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Latest Humorous T-shirt Slogan:
"You Wish!"
This one has to be taken in context to be appreciated. The girl wearing this belly shirt was maybe 5'0" tall, with a muffin top going on, despite the fact that she was clearly in her third trimester of pregnancy. In addition she was wearing a thong that came up past her low-rise jeans and pushed her muffin top down over the edge to really emphasize the roll. I'm not in perfect shape so I don't expect that others should be, but when you are wearing that shirt, along with the rest of the outfit, you open yourself to scrutiny (and perhaps random looks of horror).

It's fun to hate:
The Soccer Moms who insist that they drive gas-guzzling SUV's for the safety of their children despite the fact that they are 6 times more likely to be in a rollover accident than any other vehicle. It's like beating your child unconscious with the butt of your gun so that he will remain on the floor, thus making him less likely to be hit by a random bullet coming through the front window.

When Shadowtwin reigns supreme:
There will be mandatory, passive birth control required to participate in any form of government assistance. If you can't afford to raise your child on your own we are here to help you, but we must first make sure that your reproductive organs are adequately contained. If you don't like that policy all you have to do is support your kids your damn self!
Vote Shadowtwin!

Wildly inaccurate, yet shockingly precise, predictions based completely on happenstance and arbitrary universal fluctuations.
Your Horoscope:

Sagitarius: 11/22-12/21
A typographical error in your Church's newsletter will lead to you performing sex acts on dozens of anonymous strangers in your pursuit of "oral highground."

Capricorn: 12/22-1/19
The stars did recently tell your wife to "listen to her heart" regarding whether or not she should leave you. The stars did not intend for you to listen to her heart. But once you used that bonesaw on her sternum (not trusting the stethoscope which just responded with a cryptic thumping sound), we're pretty sure she made up her mind anyway.

Aquarius: 1/20-2/18
The stars would like to apologize for stating in their last prophecy, "Be wary of the stranger you meet at beach this weekend. The stars aren't sure why, but they don't trust him." Through a cosmic hiccup, that information was supposed to be released this month. The August prophecy should have read, "A dark and handsome stranger will approach you on the beach, profess his love for you, and sweep you away for a jetset marriage. After which you will lead a long, happy, prosperous, healthy life as the Queen of a small island nation." We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused.

Pisces: 2/19-3/20
Your new stopwatch will allow you to time how long you can hold your breath underwater down to the thousandth of a second. Unfortunately, poor planning will mean that you are not able to actually share the information with anyone.

Aries: 3/21-4/19
Your innovative new device for beauticians to use while giving pedicures can be wildly successful and make you quite wealthy IF you change the name. Trust us, no one is going to buy a "Ped-O-File".

Taurus: 4/20-5/20
Your Mother always told you to wear clean underwear just in case there was an accident and paramadics had to see them. But as you board that plane today, the stars want you to know that you needn't worry about it. The debris field will be more than 8 square miles, making it impossible to find most human remains. Not to mention that the ensuing fire burned so hot that it disintegrated not only all fabric, but most of the thin metals aboard as well.

Gemini: 5/21-6/21
You just had to get that genital piercing, didn't you? The stars tried to warn you not to, but you went ahead and did it anyway... Now all your worst fears will come to bear when, at a campground this weekend, you run afoul of this guy:

Cancer: 6/22-7/22
The less traveled by areas of the Grand Canyon's north rim offer some of the most breathtaking views of this natural wonder. You will soon find out they also include some of the worst footings and none of the handrails. They do, however, provide equally awe-inspiring, terminal velocity impacts.

Leo: 7/23-8/22
The stars heard your pleas, begging for someone who you could share your love with and embrace for the rest of your life. If you are still single, throw your arms around the closest person to you at 3:44pm GMT on Dcember 9th -That'll be the one. Trust us, you won't have time to be picky...

Virgo: 8/23-9/22
The stars have piled up most of your things on the front porch. You can stay at a friend's house, but you aren't coming back home until you admit what you did and apologize. The stars' Mother was right about you... (you must have really pissed them off; the stars were in tears while they told me this)

Libra: 9/23-10/22
The stars have been doing a little thinking and a lot of math. The population of planet earth is roughly 6,796,590,704. That means that roughly 566,382,558 people share each astrological sign. About 18,620,796 have the same birthday. Based on average life expectancy as many as 248,277 people were born on the same day, in the same year, for every zodiac sign. How can one statement possibly predict the future of all of them? Ehh, fuck it. "A full moon while Venus is rising is an omen of good things to come."

Scorpio: 10/23-11/21
They say you never know how you are going to react to a crisis. After a home invasion this weekend you will: You will scream, "Do whatever you want to my wife, but leave me alone!" You will then create a distraction by throwing your newborn at the assailant as you dive through the window to safety. Now you know.

Music lost to history:

Aerosmith - Dream On When I started doing these, I could never have imagined that I would be putting an Aerosmith song here. Since I was born in 1974, this song is well before my generation. It was recorded in 1972 and released in 1983 on Aerosmith's Self-Titled Album, but to read the information on it at Wikipedia most of us would become familiar with it from a re-release in 1976.

Like most of the music being released in the late 60's/early 70's that was pushing the rock-n-roll envelope, Dream On relies heavily on solid composition and and melody. Before the era of the modern effects processor, these bands had no distortion to hide behind (or very little), and synthesized instruments hadn't yet made their way into music. In that way the music always sounds more raw to us today because, quite simply, it was. While it seems laughable to think about today, music like this was so far removed from the bubble-gum pop of the 50's that it still wasn't accepted into the mainstream. As the baby-boomers became the target demographic, the rock-n-roll movement really started to pick up speed, with bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith clearing the path for the much darker and heavier bands like Black Sabbath.

While I (and most of my generation) are probably far more familiar with the Aerosmith of the late 80's and early 90's, the reason this song makes it onto my MLtH page comes down to one thing: Age. Not necessarily the age of the song; In fact, as I sat down to do the research for this today, I had no idea when it was released, but would have guessed (closely) the mid 70's. Tyler was born March 26, 1948, meaning that this song was written when he was only 24 years old. I'm not sure why, but I have always thought this song was pretty amazing given his age at composition. I suppose it is human nature to wax poetic about the days of yore and the imminent passage of time, but the melody sets a mood that makes you feel it right along with him. As the song nears the end and his lyrics become more more frenzied, you can almost feel the pain (longing?) in his voice. Listen to it with headphones and no distraction sometime, you'll see what I mean.

I wrote a short bit some time ago about Kelly Sweet's cover of this song (see the video on Youtube). While I have since gotten over the initial hatred I felt towards the cover of the song, I still just can't like it. The words are there; she hits the notes; but I just can't hear it in her voice. As if there is somthing very personal about the song and Tyler's deliverance of the lyrics that just can't be duplicated. At least to me.

That said, I have heard Aerosmith doing the song with an orchestra, and it also seems to lack the passion of the original. So perhaps the thing that I like so much about it is the under-produced, raw sound of it, or it may be that I am still hearing it through the ears of that impressionable youth that heard if for the first time in a dusty old Van with my Uncle Art. Either way, it seems it is Lost to History.

Music Lost to History Archive

I Can't Believe it's Not Porn!
WhorePresents.comYep, it's not porn. It's not a site with gifts for sale either, which is probably a good thing since I can't imagine that any woman would be at all flattered to get a gift -no matter how nice- in a box that says "Whore" on it.

Daily Reading:
Magazine Man
Shane Nickerson
Wil Wheaton
Hoyazo's Poker Blog

My reading list changes from time to time, and there are many sites that I visit that are not on the list. They are listed in the order that I visit them, enjoy!

Locations of visitors to this page

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

FTP 17k and the Mookie

I played in three tournaments yesterday. First, there was an FTP 18 player sit and go for a $26 token, I managed to score a token in that one only because Smokkee was in the same game -completely unbeknownst to me until it was down to 9 and I saw him directly to my left. Myself and two other guys had been fighting for the bubble for a good ten minutes when Smokkee apparently got tired of the pusstastic play and made a move. He ended up getting the $14 prize, which was damn decent of him, since I probably had no shot of getting through the other two short stacks without that (actually, the blinds would have forced both of them all in on the next orbit, but they would have forced me all in too. The blinds would have gotten to me last, but if either of the other guys won his hand, or if I lost...). Meh. In the end, it was a cheap sit and go for a token, and I ended up with a token about 5 minutes before the ftp 17k started.

I then signed up for both the FTP 17k and The Mookie. The Mookie was not being kind to me early on, well it was my fault really but if I can't play the blame game, I would have to admit that I was making mistakes, that is just not me. I layed down a couple of hands that I really could have been winning, one of them was on flopped trips when I had pocket sixes, problem was I either couldn't or didn't bet the other guy out of it, and there ended up being 4 hearts on the board. I couldn't get myself to call his push on the river, knowing that even a fucking 2 of hearts there sends me home. Another call that I just couldn't make was when I flopped second pair with a queen, paired my kicker on the turn, but still couldn't call for my stack when I had second and last pair. I was playing scared, but then I really only have two play modes: scared and suicidal.

While I was absolutely sucking it up in the Mookie, I was slowly making some moves in the FTP 17k. This was my third such event, and this one started out with me getting pocket Aces. While I was not able to bust anyone out on the first hand, I was able to keep three other guys in the hand after I flopped trips, and had tripled my stack by the time the first orbit was complete. Far and away my best start in the 17k. Smart, tight play had left me in pretty good position as we were down to less than half the field and went on the first break.

I am the type of person that lives in the now, and while I did begin to entertain thoughts that I could possibly make it to the money in the 17k, I didn't really start thinking about the possibility of making the final table or any such nonsense. I continued to play some smart, tight poker, and chipped myself up when the opportunities presented themselves. It became pretty clear that I needed to get myself out of the Mookie though, I am not sure how familiar you all are with the different interfaces of Pokerstars and FTP, but the pokerstars one requires that you click the window once to bring it to the front and once to use any of the buttons on it, I found out, rather the hard way, that FTP takes your mouse click extremely seriously. It simultaneously became my turn on the Mookie and the 17k and the pokerstars window was in front, I folded my hand there, then tried to click the window of the 17k tournament (which was partially behind the pokerstars one) and managed to hit the raise button instead of just bringing it to the front. Someone reraised, and with a 3-5 offsuit I wasn't really in position to call it. Thankfully, I only threw away a couple hundred chips; it could have been much worse.

I really don't know anyone that plays in any of the tournaments very well, so I didn't really tell anyone why I was going to donk right the fuck out of the Mookie. I called on the next hand and lost with something god awful. Then went in on the next hand with whatever I was dealt to finish myself off. A couple of the people said "good game", and I replied "not really, but thanks anyway", which I now realize could have come across as horribly rude, but at the time my mind was far away from there. I was trying to concentrate on the 17k now.

I made absolutely my best read of the night just before the second break. I was in third in chips with fourth sitting two seats to my left. I had K-Q spades and raised 3x. He doubled the bet, and I called. Flop came up Ace high with two spades and also paired my queen, I bet the pot and he pushed. I had actually been at the table with this guy for over an hour, almost for the entire tournament, he bet the same way every damn hand: double the bet preflop, 2x the pot on the flop, 3k on the turn, all in on the river. Every. Damn. Time. Something about him pushing there told me that he was weak on this one and just thought I didn't have the grapes to call a 15k bet, and he was damn near right. But I couldn't lay this one down. The only way he could be ahead of me is if he has an ace, and even then he isn't all that far ahead. Plus, needing only one card for the nut flush, with two left to come, well, I had way too many outs. Still, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't scared as hell when I called it. What did he flip over? Jacks. I did have him beat. Not that it really mattered, since the turn was the 4 spades to give me the nut flush.

So, going into the second break, I have to feel pretty good about my position. Not only am I in first, but second place is almost 10,000 behind me at this point. Barring some ridiculous mental meltdown, I was going to be finishing this one in the money. Now I just needed to come up with a plan for how to play my way as far into the money as I could. The best I could figure, it was going to take about 150,000 in chips to make the final table, so I couldn't just sit back and wait, but at the same time I didn't want to bust on a coinflip.

I managed to hang on pretty well until we reached the money. I was still in first when the bubble broke, but sure had a long way to go. I had been card dead since the last break, and was hoping for anything to play. The blinds were going up, and between them and the antes, I was in and out of the lead a bunch of times. Just after the bubble broke, I had a short stack to my right who was in the big blind. I got an A-2 suited and raised whatever his chip count was to try to get just him in it, of course I hoped I would bust him, but if I didn't it wasn't much of a loss anyway. Unfortunately, all but one of the people at the table called the bet. I ended up folding on the flop when it came up Q-J-10 hearts, and two other guys pushed for over 10,000 chips. The short stack wound up winning the main pot with a flush, while one of the other guys won the side pot with a broken straight (K-8). Why were they pushing with that crap? What the fuck was going on?

The next few hands were more of the same. Everyone was just insanely push happy, the likes of which I haven't seen since the first round of a freeroll on Pokerstars. 5-7 offsuit? Push! 2-3 suited? Definitely push. A face card? You better believe it, baby! I didn't have a hand to play, which is probably good, because it would really have sucked to get my Aces cracked to a 3-6o on a runner-runner-runner straight. For unknown reasons, my heart started pounding like it hasn't done since the time I got caught shoplifting when I was a kid. I needed advice. I tried to ask a couple of people who were online, that I know have been in this situation if they could give me some advice, but I got no takers. I would have to learn myself.

The next time I looked at my position, I was in 31st of 70 remaining. It wasn't because I had lost a single chip, it was because of the pushfest that started once we reached the money. It's like two separate tournaments: One tournament is to get to the money, after that the tournament rerolls and everyone is willing to risk everything to double up. That is so not one of my strengths. The next time I looked at my position, I was in 40somethingth of a 60 remaining. They were dropping like flies, and I was fast becoming a they.

We were nearing the third break, when I got A-K suited UTG. Push time! Two callers, but they both had me outchipped so I didn't get to see their cards yet. Flop came up garbage, there was a 5 in it, I only remember that because the other two guys pushed the rest of their stacks in, and one of them had pocket fives. I paired my King on the turn, but would need another one on the river to take the hand. This wasn't my day, the river? Case 5, sending me home, far more defeated than the numbers would show, in 54th:

I went into it hoping only that I could make it to the money. That was the only goal I made for myself, and I accomplished that. So, I am happy. The additional goals that I began to set for myself, particularly being in first when we reached the money, were a bunch of unrealistic dreams. It has taken me as long as I have been playing so far to learn how to play with stacks in the 15,000 range, my first foray into stacks much larger than that could only have ended in disaster. I can't (hell anyone can't) play my best game when my heart is beating a million miles a minute. But why was I so scared? I was already in the money, anything else was just gravy, instead of fear I should have been feeling elation. With a bit of luck, the next time (assuming there is one) that I am in that situation I will be a lot more calm and rational. Although I am not sure if I will ever be in first when the bubble breaks again. I think I managed to scare myself out of a golden opportunity, but I honestly could not play it any better -anyone else could have been in my seat at that point and played it a hell of a lot better, I, however, just couldn't do it.

Well, I am off to win a Free streaming porn download(blatant Hoy ripoff) token to see if I can take another crack at the 17k tonight. If I manage to make it to the money again, I hope I will be able to play a bit less scared.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A thought on Poker odds.

There are all sorts of "odds calculators" and the such available on the internet. Hand odds, pot odds, odds of spilling your beer on your keyboard when you get a royal flush (I think I made the last one up, but who knows), etc. I am here to tell you that they are all a bunch of bullshit. I will give you an example: What are the odds that the guy at the table had a pair of kings when I had a pair of jacks? 100% I know because I played the hand, any "odds calculators" are talking out their ass. Is there a flaw in my thought process here?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cindy Crawford + Alec Daniel Stephen William Baldwin = something...

There really isn't ever much on television at two in the morning. Last night I wasn't tired enough to sleep and found myself flipping through channels. Alas, I had already seen all of the infomercials a couple of times (let me tell you, that Oxi Clean: Orange Action stuff isn't worth nearly the 19.95 I paid for it, but they were giving away so much free stuff with it I would have been a fool not to order it) so I found myself at the high end of my Satellite's channel list, looking at a free preview for the E! Action channel (at least I assume that is what it was, the channel tag said "eactn"). I had just finished watching The Butterfly Effect on that channel, and it was pretty good, so I figured I would give the next film a go as well. Of course since it was a free preview there was no program information available, so all I knew about it was that it was called Fair Game.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you take a second rate model and a third rate actor, gave them a fourth rate script and 50 million dollars to make an action movie? Me either, but evidently someone wondered that very thing in 1995. And I, being a glutton for punishment, sat through every frame of the movie last night (which is not entirely true; I actually got up at one point to look it up on IMDB to see what year it was released, because I was laughing so hard at what was going on).

I would give you a spoiler warning but, let's face it, I am the only one that has seen this movie in the last decade, and there is no way in hell you are ever going to watch it -barring some evil mastermind forcing you to. So, let the fun begin.

To believe the plot of the film, you would have to either be mentally challenged, extremely young, or more likely both. There is a rogue group of former KGB elite operatives (sort of like James Bond, only the bad guys) who are out of work with the fall of the Soviet Union. Their retirement package sucked, so they need to make a lot of scratch really fast. Being the experts they are in absolutely everything except marksmanship, they ultimately decide to electronically steal a whole bunch of money from someone's (and it really doesn't matter whose) bank account in the Cayman Islands. But the year is only 1995, and evidently technology has only advanced about as far as land based phone lines at this point, so the only way they can complete their mission is to splice into a phone line that is buried under the ocean -note that this is the most believable part of the plot.

Cindy Crawford plays some chick whose greatest contribution to the film was the flashing of her left breast. Thankfully though, she seemed to have had that trademark wart removed, or well hidden at least. She is the requisite damsel in distress in the film, but if you find yourself rooting for her in any way, you obviously had a way bigger crush on her wart than I did back in high school. The script calls for her to play a vapid pretty woman, which she pulls off remarkably well -with a real actress, you might not believe that she could really absolutely forget about her Cuban client (The one that she was discussing not ten minutes earlier), with Crawford, that seems absolutely possible. Which is really a good thing, since about ten minutes into the film you quit taking it seriously and start looking for comedy. Cindy provides. I love this quote from one of the reviews at rotten tomatoes (where the film managed to score an astounding 2/22 fresh rating -with one of the fresh ratings being from a guy who was obviously beating off when he saw naked Cindy skin):
"Cindy Crawford, meet Action Movie. Action Movie, meet Box Office Death."

-- Scott Weinberg, EFILMCRITIC.COM

Well said.

But it was not my intention to rip on Cindy Crawford... Well, I guess it was actually, but that was not my only intention so I have to keep going. I am going to give up entirely on bitching about the acting though, because honestly, if William Baldwin is getting first billing, the film is obviously not going to be winning any "best actor" awards.

The film starts out with Crawford being shot at by some guy for no damn reason. She ends up in a police station where is left in an interrogation room that is fully equipped with telephones, fax machines, computers -hell, if she was the bad guy she could have hacked into the pentagon with all the equipment there. This entire scene was actually all just a setup for the only joke in the movie though -and possibly the worst joke I have ever seen in an action film- so I will give them a bit of leeway on this one. Of course the inept detective forgets to get his victim to sign a statement because the plot requires it.

In the hour or so that Cindy (no, I can't call her by her character's name. I honestly don't know what it was) spent in the police station, the bad guys had been setting up her house with a bomb. Of course they used a bomb because that is the only way that they could absolutely guarantee that they would actually fail in their attempt on her life. This ingenious device was wired to her television, and blew up with such ferocity that it absolutely destroyed a 3-4,000 square foot, two story house. Of course Cindy was not harmed in any way, not a scratch, not a bit of dirt or smoke from the Hiroshima-sized blast, not even scared (though that might have been her lack of ability as an actress more than an unintentional result). Of course Willy is there to save her anyway! He stands flat-footed in the middle of an open driveway shooting his revolver at the van filled with machine-gun-toting baddies, manages to dodge around 3,000 flying bullets with nothing more than his looks, and dives into a swimming pool just in time to make enough noise to wake me back up. Asshole.

It is now clear to our heroes that there might be someone trying to kill Cindy. No one ever takes the first attempt on their life seriously, right? But when someone takes the time to turn your house into a mushroom cloud, you have to start thinking that maybe your dog messed on the neighbor's lawn or something. So they needed to get away from Cindy's H.O.A. as soon as possible since she can't remember if she left her trash can out past dark the day before.

They end up in some hotel somewhere. She is under heavy police surveillance (especially while she is in the shower) at all times. But the cops get hungry, so they order some pizzas for delivery from the local pizza joint. Of course no one has any cash, so they use Cindy's credit card (it was at this point that I went to IMDB to see what year the film was released, 'cause, I mean, come on. How stupid are we supposed to believe the police really are?). Somehow the bad guys manage to find them! Shocking!

The bad guys are using some pretty advanced thermal imaging technology. They are able to see people through the walls of the hotel in absolute perfect red silhouette. The thermal imaging technology is far from perfect though: It can only sense things that are exactly 98.6 degrees. While one of the heroes is in the shower, he completely disappears to the thermal imaging. So, is he showering in ice or what? Doesn't the average person shower in water that is between 115 and 130 degrees? Why can't the thermal imager pick up the hot water? Best not to ask. Slick Willy kills three of the ex-KGB agents with the scent from his Zest-fully clean underarms, and loses a few of his best friends as well, but manages to drag Cindy out just before she gets killed -which is long after I had quit caring, but the next good infomercial was still an hour away.

The heroes stop at a payphone somewhere to call the police station, the phone line of which is already being monitored by the ex-KGB guys even though they don't know at this point that Willy is a cop, and even if they did know, they don't know who he is and would have no way of knowing which district he worked for. Willy thinks some of the cops are dirty because the were discovered so quickly at the hotel, it never crosses his mind that using the victim's credit card might have tipped them off. He wants to get the FBI involved. He has figured out that the phone lines are being monitored and won't actually say the location where he wants to meet them (the only intelligent thing any of the heroes does throughout the course of the entire film), and refers to it only as "that place that you used to go on Friday's". Of course the guys monitoring the call show up at the station posing as FBI agents, even though no one ever actually called the FBI, and all of the cops believe them. So, off to the meeting place.

Slick Willy has hidden Cindy somewhere before the meeting (which I will not credit to him as an intelligent decision because of what he is about to do) and adamantly refuses to turn her over to the protection of the FBI without first seeing their credentials. One of the guys whips out an I.D. -it has a picture and everything- that says "Akshule FBI Agint Identefikashun Not Fak At All" (I am paraphrasing). That's all Slick Willy needs to see, he frees Cindy from the back seat of his car! Clever hiding place, that. And no one questions it when the Akshule FBI Agints want to split everyone up to get Slick Willy and Cindy alone in a car with one of their operatives. All of a sudden, the Akshule FBI Agints turn! They aren't really the FBI! They are the bad guys! (written as a five year old, since it was obviously written for a five year old) Slick Willy picks up on the clever ruse after the Akshule FBI Agints manage to take out another half dozen or so of his closest friends. Using nothing more than his flowing hair, Slick Willy kills another three or four of the elite ex-KGB guys to save the girl and make his escape. Which he cleverly makes in his own car. His own car that happens to have Lojack! (no kidding) -I dare you to try to make up a worse way for him to make his escape. Come on, just try. There has to be a worse way.

Anyway, the bad guys manage to stay hot on their trail. Even without the Lojack, it wouldn't have been too difficult to follow them because, yes, they were still using Cindy's credit card (I wonder if that was a prop credit card or if it was actually Cindy Crawford's personal VISA). To the surprise of only anyone who has never seen any movies, read any books, and has not been paying much attention to the first hour of the film, Slick Willy's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere to allow the bad guys to catch up. He doesn't think to even pop the hood to look at it, just calls a tow truck (with the cell phone that he now has even though he has been using only pay phones for the first half of the movie. Of course the bad guys don't trace his cell phone for some unknown reason, which makes very little sense since they can trace any call he makes from any random pay phone on the planet, but try not to think about it.). When the tow truck arrives, Slick Willy notices the Lojack under his hood (which is just absolutely unbelievable in every way. The whole success of Lojack is that it is hidden well enough that experienced car thieves can not find and disable it. They don't just strap that shit to the hood) and simply unplugs it (which is probably why they didn't use Lojack's actual name in the movie: Lojack would not want to be associated with that crap. In fact I wouldn't doubt it one bit if Lojack sends me an email telling me to remove their name from this post or they will sue me for libel).

Where were we? Oh yeah, the bad guys show up with machine guns blazing. Slick Willy jumps into the tow truck, which is now pulling his Suburban, and takes off down the road, but Cindy is at the wheel. The ensuing chase reaches speeds in excess of like 20 miles per hour. The bad guys fire around 1,000 rounds that actually hit the tow truck (more like 6,000 total), not one of which manages to hit any of the tires, although it does somehow catch the suburban on fire. Slick Willy is hanging on the swinging passenger door, shooting single shots with sniper-like accuracy, and managing to kill all but two of his pursuers, all the while dodging hundreds of machine gun rounds using nothing more than his shiny t-shirt. Somehow the bad guys get ahead of them and stop in the middle of the road. They get out of the car and stand there. Because it doesn't appear to have crossed their minds that firing thousands of rounds into the cab of the tow truck might have given Cindy and Willy the idea that they were trying to kill them. It never crossed their minds that maybe Cindy and Willy wouldn't stop and would just run over them. Well, their gamble paid off. Cindy and Willy didn't just hit them and end the film right there, instead they turned at the last minute to avoid killing the guys that they had just spent the last ten minutes trying to kill in a high speed car chase. Why? The boat hadn't been blown up yet.

By the time they are on the boat, the movie itself even stopped taking itself seriously. They weren't even trying to make the shoot-outs look real anymore. The actors were pretty much just blatantly aiming at all of the fuel barrels that were being stored in ship's communications center (for no reason other than to make a bigger explosion. I bet if you were to ask the director of the movie he couldn't give you a plausible explanation for why they would be there). The bad guys just have to hit one final key on the computer's keyboard to complete the 700 million dollar transfer when the ship eventually blows up, three times. Not the same explosion from three camera angles, three completely separate explosions -one of which I am fairly certain wasn't even the same boat. All of the bad guys are dead. In fact, every character in the film except for Willy and Cindy are dead -that is not an exaggeration-. It ends with Willy and Cindy kissing on the beach as they watch the ship burn. A good, solid happy ending. It sure is a good thing they don't think about the dozens of friends that they lost in the last 24 hours or they might get depressed...

It never really explains why they want to kill the woman so bad other than to say that she knows the guy that owns the boat. That's great and all, but just knowing who owns the boat doesn't necessarily mean that she is going to know the ex-KGB guys that are somehow involved with that guy, also in a way that is never explained. Nor does it actually explain why anyone needs to die in the first place. In fact, had the bad guys not set out to kill anyone, they would have completed their diabolical plan at the same time and with a hell of a lot less trouble. I know action movies are just explosions and gunfights strung together with weak plots, but can't they at least make the premise of the plot somewhat realistic? A four year old could have come up with something more believable.

They say that in order to enjoy a movie you have to be able to suspend your disbelief. There is no chain or cable in existence strong enough to suspend it for the duration of this film. If you have a stout chain, you will need to bind your disbelief, silence it with a ball gag, take it to a darkened basement, and put a couple of rounds through its temple. Then you might might be able to enjoy this one, but I really doubt it. I am actually a bit surprised that it only lost 40 million dollars.

All that being said, I think this is probably William Baldwin's best work.

This does make me curious about something though. If this is the kind of crap they show you for free when they are trying to get you to sign up for the E! Action channel, what is the average crap that they show on a daily basis? Could it possibly be worse than this? I am sure not going to sign up and risk finding out.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My first real MTT final table

I have been following what I assume to be the natural progression of the on-line poker player for the last couple of months. I have gotten to the point where I can finish in the money in a single table sit and go just by outlasting a few donks and outplaying a couple veterans. Of course the money in a single table sit and go isn't that great unless you are able to finish in first with regularity, which I can't. I can finish in the money probably half the time, and average second place. That means that I am actually making money, just not very much; I am making about a buy-in per ten games played. Certainly not a money making strategy, but it is good practice. I have been using that small profit to enter some of the larger tournaments with the hopes of improving on them as well.

Yesterday, I played in a 20 table sit and go for the third time. This was of the $4 buy-in variety, which is about as much as I am willing to risk in such a large field, at least until my ability improves in that format. I was able to chip up fairly early on when my Jacks turned into trips on the flop and quads on the river. Doubling up on the first level in such a large tournament is huge. This time, instead of passively waiting for premium hands to take down huge pots, I took advantage of the large stack by bullying the table. I still only saw about half of the flops, but I was playing extremely aggressively. I was doing things that I have really never done, like raising pre-flop with a J-9 and putting in a continuation bet on the flop when it came up A-J-x. The aggressiveness was paying off though, and through my first 15 showdowns, I had won 12 of them.

I actually took the lead in the tournament about 45 minutes in and held onto it for at least a half an hour. There were a couple of times where I let the aggressive image override common sense, something that can certainly kill your game; Sure, if you call the short stack's all-in on the river it shows that you mean business, it does not, however, change the fact that you just called an all-in on the river with a queen high. Thankfully, I was able to keep such idiotic calls to a minimum and was in pretty good shape as we were down to less than thirty players:

Since 18 places paid, the play tightened up considerably at this point. No one wanted to go home so close to the money, and I took advantage of that fact by bullying the table. There was one point where I raised every bet for at least two orbits and was only called once or twice (which I eventually folded since my cards were utter crap). The bubble at 19 players lasted a long ass time since the short stack was at over 4,000 chips and no one wanted to play anything that wasn't Aces. Once it was down to 18 players, three more busted out within minutes (I am guessing they just wanted to play something after the fold-fest that had been the last twenty minutes). I was still in good position, but almost went out around 12th when I had to make the hardest decision of my on-line poker career.

I was roughly tied with the guy on my left for the big stack at the table with 22,900 chips apiece. We were in the blinds. It got folded around to me, with As 7d. I put in a 3x the BB raise figuring that I probably had the better hand. He called it, but that didn't mean much since we were both the large stacks. The flop was 4s Ah 2s. I bet 4,000 at it, roughly the pot size, hoping to just end it right there, but he thought about it for a while and then called it -which I am thinking means flush draw-. The turn brought up the 3s, which gives him the flush if he is on the draw I think he is, but it also leaves me with a straight flush draw. I bet another 4,000 at it, and he thought for a bit and eventually called -which I took to mean that he still needed a card for the flush, or thought that he did make a flush, but he was on low cards and worried that I would win with the higher flush. The river was my dream and my nightmare all in one: 5s. I can't dismiss the possibility that this guy is in the hand with an A-6, that would explain why it took him so long to call; the 6 is hardly a kicker. This is where I will admit that I got scared. I only bet 2,000 at it this time, and he was all-in before my mouse button let up. I got up and went to get a soda, this would be a good time to use my previously untouched time bank.

The soda was a Diet Coke. I put some ice cubes in an old thirstbuster cup and filled it up. Of course it fizzed like nobody's business, so I had to wait for five seconds or so to let the fizz die down so that I could finish filling it up. I came back to the computer to see that the time bank had only just activated (my refrigerator is only fifteen feet or so from my computer due to an odd house layout). I went out to check on my fish, who are in the aquarium just outside the office door, then came back and sat down. I stared as the timer ticked down, not willing to call his all-in, yet not capable of pushing the fold button when I was looking at a straight flush. I timed out and folded, and with that I lost more than half of my sizable stack without a showdown.

Mercifully, the guy flipped over his cards: 6s 10s. He did have the higher straight flush. I typed in chat "I had the Ace". He typed back "OMG how could you lay that down?" I typed back "I couldn't hit the button". He typed "LOL". I really wanted to injure him. But do you think I could have got him out of that hand earlier? Within reason of course, I mean I am sure if I pushed pre-flop he would have laid it down, but for all I knew pre-flop, he could have been holding a pair of kings. I am just wondering if I had bet bigger when I hit top pair on the flop if I could have got him to lay down his flush draw. I hadn't been at the table with this guy for more than a couple of minutes so I don't really know anything about his play style, but I am guessing I would have had to put in a pretty huge bet on the flop to get him to fold there -and god knows there is no way he is folding on the turn with a made flush and gutshot straight flush draw.


I managed to get to the final table in 7th position, but ended up busting in 9th. About three hands in, again from the small blind, I hit top and bottom pair on the flop, so I pushed only to see the other guy flip over top and middle pair. So, I go home:

It was a hard fought three hours, and I was able to do a lot of things that I have never been able to before -most notably, fold a straight flush. I hope the experience will translate into more final tables in large MTTs, but only time will tell.


Random Observations

I went to a job interview of sorts on Thursday. It lasted from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.. It was a position where I could have made a great deal of money (easily double my previous income to start) but which required about 20 hours of overtime a week. If I were about ten years younger, I might actually think about something like that, but at this point I am pretty sure that I don't have it in me to work that many hours -and especially not with a two hour commute each way. But damn I need a job.

I have realized, albeit about ten years too late, why I was never able to really excel at playing the guitar: I had been trying entirely too hard. I walked into the living room yesterday, picked up the guitar, and belted out part of Yngwie Malmsteen's song Eclipse. Instead of concentrating on the notes and mashing the string to the fret, I just let my mind tell my fingers where to go (which doesn't really do much to explain the actual difference). The difference was night and day. I have had the notes memorized for years, my fingers have always known exactly where they had to be on the fingerboard to play them, I just lacked the ability to make my mind connect with my fingers. The problem was that I was trying to use my eyes as a tool to make the two meet, but the eyes are not as fast as the mind, and the fingers are frequently behind the eyes (which I know doesn't make any sense, but bear with me), which was leading to a lot of notes getting played at the wrong time, or not at all. Once I removed my eyes from the equation and trusted my mind to get my fingers where I knew they needed to be, it just came out. The epiphany that I really needed a decade ago, when I really cared about music, finally comes when I am only playing for amusement. Perfect.

If you are a guitarist and have been playing long enough that you can get your fingers to any given fret by feel, yet seem to have problems with particular riffs, just make sure you aren't looking. Your mind can move your fingers a hell of a lot quicker than your eyes can, but you have to trust that your mind knows what it is doing -a real stretch for me- to be successful. I mean, don't be envisioning the neck of the guitar in your head while you are playing, in fact, think of something else if necessary to make sure that your mind is making your fingers move without any visual cues. Trust me, and trust yourself, once you are able to do that you will become infinitely better. It is sort of like typing; I haven't had to actually think about where the keys were for years, my thoughts just appear on the screen with an absolute minimum of intervention from the eyes (I do occasionally have to look down to see where some of the keys are, & and $ for example.). The guitar needs to be the same way, and if there is an occasional "typo", so be it. The typos will dwindle with time and you will find that you are far better than you had ever thought possible.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another Final Table at the WWDN

As the name would imply, I made the final table at the WWDN last night. It was an uphill battle for sure, since my starting table had Smokkee, Hoyazo, Iakaris, and a couple of other people (whose names I can't look up because I just now realized that I was playing with the beta version of pokerstars and it is set by default to not log history. A value that I had neglected to change). At any rate, Smokkee is the one I was really scared of. For some reason Hoyazo doesn't scare me as much as he should -it probably has something to do with that cute little smiling avatar, so harmless...

I almost went out of the tournament extremely early. If you read my site, you may remember that S.t.B. once said that they way I played a good hand almost got me in trouble. Such was the case last night, only I didn't really have a good hand. I was in one of the blinds with a Q-6, and had to call some kind of a raise to see the flop. The flop was Q-6-4 (I think, might have been Q-6-7) Giving me two pair, which really should put me ahead at this point, barring someone else having a pair of Queens. I checked it, then called whatever the bet was to see the turn -what I should have done was pushed right there. I don't remember exactly what the turn card was, I think it might have paired the low card, at any rate, I was still ahead and should have pushed, instead I called the bet to let everyone see the river relatively cheap. The river left two one-card straight possibilities on the board, which, of course, someone had. The someone who made the straight would have likely folded if I would have pushed earlier, and the other guy would probably have called with his pair of kings and I would have won with two pair. Ahh, hindsight. Instead, I was left with a pretty short stack.

I was able to keep from doing anything horribly stupid for a good while after that (at least I think it was, it is probably open to debate though). Sometime later in the tournament, as we were nearing the bubble, I was to the point where I was just hoping that if I was going to bust it was at least going to be on a good hand. I was tied with Kat for the short stack at the table when I found myself with A-J in early position. I raised it 5x the BB (thus proving that I am trying to teach myself to bet pre-flop so that I can try to limit my horrible beatdowns later in the hand), which was folded around to Shane in the Big Blind. He didn't even seem to think about, just pushed. While I have played with most of the other people in the tournament before, I really haven't ever played with Shane. I don't think that he actually knows how tight I play, and as such I thought that he saw my huge raise as a steal attempt. I thought about this one for a long time before I eventually called it. A-J is really not an ideal hand to be putting your tournament life on the line with. This late in the game it is fair to assume that if the reraise was not just to stop me from stealing the pot, it must be either a pocket pair or two faces. In this case, it happened to be a pair of 8's. The flop missed us both, but the turn paired my Jack. Then the river gave me a set. I will take luck any day.

I managed to bust out Smokkee when we were down to 6 players when my A-10 outran his K-J. (I bring that up only because I am sure it will never happen again). But either my luck, my logic, or more likely both failed me a short time later. With a suited A-3, I decided I wanted to see a flop bad enough to call a 2,500 bet (I had about 16,000 at that point). The flop was a rainbow, but I did hit bottom pair. My boy Mungo (I should say Guin, but Mungo makes me think of a St. Bernard for some reason, and so does his avatar, which is actually a penguin. Did I ever mention I smoked a lot of weed in the 80's...and 90's) Hoyed me. The board was showing 3-10-J at that point, and I really didn't think any of those had hit him. His big bet pre-flop made me think he had A-K or A-Q, I don't think he bets that much with anything lower than that, and I think he bets more if he has a pair. Since he is pushing now, I am putting him on K-Q, giving him the OESD. I tell myself that fifth place is still pretty good, and call, pretty sure that I was actually ahead at this point. When the turn brought up a Queen, I knew I was beat. Mungo told me I should fold, but it isn't as if I am really going to be able to battle my way back from one chip, so I had to call. He did have the K-Q, so the only thing that can help me on the river is an Ace or 3, neither of which hits. See, in order for me to win, I have to get all of my chips in when I am behind. This time I was ahead when the chips went in, so really I never stood a chance.

So, IGH in 5th. Which was at least a $52 payday. And which brings my average finish in this tournament to the high teens. And heck, I was able to repay Mungo for doubling me up so many times the last time I was able to make it to the final table. Of course now I think I owe Shane and Smokkee some chips. Damn, I may never win this thing.

Monday, June 19, 2006

When will I ever learn?

I really need to remind myself that when I am losing at poker I need to just quit playing for a while instead of playing my way back to a win. In my experience, if I am on a losing streak, I will continue to lose. Not only because the cards aren't falling my way, but also because I make bad decisions in what seem (at the time) like decent positions to try to steal my way back into it. That never works.

Yesterday I played in three tournaments (well four. I also played in the blogger championship and finished 1,024th out of 2,400 entrants, though I was not actually even here to see it. Had I been here, I am sure I would have donked out long before that.), and I performed terribly in the first, which carried over into the second and third. I was playing in all three simultaneously, which I have found to actually improve my play since I am making my decisions based more on my hands and actual odds than trying to pull sneaky moves and the such. Unfortunately, when my full house went down to a higher full house on the first table, I tilted. But since I was playing in three different tournaments, I tilted in all of them. I actually lost the very next hand in one of them (which was not the one I had been administered the bad beat in) when I decided to go all in with a 47 offsuit (I think emotion might have played a small role in that one...). After that, I refused to be patient and wait for a hand to play, and started trying to play hands that were far from premium; sure I would always like to see the flop with a 10-J offsuit, but actually betting 3x the big blind, then calling an all in raise with it isn't something I would normally do with that hand -especially not when it is the chip leader that pushed. That is the kind of boneheaded crap I do when I am losing; I make myself lose even more, then try to blame it on the cards. Of course when I look back on it it is pretty clear that the cards were just victims in my rage induced play.

Thankfully I realized that I should stop playing then. I could see myself pissing away a lot of money being foolishly aggressive in that situation. That hasn't happened yet, but I can certainly see myself doing it. Tomorrow is another day. Which is actually today. Because that all happened yesterday.

Today I played in five tournaments. Two 45 person, one 27 person, and two 18 person. I played the 45 and 18 person ones at the same time (during two sittings) and the 27 person one sometime in between. Today I did pretty well. I finished in the money in four out of five of them, and even won one of the 45 person ones. I have been playing pretty much only multi table games for the last week or so, just so that I can continue to buy in with a small amount for a chance to win a large amount. I am getting a lot better at this type of play now that I have gotten used to waiting for good hands, and recognizing when I am in a really good position to bluff or steal.

The thing about these tournaments is that the buy in is low enough that it seems a lot of people really don't care about the money. In the 45 player ones, there are usually at least two or three people that go out on the first hand. And I am not talking about only the dollar buy in tournaments. It happens on every one of them up to ten dollar buy ins, which is the highest I have yet to play. Some of the people will just risk it all to double up on the first hand and if they don't get it they just try it again. That seems foolish to me, but then playing for such small stakes probably seems foolish to a lot of people too, and I play exclusively in the small stakes games.

Anyway, my finishes for the day look like this: 4/45, 9/27, 4/18, 1/45, 1/18. I am pretty happy just to have made the final table in each of them, but it takes very little...I have also found that I play like absolute shit when I am trying to take screenshots. I think it has more to do with trying to figure out what I am going to say about why I made a move than with the move itself. But I am quite superstitious, and my wins seem to all come when I am not taking screenshots, so if you want screenshots you will have to go read someone else's blog. Try Hoyazo's site. Not only does he take screenshots of damn near every card dealt, he has also won a seat in a World Series of Poker event...Which makes me think that maybe, just maybe, someday I will be able to actually do that myself watch him on television. It would be funny as hell to watch him pull his patented Reverse Hoy on someone on national television.

There were actually two hands that I wanted to talk about when I started writing this, so here goes:

The first hand was in the second tournament that I played in today, which was actually a lot further along than the first tournament since it was a turbo, not that it matters a great deal for the purposes of my discussion. There are 27/45 people left in the game right now, I am second in chips at my table.
Anyway, this was a hand where I had the absolute nuts on the flop, but was able to induce two other players to actually push ahead of me (at least that is the story I am going to go with. The reality is that they may have done so anyway, but that hardly makes me feel any better about myself, so I am going with the "it was all me" theory). I have a pair of tens in the big blind. I really want to make sure and get a raise in to eliminate as many people as possible, ideally to get rid of people who might be limping with Q-8 or the such. 10's are a dangerous hand since there are four over cards and it is all but guaranteed that if someone has one of the over cards they are going to be playing it. The button actually pushed to 4x the big blind which I called, and it was folded around to someone in middle position who also called. The pot was enormous at this point. The flop came up 10-7-10, I flopped quads for what I am sure will be the only time in my life. Of course every instinct in my body said to push 'em in right there, but I wanted to try to milk some more chips out of them. So I bet 2x the minimum, which I was hoping showed some weakness, both of the others called it. The turn was an ace, which I absolutely loved since I was figuring at least one of these guys had an ace and would be willing to stay in it to at least see the river. I bet the minimum this time, hoping someone would push. It got raised, which I called, but no one pushed. The river was another 7. I bet about half my remaining stack (which put one guy almost all in) and not one but both of the other guys went all in, which I quickly called. I took down a HUGE pot. But what were their hands? One had pokcet 7's, the other pocket Aces. I almost felt bad about beating the Aces over Tens full house and the quad 7's, almost. Like I say though, it is entirely possible that they would have both called if I would have pushed all in on the flop. I am pretty sure that the guy with the 7's would have called it, not so sure about the guy with the aces, but they are awfully tough to lay down, especially so when the board has only an underpair.

The other hand was absolute luck. In an 18 player field I was on the bubble with 1745 in chips in the big blind (blinds 800/400 and going up in two minutes). The blind put me to 945 in chips which probably didn't actually pot commit me, but it was damn close. It was either this hand or the next one, and this hand I happened to have a J-5 spades. The button doubled the bet, so I pushed my last 145 chips out knowing full well that this was not an ideal hand to live or die by, but at least I had a face card, might not even have that next hand. He had Kc Jd, so I was in fact way behind. Pokerstars gave me a gift on this one, the flop:8s 4s 3s. I wish I could repeat that kind of luck.

I didn't repeat that kind of luck, but I did continue to have some pretty amazing hands. The next hand was absolute crap, but the hand after it I took down almost 6,000 in chips with pocket Kings and the very next hand I got pocket Jacks for another 4,500. Four hands from the bubble to lead. Once we were heads up, I had 6,000 in chips to his 21,000 just as the blinds went to 3000/1500. I called a hand when I had J-4 offsuit and said "may as well end this". For unknown reasons, he then called, raised three thousand on the flop, and Folded (why?) when I pushed my remaining 1,400 in chips. That brought us to almost exactly even, when he really should have just called to put me out of it. Even if he lost the hand it was only an additional 1,400, I just don't understand why he didn't do it. He was betting into the next hand, which I called and eventually won with a Q-2 offsuit (no pairs, just Queen high). The next hand put him all in and I took it down.

I know I slow play a lot, but do I do it so much that people really get nervous if I just continue to call? It seems like when I actually bet at it now everyone will call it, but when I am just checking for the first couple of cards, they will quit betting and fold if I do actually bet. Not that it is such a bad thing, hell any time I win a hand I am a happy man, if my not betting actually scares them out of the hand that is just a bonus.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Okay, I lied

When I said that I put the guitar back in the spare bedroom never to speak of it again, I was lying. Sue me.

I restrung one of them yesterday, 'cause you would be amazed what three or four years of disuse can do to the pretty nickel plated strings, unless you own a guitar, in which case you already know. Then it was time to Shred! Well, "shred" might not be the appropriate word here, I might be looking for something more along the lines of "Then it was time to hope I didn't outright suck!"

As I sat there plugging away at it, I started to remember bits and pieces of all of the songs that I used to play. I would remember one riff, play it, then try to remember the next part. Of course I could never remember the next part, so I would move on to another song, only to then remember the part from the last song. So basically I was sounding like every twelve year old that ever picked up the guitar. Sort of like a really bad guitar player to begin with, add in a little A.D.D., and you pretty much have my sound -at least I have the good since to do it with the amp barely audible, to spare the ears of any humans, pets, or NSA agents (yes, I intentionally made sure that I excluded the NSA agents from the "humans" category. Just one of my things) who happen to be listening in.

I decided that focusing my butchery on just a couple of songs would probably benefit a lot of people. Most notably, every band whose name is not Metallica, since old Metallica is the most new guitarist friendly music ever written (in general. It is often fast, but from a purely technical standpoint, easy). The two songs I chose were Master of Puppets and Welcome Home (Sanitarium). The former because it is one of the more difficult songs to play just for the sheer speed you have to maintain for 8 minutes or whatever (here is where every kid that ever touched a guitar chimes in with "I can play that". To which I say, "No, no you can't." Playing the intro doesn't qualify as playing it. When I say that I can play a song, I am saying that I can play every note in the song from beginning to end ((although some of the solos have always been beyond my ability)), albeit with an occasional mistake). The latter was chosen because my fingers need to re-learn how to get the hell out of the way to let the clean tone ring through without muffling it.

Every kid with a guitar really thinks that he can play Sanitarium though, and they think they are good enough to video tape in the process, and they think the resulting video is worthy of posting for all the world to see. Seriously, Check out some of these videos (the second page is where the real hackery starts, although the intros played on the first page of results could probably create a whole new level of "suck" all on their own). I can proudly say that having not touched the instrument in year, I picked up the guitar and still play it better than any of those guys. Of course that isn't good enough for me, I need to be able to play it so precisely that you can't tell the difference between my play and the album, which will probably only take a couple of weeks more practice, and the practice is only on the solos since the rhythm parts are so damn easy.

But I didn't write this post to brag of my guitar prowess, it just kind of turned out that way when I went to see if anyone had made a video of them playing Sanitarium. Anyway, it was while I was searching through the horrible mockeries of the song that I came across one of the many that is just so horrible you almost can't believe it is for real. This video is either the funniest parody ever conceived, or the most sad thing I have ever seen. The description of the video says:

Much metallica is gooder whith electric axe. Hear new digital delay, DOD rawks metal hard kore.

That is parody, right? RIGHT? God I hope so.

Hell, judging by these videos, I don't really even need to practice. I just need to start booking gigs and banging groupies, all for the love of music, or something.

attitional note: There must be a tabliture floating around for this song on the internet, because almost every one of the videos has The same mistake in it at exactly the same place. I know that internet is never wrong and all, but you really ought to at least compare your tabliture to the song before you commit to it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dead Cichlids

A little over a month ago, one of my wife's friends from work gave her an enormous fish tank. I think it is 70 gallons, but I am not quite sure. It is 4 feet long, 15 inches deep, and 20 inches tall if that gives you any idea of the scale. To me, it is just fucking huge.

The fish tank came fully equipped, even including fish. The fish are African Cichlids (if you want to know what they look like google it. To me they look like Koi fish, but the also look like Goldfish, so I am not much of a judge). There were 13 of the guys that came along with the tank. Well, obviously not all guys, since many of them were the children of some of the other ones, and I don't think they reproduce asexually (of course I don't know, I didn't actually pay any attention in biology class in high school.).

A couple of days ago, I was going to clean the tank for the first time. I wasn't really sure what the proper procedure for cleaning was, so I just did like I do with our smaller tank, and started using a little gravity sucker thingy jobber to vacuum the crud off of the bottom. I began to remove all of the ornaments in the tank for cleaning purposes, and started to scrub the side with an aquarium brush (yes, I have three arms, which really made this a lot easier). While pulling the weeds faux foliage from the tank, I noticed a little baby fish, then another, then another... 14 in total. I decided that I had better put everything back the way it was, since I was not at all sure if Cichlids are the type that eat their own offspring, but I know that many species do.

So, how do I clean the tank without risking either the big fish eating the little fish, or sucking the little fish up in the gravity sucker thingy jobber? Two solutions. Solution in the first: Magnetic Aquarium Cleaners. This is a device I had never heard of, and it only cost about six bucks, but my god is it ever easy. Just two magnets with a scrubber on one, throw it in the tank, hold the other one outside of the glass and move it around just as if your hand was in the tank. I don't know how I ever lived without it.

Solution in the second: A Plecostomus. I had wanted to get one when we initially got the tank, but couldn't locate one large enough that there wouldn't be a fear of the Cichlids eating it. I found one at PetSmart that was just about the same size as the Cichlids, so I was in business.

Time to leave the tank alone while the babies grow up.

The fish have been spending a lot of time near the top of the tank over the last few days. I had been attributing this to the temperature of the water, as the warmer the water, the less oxygen it will have in it. The tank still looked fairly clean from the gravity vacuum sucker thingy jobber I had used on it a few days ago. Although there was a bit of a fishy odor in the tank, but it is a fish tank, what do I expect? A friend called me on the phone at about six, and as I walked by the tank the fish were fine. I hung up the phone a little bit after seven, and as I walked past the tank again, about half of the fish were dead, and the ones that weren't dead weren't looking too chipper.

I didn't know what the fuck could have happened to them so quickly. I could see if there wasn't enough air in the tank maybe one of them would die, while the others started looking worse, but I was looking at about half the fish dead -in under an hour. The only thing I could think was that maybe the plecostomus had somehow gotten into, and clogged up, the filtration system. I yelled for the wife, and together we netted out the remaining fish. We put them into two buckets of clean water, one for the fish that still seemed pretty okay, one for the two of them that were barely clinging to life. Then we set about fishing out as many of the babies as we could -I think we got a total of 11 of the babies out of it, which is a pretty good total really, since I had only seen 8 since replacing all of the ornaments that day.

I started draining all of the water out of the tank with the gravity vacuum sucker thingy jobber as my wife put the baby fish into our smaller tank with the neon tetras (these babies are about the same size as the tetras). By now, the fish that had been on the verge of death only minutes before appeared to be back to normal. WHAT THE FUCK?

I continued to drain the water out of the tank with the gravity vacuum sucker thingy jobber, and was getting as much of the remaining crud out of the gravel as I went. When the tank was about 90% drained, I saw that Mr. Plecostomus was still in the tank, so there went my clogging up the filtration system theory -all of the large fish were now accounted for, and the baby fish were nowhere near large enough to cause a problem with it. That was when I saw what I am pretty sure was the problem: A tiny piece of broken glass. It looked like the bottom of a test tube.

As I continued to clean the bottom of the tank, I found the rest of the little glass thingy. It was a thermometer. Now my first thought was "mercury", my second thought was "they haven't used mercury in thermometers in decades", my third thought was "Perhaps the internet knows the answer."

The internet tells me that glass thermometers used in fish tanks are filled with alcohol (which makes sense since alcohol doesn't condensate, otherwise there would be cloudy bubbles all over it all the time), which is toxic to fish. In addition to a liquid toxin in the liquid tank there are also little gray pebbles to weight the thermometer down. Some websites I found say that they are toxic while others say they are harmless. In my case the little gray pebbles weren't spilled, so it wasn't really an issue anyway. I didn't even know we had a thermometer in the fish tank, I hadn't seen it in the month+ that we have had it, but what are you gonna do.

Unfortunately, there are as many opinions on the best course of action now as there are forums. Some say that you should scrub everything with bleach and replace it, which I am most certainly not going to do, since the bleach residue is at least as harmful as the alcohol. Some say that you should only change half of the water, wait a few days, then do it again. Some sites that you should remove only a small portion of the water, and put a carbon filter cartridge in the tank to absorb the remaining toxins. There is certainly no lack of answers. Alas, I have no way of knowing whether Fishmanfl32 or bettababe have a better working knowledge of marine biology, so I am gonna just have to wing it.

I settled on replacing all of the water, and cleaning the gravel only using the gravity vacuum sucker thingy jobber. One of the forum posts that I read said that you don't want to sterilize all of the ornaments and gravel because they contain bacteria necessary to break down the fecal matter that the fish produce. I am all about something other than me breaking down fecal matter, so I am going to give that approach a try. The fish seemed to spring right back to life once they were out of the contaminated water (well that was a poor choice of words, the ones that were already dead are still very much dead, but the ones that were nearly dead are now bright and chipper). So I hope that changing the water and cleaning the gravel as best I could with the gravity vacuum sucker thing jobber does the trick.

I will probably post with the results in a few days, since I wasn't able to find any listings of people who had experienced this problem. Well, that is, I wasn't able to find anyone posting results after attempting the suggestions. If this one works, I will let you know. That way the next time someone googles for dead fish aquarium broken thermometer they will at least know the results of trying it my way.

If you ever happen to google for gravity vacuum sucker thingy jobber, you will probably end up here as well, but that is totally unrelated.


Two days have now passed since the onset of the problem, and I can say with certainty that changing the water and vacuuming the gravel was sufficient to get rid of the toxins. I went to a pet store yesterday to see exactly what was in one of those thermometers, and found that the little pebbles in it are in fact lead. Why on earth do they manufacture something for an aquarium that has alcohol and lead, both toxic to fish, in it? And why on earth would anyone actually put one into their aquarium? To those questions, I have no answers.

A note on changing the water: Our aquarium is set up so that the entire length of the back of it is actually a water filter. The pump pulls water from the top on the left and cycles it through a series of spiky balls and filters before eventually being pumped back into the tank on the right. To remove as much of the contaminated water (and miscellaneous junk) as possible, when I began to fill the tank, I did so with the filter turned off and started filling in the filter system itself. The way our tank is set up, this forced the water to run backwards through the filter system to eventually overflow into the main tank, where I vacuumed all the crud out of it. I left the water running at just about the same speed as the vacuum was able to pull it out, and continued that process for over an hour. By the time it was done, the water that was flowing out of the filter system was all completely clear. I am not sure if that was entirely necessary just to remedy the contaminated water problem, but it did leave the water a lot purer than it otherwise would have been. As anyone who owns an aquarium knows, clear water is sure a lot prettier/healthier than scuzzy water.

The fish that survived the initial shock are now back to moving and playing like they have not done since we first got the tank. This leads me to believe that there may have been other mitigating factors which caused the sudden deaths. While I am sure the alcohol was the actual killer, I am thinking there was probably a problem with the pH or something else that was pre-existing. That is something that I have never worried about with a smaller tank, since the fish only cost a buck and when they die, they die -not that I would intentionally let them die. I suppose I probably should buy a test kit to monitor the pH and nitrates and the such so that I can avoid a repeat of this.

In other fish news, the baby fish are doing quite well in the 20 gallon tank with the little tetras. As I said previously, they are roughly the same size as the tetras, but they are quite obviously babies. You can still see through parts of them, and I don't think they have even grown full sets of scales yet, but they are buzzing along just like the rest of the fish in the smaller tank. And boy is it ever cute to watch them eat -which is something I had not thought of until we had the problem with the large tank. The little guys are perfectly capable of eating the tropical flakes that go into the small tank, but I am not quite so sure if they would have been able to eat the large pebbles that we feed the adult Cichlids.

So, while we did lose half of the adult Cichlids in the thermometer break incident, we actually came out with more fish because of it. I have no doubt that many of the baby fish would have died in the large tank, either from lack of food (mouths too small to eat the pebbles) or the larger fish eating them. Now that they are in the smaller tank, we plan to leave them there until they are large enough to fend for themselves in the big tank. Since 11 of them made it through the toxic water (one even survived fifteen seconds or so on the kitchen stove -that was how we found out that the net has a hole in it), I don't see why all 11 of them can't grow to full size. So, strictly by the numbers, we started with 13 of them, we should end up with 17 of them.


Decisions, decisions

Let's say that you are playing a game of poker, say, Hold 'em for instance. Is it ever right to make a call when you know with absolute certainty that you are behind in the hand?

Say, purely hypothetically, that you have an A-Q suited. Say, equally hypothetically, that it is raised to 3x the BB (which is 100 at this point), and there are a total of 5 callers (myself our hypothetical mark included). It is in a 180 player tournament, there are about 80 people left. Hypothetically, there are about 40 of the people with right around 2,000 in chips and you are one of them.

The flop comes up, say 3-A-7 rainbow. First guy checks, you bet 600 (which is a pretty weak bet since the pot is at 1,500, but that is about 1/3 of your stack), next guy calls, then it folds back around to the first guy, who goes all-in. He has an A-3, I know that with absolute certainty. I have been at the table with the guy for almost an hour, and have seen the A-x hands he plays. He will play an Ace with anything from j-k or anything from 2-5, I have not seen him play an ace with anything 6-10, and that is out of probably a dozen times I have seen him call with an ace. The other guy is new to the table, I have no idea what he might be holding, but I figure he must have the other ace or he wouldn't have called 600. Do you make the call knowing that you are a huge underdog, but also knowing that if you do hit you more than triple your stack?

I called.

My read was spot on for the guy who pushed, A-3 suited. The other guy called it also, but with a pair of Jacks. What in the fuck was he thinking? I mean sure, I knowingly called when I was behind, but I had more than two outs for christ's sake, not many more though. Only a Queen or a Seven wins it for me. Well, there was also the possibility of a runner runner flush, but I didn't let that factor into my decision to call it. So, regardless of outcome, how bad was that call?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

(relative) Success!

I like to play small ball when it comes to poker, as detailed in damn near every post I have made regarding the subject. Well, I finally took down my first MTT. That is if you have a very loose definition for the "M" part of it, oh and the second "T" part of it. Okay, more technically accurate, I took down a two table SnG. Come on, people! Baby steps.

I was greatly aided in my effort when, three hands into it, I had a J-6 in the big blind, and four people were in the hand. The flop was a Q-J-6 with two clubs. I bet 120 at it (the pot at the time), figuring that someone probably had top pair, and I was sure someone was on a flush draw, but I didn't think it was likely anyone had two pair; the other blind folded pre-flop, so these guys had to actually choose to be in the pot, of course if I wanted to think way too much about it, it was also possible that someone had pocket queens, jacks, or sixes -however unlikely it was. Anyway, the next guy in line called, the next guy raised 120, the guy after him called 240, and I pushed. Two out of three called. What were they holding? One had A-7 of clubs and the other had 9-2 of clubs. Both on a flush draw, and at this point we already know where 7 of the clubs are for sure, since I also have one and there are two on the board. The one guy paired his two on the river, but I made it out of it okay.

Now a question. I can understand the guy with the A-7 flush draw calling that one, but if you are the guy with the 9-2 flush draw, do you really call when two people are already all-in in front of you? I suppose that is a bit rhetorical.

So, just like that I was to over 5,000 in chips. Boy the game is a lot easier when you have such a (comparatively) big stack. But even with the big stack, I still didn't raise pre-flop. Instead, I knocked out people one by one by calling their all-ins. I didn't lose a showdown until we got to heads up some time later. I didn't take any screenshots while I was playing, but I just looked at my stats for the tournament and they were as follows:

You finished in 1st place (eliminated at hand #5262853304).

84 hands played and saw flop:
- 11 times out of 22 while in small blind (50%)
- 11 times out of 23 while in big blind (47%)
- 6 times out of 39 in other positions (15%)
- a total of 28 times out of 84 (33%)

Pots won at showdown - 16 out of 19 (84%)
Pots won without showdown - 8

The stats are a bit unrealistic though, since there were 20 hands played during the heads up, and the only losses I had at the showdown were when we just checked it down. Similarly, the pots won without showdown were (I think) exclusively won when he folded from the small blind in the heads up.

In a comment to a previous post, I mentioned that I don't want to control the game, I just want to win about ten hands, to get to the money. I also said that if I called from a position other than the blind, it was likely a hand that I was willing to go all in with. In this one, I called six times when I was not in the blind, and I in fact did go all in on every one of them (or called someone else's all in, usually). I won every one of them. Only once was it really even a suckout, when I called the short stack who pushed with A-8 when I was holding K-9. He got an ace and I got a king on the flop, I got another king on the river to suck it out. I didn't really want to call with the K-9 but I was the last one with a chance or the short stack gets the blinds uncontested. Come to think of, I was in the small blind on that one, so nevermind.

Anyway, I played exactly six hands when I wasn't in the blind, and they were all huge wins. Each one either eliminated someone or absolutely crippled them. That's the game that works for me.


For Ed

I am a sucker for those IQ tests that seem to be everywhere on the internet nowadays. I am pretty sure that they are in no way accurate, since if the results were to be believed, I have an IQ in the 160's. While I like to think that I am smarter than the average bear, I am certainly no Marilyn vos Savant. Still, they are fun to take if for no other reason than to see how much you have forgotten since High School.

The last one I took, which was several months ago, had a question on it that was just so horrible I decided to copy it down for further examination. I don't remember which particular test this question was on, but you find similar on almost every one of these tests, yet never one so horribly put together.

Here is the question in question, as it were:

Ed likes 729 but not 730. He likes 1728 but not 1725. He likes 3375 but not 3400. Which of the following does Ed like?
A) 4072
B) 4913
C) 4734
D) None of the above
E) All of the above

First things first, the question is bullshit based solely on the fact that "None of the above" is listed before "All of the above". Since if A, B, and C are all correct, you can't answer "All of the above" or you are including "None of the above" in your answer. But I am just going to assume that was an oversight, even though every question on the test had the final two answers arranged that way. Now, on to the real reasons why this is a bullshit question.

Answer A is the correct answer because: Given what we know about Ed, he will invariably like the first number given on any list. We know with certainty that he won't like the second number given on the list, but the question doesn't actually say how he feels about the third number on lists. So I am going to assume that he always likes the first number, never likes the second number, and is generally indifferent about the third number. At any rate, I think it is fair to say that Ed has an unhealthy fascination with numbers. Ed needs to get laid.

Answer B is the correct answer because: This is the answer that I actually selected when I took the test, and it is the one I think they were looking for. In the question, the numbers that Ed liked -729, 1728, & 3375 all have cube roots that are whole numbers (take that! Useless memorization in High School pays off!). Of the three available answers, only 4913 also has a whole number as a cube root. So again I say, I think that this was the answer they were looking for.

Answer C is the correct answer because: All of the numbers that Ed likes in the question have digits that add up to 18: 729 - 7+2+9=18; 1728 - 1+7+2+8=18; 3375 - 3+3+7+5=18. Of the available answers, only 4734 - 4+7+3+4=18. So clearly this is the correct answer.

So, since A,B, & C are all correct for one reason or another, the answer has to be "All of the above". Of course the answer can't be "All of the above", since that would include "None of the above". Stupid test.

Like I said, I answered B on this question, and I am pretty sure that was the one they were looking for. The argument for A being the right answer is really pretty baseless, but given the presentation of the question, the argument can't be logically disproven. The real problem is in deciding whether B or C is the correct answer. The question is pretty vague. It doesn't really tell you what answer they are looking for, nor does it give you any hint of a reason why Ed likes the numbers he likes. If answer C would have been 4731 instead of 4734, I think we could all agree that Ed is just a whole cube root freak. But the way the question is presented, we have to decide whether Ed is a whole cube root freak, or if he has a "digits add to 18" fetish. And really, I don't want to know what sort of weird kinky shit Ed is into. Frankly, Ed frightens me a little bit (no offense, Ed).

So if you are ever putting together an IQ test of your very own, please take care to make sure only one of your answers could be right. Or, failing that, put the "all of the above" option above the "none of the above" option. 'Cause did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, Ed likes to swing both ways. Maybe Ed doesn't appreciate your Republican, Bible-Thumping, Better than Thou attitude. Maybe Ed is up in his room right now dreaming about a 3-way with 4913 & 4734, after which he plans to spend a little quality time with 4072. After that he might even take on 8817, and you know 8817 comes from the wrong side of the tracks. But Ed's not doing it because he wants to. No no, Ed is doing it because he doesn't want to conform to your one-number pigeon-holing tactics. When Ed tragically dies while trying to take on 691457, the blood will be on your hands Mr. IQ test writer! I hope you are happy, you heartless bastard!


In loving memory of Ed. -4072 4913 4734- Gone but never forgotten...


Random email

I got a forwarded attachment today from someone I don't know. Of course I opened it, how else do antivirus companies stay in business? Actually it was just an email, but it did have a cute little story in it, which I thought I would share:

An old man lived alone in the country. He wanted to plant a tomato garden, but it was difficult work, and his only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man described the predicament in a letter to his son.
Dear Vincent,
I'm feeling bad. It looks like I won't be able to put in my tomatoes this year. I'm just too old to be digging up a garden. I wish you were here to dig it up for me.
Love, Dad

A few days later he received a letter from his son.
Dear Dad,
Sorry I'm not there to help, but whatever you do, don't dig up the garden. That's where I buried the BODIES.
Love, Vincent

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love, Vinnie

Yes, cute in that Reader's Digest reader submitted way. You know that someone took a long time coming up with the little story. Which is really too bad, since if it had been written a bit differently the ending might not have been so predictable. But it was worth a chuckle anyway.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Note to self

I decided to play in the Mookie tournament today, as I had not played any cards yet. I got all signed up for it with a few minutes before it was to start, then started hitting some websites to read up on other people's take on the WWDN Invitational. Because honestly, reading what other people say about it is damn near as fun as actually playing in it.

Unfortunately, I came across the following take on the action at S.t.B.'s website. To quote just one little bit of it:

I fought may way back up until I got knocked out with the trips against the boat. MP decided to limp with Q Q instead of raising. They deserved to lose that hand instead of knocking me out.

Now, I was the "MP" in that situation, and reading this really irritated me. The whole idea behind poker is deception, right? You are supposed to make your opponent believe that you have something other than what you actually do. If that wasn't the point of poker then we would just play every hand face up. Also, I have been at the table with this guy before on numerous occasions, and had he paid any attention whatsoever to my play, he would know that I NEVER RAISE PRE-FLOP. I can think of probably three hands out of 4 of these tournaments where I actually have raised pre-flop, and it generally always ends badly.

On the particular hand in question, two guys in front of me had already called it, if both of the blinds are in it as well there are five people playing at it. I have the second smallest stack at the table, and even if I was the type to raise pre-flop, I wouldn't have done it in that situation. I want someone to hit something on the flop and bet into it, I need to take as many chips as I can, provided I have the winning hand. Instead of that happening though, he pushed and knocked everyone else out of the hand. What did he want me to do? Fold?

What really, really, really irritated me though was that what he said to me was "nice hand" (well an abbreviation for it), but what he wrote about it was "They deserved to lose that hand instead of knocking me out." Maddening.

Yes, I am taking that entirely too personally.

So then the Mookie tournament started, and I was still stewing about that. I played like absolute shit -even worse than I evidently had the other day. I was looking through my hand history at one point and noticed that I had actually folded a king high flush, it was at that point that I knew my head wasn't in it. I told the people at my table that my head wasn't in it, then pushed on the next hand, which didn't quite take me out since the only caller was the short stack, so I had to push on the hand after it as well.

So, note to self: Don't check out others people's blogs when you are about to start a tournament.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I played in the WWDN invitational and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

I played in the WWDN invitational again tonight. This is the highest stake game that I generally play in, and it is just a ten dollar buy in. I did okay I suppose. Unfortunately, I was playing a bit scared at the beginning, and most of that was because Hoyazo was at my table, and I knew that any play I made was likely to end up on his blog. Yes, fear of being embarrassed, that is definitely the way to play poker!

I finished the thing in 21st place out of 72, which would bring my average finish to somewhere in the low 20s I think. I still think that is pretty good when you consider just who the competition is at that event. They are mostly all poker bloggers, and not just bloggers that happen to play poker like me; they are mostly poker players who happen to blog. Of course I don't think ten bucks is nearly as much money to them as it is to me, so they also might not be bringing their A game, but who knows.

Speaking of Hoy, I am watching him in the bracelet race on Full Tilt, where he is currently 6th out of 19 remaining. Top three win WSOP prize packs. Best of luck to him!


A Jog Down Memory Mile

It always seems that it is something random and insignificant that forces to mind memories long suppressed. Even though many of these memories are such a part of your being that you would not be who you are today without them, they have faded into the dark recesses of your mind to slumber, until some chance occurrence forces them back to mind. Whether the memory stirs a sense of embarrassment or achievement, success or failure, it is there and forever will be, waiting only for that one seemingly insignificant event to once again break it from its cell.

So as I saw the jogger beside the road today, I didn't think anything of it. There are frequently joggers along the road, I probably see them almost daily; so often that I don't even really notice them when they are there. Why it was that today, out of all of the times I have seen a jogger, is the day when a memory from the fifth grade instantly pops into my mind, with crystal clarity no less, will probably always be a mystery to me. But I haven't thought of this event in probably ten years or so, it seems likely that it may be as long before I think of it again, so I may as well write it down while it is fresh in my mind.

I was in the fifth grade, as previously stated, and going to a small school in southern Arizona. This was the school (I know I have mentioned it before) that only had 42 students enrolled, and that covered kindergarten through the eighth grade. We were all forced to participate in band as well as sports, because there just weren't enough kids to make a team/bank without everyone (as you would expect, levels of participation varied greatly. Some of the kids were gung ho about everything, some of the kids really liked some of the sports and tried really hard while ignoring the ones they didn't like, and some just showed up because they had to. I was of the second or third variety there, though I did like to at least try everything once). Of the sports that we participated in, I enjoyed baseball the most. As a bonus that was the game that I was best at, in practice anyway. When we actually played against a team from another school, noting that we would be playing against a team that was an extracurricular activity for those involved, I found that I wasn't nearly as good as I had previously thought: I could foul tip damn near every pitch, but I could never seem to get a hit. Add to that my horrible fear of catching a pop fly (based solely on taking one in the mouth a year earlier) and I was pretty worthless on the field. But I played anyway, not as if I had a lot of choice.

When Track and Field season rolled around (is there actually a "season" for that?), we were somewhat limited in the events we could participate in. Some of the kids in our school were actually good at some of the events, though I forget which students and which events -although I would bet that the students were the ones from the seventh and eighth grade, so we sort of got to pick from the events that they weren't participating in. Once we had a participant for each event we could choose a couple other events to enter, making sure that the times for our events wouldn't overlap. I remember signing up for two events, one of which was the long jump (I thought that I was pretty good at that, and I probably would have been in a field of my peers, but in a field that included people three grades -and several feet- beyond me, I was pretty fucked), the other event that I entered was the mile. The mile is one that I entered because no one else did, and we really wanted to have at least one participant in each event.

Being that I was in the fifth grade, I was no stranger to running. I ran every day at recess, well it wasn't really recess since we were on a middle school type schedule, more of just a long lunch break. I participated in all of our team sports: soccer, football, baseball, etc. There was a lot of running in each of those as well. I figured it wouldn't be much different to participate in the mile, hell, I must have been running more than a mile on any given day anyway. So my training for the mile was just that, I did no training whatsoever, just continued with my daily playing around.

The first time that I ever saw an actual track was on the day of the track meet. I had no idea just how big that sucker was. Remember, I was only ten years old at the time, and the track was at a high school, that thing was fucking huge! I took my place alongside about a half a dozen other people, all of which were at least a good foot taller than me, and waited for someone to tell us to go. Then I ran like hell.

I was able to break out in front of the pack immediately. I was thinking that there was no way these older kids could compete with me, hell, I was ten, I ran every day just for fun. By the time I got to the back stretch my legs were starting to get a little bit tired, so I slowed down a little bit. The rest of the group was still behind me, but closing fast. I managed to stay just a bit in the lead as we went into the corner, but someone pulled ahead of me just before the final straight stretch. I'll be damned if I am gonna let someone else win when I have been in the lead the whole race. I turned on the afterburners and blew right by him. I got to the finish line and let my sprint turn into a jog, then eventually a walk. Then everyone ran past me back into the first corner. What the hell? Victory lap? But I was the one that won.

I started to jog again, but slowly. I still wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but the judges were still trackside, and everyone else was still running... I didn't have any energy left in me, and it was all that I could do to just continue putting one foot in front of the other. I was nearing the back corner when I saw the rest of the field pass the finish line for the seconds time, and keep on running. I made it to the finish line for the second time just about the same time as everyone else had reached it for their third. I had been lapped by everyone else in the event by the time I was on the back straight for the third time. Everyone else stopped when they reached the finish line, so it seemed that it was actually a four lap race, who knew?

I had lost, and lost in a big way, but it wasn't in me to give up. I pushed on, jogging when I could, but cramping so badly that I had to walk the majority of it. Just about everyone had left the track to go watch some other event (the pole vault, I think), leaving me there all but alone, with just one guy still trackside. When I finally hit the final straight stretch, I started to jog again. I wanted it to at least look like I was giving it an effort, even though only two people in the world would ever know it. When I finally finished the race, the guy who was still trackside came up to me and said "good race, man." And, as cliche as it is, he actually patted me on the back.

I learned a lot that day.

I learned that it is probably a good idea to do at least a little bit of research before you sign yourself up for something. I learned that distance running is probably not one of my strengths. I learned that sometimes it really isn't about winning, sometimes it is just about finishing; it is better to finish last than to just give up. I learned a very valuable lesson about life, one that I certainly didn't realize at the time, but that is glaringly obvious now: The guy who watched me finish was holding a yellow ribbon, so he finished third, but he stayed around to watch me finish. Finishing first might mean that you won the competition, but there is a lot more to competition than just being the one who finishes first. It was the guy holding the yellow ribbon that was truly a winner that day.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I suck, evidently

I have been actively looking for a job for well over a month now, as opposed to the first month where I was significantly more concerned with completing home repairs than actually finding a new job, and I am starting to get just a wee bit depressed.

When I was a teenager, I never had to worry about finding a new job because, well, I got every job that I interviewed for. I thought that my perfect record for interviews would translate over to my current job search, but I was sadly mistaken. I guess when you are a teenager looking for a job, where the employees are actually looking for a teenager, it is really a lot different; If you show up in clean clothes and freshly showered, you have already eliminated a good 70% of the field. That doesn't seem to hold true as an adult.

I have now been to four job interviews (well, 5, but one of them I am not going to count since the only hang up was my inability to relocate), and haven't landed a job yet. These are jobs that are in the industry where I have worked for the last twelve years and have a great deal of knowledge and experience. I find it difficult to believe that in every instance they found someone more experienced, or otherwise better qualified, than me. That can lead to only one conclusion: There is something wrong with me.

Since I am not yet willing to believe that there is actually something wrong with me, or with my experience, I have to think that it is something about the actual interviews. I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but there must be something. I dress business casual, even wear a tie. I am polite and attentive, and answer all their questions honestly. When they ask if I have any questions for them, I always ask several, none of which are ever about compensation or benefits; just more specific information on store procedures and the such. I just can't figure out where I am going wrong.

The majority of the jobs that I am applying for have been from websites like Monster, so I know that they are probably smothered in applications, but they have managed to pick my resume out of the pile for one reason or another. Do I just appear better on paper than I do in person? I really would like to know what I am doing wrong.

Now that it is nearing the middle of June, I really am starting to get a bit depressed about the whole situation. This is the slowest time of the year for retail outlets down here, and the number of new positions listed each week is growing smaller and smaller. That likely means that each position is getting even more applicants, thus decreasing my chance of being the one that stands out. But what am I doing wrong? Why don't I stand out?

The more that I think about it, the more helpless I feel. Each interview that I have been to without results has taken a chunk out of my shield of confidence. It is getting ever more difficult for me to keep my spirits up and be confident when I go to these interviews, and nothing is worse than going to an interview if you are already convinced that someone else is going to get the job. But I really am starting to feel helpless, and I don't know what, if anything, I can do about it. I better stop now, before I depress myself even more. Here's to hoping that the next one will go better.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More Poker Goodness

Fresh off of my amazing streak last night, I entered a couple of MTTs this morning. One was a 45 person, $1 buy in, the other was an 18 person $1.50 buy in. I didn't play particularly well in either one of them, but I was able to cash in both. The 18 person one I finished in fourth, which was just enough to cover the buy in, and possibly buy a soda if I could get one for about .45 cents. I did a bit better in the 45 person one.

Here I must note that I am generally much better in single table sit and go's than I am in MTTs. There is just something about getting moved from table to table that seems to keep me from getting into any real rhythm. Today was no different, but the distraction of having the 18 player tourney going for the first half of the 45 player one kept me from really paying any attention to who was at the table anyway.

At about the same time as I busted out of the smaller tourney, the larger one went on break. It seems almost sad really, that I am risking a buck for the chance to win as much as $14 and it takes well over an hour. Hell, it seems even worse that I actually only cashed $4, and that was after just under two hours of play, but I do have to learn how to play in an MTT before I dive into one with bigger stakes.

My best starting hand of the day, and what turned out to be my best call of the day, came just after the break. I had aces in the small blind and bet 3x the BB. I got three callers on it, which was better than I could have hoped. Better, that is, until the flop came up with a pair of Queens and a 2. Under the gun pushes all in, and is quickly called by the other two still in the hand. Seems pretty clear that at least one of them has a Queen, that or a pair of 2's, and either way I was fucked. I had about half of my chips in the pot at that point, but it was just so clear that my aces were no good that I had to lay it down. Once everyone was sufficiently all in, we got to see their cards. One guy did have the pocket 2's, and he was the last one to call. The other two hands were A-Q and K-Q, both of which went down to the full house of 2's and Queens. Now, had it been me that made the play with the pocket 2's, the turn would have been a king and the river an Ace, just to make doubly sure that I lost to everyone, but what are you gonna do.

The next hand, I got an A-4 of diamonds on the button. Again I raised, but only to half of my now meager stack. Got two callers. The flop was K-Q-6, all diamonds. I pushed all in and both of them called. They both had me more than covered at this point.. The turn and river were garbage cards, and the other guys just checked to the showdown. I only got to see one of their hands, the other guy mucked. The winner of the side pot had a K-Q, but no matter, I tripled up.

It took an hour and a half to get to the final table, and only the top seven were paid. Three of us had over 10,000 in chips, while three had under 3,000. I took advantage of being one of the big stacks by stealing damn near every pot for the first couple of orbits. I had just taken the chip lead when someone finally called my raise and caught me with a 4-7 offsuit, which was just about the same hand no one had called me on in the last ten minutes. I had to fold to his all in call, so at that point I lost a lot of credibility. I wasn't able to steal much of anything after that because every time I tried someone would call. And when they did call, I never got any help on the flop and generally had to lay them down on the flop or turn.

I did get to bust out the guy in 9th place when I was in the big blind with an A-8 suited. We were at the flop, which had come up 8 high. There was a possibility of a straight, but only if you were in with a 4-7 offsuit. This guy was on the button, so I assumed that wasn't what he was holding. But he was also the short stack, and I had TPTK. Unless he was holding a pair, which I think he pushes in before the flop from the button, especially when he is short stacked, I should win the hand. I call and get to see his A-7 offsuit, so I have to sweat just a bit as I wait for the turn and river to be anything but a 4 or a pair of sevens. My hand did hold out.

Nothing much happened until it was down to five left. Four were hovering around 14,000 chips, while I was right around 10,000. The blinds were 600/1200, so it was just folding and more folding. Then we came to a hand where I was in the big blind with a 7-8 of clubs and everyone was in the pot. Over 6,000 in the pot by the time it gets around to me, I decided to double it up to see how many of them really wanted to be in the hand. Only one called, but that pot was now at almost 10,000. I got one club on the flop, and a gutshot straight draw needing a 9. I decided to make my stand, which probably wasn't the best decision. Hell, who am I trying to kid, it definitely wasn't the best decision. I pushed and he called with a 10-J, pairing his ten. My only hope was the gutshot straight or a runner runner flush. Neither of which happened, so IGH in 5th.

Still, I think I am getting a lot better at the MTT format. I haven't actually won one yet, but I sure am getting to the money a lot (for those who actually consider a buck to be "money" that is). If there was more money on the line, I would like to think that I would have just called my way into that last hand, then folded when I didn't hit a pair on the flop. Of course I can't actually be sure of that until I am in that position, but the fact that I knew that it was the wrong move to make even while I did it makes me think that I probably could have resisted. The difference between 4th and 5th in my position was only a dollar. Had I been in a ten dollar game, that difference would have been ten dollars. I took a huge gamble for a dollar for the slight chance to double up and take a crack at winning the whole thing. In a ten dollar game, I think I would have listened to my gut...I hope.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Holy Shit

During a bout with boredom sometime last week, I went ahead and tuned one of my guitars and plucked away at it a bit. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the only things that I could remember how to play, and actually still play with only minor mistakes, were all from Metallica's Black Album. Of course I did spend thousands and thousands of hours playing that when I was a teen.

I dug out my old Yngwie Malmsteen tabliture book for the Rising Force album and and started trying to play Black Star again, it has been an awful long time since I attempted that song. Anyway, while I had a pretty good idea what the song sounded like, I couldn't remember it exactly. So I went to you tube to see if I could find a video of it. Well, I found a video of it, but I also found
this video of a kid guy playing the second song from that album.

Go watch it, right now. Seriously, I'll wait.

Then I put the guitar back in the spare bedroom. Let us never speak of this again.


When the Cards Finally Hit

There is nothing more frustrating that sitting around watching all your chips dwindle away, especially when you have a fairly strong hand, but you just don't get hit on the flop, turn, or river. That was the kind of luck I was having all day today. One hand in particular, I had a suited slick and found myself all in against a Q-J offsuit. Sure, I am not a huge favorite to win this one, but he does have only six outs, barring a straight draw, but that would split the pot anyway -well, unless it was 8-Q, but that didn't happen. What did happen though, was a Q-2-J flop that effectively ended it for me. Then, just to kick me in the nuts, the river was another Jack. Another hand, I did get hit, and made an Ace high flush on the turn, again holding a suited slick, but lost when the river hit a 6 giving the other guy a full house. Yes, he went all in with a 2-6 offsuit after I had raised it 5x pre-flop. It's no wonder good players hate playing with us donkeys: you simply can't be prepared for someone to pull that hand out of there ass. What are the odds of them making the full house? Some days it seems like about 1 in 3.

When I decided to play another game several hours later, I went with a low buy in, 18 player game. I sure didn't want to put much money out with the luck I had been having. Of course, when the prize for winning is only ten bucks, then, then I start to get the cards, and in a big way. Hell, it seems like I couldn't miss. I started taking some pictures just after what would turn out to be my last shit hand of the tournament. Then I kept on taking them, 'cause it was just silly the cards that I was getting. I offer it up here for your relative enjoyment:

With the suited A-8 in middle position, I limped into this one. I had been having horrible luck all night at this point.

When it turned into an Ace high flush on the river, I bet all in, since the big stack in the bottom middle had raised it when the king came on the turn:

Alas, Mr. Big stack didn't want to tangle, so it was just me and the short stack that got to show off our cards, and the beginning of what would be a series of awesome hands for me:

I came across a pair of jacks on the button, and was trying to slow play it, hoping to take out at least two of the shorter stacks. Then the one on the top right here went all in. I was the only one to call it, but I only got a pre-flop screenshot of this one (I had two tournaments running at the same time so some of the screenshots I took were of the wrong damn game). She went out on this hand, and it took me to second in chips:

Got an A-4 suited in the big blind, which turned into a bit of a raise-fest. I had to call this one just because of the size of the pot. I would probably have called it anyway though, I always like to see a flop if I have an A-anything that are suited.

PokerStars gave me a gift on this one. I bet half the pot, but even that was too rich for Mr. Bingo:

Look at the size of that pot. It sure is nice when more than one person calls the all in from the short stack. All I had to do now was wait this out and hope that he didn't catch two running hearts.

Which he didn't. At that point I took the chip lead:

We're down to six people when I get the A-J offsuit in late position:

The bet is too high for all but one guy by the time I get my ace on the turn:

So what should come on the river? Well a jack. Giving me top two pair.

I was pretty sure I had this hand won, but when he bet 500 into it, I didn't want to risk an all in call only to see that he had pocket threes or a 4-5 offsuit. Of course he didn't have it, he had a broken flush, and a hell of a low one at that:

I am in the small blind here, going in on a hand that I would probably have laid down if I didn't have such a huge stack at this point. The flop gives me a gutshot draw, but the bet to see the turn is pretty small:

And, it checked around to the river, which was good 'cause if anyone had bet into it at this point I would have probably laid them down.

This time, I bet 500 hoping to keep them both in it, or possibly get a re-raise if someone had two pair, but only one called.

Suited Q-J when we are down to four players, of course I am going in with that hand. Of course I don't want to bet into it, I am hoping to eliminate one or both of the short stacks if the flop hits me.

The flop leaves me on a flush draw when the short stack pushes. I called him figuring I would make my flush with the luck that I had been having this game:

Turns out he was betting on the flush too. Unfortunately for him, he was doing it in the same suit as I was but with lower cards. The turn gave both of us the flush, and thus me the win. Except that he now had a gutshot straight-flush draw at the river, which he thankfully didn't make (probably would have in the games I was playing this morning though).

We swapped a few hands back and forth in the heads up. He was having a bit better luck than I was though. Here I am shortstacked after I had lost with top two pair to his three of a kind. Sadly this would be my last win of the heads up.

We got all in on the very next hand, but it didn't happen until the river. He had been checking since the flop when there were a bunch of small cards on the board, I paired an Ace on the turn and a Queen on the river. I thought I was gonna double-up, but he flipped over yet another three of a kind, 4's this time.

As much as I know that you are supposed to be pissed when you finish second, I was actually pretty happy with it. I finally made a return on my buy in, and that was far better than I had been doing earlier in the day. I just wish there was some way to know when the cards are going to start falling your way so that I could do this in a game with a higher buy in. I guess that is what everyone is searching for though. The ones whose cards start to hit at exactly the right time can end up making a lot of money.

The thing is that you I can't really approach this game with the hopes of making money or it seems to cloud your my judgment. If it takes playing the low buy in tables for the next year to get to where I can win with some consistency, thus giving me the confidence to make good judgments when I am playing for larger stakes, that is what I am going to have to do; It is far better to be winning small sums of money than losing large sums (and to me the $10 buy in to the WWDN Invitational counts as a "large sum").


Bored on a Saturday

There is a radio ad playing on my local radio station, I think it is for Ultimate Electronics, although I can't find anything on their website or google to support my claim. Anyway, the commercial goes on to say that your t.v. isn't simply a t.v., it is a personal theater where "gifted thespians like Steven Seagal ply their craft". I don't know why, but that just makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Speaking of Steven Seagal, he was in a new movie that came out last week. Shadow Man was a direct to video release (like every Seagal film should have been), that I happened to catch a couple of scenes from. All I can say is wow. It has been so long since I have actually seen Seagal in a movie that I had completely forgotten just how bad he is at acting. I do see parodies of him quite a bit on MadTV, but those were just parodies, obviously exaggerated, right? Nope. The truth is that the parodies of him, where the actors are doing their absolute best to act horribly, are still better than his actual acting. Since it is clear that he isn't going to go away, why don't they just set the movies around his character being a mute who has lost all ability to feel emotion, hell he could probably win an Emmy in that role.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Technology Sucks

After years of screwing around with computers without ever running into any defective hardware or devices, I have really taken it on the chin of late. I detailed the problem I had with the eMachine that I recently bought, but I am happy to say that I am merrily typing away on that machine right now. So it did eventually get fixed, so no harm no foul.

Unfortunately for me, there have been other problems with computer related devices. A printer for instance. I bought a new printer shortly after I quit my job knowing that my antiquated cannon bubble jet wasn't going to be able to print out anything approaching an impressive resume. I bought a Lexmark P4350, which worked fabulously for all of about five minutes. There are far too many motors or bands or something in that machine that relate to the paper feeding. One of those little bugger isn't working right, so I have to feed the paper manually, one sheet at a time. I can send it in for repairs, however since I never took the time to register it, and of course don't know where the receipt is, they are considering it a repair on out-of-warranty merchandise, which will likely cost a hell of a lot more than the machine itself did. Stupid broken printer.

Then there is the RAM that I bought to put into my shiny new computer. I put it into the slots, plugged the computer back in -which threw an amazing spark as the cord reached the case- and hit the power button. Of course the computer wouldn't make it past the POST with the new RAM in it. Using the tried and true pull one, then the other technique, I was able to determine that only one of the sticks was bad, so at least one of them still works. Which is quite fortunate, since I have no way to get my money back on that either. I really should keep better track of my receipts. This one was over a month old though, since the RAM just sat uselessly on a shelf while I waited to get the new computer back. I don't know what your house looks like, but around here something as small as a receipt, given a month to roam the landscape, is deep into the endangered species list, more likely already extinct.

So today I had to justify buying a new printer. That is actually a pretty easy thing to do. All you have to do is go check the prices to replace your current ink cartridges to see that it really isn't all that much more to buy a new printer anyway. The brand name this time is Brother. I chose this one specifically because I had an old Brother electric typewriter (one which I got at a huge discount for buying the floor model after it was discontinued at Staples) which worked flawlessly for several years before it was eventually cobwebbed when I got my first computer. My boss happened to have one of the same model though, and it was still plugging away eleven years after he bought his, so it does have some staying power.

It is kind of like a crap shoot when you try to hook anything up to Windows. Xp certainly has a better compatibility list than any previous version, but the so called plug-and-play devices are still more of a plug-and-pray situation. The new printer was the latter, of course. Not only did Windows not have a driver for the printer, the printer's own software would not install in Windows. It would just tool along for a while and all of a sudden stop. The hourglass went away, my cursor was still active, the task manager said the program was running, but there was just nada. The printer showed up in the printers section of the control panel but was listed as not having a driver, yet when I put the driver disk into the cd tray and told it to load the driver it just sat there staring at me...Mocking me.

So I searched out the drivers on the internet. Downloaded that. Uninstalled all of the previous printer drivers, rebooted the system just for good measure, and tried again. Nothing. I went to the manufacturer's website to search out any known problems and that was where I ran into the first big problem: they don't even have this model number listed on their website. I mean I know technology has a pretty short lifespan, but could it really have been so quick that the printer had become obsolete in the time it took me to drive home? I guess so, since I tried to register it by serial number while I was at the website and it didn't like the serial number. I tried removing some of the letters to try to make it look like the models that they did have listed, but wasn't ever able to get it registered.

I was able to get it to work though. It turns out that going that extra mile and actually connecting the computer to the printer can have a great impact on your ability to get the correct drivers loaded. In fact, once I actually plugged the god damn thing into the computer the cd started to autorun and went through the installation with very little interaction from the flesh bag at the keyboard. It works just great!

Unfortunately the registration problem is very real, and with the luck I am currently having with any device that has a microchip, I am sure that I am going to have to send this thing in for service sometime within the next couple of hours. I wasn't sure if this was a tech support or customer service issue, so I e-mailed both of them. Hopefully one of them will be able to tell me what the problem with the serial number is, and why the model isn't even listed on their website. Unless, of course, this is a one of a kind prototype that was stolen from some technology expo, then sold to Wal-Mart through the black market -I find that answer a bit unlikely.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Random randomness

Well, blogger has been pretty fucked up of late, and since it would be a real pain in the ass to update the front page manually, as I used to do, I have instead lost a couple of complete posts by being a complete idiot. You see, when I first started using the blogger script, I continued to write all of the posts in notepad (including all the html for links, etc). The thing is when I transferred them over to blogger, I would have to do it either a paragraph at a time, or else it would not put in breaks, or I would do it all at once and lose all of the actual html from the document -I would have to go back and reinsert italics, bold, any links, etc. I'm sure that there was a way to get around that, but I never bothered to look it up, I just started using the blogger text editor since it is basically the same as notepad anyway.

Unfortunately for me, I have a habit of not making copies of what I am writing into the text editor over here, so when blogger is continually going down, I don't actually know that I am going to lose the post until after I have already lost it. That is to say, I didn't paste the html back to notepad before I attempted to publish the last two posts, and since blogger was down I was not able to retrieve the contents. Stupid blogger and your stupid downtime. Fear not, I am sure the missing posts probably wouldn't have been earth shaking, they rarely ever are.

Instead I will offer a couple of random things, and for the best reason: no damn reason at all!

The local jocks on the radio were being their normal obnoxious selves this morning. It is sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking (hard to type that with a straight face finger), sometimes, well most times, just completely, unapologetically chauvinistic. So, kind of humorous in doses, as long as you try to tell yourself that it has to be satire (don't even question whether or not it is meant to be satire, you will be disappointed with the results. Unless you have a very small mind, in which case you probably don't think it is satire, but then you probably agree with all the "get your ass back in the kitchen, take off your shoes, and have my baby" type "humor" they throw around).

The show is at its best when it is unintentional though. Like this morning. There was something in the middle of one of the valley freeways, it may have been an animal, but no one was really sure. Anyway, the jocks instantly assumed that it was an animal, and were actively asking the person who had hit the animal to call the show. Of course there were a couple hundred people who called up claiming to be the person who hit the animal, 'cause hearing yourself on the radio is probably at the top of their "must do before I die" list. Some of the calls were funny, just for the outlandish stories the people were telling. For example, one person said that a UFO dropped a mutilated cow on the freeway in front of him and he didn't have time to dodge. But the best part was that they started playing a stock "tire screech, car crash" audio bit before each new call they took. Until the last one, when someone hit the wrong key. So just as the jock says something like "There is a dead animal in the middle of the I-10", Marvin Gaye's song Let's Get it on started playing in the background. Classic, in that "it's funny because it's necrophilia" way.

Next up is a horoscope in the latest issue of The Onion:

Taurus April 20 - May 20:
It seems like no matter how many times you pick up the Bible, you always discover something new within its pages for you to wildly misconstrue.

That applies to a lot more people than just Taurusus Tauruses Taurusis Taurus' Tauri the ones born under the sign of the bull. The problem is if you own a bible, and you think that the statement doesn't apply to you, you are exactly the person that it applies to, but you will never admit it.

Finally, Wil put up a link to this flash animation music video, and it is the funniest thing since sliced bread.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What a couple of weeks can do

I was on the phone with a friend tonight, and he asked me how long I had been playing poker -Hold 'Em specifically. And I had to think about it for a bit before I answered. I have had an account on PokerStars for a couple of months, and when I first started it I did play in a few micro-low-limit games, but that was about it. I played at the play money tables, found out that I wasn't very good at it and just sort of gave it up. I only really started playing a couple of weeks ago.

The first real game I played in was actually a WWDN Tourney, a game that I played in more because I enjoyed reading Wil's blog and thought it would be cool to play a game of cards with him than because I really thought I had a realistic shot at getting anywhere near the final table. And boy was I ever right. I didn't go out first, but I am pretty sure I was in the top five (well, bottom five I guess, from that perspective). Yes, I got my ass handed to me. Which is an entirely false statement, the truth is that I handed my ass to myself (that didn't come out right).

I know myself well enough to know that I am not going to take anybody's word for anything; you tell me the sky is blue and I am damn sure gonna go check it out for myself. I don't know what it is about me that makes me do that, but I know that I do. That translated into poker, just as it does pretty much everything else I try, in a bad way. You see, I have to go in there and try what everyone else already knows won't work before I believe that it won't work, which is probably a bad thing.

The only Hold 'Em I had ever even really seen was the WSOP on the travel channel, and then only at the final table with two or three players. Which, of course, means that they guys are going to play with and call with far less than premium hands. That was something that I sure didn't know at the time. Unfortunately, that mentality was what came into my poker game because that had been my only influence. So when the first tournament I ever really played in just happened to be with about the toughest on-line field you are likely to ever see, I beat myself, and everyone there, including me, knew it.

Nothing pisses me off more than knowing that I want to do something that I am really bad at, so I had to find a way to start getting better. But, I refused to buy or read any strategy book, or pot-odds/hand-odds type material. I wanted to start learning it myself. You see, if I take the lumps along the way, so I surmised, I would learn the lessons a lot better, and I would be far less likely to make a mistake twice, where it would be entirely possible to momentarily forget the same mathematic calculation twice. Which is all just a long, roundabout way of saying that I wouldn't believe that I really should fold a Q-2 of hearts when three people ahead of me have already gone all-in until I have actually tried it and seen the results (which are always bad, if you are taking notes).

I began playing the low-limit tables at pokerstars and sucking handily. I played every card that had any possible flush or straight possibility. And if it was a possible straight flush, I played it hard. Note that I am not talking about like the AQ of diamonds here, I am talking about the 2-6 of hearts. Just three more hearts and I have a flush! Possibly a straight flush! Which, of course, never happened. And the few times where I actually did make the flush, I would invariably lose the pot to someone with a higher suited card. I lost, and I lost a lot.

My biggest problem (after I began to understand which hands to play) was that I was in "survive until everyone else goes out" mode. I would just sit there staring at the screen hoping beyond hope that everyone else would bust out and leave me in the money. Which also didn't seem to work out so well, go figure. At that point I was laying down hands that were actually good so that I didn't have to risk any portion of my meager stack. I am talking about pairs of faces that I would lay down in the face of any bet. I was scared shitless playing like, well, someone who wanted to just watch their stack get blinded away because he lacks the balls to call with the winning hand. That is not a good way to play.

After losing over and over to such horrible tactics, I changed my tactics. Good call, that. I am now into the level where I am actually thinking a few levels into each hand (with various random donkishness inserted). I am now able to think about what I am holding , come up with a fairly decent idea of what my opponent is holding (based on bets), and, most importantly, have a pretty good idea of what he thinks I am holding. Knowing what I am holding is a gimme, but the other two are taking me a lot of practice to improve at. And what is more, it seems that it is far easier to figure out the third point than the second.

The second point is the only one you have no control over; you simply can't will him to have a different hand -trust me, I have tried. You can control what he thinks you have though, all it takes is good betting. Unfortunately, the good betting still comes and goes for me. I can sometimes do it, but sometimes, particularly if I have a decent lead or defecit, my mind just sort of shuts down. Then I look at my hand histories the next day and wonder why in the fuck I didn't bet all in when I made my trips, and instead let it go down to the river where he made his flush. I am getting better at it though, all it takes is practice.

I did pretty much luck my way into the final table at the WWDN tourney yesterday (just on the one had really, the rest were just standard suckouts), but I also played another tourney yesterday. It was just a low-limit buy-in ($5) with a field of 45, but I played my way through it better than most of the other donkeys and finished in fourth. That was a tournament that I know I would not have made it past the first table on just a couple of weeks ago. So that made it two tournaments that I played yesterday, and two that I finished in the money. Baby steps people.

So today, while watching the The Mookie Mrs. Butterworth Open, I decided to go play a game with a field of 45 at the dollar table. Jesus titty-fucking christ. I can't possibly have ever been that bad, can I? I folded an AQ early on when a pair of sevens hit the board and two guys went all-in. Did they both have the other sevens? Nope, they went on to split the pot with 6-9 offsuit hole cards. A split pot with 6-9 offsuit, dear God I hope I never made that push or call, but I probably did. Anyway, out of the 45 I ended up finishing fourth when I pushed all in from the button with queens, and got called by the big blind with kings. I only came in fourth, but oh how I played so much smarter than most of the other people at the table.

With luck my game will continue to get better as time goes on, but for now I am just thinking Wow, what a difference a couple of weeks can make.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Money in the WWDN invitational

Through an amazing combination of fishery and donkishness, I managed to finish sixth in the WWDN invitational. That is a pretty big deal to me, since some of the best poker bloggers in the game compete in that event. If I get an inkling, I may add to this post at a later time. With mad props to Mungo (linkage to come) for doubling me up when I was down to 475 chips and had a lowly 48 offsuit. But he also should have known better than to go in against a powerhouse hand like that; the only thing that can take it down is the hammer.

I managed to nearly double up very early on when I got queens, but even with what should have been a dominating hand I was scared to go in, and when the board came up with a jack, and the other guy raised, I really thought I was in trouble. When the river came up a 9, giving the board a pair of 9s and a Jack, I had visions of going out really early to either three nines or a boat, but thankfully he had an AJ, so I did get the win. But my god how horribly I played that hand. There is no way I should have let myself get into the position where I felt that I might actually be behind when the cards on the table were all undercards, and with the size bet he had to call to see the flop. But, it turns out that my fears would be realized just a few hands later.

In the small blind with an A5 offsuit, I can see the flop for 50 in chips, so I take it. The flop is A-10-5 rainbow, giving me top and bottom pair. I bet the pot (200 at that point) and get raised, uh oh. I am putting the other guy on a TPTK though, I think he pushes all in on that flop if he has hit middle pair; there isn't a huge pot, but he can't possibly want me to see another card if he really has two pair. I raise him all in. He shows AJ, which is good in exactly one way: my read was more or less right on (I had him at AK, AJ isn't too far off). The river comes up a 7, which leaves me in the lead, but he has way too many outs. Since I have an underpair if the board pairs up the seven or the ten, or if he hits a Jack, I lose. The river pairs up the seven, giving him two pairs with a jack kicker to my 5 kicker. *sigh* I am sitting here thinking about it and wondering if I would play that hand the same if I got it again, and I think I would. I don't want to go all in on the first bet after the flop, cause I need to see if he has middle pair, especially since an A-10 is likely a hand that someone is willing to pay 50 to see the flop with. So, I donked away 1,000 chips on that hand, but I was still in fairly good position.

Then came my Holy Fuck, what in Christ's name was I thinking there play of the game, or at least a strong contender. When dealt a 9-10 offsuit in early position, I limped in. I hadn't been in an hand in quite a while, and that was the closest thing I had seen to a hand since my early A-5 smackdown. Of course there ended up being six guys in the pot, so I should have known that one of them could have a better hand than a 9-10 offsuit. So when the flops comes up 6-3-Q and is checked to me in early position what do I do? I bet half the pot, that's what I do. Because nothing screams "I don't have shit here, but I really want your blinds, so please just go ahead and fold now" like an early half pot bet. Apparently at least one guy was on to me. So when the turn paired up the sixes, thus destroying any outside chance of getting a runner runner runner straight, and at the same time giving me what had to be the losing hand, I simply folded. Well, I wish I would have folded, but instead some jackass bet 500 (yes that was me), which was quickly called. Then when the river hit an Ace, my donking off of chips was nearly complete, but at least I had the good sense to lay the hand down, albeit about 800 chips too late. In retrospect, I wonder what the hell I was trying to bluff there. In order for a bluff to work you have to be able to make your opponent believe that you have something better than him. Was I really betting the 500 on the second 6 thinking that I was going to fool him into thinking that I had made my previous bet on middle pair and hit trips on the river? If I was (and honestly I don't know what I was thinking), that was a totally stupid move. Of course you know what they say about hindsight.

The next thing you know I am down to 475 in chips when Wil gets moved to my table, thus putting me on the short stack, on the TV table, in the big blind. Just fucking perfect. The cards:4-8 offsuit, it would have been more fitting only if it was a 3-8 offsuit. Mungo pulled a reverse-hoy on me, and I called, hell I had to call; I already had a third of my chips in the pot and only had enough chips to post the blinds once more. Well, I sucked out HUGE on the river when I hit and 8, and his pair of threes hadn't improved. I was back to 1024 in chips, but I wasn't done there.

I actually got dealt a fairly decent hand the very next time: A-Q in the small blind. I got into the pot with another 75 chips and saw a queen on the flop. I bet a quarter of my stack with TPTK, fully expecting to get re-raised all-in, but figuring he would have folded if I would have simply pushed. He called me all-in with an A-J and I double up again. But could I do it five times in a row? Well, not this time.

It is worth noting that it was at precisely this point that I actually looked at the pokerstars "stats" tab for the first time since I have been using the software -how sad is that? I had won 7 of 8 at the showdown at this point, and had seen an impressive 8% of the flops, which is probably a bit too conservative no matter what your game is. Was I really just going to sit on the sidelines and wait for AA to make a bet? No, no I wasn't. I proceeded to donk off a sizable portion of my stack when I made a foolish call that I had to lay down on the turn, but should have laid down before the flop.

Later in the tourney, on the bubble, I got aces again. Someone in front of me had already raised it to over half of my stack, so I just smooth called it, not wanting to scare anyone off, and hoping to pull down as many chips as possible. The flop was a goldfish, a flower pot, and Britney Spears, which helped no one, and he called me all in. I went on to double up yet again, and at a crucial time.

I got to the final table with a veritable Who's Who of the tournament regulars, except for Wil, who was just as lucky to be at the final table as I was. Mungo was kind enough to double me up one last time, but it was clear that I was out geekedmatched at this table, and my ass was getting really sore (you would not believe how many excuses I could come up with in a pinch), so I decided to make the play I had to make: Drop the Hammer!

Unfortunately, Kaellin(matt?) didn't get the memo, and thought that he could dominate the hammer. Well, it turns out he was right, he had pocket sixes, and the flop came 6hearts, 6clubs, and 6pinnacles. Not often you get quints on the flop. When the turn came up 6swatstikas, I briefly thought I could be back in it. If there were five sixes on the board it would be a split pot. Unfortunately the river was a Babe Ruth rookie card, which is just fucking worthless in that situation, so I go home.

Interesting to note that on 6-6-6 I went home in sixth place, to a six of a kind sixes, at 6:66 pm (+66minutes, +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds +66seconds). That is just too spooky to be a coincidence...

I had a lot of fun playing though, and thanks to actually finishing in the money this time, I will be able to play it again next week. I was damn near out of cash and wasn't about to rebuy just to throw money to a lot of people that I have no business competing against anyway. And that is the kind of optimism I take into every tournament!



Much like I will be offended when I am getting screwed by a large corporation, I will also give credit where credit is due.

I have posted a few entries about eMachines, mostly pertaining to why it is that I continue to buy the machines when they are pretty obsolete right out of the box. Since I don't want to waste the time looking up old posts, I will sum it all up in a quick sentence: Buy a $300 eMachine, put in $300 worth of upgrades (video card, RAM, etc.) and you have a $1500 HP, Compaq or Dell. That is the type of math that I like (also it is much easier to find an eMachine that comes without a monitor, and the monitor alone is generally at least a third of a system price from other companies -on a low end system).

I have also had extremely good luck with eMachines over the years. My first was a 366 (466? I forget which) which I continued to upgrade well past the time when it was a viable system. I was able to get about six or seven years of use out of it, in computer years that puts it past a dinosaur, hell it has already become fossil fuel by that point. My next few computers purchases were all eMachines as well. I have just had really good luck with them.

So it was that in the middle of May I was thinking about upgrading to yet another computer. After pricing them on the major websites, I determined that it would again be far cheaper to buy a base eMachine and throw in some upgrades. I happened to see one for $280 and decided to go ahead and get it. Of course it only had 256mb of RAM, which really should be criminal on a machine that is running Windows XP, the OS alone requires more than that to function correctly. Of course it was only going to have 256mb long enough to fire it up the first time anyway so it wasn't of any great concern.

I started it up just long enough to get past the "welcome to Windows" crap, as well as downloading the latest Windows updates (and if you don't have your machine set to automatically update you are just asking for trouble; Windows is about as secure as a bank working on the honor system), and powered it down for some upgrades.

In went a shiny new 512mb ATI graphics card (pci-express) which would be the biggest upgrade from my current system (which is using a 128 mb card through a PCI slot). Threw in a gig of ram and powered the machine back up. I downloaded the latest Catalyst software for the video card, logged in to Guild Wars to download about a year of updates, and waited. Off and running in about a half an hour.

My wife was actually using the machine at the time (although she didn't know it) when, after about an hour of play, it started to experience some display issues. The minimap was not showing anything on it, while the rest of it appeared to be functioning normally. Until she got to the middle of a major mission when, of course, the PC just shuts down. No BSD, no warning, just all of a sudden the machine is turned off completely. My keen observational skills lead me to believe that something may be wrong with the system.

Now, the eMachine in question uses an onboard nVidia graphics accelerator (which I had disabled in BIOS prior to poweing it up with the ATI card) and PCI bridge. I briefly thought that it may somehow have something to do with it not running with the ATI card, although that didn't really make any sense. I know that they are rival companies and all, but the ATI card should be able to work in any system regardless of what other hardware happened to be in it.

Since I had not used the machine for any length or time before I installed the RAM and the video card though, I really had no way to know if it was the video card, RAM, or PC itself that was the problem. I started testing it in a kind of backwards way. I uninstalled all of the software associated with the video card, as well as the card itself, then powered it up again. I tried to play the game for a while in this configuration, and eventually got to a random system shutdown. So, not the video card. Next up to take out the new RAM and put back in the old. Do you know how long it takes to boot Windows XP with only 256mb of RAM? Jeebus it took forever (a little too long I suspect). I didn't even try to play the game with only 256mb of RAM and onboard video because, well, I don't think it would have even loaded it. So, just while mindlessly surfing the internet, system shutdown. No BSD, no warning, just powered right down.

Being the psychic that I am, I knew that the first thing the customer service representative was going to suggest was reinstalling the OS, so I decided to go ahead and try that prior to calling them. It would not reinstall the OS, but instead came up with an error about a corrupt fill in the Windows/system32 folder, which is never good news. Could I have already downloaded a virus? It took about four attempts to get the OS to actually reinstall, but reinstall it did. So, back to the internet. Back to a random shutdown. I was less than happy.

Now to contact customer support. I decided to use the online chat with a representative feature, for two reasons: 1)It would give me time to read what I was saying before actually saying it, as I was a bit fucking pissed off upset, and 2)The support reps are invariably in a foreign country, and I really can't usually understand the majority of what they are saying.

There was one thing that I wasn't planning to tell the rep, though, and that was that I had already removed the cover and upgraded the system (of course they would know it when they got the machine back, I just didn't want the rep to imply that I had somehow screwed the machine up while sticking a card into a slot). I didn't log the session with this guy, but I probably should have, because it was about the worst customer service I have had in a long time. I tried to be as precise as I could in the description of the problem; I gave the model number, the part number, the serial number, the problem with the system randomly powering itself down, and a detailed description of the errors that I received while trying to reinstall the OS (there were a total of four such errors, each one different). His first words (well after the "thank you for contacting support" B.S.) were "Why were you trying to reinstall the operating system?"

Since I am supposed to be giving some kudos to eMachines right now, I am not going to go into a lot of detail about this particular support session. It can basically be summed up with the following:

Me: There is something wrong with the system. It is randomly shutting down. I have tried to reinstall the OS and it has had errors during the installation. Once it did reinstall it continued to have problems with random power downs.

Rep: J00 juz need 2 reb007.

Me: It will not boot, in fact, even the system restore cd is failing to load.

Rep: Joo juz need 2 use teh systm re570re cd

Me: I have tried that, it will not work.

Rep: Joo suxor n00b,

It wasn't really that bad, but that is kind of how I felt about it. He was repeatedly asking me to try what I had already tried, despite the fact that I assured him I had already tried it. At one point he decided that the "solution" to the problem was that the system restore cd was bad, which would explain all of the system power downs how, exactly? Oh yeah, the spelling might be a bit exaggerated as well. Anyway, eventually he agreed to pick the machine up and get it looked at.

So, on their own dime, eMachines sent me a box to put the system into, along with a fedex pickup slip to send it back to them. Which I did a couple of weeks ago. Today I got curious about the status and decided to contact support again, this time, however, the person I was chatting with was quite friendly.

I had thought that the hard drive was most likely corrupt, as that would explain why the system wouldn't reinstall the OS. It turns out that I was wrong. It was actually the motherboard that was bad. The machine is currently awaiting a replacement.

So this low dollar machine happened to have a problem, and eMachines went ahead and picked it up, paid for the shipping both ways, and it is repairing free of charge, despite the fact that I had already taken the cover off of it. I don't know if the other companies have since changed their policies, but it used to be that removing the cover voided all warranties.

Besides, a lot of people say that they have had problems with eMachines, but if they are willing to repair it with zero out of pocket cost to you, what could the problem really be? Aside from the problem with the first customer service rep, which was likely due a lot more to my frustration than his actual support; I know that he had to suggest what I had already tried, that is part of what I am sure is a checklist that they have to go through before they have a system picked up.

I have been perfectly happey with every eMachine I have bought so far, and this one, while it was less than perfect out of the box, was fixed without cost to me. kudos to eMachines.

After writing this, it occurred to me that I might have accepted a non-disclosure agreement, but I checked with eMachines to make sure before I posted it. I wonder if they would have said it was fine if I had written a scathing review? Ah well, I spent the time to write it, so here it is.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What has become of me...

So I was lying around the house today watching some hardcore porn...Actually, that isn't true, although admitting to that would be so much easier than admitting what I was actually watching. There is a new show on The Learning Channel called Honey, We're Killing the Kids, which I thought was going to be an interesting docudrama that followed a couple around as they hunted down their own children and savagely beat them to death with rusty machetes. When it turned out to be something completely different, I was far too lazy to push the button on the remote that would end my misery, so I watched it anyway.

First off, shouldn't Disney file a lawsuit against the creators for using their intellectual property? Isn't it an obvious ripoff of the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? Bleh. The series is probably owned by Disney, or the network is owned by Disney, at any rate I am not going to waste the time to look it up. Because when it comes down to lawsuits, I think Mattel is the company that really has a case. Look at the images and judge for yourself1:

At any rate, the show is all about exploiting fat children. The premise is that a nutritional expert will show the parents what the child will look like at age 40 if they don't change their lifestyle, but the reality is that it is a show that will be watched by millions of people so that they can think that their children aren't really all that fat by comparison. The particular show that I watched had a twelve year old kid on it that was only 10 pounds lighter than I am despite the fact that I am almost two feet taller than him. It truly boggles the mind.

I really can't see why anyone would ever watch more than one episode of this show. I watched the very beginning of another episode and it is exactly the same thing only the people have been changed. I don't think this is going to be a Jerry Springer type thing, where people like to watch it just to see what happens when the gene pool dries out. I can't see how this show would be any different ever. Act 1: show the parents grossly exaggerated (or not when you look at the exploding waistline of the U.S. population) age renderings of what their children will look like in a couple of decades. Act 2: Insert change in the form of better food and a more healthy lifestyle, which the family at first rejects but slowly starts to accept. Act 3: show the parents grossly exaggerated (for sure this time) age renderings of what their children will look like in a couple of decades now that they have eaten a piece of fruit (imagine that, they could all be runway models). The End.

It would be nice if they were to go into the epilogue. You know, fast forward a couple of years to find out that the second the cameras were off everyone reverted to old habits and the kids are fatter than ever, but that would sort of make the entire premise of the show kind of pointless then, wouldn't it?

Normally I am not the type to make vast and sweeping generalizations without factual basis2, but I am going to go with my gut on this one (pun intended). The only people likely to watch this show are going to be the parents of children who are borderline morbidly obese. If they can find just one child on the planet that weighs more than little Timmy, you see, then that means that little Timmy isn't really that fat. Who else would watch the show? Parents of normal3, healthy, active children wouldn't want to watch it, and certainly wouldn't want their children to watch it. So I guess that means that they will always have an audience, at least until every family except for the fattest family in the U.S. has seen it.

1) I think I probably lose a lot of cool points for knowing the Mattel logo well enough to immediately recognize this blatant ripoff. Even more for actually admitting that I recognized it. Thankfully it wasn't the Kenner logo or I would gain like 2d20 geek points on top of the cool points that I lost. In fact I might get those geek points anyway since Kenner was absorbed by Hasbro a long time ago and only the real Star Wars GeeksTM remember Kenner, and then only because it is printed on the front of their complete set of action figures from the first film.

2) I leave that to the Republicans. *rimshot* Thank you. I will be here all week.

3) That makes it sound like I am implying that the extremely overweight children are not "normal", I would like to clarify that. I am not implying that they aren't normal, I am saying it flat out.


Finally a hand I am happy with

I am guessing that Party Poker must have the most television advertising going on right now. While the level of play at any of the major poker sites is erratic at best, especially at the low limit tables, even I feel superior to the majority of the players I run into at Party Poker. I have by far my best winning percentage over there and finish in the money probably 2/3 of the games I enter. Of course when I bow out early it is generally because someone is in on a hand they have no business calling with, much like I was doing not so long ago, come to think of it.

I was in a $6 buy-in game this morning, and had been chugging along with maybe one playable hand in the first thirty. Thankfully, it was playable enough that I busted someone out, though he was the short stack so it didn't contribute greatly to my stack. It did give me enough chips to compete with everyone else though (truth be told, I had made a horrible call earlier in the game with a pair of queens and it took me all the way to the river -even when the flop was a pair of kings- to admit defeat and lay it down. Stupid, stupid mistake.

I was in the big blind when I got dealt a nice, high-end suited connector. There were five people at the table and everyone called the blind, which I raised hoping to eliminate a couple of K Q offsuit limpers. I only raised it 400 (I think) but that was enough to knock two guys out of it. The flop came up just beautiful for me, and I bet into it, knocking out one more player, leaving only myself and one other guy. (pity I only thought to take a screenshot after the turn).

So, just to set it up a bit, I knew this guy had a high pair, or he had made what could be the worst call in the history of poker -it was Party Poker, that is always a possibility. If his pair was Queens, the flop would have given him a three of a kind, which I am sure he would have gone all in with he should have played a bit stronger to my weak bet. He must have thought that I didn't have the queens either though, or he would have folded. Currently, I was in an open ended straight flush draw, which necessarily implies any straight or flush draw. At any rate, the turn came up in my favor and I went all in. There was already 2,500 in the pot and I didn't care if I knocked him out of it or he called because there was no way he was going to beat my hand -barring a nut flush draw, and I don't think there is any way he is playing the A-K of clubs that strong. I am not basing that on anything at all, just a gut feeling.

When the guy actually called the all in, I was left re-evaluating my previous thinking. Maybe he really was in it on a nut flush draw. I found it far more likely that he had pocket queens and thought he was going to take down the pot. There was also the possibility that he was also holding a 10-J, but I don't think he is going to play it that strong pre-flop. Of course there is also the possibility that he has just made a lower straight with a 5-7 or a 7-10, which he really shouldn't be in the hand at all with, but again it is Party Poker.

I was extremely confident that the turn had given me the win. The river, however, was just kicking the guy in the nuts:

Yes, he went all in with pocket jacks despite there being a flush draw and multiple straight draws on the table. My only question is what did he think I was holding? He must not have considered that at all, it is either that or he thought I had flopped middle or low pair and was trying to bluff my way into the pot. I suppose there is also the possibility that he was going all in on the gutshot since the pot was so big. But enough about what he might have been thinking.

I am extremely pleased with this hand. Not just the outcome of it either. I am pleased that I had the confidence to raise from the big blind to knock off some of the competition, even though my hand was less than ideal. The rest of it was just the luck of the draw really. The flop could just as easily have brought up a pair of aces and a jack. Once I learn how to play that flop and still come out with the chips, my ego will increase exponentially.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Suns Lose! Suns Lose!

I am not a basketball fan by any means. I did enjoy watching the game back in the late '80's - early '90's when it seemed that every game ended with a score of 135-131, usually on some miraculous buzzer beater. The last decade has been boring as hell for basketball. If the Jordan era was the era of big offense, the last decade has been the era of big defense. I suppose that from a purely technical standpoint the defensive play is a lot better. Technically better doesn't equate to more fun to watch though; a well executed half court press pales in comparison to an offensive fast break that is capped off with an alley-oop dunk. These plays are still made, of course, but they are usually just in the garbage portion of the game when one team has already benched all of their starters and back-ups, leaving you reaching for the team roster to see if the guys now on the court are actually even on the team.

Growing up in Oregon, basketball was the one professional sport that our state actually had a team in. But rather than support them, I actively hated them. It was my (misguided) belief that if we didn't have the stupid basketball team we would be able to have a football team, and football was always my favorite sport. Since I felt a need to hate the Trailblazers (and what a ridiculous name that is), I needed to choose someone from their conference to root for. My mother lived in Arizona at the time so I picked the suns, and at a damn good time.

Shortly after I started following the Suns they started what would become their "glory days". Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle (the fact that I can spell that name is a testament to how much I respect the guy), Danny Ainge, Kevin Johnson, Cedric Ceballos, (what was his first name) Dumas, and others went on a tear that ultimately ended with them losing in the NBA finals to none other than Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls (for my money that was the greatest NBA finals of all time, of course I have only actually watched about four of them so I might not be the best judge. But one game in that series went to triple overtime, and it seemed like they were scoring about 150 points each every game -though a quick google search just revealed that the games were much lower scoring that I remember them).

Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but I really think that so much of the game now is about posing for the sake of posing that the game is virtually unwatchable. The latest high school draft pick needs to get himself a good poster shot that really showcases his signature pair of high-tops. The game, the score, the technique be damned, he needs a good panoramic photo doing a dunk over some nameless white guy in a game that he will ultimately lose 100-47 because he doesn't know what defense is -and I mean that quite literally. He has really never played defense since he has always stood at half court waiting for one of his teammates to pass him the ball; he has a new 720 Tomahawk slam to try out, after all.

But I digress.

After the run of success that the Suns enjoyed in the early '90's, they went on a dry spell for about a decade. In that time there wasn't a single person here in AZ that was actively following them, and if they claim they were they are dirty liars. As recently as midway through this season, sports commentators here in the valley were all talking about how the Suns were going to fall apart and miss the playoffs completely. Not just one or two of the sports commentators or the fans either, this was everyone. That talk didn't stop until the Suns had actually clinched the playoff berth, and even then most of the talk was about how they would fall apart in the first round.

I really wouldn't have cared one bit about whether the Suns won or lost, were it not for the fact that Kobe Bryant said (and I must paraphrase since I can't find the actual quote) that it was good that they drew the Suns in the first round because they were the weakest of the top four teams (which I didn't disagree with one bit, but I'll be damned if I wanted to see that smug fuck win after that statement). I thought that my hatred of the Lakers would be done with once Mr. Ass-Bulldozer O'Neal left (how many thousands of people did he knock down with his huge ass and never draw a foul? He would just back into them and push until they fell over, hell it was Shaq, that was all he could do), but apparently I also hate Kobe (and all rapists for that matter. Before you send me that flaming email, I do know that he was not convicted. I also know that he was not acquitted. The fact that his accuser would not testify doesn't mean that he didn't do it; if he really didn't do it he would never have paid her "and undisclosed sum" in an out of court civil settlement.) So I wanted the Suns to win the first round, just because I hate Kobe and his smug, rape-anyone-I-want-to attitude.

What I was getting really sick of, though, was they way every sportscaster in the state of Arizona was trying to make it seem as though they had been behind the Suns all year; knew they were going to the playoffs; never doubted that they would come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Lakers. I know Arizona is a republican state, but we aren't all that stupid. You can tell the same lie a billion times and it won't become the truth (George W. Bush would be well served to learn that lesson), and, like it or not, you are on tape saying exactly the opposite thing.

I will use a local radio station as an example (because I know they have audio on their website, you could actually download some of the stuff from earlier this year to hear them dogging the Suns). 98 KUPD had been ripping on the Suns since the very beginning of the season. They were saying things like "well, this is a throwaway season since they don't stand a chance with Stoudemire on the D.L." and "Nash is an old man, he has a retirement home in Phoenix". While the second one may have been said jokingly (at least partially), it was clear that the DJ's had made up their mind that the Suns sucked outright and had no chance of making the playoffs.

Fast forward to the start of the playoffs.

"I knew the Suns were going to make it. This is the strongest team they have put on the court since the '93 finals." When asked point blank about what they said earlier in the season, the DJ's went into evasive maneuvers, saying things like, "I never said they weren't going to make the playoffs, I just said that Nash would have to have a standout year and someone would need to make up for the lack of Stoudemire's 25 ppg." Which was such utter bullshit that it was laughable. I know that there is a bandwagon that forms when a team starts winning, but can't they at least be honest enough with themselves to admit that they are just jumping onto it? Apparently not.

To end this how it started: Suns lose! Suns lose! And not a moment too soon. If I had to hear someone say "Sun-sational" one more time, I was likely to climb a clock tower and take target practice on anyone in a Suns T-shirt.


The three hand theory

If you don't want to read about poker, please ignore this post.

I have now developed a theory about playing hold 'em at a single table sit and go: Whether you win or lose will be decided by exactly three hands. The only hard part is knowing which three hands they are. As I have been winning sit and go's I have noticed that I really can single it out to about three hands that really made the difference between a win and a loss. I will recount the last one here. Unfortunately I didn't take any screenshots so it will just be a lot of text.

I am in the tourney and it is already down to seven people. Chip leader has 5,000, small stack has 1950, I an just above that with 2015 -thanks mostly to not having a decent hand to play thus far.

I am on the button when I get dealt a monster Kc Kh. The first two guys fold outright, the third wants to limp in with 100, but the guy next to me raises it to 250, which will eventually knock both of the blinds out of it. I am really happy with my hand, but the guy who raised hasn't made a raise the whole game. I don't want to raise it only to find out that he has aces, so I just call it. The flop brings up 5s 2s 3h, which really shouldn't help him considering the amount he went in for pre-flop, unless of course he is holding aces, in which case I am probably screwed. He bets into it with 277, which is just a bit more than a quarter of his stack. I am still worried about the ace, but I want to see if he is just trying to bluff me out of it, so I double his bet. He calls. I am actually worried now that he does have the aces, until I get the Ks on the turn. He checks it to me. If he does have the aces, he has just been beat and I want him to know it. I got in 500, I now have almost three quarters of my stack in this pot and wholly expect him to give it up, but he calls. Now I am worried that he might be in it with an A-4 suited, not something I would expect someone to raise so high pre-flop, but you do get all kinds at the sit and go table. The river came up Kd, thus giving me the nuts and I went all in. At this point I went from fearing that he had an A-4 to actively hoping that he did. Instead, his timer ran down to zero, at which point I said in chat "I got the nuts here". Little did I know that it was going to give him a time bank extension (I though he was already on one), after which he quickly folded. Note to self; Don't talk about the hand until the next one is dealt.

The game went on for a few more hands with everyone just basically trading blinds; the cards were horrible for everyone and the winning pocket cards weren't even faces. Then I get another playable hand. Timmy is chipleader with just over 4,800, myself and another guy are about 1,000 behind.

I am in the big blind here when I get dealt Kc Ad, how I do love to have a good hand in that position. UTG folds, the next guy raises 625 in a heartbeat. It folds around to me and I call the 425 to get into the pot. The flop is 7d 7h Ad which gives me top pair and high kicker, time to see if this guy is going to lay down his queens; I bet 25% of my stack to see if he was going to drop his queens, or hopefully he had an ace with a lower kicker. He went all in. This guy hadn't made an all in move in the game, although he had called a couple. This was also probably only the second pre-flop raise he had made the whole game; he was extremely confident with his hand. There is no way he is going all in with anything other than an ace, but he has to know that I also have an ace or I wouldn't have bet big, unless he puts me on 7's, but he has to know that I wouldn't have called his 3x preflop with a low pair. My pointer hovered over the call button as the timer ticked down then went to time bank. He isn't bluffing, he has the aces. I have almost half my stack in the pot, but I layed it down. He said "good fold" and showed the aces. I went from second to fifth place on the hand, but I am still alive. Good fold indeed.

The absolute worst place to finish in a SNG is one place out of the money, and everybody knows it. Once we were down to four guys at the table it went back and forth for a good twenty hands with no one really improving their position. Eventually, someone got down to the short stack once the blinds were up to 400/800. He had just under 2,000 while I had 4,000 and was going to be on the blinds for the next two hands. He went all in and I called. I had A-10 to his Q-J. That one really could have gone either way, but I came out on top. In the money now, we all started playing a bit more aggressively.

I am short-stacked with about 2,700 while second place has 4,000 and the leader is running away with over 10,000. I am on the button with a Q-10 offsuit, with the blinds up to 400/800. I am going to have to move or go home. This is far from my ideal hand, but I limp into it. At this point I am pretty committed to the pot and barring some outlandish flop I am going to live or die by this hand. The flop is a 3d 8d Jc, giving me a gutshot draw that I am not at all happy about, but it is checked around to me so I get to see the turn for free. It is the 9 that I needed, but it is the 9 of diamonds, meaning someone could already have the flush. While I am busy worrying about whether or not someone has the flush, the big blind goes all in. I am thinking to myself "Oh fuck, this guy has the flush", but at the same time knowing that he is the big blind and that he is not in much better shape than me as far as chips. I go all in with a silent prayer. He flips over a Kd-2c, so he doesn't have the flush yet, and thankfully the river is a garbage heart. He isn't out of the game, but he is crippled and I would knock him out on the next hand when he went all in on a 35 offsuit.

There were obviously a lot of other hands in the game, but those are the three that really stick out in my mind as being absolutely crucial. While I actually finished second place in that tourney, it is only because we went all-in after about a half an hour in the heads-up play just to end it. My A-J lost his Q-2, which I would call a bad beat were it not for our prearranged all-in call.


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