99-1 shots have to come in once every 100 times. Otherwise the Universe implodes. But why do I have to be the guy who gets kicked in the stones?


    OK, now read the post below.

    UPDATE: Played, uh, five SNGs today? Cashed in none. I think I made the final table once. This wouldn't bother me so much if the players at some of my tables hadn't been just...ludicrous. OK, the beat I described above, that happens. I saw a guy call call an all-in for 1/2 his chips (and he was chip leader) with 5-9. And make a full house. When I pushed in against him of course he had aces. I think I had four decent hands in those five SNGs, and I lost with all of them but one.

    I've heard a phrase used in poker, it's called being "on a rush". What exactly is that like? Because I haven't had 2 decent days in a row in two months.

    I say this and I win 3 hands in a row playing, alas, a rage-prevention $.25/.50 table. I need to start drinking heavily or something.

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Taking My Meds; or, A Little Success Cures All Ills

    After my cri de coeur (or is it cri du coeur?) last night I resolved to shut my yap and stop whining about losing at poker. There are bigger problems in the world (gee, you think?) and the fact that I have a hobby that I apparently SUCK at is no reason to flip out in public.

    So after a good night's sleep...actually, I didn't sleep well. Went to bed at 3AM, slept till 11, had bad dreams all night and woke up feeling as bad as I have since I got sick. Too sick even to go over my friend Frank's house to watch the Daytona 500. Instead I sat down and cranked out my next article, which made me feel a lot better. Then I watched Jeff Gordon hold off Dale Jr. to win the race, which made me feel even better because I like the idea of 500,000 people spending all day watching a sporting event and going home hugely pissed off. My wife made kielbasa and saurkraut and mashed potatoes and it was all so insanely good I almost felt better. And so I felt emotionally equipped to sit down and play some poker.

    Moved my money to Stars and played a 2-table SNG. And won the damn thing. I go 0 for about 28, and then I run out and win one. And a close run thing it was--I never had chips really until we got 4-handed, and I had to watch the shortstacks go all-in and survive like 5 times in a row. At one point I had $2500, one guy had $1000, and another had $200...and the two short guys went loco and built their stacks up above mine.

    I waited to bubble out again and in my mind I was inventoring all the sharp knives in the house, when I won the (substantial) blinds 3 hands in a row with 99, QQ, and AJ. I'd folded about 98.9% of my hands at the final table so when I raised I got respect. Suddenly I had chips, and suddenly we lost a player and I was in the money. True, I only had $2200 compared to three guys with about $8000, but I was in the freakin' money.

    Not once did I go all-in without holding the best hand, and not once did my hand not hold up. I had AA beat AQ to knock a guy out, had AQ beat K-10, and when it got to heads up the chip split was 50-50. Which didn't last long because the guy I was playing against inexplicably turtled on me. All night he'd been raising, raising, and re-raising, to the point where I folded some iffy hands knowing I'd have to commit if he played back at me. And yet heads up he lost his moxie. I bet out after the flop like 4 hands in a row to gobble up pots, and once I had the chip lead I just beat him down to the felt. I ended up making a nice call with middle pair when he went all-in with pocket 8s (well, I thought it was a nice call) and lo and behold I won.

    So I'm not totally incompetent. Just mostly.

    Watching the WPT "Hollywood Home Game" and just saw Wil Wheaton get knocked out. I still don't know why the hell they don't have Evelyn Ng (or anyone else) deal for them. I cannot fathom why, in this one instance, they insist of having the players deal for themselves. Someone should've probably explained to Andrea Parker that calling an all-in bet with 4th pair isn't such a great idea.

    Man, this flu has really taken the wind out of my sails. I'm glad I at least got an article done, at least that gives me something to chalk up in the "plus" column for this long weekend. I'll let y'all know when they post.

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Jesus Tapdancing Christ

    Still recovering from my illness I played 2 SNGs today (poker is an AMA-approved therapy, by the way). I felt a lot sicker when I got knocked out in 7th and 8th place. In those 2 tournaments I won one hand. One. Uno. And that was a $45 pot when I just bet and had everyone fold. What made it worse was that at least half the people at my table were thunderifically horrible players. My bankroll has yet again slipped into the danger zone, so I must start producing results or...something.

    On the good side I'll have another article published soon, and I spent the rest of the day researching and writing another, which rather overshadows my lousy run of form. Maybe my poker play is -EV, but at least my writing is more making up for it. Maybe I should just chalk up my continuing losses as research and write it off on my taxes.

    Jackpot Jay, I feel your pain. I like Jay Lovinger's columns, I think some folks are too hard on him. Though, to be honest, he has given reason for folks to tee off from time to time. He wrote in one column that he thought the writing on Tilt was excellent, when in fact its execrable, and he does go on way, way too much about his bad beats. Of course, that's about all he has to write about lately, and as I've pretty much stunk out the joint since I started playing again I can at least empathize. Lovinger really should've started a blog to accompany his columns. And it's not too late to start. Getting your frustrations off your chest, getting instant feedback from your readers, that's an advantage the blog has over the Big Media column. Comments > form letter emails.

    Otis has finished blogging the EPT tournament in France. I anxiously await the story of how he played against Isabelle Mercier. Actually, I anxiously await any stories about Isabelle Mercier. But that's just me. Have I mentioned that I hate Otis? I hope he ate a bad snail while he was over there.

    Pretty good triple feature on Turner Classic Movies this evening. The Great Escape, Bullit, and The Day of the Jackal. Which is coming on now, and is an all-time favorite movie/book. Actually, I'd never seen all of Bullit before (just the car chase) and I don't quite get the ending. Plus Jacqueline Bisset got third billing and I think she was in about 17 unnecessary seconds, pleasing to the eye tho she may have been. If you like car chases, check out the movie Ronin, with De Niro and Jean Reno. Good movie.

    So I thinkI'll spend the evening writing a bit, maybe playing some poker, and watching a great flick. Yes, I know, I party like a rock star, but let's not forget that I've been sick. Maybe next week I'll debauch.

    UPDATE: Played another SNG, 30 hands, won one with AK when it got folded around to me and the BB wouldn't play. Got AK next hand, raised the pot and got put all-in by 2 players. Flop is crap, one guy pushes all in and gets the other to fold. and the moron turns over an underpair to the flop. He went all-in with pocket 7s. After a raise and a re-raise. And he gets paid off and I continue my free fall. I'm again in that situation where I don't know what to do, playing tight doesn't work, playing loose doesn't work, I can't get a hand and when I do I run into a lunatic playing 9-4, flops bottom pair, and hits trips on the river.

    OK, end rant. I just actually WON a hand. With aces, yet. First time I've been above par in an SNG in a week. Christ, I suck. I may need another poker break to clear my head, I'm totally snakebit.

    UPDATE UPDATE: Just busted on the bubble in yet another SNG. The shortstack made a minimum raise, I put him all-in with 99, he calls with A-2 and flops and ace. Next hand I have A-2, I fold it, would've flopped a goddam full house and tripled up. Next hand I try pushing with KJ suited, get called by A-4 (at least not A-2), flop a Jack, and he hits his ace on the turn. Another table filled with horrible players and yet again I'm among the most horrible.

    My goal for tonight is to lose every dollar I have in my account so I don't have to play this goddam game anymore. I'm just disgusted. I can't do anything right, I suck, and yet I know enough to know that I'm playing against players who don't have a fucking clue and yet I lose time after time after time. It might take me all night to blow $100 five bucks at a time, but I do have all night.

    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: Bubbled again, this time when I was forced to go all-in with AK (lost 1/2 my stack when I ran up against quads) and some guy calls my $350 bet with Q-10. Queen freaking ten. It was about a third of his stack, and he calls with Q-10. Nothing on the flop but a jack, I hit my king on the turn, a nine on the river and he gets his straight and I'm out.

    After blowing 1/2 my bankroll $5 at a time this week (which has been SO much fun) I decided to cash out of Empire instead of just losing it all. Whether I ship it over to Stars or just cash out and take up falconry will have to wait until morning. I'm totally disgusted.

    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: As I'm thinking about quitting poker and shuttering this blog and taking up clog dancing, I thought I'd check out my Site Meter records and see how many people I would be disappointing if, instead of writing, I just curled up in the fetal position wanting to die. I checked my referral page and found something odd. Normally I have a fair number of referrals from other poker blogs, hits from Google and Yahoo, and of course a large number of "unknowns". But today, or to be more accurate tonight, I've had like 40 hits from other blogs, and not poker blogs. Now, if you look in the upper right hand you see a button for "next blog" and you can hit that and be taken to a random Blogger site. For some reason, I had about 40 hits from that today. Usually I get one or two a day like that, and when I see a hit from I know our blogs don't share many readers. But today I got tons of weird hits. Blogger pushing traffic my way so everyone can witness my meltdown?

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Pride Goeth Before The Fall

    I bragged on not getting sick this winter, so of course I get sick. Played volleyball last night, felt fine, except for my goddam foot which has something weird wrong with it and hurts like hell. But at the bar afterwards, about halfway through my first beer, I felt this wave of exhaustion come over me. Not the good kind of exhaustion, like after 2 hours of VB or a night of drunken debauchery. No no. I knew I was getting sick, but how sick was up in the air.

    Until I woke up this morning feeling like crap and with total laryngitis. Couldn't even croak. Took a hot shower and was shivering under the spray. So I called off work (hopefully conveying thru grunts and rasps that I was sick) and slept till noon. Feel tremendously lousy.

    Tilt was on the plasma TV at the bar last night, and from time to time I took a look at it, and even though there was no sound I could tell it sucked. I'm starting to wonder if there will be any backlash against ESPN from the casinos or any of the top poker players at the WSOP. Or indeed from the local government in Vegas.

    I mean, I don't know exactly what happened, but I saw a cop murder a guy in cold blood in his office (said cop being totally in the pocket of the casino owners), I saw a low-level casino employee try to kill some Vegas lowlife (who ended up being the guy shot in the police station) and a janitorial guy look the other way when confronted with the would-be homicide. I saw a guy who is allegedly one of the world's best poker players but has to cheat to beat even vacationing morons beat the crap out of his would-be protege because, though I admit I'm not sure, he picked up something at the table between the 3 main characters who are trying to revenge themselves upon them.

    The show has not cast poker, poker players, casinos, casino employees, and Vegas law enforcement in a very positive light. Actually, it's made poker, poker players, casinos, casino employees, and Vegas law enforcement look like the biggest collection of scum this side of al-Qaeda. Now, I'm not a network executive, but as televising the World Series has been a ratings champ for ESPN, and ABC (and Disney) haven't been doing too well in the last few years, I don't see the logic for dragging poker and everything related to it through a season of prime-time mud. Especially as the show (what I've seen of it) is incredibly trite and cliched and stupid?

    All across the country there are movements to get poker legalized in places where today it is strictly verboten. Heck, we just legalized slots here in Pennsylvania and two Democratic legislators are trying to get table games approved as well, though the Governor seems to think that might be a bit too much too soon. If I oppose the legalization of poker, could I come up with a better PR campaign than the one ESPN has provided free of charge? Just tape the shows, mail a copy to every lawmaker in the state, and ask, "Do you want people like these in our great Commonwealth?". It's hard to argue back that Tilt is just a TV show, and a really lousy one at that, especially when the show airs on the network that shows about 500 hours of poker a month.

    The show Playmakers did the same sort of hatchet job to the NFL and allegedly the show wasn't renewed because a number of NFL bigshots expressed their extreme displeasure. Money talks, so I'll be interested to see if anyone associated with Vegas or Harrahs or even any of the top poker players do anything in protest.

    While I vegetated I put in a tape of the 2004 WSOP just to lull me to sleep, and I saw the hands that cost author Matthew Hilger his poker life. I didn't know it was Matt who got his aces cracked by Al Krux, who hit his 2-outer on the river. Ouch. After the cards were turned over Dee Archer cemented his title as Master of the Obvious by saying, "You only play big hands, you only play aces!". And then Matt got knocked out by Harry Demitriou, even as Norman Chad cheered Matt on because he was wearing an ESPN hat. At least we know ESPN didn't fix the WSOP.

    OK, I'm gonna go root around the medicine cabinet and take a handful of random pills. I'll let you know if I hit upon a fun combination.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Enjoy The Moral Victories, Especially When There Are No Immoral Ones To Be Had

    One of the aspects of poker I find so alluring is that there are no absolute truths to be found in the game. Virtually every question one can ask about poker can be answered with two words--"It depends". There are rules, theories, and mathematical realities that act as a guide toward profitable play, but in no instance can you pass infallible judgment and declaim "THIS is how you MUST play in this situation".

    Let me give an extreme example. You're playing NL Hold-Em against 8 players, and each of you has exactly $500 in front of you. In the BB you're dealt the AK of spades. The guy under the gun raises, and each of the players in front of you calls the raise. You decide to just call as well. The flop comes the Queen, Jack, and Ten of Spades. The SB checks, you check, and the original raises says, "All-in". And the other seven players all say "Call" and shove in all of their chips. You have an unbeatable Royal Flush. What do you do?

    You fold. You fold because, in this particular instance, you've found yourself playing in an Arizona biker bar with 8 members of the Outlaws and you've made the mistake of wearing your lucky "Kucinich for President" T-shirt. And you know that, if you call and win this pot, your ears will in short order be nailed to the bar. And as you value your ears at more than $4000, you are making the correct decision by folding, and then hoping that, during the furor after the hand plays out, you can make a break for the door and escape with your life.

    A ludicrous example, I know, but one I hope points out that you must adapt your play depending on the circumstances. While this usually doesn't mean laying down the nuts in order to keep your aural capacity at full power, it does mean that, at times, you must deviate from your Belichekian gameplan.

    Last night I played a $10 2-table SNG determined to have fun. I was going to play looser than normal, faster than normal, just spread my wings a bit and step outside my comfort zone. The first hand I'm on the button and I'm dealt AA. Well, here's a nice way to start! But how to play them? A 3x raise means nothing when the blinds are $10-15, I'm liable to end up with 7 callers. Limp, then re-raise? That appealed, but what if no one raises, which is probably 50-50? I decided what to do...and then I chickened out. What I meant to do was push all-in. First hand, first to act...shove in all my chips. Such a palpably fishy play was just the chum to throw in the water while holding rockets. But it was too much, too soon. Instead I just raised like $175, hoping I could lure one nut into the fray with something like KJ, but everyone folded, and I won a massive $25 with my huge hand.

    A few hands passed, and then there was a hand where 3 players got all in after the flop came A-K-J. One guy had AK, another AJ, another AQ. An action flop that, and the guy to my right suddenly had over $3500. Which he then used against us like the Chinese Water Torture.

    Every hand, and I mean EVERY hand, he would raise. Not a big raise, usually only twice the BB, but I'd guess he put money in the pot about 92% of the time. And when people played back at him he called every time, winning most pots postflop with a big bet. Pretty soon the jerk had about $4800 and was goosing up his raises a wee bit. All of which rather cramped my play-loose-and-fast intentions, as playing a hand would require me to commit about 20-25% of my chips.

    And then real disaster struck--the guy on my left doubled up big, and our new chip king started overbetting the pot, often going all-in. So now I'm sandwiched between the two chip leaders, one a raisey calling station and the other a stack-shover. I had to abandon my loosey-goosey dreams and tighten up like the bigtime.

    And tighten up I did. I think I lasted 110 hands, and I saw the flop 12 times. And when you figure that I called out of the blinds 5 or 6 times, and that I had AA twice, JJ once and AK once (pushed all-in, no callers) I think I saw 2 speculative flops the whole night. I waited and waited and waited for that one hand that would let me play back at these guys and girth up my own stack.

    The 2nd time I had AA I was in the BB, and after both bullies (and two other) surprisingly limped I went all-in. Everyone folded except one guy who only had $500 left, and as I expected he called. He had QJ, flopped a jack, rivered a queen, and there go my brilliant plans. But the next had the Poker Gods delivered QJ unto ME, and this time I completed my open-ended straight on the river and got myself upright again.

    I stole the blinds a few times to tread water, but my bookends would not allow for much creativity. When I found JJ I made my stand, and got called by a guy with K-6. Fine with me, and when the flop came rags and more rags on the turn and river I felt good, until I started collating them in my head. "A five and seven on the flop, a four on the turn, an eight on the river...". Yup, that's a straight, and I was out, in 7th place.

    There wasn't much I could do this night, and I took solace in knowing that I played pretty good (except for the first time I had AA) and got my money in twice with the best of it and lost on the river. I win those two hands I'm in good shape, I lose those two hands and I'm out. I played OK, I didn't beat myself for a change. And if that's not worth money in the account, it's worth something.

    I decided to play a little $.50/1, folded about 6 times, played KJ out of the BB and the flop came K-J-10. I bet, there's a raise, I call with like 3 others. The turn is another king, and now I'm praying the one guy had AQ. Another guy bets, it's raised, I just call to keep everyone around. Last card is a blank, me and the original raiser cap it on the river. Yeah, he has KJ too. A $20 pot gets split between us and I think I see a $2.28 profit. I've just about had it with this tiddly-wink limit games. Even for me they're a drag. Maybe that's what I should give up for Lent, no more $.50/1. Sounds like a great idea to me.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    I've No Idea What to Write About

    But I have a few minutes to go in my lunch hour and feel like exercising my fingers. Well, if you don't want to waste your time to read the insanity that Iggy is posting throughout the day. Maybe not such a good idea if you're at work, as I started laughing so hard I nearly spewed and that's rather an odd occurance here in my quiet office.

    A brief aside--the other day, after lunch, I had to visit the rest room. We all have to do this from time to time...actually, if you don't, see your doctor immediately. There are 2 stalls, one of which was occupied, and since I'm the polite sort I selected the empty one. I took my place, some time passed...and the guy in the stall next to me bursts out laughing. Not a giggle, not a guffaw, a loud "BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!". OK, didn't expect that under the circumstances. I thought about it and came up with a ready explanation--the guy printed out something to read while he did his business, came upon a humorous anecdote, and understandably could not contain his mirth. Mystery solved.

    Except, after we both completed our transactions, and we left our fortresses of solitude, he didn't have any reading material with him. Nor had he left any in his stall (yes, I checked). So, apropos of nothing, a guy sitting on the can just ups and starts laughing his head off. Now, I'm the sort whose train of thought often leads him into a funny place and I just laugh to myself, a quirk that endlessly pisses off my wife. But when I'm in situations where such laughter would be inappropriate (an arraignment, say, or a coronor's inquest) I have the tact and discipline to keep it inside. Not this guy. "BWAHAHAHAHAHA!". Didn't look the least bit embarrassed about it. I would've been.

    Otis is in France covering the latest EPT event. In his post he taunts me by saying that did rather well in a little tournament there, and when it got down to four players he found himself sitting next to Isabelle Mercier. I hate Otis. I have nothing personal against him, other than hating him. Just wanted that to go on the record. Tho he did post another photo of Isabelle on the EPT blog...nah, I'm gonna hate him anyway.

    I have to catch up on some previous blog reading, as I'm going to explore some sites outside the Party/Empire, uh, empire and do a little bonus whoring. I'm almost to the point where my bankroll is large enough to survive the vicissitudes of fate, especially at the stakes I play at. A little free money never hurts, and I've been lax in seeking it out.

    OK, perhaps I'll write more later, but as I have nothing of interest to say, probably not. Then again, that didn't stop me this time, did it?

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Frustrating Night

    Though I shouldn't be frustrated, I am, a wee bit. I finished my 2nd article--that's good. I felt free to relax and play a little 2-table SNG. I play much better in the multis, I think because I know I have to be patient and there's no need to make any ridiculous moves. I doubled up with AK against KQ and got to the final table at about the median. We played down to 5 (4 cashed) with one guy holding 1/2 the chips and 2 players in bad shape.

    And the chip leader played God-awful. He did a lot of raising pre-flop, that's fine, but if he got called he went timid. Literally a half-dozen times he made the minimum bet into the pot after the flop, get raised all-in by a shortstack, and he'd muck. He basically transferred $4000 in chips to the short guys without them every having to show down a hand. Unfortunately I did not benefit from his largesse--I think I put money into the pot one time after we got down to 4 players, and I doubled up on him when my sixes held up against QJ. I couldn't get a hand, and on the 2 occasions I raised to take the blinds I got put all-in. I still had $3000 left, enough to make me a force if I doubled up, but I finally took a stand with KQ and the chip leader turned over acs. Great, out in 3rd place, and if that joke had played with any sort of brains we would've been heads up long ago and in that situation I liked my chances.

    But the multis are helping to stabilize my bankroll. When I know that I'm gonna have to put in a good 90 minutes to cash I play a much more solid game. I almost went mental and pushed all-in with TPTK against what turned out to be a flopped straight, but I gathered my wits and let some other guy go busto.

    And, uhh...that's all for today, folks.

    What Health Care Crisis?

    One of the advantages of being a temp is that you get no paid sick time. That's the only reason I can think of for me not getting the flu this year. I've gotten sick the past 3 winters, yet this year, when I can't afford to miss any time, I'm in perfectly fine fettle. Last week we had a day where about 14 people in my office called off sick; yesterday our volleyball match was cancelled because the entire opposing team has the ague (and two members of my own team felt crummy). Me, I feel great.

    In some way this proves that bringing market forces to bear on health care is a good idea. I can't afford to get sick--therefore, I don't get sick. Much in the same way that I can't afford to buy a Lexus--therefore, I don't get a Lexus. Econ 101 (remedial), I know, but I have more anectdotal evidence to back up my theory. A few weeks ago, when I thought I might be having a stroke, I went to the hospital because I'm covered under my wife's insurance and I didn't want to die. I still did a cost-benefit analysis, and came up with this: cough up the copay, or die. I chose door #1. Now, if I hadn't had insurance, I might have thought about my problem this way: pay a ton to get what is probably a muscle spasm pooh-poohed over, or die. See how the balance of power has shifted? In this case the first option carries much more weight, and I probably would have stayed at my desk hoping and praying that I wasn't, you know, about to die, and when the symptoms passed I would have felt great relief. Or, if the symptoms HAD been serious, I might've snuffed it right there in my cube and had no one realize that fact for several days. Since I sit sort of on my own and my cube has high walls. Maybe I should get a canary or something.

    I like where I work, I think I do a good job, I'm always here to lend a helping hand wherever it's needed. I'm a good employee. But if tomorrow they decide they don't need me and show me the door, the company will endure. I don't think, however, that the company will see a sudden leap in its stock price. I'm not that big a drag. Unlike former Hewltt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who got canned last week. Now, losing your job is painful--I was abruptly laid off last year and it's a shock. But it must really sting when you get fired--and your former employer's market cap goes up SIX BILLION DOLLARS. Which is what happened when news of Fiorina's sacking hit the news. That has got to be a bit of a blow to the ego, even to a alleged superstar like Carly. To think, you're the head of this vast corporate entity, employing thousands of people, bringing in billions in revenue...and your mere presence is acting as a SIX BILLION DOLLAR DRAG on the market's opinion of the firm.

    So Fiorina came in, championed the highly controversial and not-too-successful Compaq merger, pissed off her board and most of her major investors, killed the stock price every day she showed up for work...and now she's leaving with a $45 million compensation package. Now, of course this is outrageous--didn't the market just tell us that Fiorina did a horrible job as CEO? Didn't she cost HP investors literally billions of dollars during her reign? My question is this--had she simply resigned, shouldn't HP have paid her, oh, like $250 million? Just as a thank you, for not crippling their stock any longer? They still would've been $5.75B ahead.

    CEO and other executive compensation gets my blood boiling. Rubber-stamp Boards of Directors shoveling cash and options to so-called managerial geniuses who blunder through a few years then jump out of the metaphorical aircraft they set to spiraling just in time to open their golden parachutes is corruption, plain and simple. It gets me so mad I write unintelligible run-on sentences.

    The Cult of the CEO reached its height in the 1990s but since the Internet bubble burst and the seemingly endless string of corporate scandals one had hopes the situation would improve. And perhaps it has. But handing out tens of millions of dollars to CEOs who steer companies into the rocks is galling. Even if HP stockholders are probably so glad to see her go they don't mind paying for the privilege. And then there are the obscene and currently-under-litigation payments made by the NYSE to Richard Grasso and by Disney to Michael Ovitz, hundreds of millions of dollars forked over to executives who did not, under any rational justification, deserve so much as a smidge of those ludicrous sums. If there was any justice (well, if I was Imperial Overlord and could dispense such justice as I saw fit) then there would be quite a few people from Enron/WorldCom/Global Crossing/Tyco/Disney/NYSE spending many of their remaining days on this Earth eating prison chow.

    Can you tell from the tone of this rant that I'm getting a tickle at the back of my throat?

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Sip From the Fount of My Wisdom

    My article is now up at and will probably be posted at PokerTV soon too. Hope you'll check it out, hope you enjoy it. I asked the editor to include a link to the blogger mentioned in the piece, so hopefully that'll be there before too long. And I'm hard at work on another article, which should be done tomorrow. I shall keep you posted.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Ain't Got This Game Figured Yet; and Other Random Thoughts

    So I sat down to play a little poker tonight, been playing lousy lately and I figured I'd play a $5 3-table multi at Empire. You know, mimimize my exposure, maybe have a few minutes fun before I got down to other business. So I blow 4/5 of my stack on an outkicked ace (Q to his K) and bluff at a guy pot-commited and I'm down to $200 about 15 hands in.

    Brilliant play, I know. Thing is, I do seem to play a shortstack well. Probably comes from having them so often. Even though the blinds are just $15-30 it makes sense for me to push all-in three hands in a row. Twice I have Q-high and get no callers, and then I have pocket jacks and double up from a guy sick of my nonsense. So just like that I'm up to $750 or so, and just as I thought lost all poker ability for life I'm back in business.

    It'll be a long time before you hear me complain about aces getting cracked, because I had them 3 times and won big every time. I limp-reraised and got called by the big stack, doubling up, I overbet the pot and got called down by AK, and then the pot that guaranteed me a cash, I ended up all-in against QQ and QJ with a jack on the board. Tripled up on that one, and it gave me the chip lead, which I never came close to relinquishing. God, I love playing a big stack, especially when the other players are just trying to outlast each other and move up in money. I did win one sizeable pot, but once we got down to 4 handed I just gobbled blinds and pushed them off hands.

    So I won, boosted my bankroll by about a third, gave me a little confidence boost after about a month of ghastly play. A nice feeling.

    While I played I finally watched The Matrix Revolutions, as we have free HBO this weekend. Now, I loved The Matrix. Great flick that was. So...what the hell happened? I mean, all those special effects, all the blasting away and explosions, and I was bored. I fast-forwarded through part of the attack on Zion because it was about 47 minutes long and I sorta got the point. The story was a huge disappointment, the ending sucked, and what happened to the kung fu fighting? The only fight of any consequence was the one at the end, which was all-special effects and no close-up chopsocky. Horrible movie, I can't think of another series of sequels more disappointing.

    Oh...that's right...I forgot about The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Two of the worst movies in history, movies that made Liam Neeson look stupid, Ewan McGregor look boring, and Natalie Portman look awful. Almost inconceievable, and yet Lucas pulled it off.

    I didn't know Carnivale had started its new season, and I'm catching up on that. I may have to find someone with HBO to catch the rest of the season. Hard to believe that Clancy Brown, who plays the Antichristy Brother Justin, also provides the voice of Mr. Krabs on Spongebob. I may not have a clue as to what's going on, but I do really enjoy it. Twin Peaks is one of my all-time favorite shows, and Carnivale has the same dreamlike feel to it. Bigtime good vs. bigtime evil, the supernatural as perfectly natural, Michael J. Anderson...good stuff.

    OK, enough piddling nonsense. Always easier to sleep with a nice win under the 'ol belt. Got a few more article ideas, even got a few non-poker ones I may crank out the next week or so. But of course the blog shall not languish. Unless I resort to my fishy poker ways.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Picking Up My Quill

    Rather than beat around the bush I'll just say what my good news is and be done with it. About a week ago I got an email from a new web publication asking if I'd be interested in writing some poker articles for them, and of course I said yes. So they gave me an assignment, I did some research, wrote the piece, and submitted it yesterday. And found that they liked it a lot and will be publishing it later this week.

    The site is PokerTV and when the article posts I'll of course be linking to it and pimping myself shamelessly. Gary Carson has an article there, Ashley Adams has a few...heck, they'll let anybody write for them.

    It's been awhile since I wrote for anyone but myself, and I really enjoyed doing it. Writing's what I'm best at and I should've been freelancing my whole life but inertia kept me from doing what I love. So, maybe this will break the ice and get me going. I'll have another article coming out soon after this one and I think I can come up with a few ideas here and there to keep me busy.

    It's also been awhile since I used my brain for something productive. I've never had a job that put my education to use (at all). And to be honest, while I like the people I work with right now, you could stuff a moderately housebroken orangutan in a pair of Dockers, plop him in my cube, and I'd wager it'd be a few days before anyone noticed a sudden change in productivity. The job does not require a great intellect, to put it mildly, and other than the constant hooting and the throwing of feces on the wall I don't think the orangutan would have any problem fitting in and discharging the required duties.

    So that's my news, stayed tuned for the links and whatnot. Oh, as I mentioned in my previous post(s) I changed my commenting system back to Haloscan, so if you haven't been able to comment before with the Blogger comments you'll probably find this way a lot easier. Not that I'm asking for comments, but I know from experience what a pain the Blogger comment function was and I don't know what took me so long to scrap it. So...that's it. Volleyball tonight, hopefully I won't be in a near-flipping-out mood as I've been the last 3 or 4 times I've played. This good news may help mellow me out a bit. A bit.

    Comment Away

    OK, tried this before and when I posted the Haloscan comment thingy went away. I think it's easier to comment using Haloscan and so I'm going back to it, but I want to make sure it doesn't vanish when I post again. So I'll post this and see if it works. It should, dammit. Real post coming soon.

    Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    I Am A Complete Idiot

    I had a great day today, got some good news that tickled me pink, made me feel better than I've felt in a long time. But the good news post will have to wait a day or so, and instead I will berate myself for playing some completely unacceptable poker in the hopes that the venting will allow me to sleep tonight.

    I finished clearing my Empire bonus today, with a total profit of five bucks. I think the last 19 times I've worked off bonuses I've gone into total freefall, but I did end up with a profit so I guess I can't complain.

    Then I sat in a $10 2-table SNG. I quickly doubled up with AA against a guy who called with pocket sixes, and knocked out another guy to build my stack up nicely. Went on a bit of a dry streak a bled a lot of chips away, but then I stole some pots, knocked a guy out with 44 to his K-10, and with 6 to go I had about $3700 and a pretty good shot to cash and push for the win.

    So why did I go mental and give 3/4 of my stack away on a bluff? OK, I had to pee. But I know I could've held it, I know it. I had A-9 in the BB and when the SB raised it I raised him back. He called, and the flop came K-8-6. I had no piece of the flop, I still had about $3000 left, I could've just walked away from this hand no problem. He bet $300, which I though was him trying to steal it, and I lost it and pushed all-in. He thought about it for about 20 seconds, which convinced me I had the hand won...until he called and turned over K-4. I got no help, and all those chips I'd worked so hard to win slid one slot to my left. I went all-in the next hand, lost my coin flip, and was done.

    This has been my SNG problem lately. I play well, really well, just about the whole way. And then I blow all my chips on one ludicrous hand. I think I'm confusing "insanity" with "heart". I know that before you can live you have to be willing to die. But what I'm doing is sharpening the blade on the guillotine, oiling the mechanisms, filling the basket with wood shavings, and loading my coconut into the stocks. I think I'm being clever and aggressive, and instead I'm bluffing off all my chips.

    Sigh. I may shift my play back to the SNGs at Stars, I like their structure better, especially as my ring play is pathetic right now. Man, my game stinks on ice right now.

    But, as I said, I did have a spot of good news today which turned my normally gray skies to blue, so I guess I can deal with an SNG meltdown. I'll post about that tomorrow. For now, I'm goin' to sleep and dream of ponies.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Trying to Make Sense of the "Poker Superstars"...and Failing

    CORRECTION: While I always hate to admit I'm wrong, once in a great while/blue moon/lifetime I have to admit I made a mistake. As I did with this review of the Poker Superstars. Somehow I totally missed like 20 minutes of the show, I don't know how I managed to do that, but whilst folding laundry I turned the tape on for noise and realized I missed like a half-dozen hands, including the one where Chip Reese's aces beat Howard Lederer's AK, and also the hand where Johnny Chan and Gus Hansen split a pot when the board showed a full house. And they also showed a chip count early on, so I missed that too. Mea culpa. Still, my basic opinon still stands, and is listed below.

    With the WPT and WSOP in eternal reruns I was looking forward to the finale of the "Poker Superstars" that NBC showed before the Super Bowl. I had to tape it and watched the show last night, and as with the earlier installments I was left both bewildered and disappointed, though in far greater quantities this time. The show made no sense, which made sense because the previous episodes made no sense.

    The series worked this way--8 top poker players play what amounts to a SNG, and the winner of each one builds up some extra chips to take to the table for the final event. OK, that seems reasonable. But for the life of me I couldn't figure out how they were breaking up the tournament. In Pittsburgh the show wasn't on at a set time every week, so you might see the same episode 3 times and then have it shift to a later show, and then back again. So keeping up with the flow was difficult.

    Compounding that was a structure so complicated you need a Ph.D in logic to suss it out. At the beginning of each show host Chris Rose would say something like this: "Welcome to the Poker Superstars! At the end of section 2 of part 1 Howard Lederer roared back to take the win, and now in segment 3 of section 2 of part 2 its Johnny Chan who's making a move, as he tries to build up extra chips to take into split 5 of segment 4 of section 3 of part 2..."

    I had no clue what was going on. None. I mean, I understand that their position in each part factored into how many chips they'd take to the final table, but I was totally in the dark about how exactly that was being calculated. I can't say I cared all that much, but I'm naturally curious so it irked me. Why so complicated? And, if so complicated, why no simple explanation?

    Another thing that puzzled me was that in the first 2 or 3 episodes they never explained what the players were playing for. They didn't tell us the buy-in was $400K (more on this in a bit) nor did we learn until much later (maybe the show before the final) what 1st prize was. I still don't know what 2nd thru 8th received, although I have a theory.

    So let's get that right now. OK, they asked the top 8 poker players to play in this event...brief pause here. You think that every time the announcers mentioned this Daniel Negreanu stroked his dog Mushu, politely cleared his throat, and said, "Excuse me?". You think those words weren't like chewing tinfoil to Phil Hellmuth? Actually, if I could have made one substitution I would have removed Howard Lederer and put in Hellmuth. It's not that I don't think Howard is one of the best poker players in the world, but he is THE best poker announcer in the world and his presence would have dramatically improved the broadcast. And I would pay good money to see Gus Hansen roast Phil over an open flame. Its entirely possible that Gus could make Phil so crazy he'd spontaneously combust, and I for one would've enjoyed sitting tableside wearing oven mitts.

    Back to the money. OK, so each of the 8 players put up four-hundred grand. I apologize for stating the obvious, but that's a lot of money. Even for Barry Greenstein. Especially, and this is the part that makes NO sense, if first prize is a $1 million. I mean, do the math here--risk $400K to win $1 million? Not a lot of return for such a huge risk. Especially when you'll have to beat 7 of the best players in the world to win. How many coin flips is that going to take?

    The rest of the prize pool was never broken down (at least not that I saw), so I can only assume that the other 7 players equally split the remaining $2.2 million, meaning each of them was really risking about $85K to win a million, which is a bit more palatable. And I'm sure that these 8 players were attracted by the chance to be labled a "Poker Superstar" and get some big-time publicity by appearing on the show, so there are some serious intangible benefits to take into account. Still, I don't know why they didn't just announce this as a winner-takes-nearly-all, as they did for the WSOP Tournament of Champions. Unless they were just keeping with the unnecessarily complicated theme of the whole event.

    Another thing that confounds me is that the final show appeared on NBC opposite Fox's Super Bowl pregame show. This after all the previous episode were called the FOX Poker Superstars and appeared on local Fox affiliates. So, Fox produces and promotes and airs a show that is later going to be used as direct competition against the biggest event the network will broadcast all year. I'm bringing all my MBA-wisdom to bear on the question and I'm coming up blank. Makes no sense to me.

    The final show itself was pretty awful. Matt Vasgersion and Erick Lindgren do not a scintillating announcing team make. Actually, even before that, we knew the show was gonig to suck royal. During the Fox broadcasts the opening credits rolled, and we saw scenes of the Strip at night with pictures of the players superimposed over Vegas' biggest casinos, all while a peppy big-band played an upbeat tune (sounded to me a lot like the theme to Celebrity Poker Showdown). But for the NBC broadcast they showed the same graphics but played this GHASTLY country-western sound where this horrible, horrible singer drawled something like, "It was a real bad game of poker/Ah laahst it AWWWWWWL". Horrible beyond belief, and that signaled that the show was in the hands of people who didn't have a goddam clue what they were doing.

    We didn't get a chip count to start the tournament (in fact, I don't think we got a count until 2 people were out) nor did we get any info on HOW the players got their chips. Lindgren was introduced as the 2004 Player of the Year, which probably got his good friend Negreanu's attention again (Lindgren won the WPT Player of the Year award, Negreanu the WSOP and Card Player awards). That was an opening for the sort of playful banter you heard a lot from the previous announcing team of Chris Rose, Michael Konik and Mark Gregorich--you know, Vasgersion says, "So, Erick, why aren't you down there playing?" and Erick chuckles and says, "No thanks, I'll stay up in the booth where its safe" and they laugh and the audience laughs as they both identify with the announcers and have their interest piqued by the fearsome players they'll be watching. Well, no, there was none of that, as both announcers were as tight as Donovan McNabb was in the first quarter.

    I am risking the wrath of the Poker Gods for saying this, but the game itself could have been titled "Gus Hansen and the Seven Dwarfs". It was all Gus, all the time. He knocked out all seven players himself, and I'd be interested to hear what greater poker minds than mind have to think about how he played. I'm sure the producers of the show loved the first hand of the event when Gus went up against T.J. Cloutier and took about 17 minutes to decide whether to bet his pocket nines against T.J.'s eights. Gus may have been selected as one of People magazine's 50 Sexiest people, but watching a guy THINK is not the best way to keep folks from flipping channels, Gus's facial gymnastics nonwithstanding. "Sometime this century, Gus," T.J. finally said, and all of America nodded in agreement.

    I think Barry Greenstein went out first, when on consecutive hands he had Johnny Chan and then Gus dominated preflop and had both his opponents make flushes to win. More proof that there isn't a God, since Greenstein would have donated his winnings to charity and instead went out first on back-to-back suckouts. I don't know if Lederer went out next, but he pushed all-in against Hansen with A-9, figuring he probably had the best hand against the play-anything Gus, but this time the Great Dane had AQ and it was bye-bye Howard. It was odd, as Howard left Vasgersion said that Howard came in as the chip leader, yet that was the only hand we saw Lederer play and there was no explanation about how he came to be so short-stacked. Howard, we hardly knew ye. Unfortunately he didn't move directly into the broadcast booth. Actally he gave a testy little interview to Evelyn Ng, who asked some pretty good questions in her brief appearances on camera. She's sort of the jack-of-all-trades for poker shows--she deals, she interviews, she even plays on occasion. She's everywhere she's needed.

    Doyle Brunson won some big hands early on and looked like he might become the force at the table, but he was dealt QQ when Gus was blessed with AA and Texas Dolly decided to shove in his entire $650K stack when the flop came 10-high, thinking that maybe Gambling Gus would pay him off. That hand pretty much killed the tournament. Gus had so many chips that he could call any raise just for kicks, and he kept getting cards and kept hitting flops and the players kept dropping. I don't remember the hands, but I believe that when he knocked out Barry Greenstein, Chip Reese, Phil Ivey, and Johnny Chan he called their all-in bets with the worst hand (the Chan hand was especially odd, as Gus called a $500K raise with J-10). And won each time. Because Hansen had such a huge stack the other players' only play was to push all-in, and I think that was many players' strategy against Gus anyway. So what you had was coin flip after coin flip, nearly all of them going Gus's way. It did not make for very compelling viewing.

    So much poker on TV lately, and so much of it crummy. The Battle of the Sexes, Celebrity Poker Showdown, tho I did enjoy some of the Ultimate Poker Showdown. But the new season of the WPT is just 3 weeks away, so after a hiatus nearly as long as "The Sopranos" we will soon be hearing the mellifluous tones of Mike Sexton and the bubbly inanity of Vince Van Patten. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    A Special Kind of Despair

    First of all, congrats to all the overfed Patriots fans out there, and my sympathies to the Iggle fans trying to come to grips with the fact that their terrific season ended in heartbreak. I feel your pain, believe me. Pretty much a dog of a game, both teams played lousy in the first half, and tho there was a brief flurry of magic in the 3rd quarter ultimately the game came down to the fact that although McNabb threw for close to 400 yards he had a terrible game. He stunk out the joint in the first half, especially on that duck he threw at the goal line that Harrison picked. This just after another pick had been called back on a penalty. He came off the field pointing to himself and with that goofy smile on his face, and I remembered where I'd seen that smile before--on Kordell Stewart's face, countless times. Knew the Iggles were doomed at that point.

    And I'm sure all of Philadelphia still echoes with the sound of millions of outraged voices screaming, "HURRY UP!!! WHY ARE THEY HUDDLING UP!!?? THERE'S ONLY 3 MINUTES LEFT!! HURRY UP!!!!!". I loved how Freddie Mitchell caught his one inconsequential pass of the game and paused to dance and preen instead of hustling his ass back to the line for the next play.

    A few questions:

    1. Why is it that Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs and Bill Belichek are routinely called "geniuses" and "innovators", yet Chuck Noll, who won more Super Bowls than any coach and transformed a laughingstock into the greatest team in NFL history, is rarely even mentioned? Noll never even won the NFL Coach of the Year award. If there was any justice, that award would be called the "Noll Award" after the least appreciated great coach in the annals of the NFL.

    2. Robert Kraft calling Patriots fans "the greatest fans in the world" made me laugh, as it always makes me laugh when the victorious owner makes that entirely predictable and ludicrous statement. Had the Eagles won Jeff Lurie would no doubt have spoken the same inane words. The Patriots aren't even Bostonians #1 sports team, maybe not even #2, while in some cities (Pittsburgh, Denver, Green Bay, KC) their football team is followed with a quasi-religious fervor. I'm not saying New England fans aren't great fans, but calling them the best is silly, a silliness I can excuse based on the circumstances.

    3. Was it me or were the commercials really lame this year? And what does it say that a rabid sports fan like me should pay such close attention to the bits that delay the resumption of the game? Our society is doomed. I certainly am.

    4. Something's gotta be done about these halftime shows. When Paul McCartney starting singing "Hey Jude" I thought we might have the first 2-hour halftime show. Who the hell cares about having a 48-minute concert during the middle of the biggest sporting event of the year? And all the chorographed fans waving their arms back and forth and the firework nonsense...totally lame. Bring out a dog catching frisbees and I'm happy.

    The best part of the Super Bowl was touring my friends' Mike and Kate's new house, which is bigger than my high school and has a receiving room you could play badminton in. While we were looking out the window we saw 3 deer sitting outside placidly chewing, and it didn't seem outside the realm of possiblity that we might have put on tweed shooting jackets and Mike handed out fowling pieces for us to go out on the grouds to bag ourselves a doe. Nice place. It also didn't hurt that Matt and Kris (well, Kris) brought a pot of her diabolical buffalo chicken cheese dip, which is to me what crack is to the crackhead. Come the day when I am sentenced to death, buffalo chicken cheese dip could serve both as my last meal and as the means of my execution. Just leave me a big vat of it and I'll save the state the trouble of putting me out of this world. Sooooo fattening, and sooooo good.

    After I wrote my previous post I played a cheapie $5 SNG before going to bed, and an irritating experience it was. It's not that I got knocked out in 6th place--well, that's part of it. We had ourselves a friendly little table--but too friendly, by a half. There was this guy who, after every hand (and I mean EVERY hand) typed "nh" in the chat window, whether the "h" was "n" or not. A half-dozen hands in the guy to my left went all-in against another guy when the flop came jack high. The guy to my left turned over QJ, the other guy had aces. Another jack came on the turn and once again aces let a man down. "nh" the jerk typed, tho it hadn't been so "n" for the guy who got knocked out.

    A few hands later Mr. Suckout was at it again, going all-in with 77 against QQ and flopping a set. "nh". I won a $60 pot by betting out after the flop. "nh". Some guy folded to a re-raise. "nh". Mr. Suckout knocked out ANOTHER player, this time by spiking a queen when he held KQ against AK. "vnh" the moron said.

    "Dude," I typed, "if you don't shut up I'm gonna shove my "h" up your ass, and it's not going to be "vn"". But I didn't send it, mostly because I don't want to get my chat suspended and, well, I don't wanna be shoving my hand up anyone's ass, no matter how irritated I am.

    Tho I was tempted when I got knocked out. I flopped a king with AK and Mr. Suckout called my bet. We went down to the river with no straight or flush possibilities and when I made what I thought was a value bet he set me all-in. Knowing he'd call with anything I pushed in my stack and he turned over J-2, having hit a jack on the flop and his deuce on the river. And I was out. "vnh" the obsequious moron typed, and I resisted replying with "FU". Jerk.

    To soothe my nerves I sat at a juicy $.25/.50 table (nearly SEVENTY DOLLARS IN PLAY!) and I soon won back my SNG buy-in with some savvy moves. There was this one guy who was bitching non-stop about a bad beat he'd taken a few hands before I sat down, and it is he I refer to in the title of this post. I think his cowboys lost to Q4 when the other guy hit a 4 on the river. Beats like these are de rigeur at lower limits, you simply must accept them and move on with life, but this guy couldn't. He kept bitching and moaning, "How could you make that call, Why do I keep losing these morons, I lose with every good hand I have, I should play garbage like everyone else, I guess I'm going to lose all my money tonight...".

    He didn't stop the whole time I was there, and it was pretty pathetic. It didn't help that his avatar was a picture of the loser Stephen Root played in "Office Space". If you tilt that bad playing quarter poker, maybe it's time you take up Boggle. It's all a matter of perspective, no matter the stakes you want to play well and win, but this guy's lamentations were painful to hear. For the shark his misery would be as blood in the water, but I guess I'm made of flimsier stuff. I'd booked a tidy 14BB win (which sounds better than seven bucks) and so I logged off and went to bed and dreamland, where there are no chatting morons, just chainsaw-wielding homicidal maniacs chasing me through an endless darkened labrynth.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Big Stack Bully; or, The Joy of the Suckout

    After failing to place in the first 219 SNGs I tried at Stars I've cashed back to back, winning once and taking second in one just now. In the first I have to say that I played magnificiently, building up my chips with almost telepathic reads and laydowns until I was able to remorselessly beat my opponents into submission. Y'know, you don't see Mean Gene making too many poker pronoucements, but let me now say something very profound. Are you paying attention? Good. Here it is--it's a lot more fun to play with a big stack than a short stack. And it's much easier to win when you have a lot of chips than when you have just a few. Man, really gotta block out some time and write a poker book.

    Ah, how I enjoy making vapid statements of obvious fact in an arrogant fashion. Seriously, I had fun winning the thing. I was aggressive and tricky and when we got down to three neither guy was able to get his chips all-in against me until they were nearly down to their last kopper. The lesson I took away from my towering victory was that I have to be more aggressive when I don't have a lot of chips, as that is the way you GET a lot of chips. It may not be a mistake to play tight early on, and to keep pots small if you don't hold the nuts, but I tend to play WAY conservative and that often leads to below-par stacks as we approach the midgame.

    So when I started playing this most recent SNG aggression was my watchword. Don't be passive, make some moves. Well, I did that brilliantly--I gave away 1/2 my stack when I bet my TPTK against a jerk who hit his flush on the turn. Nice going, Geno.

    Down to T550 and the blinds at 25-50 I decided to push all-in from the BB with AJ. Three limpers folded but the jerk who crippled me called and turned over AK. Great. Great move, Geno, real sharp. And then the flop comes K-K-7 meaning I am well and truly screwed. I actually got up out of my chair to go and get a glass of lemonade when the nine of spades fell on the turn, putting 3 spades on the board. Hey, do I have a spade? I do--and it's the ace. Do I need to tell you what came on the river? I try not to tell bad beat stories, but on occasion I can't help myself, and to atone I must confess on those occasions when I put horrific beats on others. The four of spade built my stack up to T1200 and I was back in business.

    From there my aggression-meter dropped below "MORON" and settled just below "MANIAC". I knocked out 3 players to get into the money but the 2nd place guy, the same one I'd been tussling with all night, knocked out bachelor #3 and he took the chip lead. We went back and forth a few hands, and then I was dealt Presto in the BB. He raised it, and I decided to push all-in and maybe change the tide. This guy had proven himself a solid, aggressive player, he had my respect, and even my sympathy after my runner-runner flush. He called, and turned over the jack and deuce of hearts. Jack-deuce? I heard Elix Peters' voice in my head, "Jack-high. You called me with Jack-high?" At the time he only had about a 9-5 chip lead, so I cannot explain what possessed him to make such a horrible call. Of course he spiked a jack on the turn and took first prize, but I couldn't be took upset about it, since I should've been on the rail 30 minutes ago.

    If we get so upset when we suffer bad beats, should we not feel an equivelent sense of shame and/or empathy when we put them upon others? Whether we should or shouldn't, we don't, and that emotional disequilibrium interests me. You rarely hear a poker player described as "jolly" or "merry", and I don't think even the peppiest pokerblogger could be described as "gay". Quite a few bloggers have written about why they play and why they blog, and I've been thinking it over myself. Especially at the stakes I play at, it ain't the money. Is it worth all the irritation and self-doubt? I think this will have to wait for a separate post, but more and more I realize that the reason I play poker is because I like writing about it. The writing is driving the poker, not the other way around. Which, if you read my descriptions of my orangutany plays, is a good thing. I think this may have to be explored in a separate post. For now, back to the tables.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Some Brief Random Thoughts

    Two of the activities that take up much of my leisure time are poker and volleyball. I must ask the question, why is it that nearly every time I finished playing either I end up muttering darkly to myself? Is this just temporary frustration, congential dypepsia, or am I a masochist who really likes inflicting pain upon myself? Probably a little from columns A, B and C. I'm just good enough at both activities to know how much I suck compared to folks who know what they're doing. Maybe I should start golfing again and broad-jump over the edge.

    Enough whining. One person who probably doesn't do much whining is Gus Hansen, who is the cover boy of this month's Card Player magazine. Here's what I considered the money quote:

    "I asked Gus about his love life. He is 30, and free and single. 'I am a very individual person. I like gambling. I love what I do and I love the fact that I don’t have to answer to anyone. It sounds egotistical, but if I have to choose between you and me, it’s me, baby.'".

    I'd love to see that on a greeting card. "I had to choose between you and me, and, it's me, baby". Gus Hansen, a hero to every male on the planet.

    Speaking of world-class players, Paul Phillips has slightly changed the look of his site and has included a brief FAQ concerning his answering (or not) of emails and comments that makes for enjoyable reading. Again, my pick as the money quote:

    I would like to talk about poker or obtain poker feedback.

    Best of luck. Play tighter and more aggressively.

    Speaking again of world-class players, Daniel Negreanu's "Poker Journal" is now also referred to as his "Poker Blog". Perhaps a matter of semantics, but could this not be considered yet another sign of the inexhorable advance of the pokerblogging community? Should we not invite Danny to play in the next WPBT event? What would the bounty be for knocking him out? A Jaguar?

    I was checking my referral list and I still get quite a few hits from Poker Top10's list of, uh, top ten poker blogs. I ranked 4th, thank you very much. The list now seems hilariously outdated--when it was compiled there were probably only 11 poker blogs out there--and it's rendered obsolete by the fact that Iggy's blog wasn't even mentioned, which is like listing Francis Ford Coppola's greatest works and including "Jack" and not "The Godfather".

    OK, back to work. I think I'm going to skip volleyball tonight, maybe skip poker too. Maybe I'll meditate. Or hold my hand over a burning candle. Depends on if anything good's on TV.

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    What State of the Union Address?

    While the President spoke on every major and minor network laying out his plan for the next year and beyond, I was sitting in front of my monitor watching my betters play down to the end in the WPBT tournament. Yes, I'm a fully engaged citizen of the United States of America. Ehh, I'll just read a few blogs and they'll tell me what to think.

    Much was made last week about how the Iraqi elections were a major victory for those who believe in freedom and liberty. And indeed they were. Seeing people facing possible death or injury in order to cast a vote, and then showing off their purple-dyed fingers, was a big extended middle finger to the insurgents who declared war on democracy last week. Give people a little freedom, a little power to control their own destinies, and they'll fight like ferrets to hang on to it.

    Until about 100 or so years go by, and then they'll be so blase about voting that they won't bother. It disturbs me that, while Iraqis braved car bombs and death squads and sundry horrors, Americans often don't vote if the WEATHER is a bit spotty. How often have you heard pundits say, "Today's rain may keep away just enough voters to make this a close race!". Folks, and I mean this seriously, don't let an afternoon shower disenfranchise you. Just because it looks a bit blustery outside is no reason to surrender your voice in the political process. Come now. Next election day, if it's a bit nasty out there, put on a sweater, get out your galoshes, and go vote.

    End pontificating. No, a bit more. Bush keeps talking about Social Security going bankrupt by 2042, even though no one seems to believe him, not even his own party. The President keeps saying younger workers need to put some money into private accounts, tho he doesn't say how we'll make up the shortfall to pay current retirees. My question is this--why is this getting so much attention? Bush has laid out no plan of his own about how to solve this dilemma, and if he expects Congress to do all the dirty work and present him with a neatly-wrapped package he's nuts. You think a Republican House wants to risk pissing off 50 million seniors just to please a lame-duck President? Don't think so. Plus it would give the Democrats an issue to pillory the GOP with in 2006. So I'm going to just ignore the whole Social Security thing until folks start getting serious, which should free up more time for "Iron Chef America". Which sucks, by the way. I'll post about that sometime in the near future.

    During the last election I kept getting emails from the Democratic National Committee, mostly asking for money, occasionally asking for my support on whatever issue was hot that day. I don't know how they got my email address (perhaps thanks to my doomed Presidential campaign, which only longtime readers will understand) but for awhile they positively persecuted me with demands that I wake up and see what the Republicans were up to. The election came and went and the emails thankfully went away...but then they started up again. First asking for me to support the gubernatorial recount in Washington State, and now I get them every other day asking if I'm as outraged about what Bush and Co. are up to as I should be.

    Now, I voted for Kerry (with TREMENDOUS enthusiasm, let me tell you) but I'm not exactly proud these days to say I'm a registered Democrat. Actually, when I got the email about the Washington recount I was tempted to reply back asking, "Wait, you guys are still in business?". The Keystone Kops had more on the ball than the Democrats have at the moment. If they don't clear out the cobwebs soon I'm going through with my threat and turning Communist. At least when you tell people you're a Commie they don't roll their eyes and laugh in your face.

    OK, the pontificating is done now. I'm going to try to follow the advice Pauly linked to in his last post and blog more often in shorter chunks. More about last night's tournament will come maybe tonight before volleyball. We shall see. Well, you shall, anyway.

    UPDATE: Just got another DNC email, this one blasting Bush for saying he wants to preserve our grandkids' future while pursuing policies that will saddle them with trillions in debt. A point that resonates very well with me. But two things tick me off. First, they keep addressing me as "Eugene", which I hate. Two, the letter is signed

    "Sincerely, Doug, Eric, Jesse, Nancy, Morra, and Josh; The DNC Internet Team".

    Doesn't that sound like a bunch of high school kids huddled around a computer in someone's bedroom? I half expect them to sign it "The Bloodhound Gang". Come on, guys, you're battling Karl Rove and the Republican steamroller here, time to get outta the kiddie pool. Have it signed, "Jack Savage, Democratic Special Ops Warrior". THAT would get my attention, and maybe some respect.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Goddam Hilton Sisters

    Actually, I categorically refuse to call pocket Queens the "Hilton Sisters". All respect to Pauly, I can't stand them, can't stand that they're famous, that they're clogging up the media, that otherwise attractive young women are trying to model their look on them. And I'm not calling them the "Olsen Twins" either. Blech. They're pocket queens, and thanks to them I busted out 117 out of 151 in the goddam WPBT tournament.

    Well, I may have played a small part in that. Note to self--when a king appears on the flop, and your opponent bets with AK, check-raising is a poor tactic. Oy, am I a moron.

    My brother's still hanging on, think I'll sweat him a bit. And drink a beer. And bang my head on the desk.

    UPDATE: Grubette knocked out my bro (Payroll Jones) when she hit an 8 on the river and had her A8 best my brothers pocket ducks. He was left with all of $3, and obviously tilting like mad went all in the next hand.

    My brother crippled the Poker Prof early on when his pocket 7s turned to trips on the flop and cracked aces. But the Prof rallied from a low of $300 to build up a nice stack, in part to me bluffing on the river with AJ and getting called down by AQ. He's still hanging on, but just barely. You gotta put a stake in that guy, people.

    UPDATE UPDATE: Hey, dumb question. I didn't see anyone's personal pictures at the table, just the blank gold circles, but after the tables consolidated I did see the avatars. So, was it me, or did no one see them? Just asking.

    Crap, I'm ticked I went out so fast. It isn't that I missed out on a big payday (1st prize $906) but I was having a blast. It's different playing in a big tournament, especially against people who have a clue and a half. I got my stack up to around $1800 real early, and then bled a lot of it away making plays at pots post-flop and getting them taken away from me. I was too aggressive without having enough moxie to re-raise or come over the top in a truly hostiel fashion. And then I had my pocket queens meltdown. Geno, you got SO much to work on.

    UPDATED UPDATE UPDATE: Pauly is friggin' sick. How sick? Check out the hand history in the comments section of Iggy's blog. The ultimate Hammering.

    Actually, the only Hammer beat worse than that...would be if two bloggers went heads up, both showed the Hammer, and one player hit his flush. To have the Hammer, and LOSE to the Hammer...would that be the ultimate disgrace? get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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