Kids Like Games
The above title is obvious. Heck, I like games, and you like games. You know what sucks? Sitting in a bed, homesick, scared, being visited by people you don't know who poke and prod you, and knowing that something bad is going to happen. Wouldn't you want a distraction of some point? I know I would. Now imagine you're 12... or younger.
Child's Play is in it 4th season of operation. Run by the people who brought us Penny Arcade, it's a rather large annual tradition. Basically, in an effort to prove wrong the zealots out there who believe all gamers are murderers-in-training who contribute nothing to society, these guys decided to start giving something back. They have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of video games, toys, and other childhood distractions that are delivered to children's hospitals worldwide.
Why video games? Because that's what they know. Other people give money to help research something, or to build a wing, or any other number of causes. Child's Play knows games, and it provides immediate gratification.
So visit their site, pick a hospital near you, and buy a toy for a sick kid.
Want a more selfish reason or two? Because the type of morons who try and regulate video games are the people who try and ban online poker. Or maybe because many gamers end up poker players, and we all need more money in the pool. But really, the fact that you clicking a few buttons and dropping any amount of money in the bin can make a scared child feel better for a little bit should be reason enough.
I'm sending them a PSP and a game or two. You?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Kids Like Games
Posted by Astin at 3:52 PM
Friday, November 24, 2006
Live and Let Die
Well, last night was eventful. Or not. Had about $4 left in my Stars account (after putting in min deposit to play in the WWdN). Played a couple $1+.20 45-man SnG's where I got sucked out on time after time (is there nothing greater than the runner-runner straight suckout with A6o when you keep calling pot-sized bets and have nothing before that straight fills in?) Took my last $1.61 and ran it off in a 0.01/0.02 cash game. So, cash balance is zero once again.
Been playing in the Aston Martin satellites. I've only played one of the 25 FPP MTTs, since 10pm is a bit late to get into a 1600+ person tourney on a work night... even if half the players drop in 30 min. I've played a few of the 100 FPP double-shootout SnG's though. Last night I got knocked out in 7th, which has been my best showing so far. It's tough to play in the all-in fests with no cards, but that said, I was proud of my play in my first table. I played the scare cards well, played the good cards well, and when I ended up hurt by a river 3-outer and ended up short-stacked, I was able to take the lead through some sold short-stack play and win the table. Problem was, I zoned out on the final table. I started looking at other things, surfing the web, etc... and totally didn't take advantage of the early tight play, which hurt me when the blind:stack ratio got ugly. I made some decent moves and in the end lost when my KJo ran into A5s and the 5 hit on the flop. Still, I've got another 1,000 FPPs to go through, let's see if I'll be playing for a DBS when the rest of the blogger world is in Vegas. Of course, if I win, I'll have to refer to it as the Astin Martin intead.
All said, while I had nothing to show for it, last night felt like good poker for the first time in awhile. Getting sucked out on isn't the greatest feeling in the world, but at least you know you weren't the cause of your loss. Knowing you played well takes the sting out of losing... especially when there's no money on the line.
Debating on hitting the live game again tonight... guess it depends on whether or not I make other plans in the meantime. Considering I plan on drinking heavily all day tomorrow, maybe poker could be the least dangerous option tonight.
Posted by Astin at 11:29 AM
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Day of the Dead
It's Thanksgiving in the U.S. of A. today. Being Canadian, this doesn't affect me a whole bunch... except that it's positively dead at work. We like US holidays here, it generally means an easy day.
Decided that instead of Mookin' it up last night, I'd go play live instead. Probably a good move on my part, since I was home before the Mookie ended, and we all know I'd have been at the final table in that one :).
Strange night. Wednesday's are usually pretty packed, but it was eerily quiet last night. About 22 runners, 3 tables. Made it to the final table with an M of 2.5, and went all-in with KJh (vs two all-ins before me that turned out to be AsQc and ATc). The Q hit on the river, so I was done. Yah, I know, KJ, even suited, vs two previous all-ins? I was card dead most of the night, a pair of twos that flopped a set being my best hand to this point. I needed to take the chance, and it turns out I was right in calling - I was ahead pre-flop.
So then milled around a bit until the cash game started. This was odd too, as the cash game is usually full by the time the final table rolls around in the tournament. Card death continued, and most attempts at moves resulted in re-raises that weren't worth standing up to. Pocket 7's saved me against pocket 6's (with a 345 flop) to stay alive... and I finally left before I gave away all my chips... down on the night.
But the hand of mention was this one. I get dealt 89d on the button. There's a jackpot at the club for Royals, straight flushes, and quads. Straight flushes pay 20% of the jackpot (yesterday that worked out to $284). I see these suited connectors and think, "here's my straight flush." UTG raises to 4x BB, next to him calls, and I'm thinking "no problem." Then the new guy next to me raises it to 10x BB and I muck. It folds around to UTG who calls, as does the other player.
Flop comes 4d6d5c. Some betting follows that gets it to two players. Turn comes 5d. River comes... yah, you know it... 7-of-freakin'-diamonds!!! There's my straight flush, except my cards are sitting at the bottom of the muck. 10x BB shows his pocket Q's, and the remaining player flips of his AKo. I let the table know what I let go, and one guy looks at me like I'm nuts for folding.
"You had the nuts straight flush and you folded??"
"I didn't have it pre-flop! I had suited connectors vs 10x BB!"
So I can't regret my fold, it was obviously the right thing to do... but the poker gods were being cruel and petty then by handing out the runner-runner straight flush. No re-raise, and I'm in for 4x BB with suited connectors and a hunch in a cash game. With two diamonds, an inside straight draw, and the possibility of runner-runner on the flop, I'd stay in. From there it's gravy.
Preflop - I was 22% to win (ignoring the 3rd player who's cards we don't know)
Flop - 49%
Turn - 90.5%
If I'd stayed in.
This Vegas thing is still gnawing at me. I'm in Banff next weekend for some skiing in what they're calling their best early season ever. The weekend after that is the blogger meet in Vegas. Granted, of all the people going, I only actually know Kat. I might meet Joanne before that, if we meet up in Calgary. But it's Vegas baby! I get the feeling it be almost literally a last minute decision. As in Friday morning I'll call up the airline and the hotel and see what's available. If I don't go though... there's the chance of the Aston Martin DBS Freeroll at Stars, or the second deep-stack long grind tourney at the club that weekend. Both of which are small potatoes compared to Vegas.
Posted by Astin at 9:49 AM
Monday, November 20, 2006
I'm Not That Guy Yet
There used to be this commercial about gambling addiction. Guy would be playing online poker, and kept waving off his roommates/friends when they were going out for the night. "I'll be there later." I think they maybe had some comment about how he'd called in sick for work 3 days in a row too. I'm glad I'm not that guy.
Decent weekend - saw some good improv (much better than bad improv), hung out with friends, went to a birthday and hung out with more friends. Got to bed at 7am on Saturday/Sunday, and was woken by another friend who potentially needed to get together at dinner to mope over a possible breakup (didn't happen). It's this last bit that got me thinking. I'm trying to fall back asleep after another call woke me 20 min earlier on 6.5 hours of sleep (which is plenty for a weekday, but not enough on a weekend), and my friend calls. "What are your plans tonight?" my first thought? "The Big Game." My response? "Nothing."
I develop habits, and I'm lazy and a procrastinator extraordinaire. But my priorities always come family->friends->other. As long as poker stays low on that list, I'll be happy.
That said, my game has sucked but hard of late. Outside of my run a couple weekends ago (which, looking back on, was more me getting lucky and playing good cards than playing good poker), I've been in the tank. I'm down to $0.76 on Stars, $2-something on Absolute (which I'm just playing out anyway), $15-something on FT, and probably around $190 on Full Contact (but they're in a transition to new software, so I can't check). A far cry from my highs on all these sites. I'm antsy when playing... distracted. This makes for stupid moves and easy tiltability. I think I need to get a bunch of shit done, clear my mind, and plunk down and play with focus and a plan sometime.
Tonight won't be that time. I've got other plans, so the Hoy will have to wait. Maybe I'll see if I can fit a live game in this week.
Save the cheerleader, save the world. Can't wait.
Today's entry, after a bit of an hiatus:
She's cute... her roommate likes me.
Posted by Astin at 2:31 PM
Friday, November 17, 2006
Dinner Is Served
So, had a friend over last night, so no DADI, no CC, no WWdN Not, no donk2shark... no poker. Not a problem really, although I would have liked to have played the last DADI.
Instead, I cooked. Considering how little I've been home the past couple weeks, this was a welcome change. I love to cook, and was afraid most of the contents of my fridge would have to be disposed of after the last three weeks of not making dinner.
Luckily, what I needed was still edible (although it was a close call on the ham). So dinner was Chicken Cordon Bleu (with rosemary ham, applewood smoked cheddar, and seasoned parmesan breading), stir fried veggies (mmm... garlic, and broccoli, and onions, and zucchini), and some of the best mashed potatoes I've made (the secret is the parmesan and spices... and lots of butter.. and milk). I also managed to pull off the incredible feat of getting everything to be finished at the same time. Lord knows how many times I've made a meal that involves at least one part of it being kept warm while the rest is 20 minutes behind.
It's been a good week. My crappy poker karma at the start seems to have been balanced by life going well. Drinks and the BEST sushi I've ever had (Doku 15) on Tuesday on the boss' dime, running unexepctedly into friends on Wednesday, when buying a Nintendo DS, which led to dinner with more friends. New toy with the DS. Home got tidied up finally yesterday, combined with a great dinner... and now it's Friday and I'll be seeing some great improv on The Danforth tonight, and seeing a high school friend I haven't seen in ages make with the funny... which is completely unexpected since I was originally going because of someone else in the cast. I always tell people Toronto is just a small village of 2.6 million people. Top it off with another friend's 30th tomorrow, and sitting around aimlessly on Sunday will be a welcome respite. Or maybe I'll head out for a live game if the mood takes me.
Posted by Astin at 10:53 AM
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Well, that was short-lived. Let's look at the flipside of the donkeys flooding the sites.
I've got just over $2 in my Stars account now. Why? Well, occasionally due to me being suckered into a well-played hand. Mostly though, due to the always popular fucking donkeys and their fucking rivers. I don't know, you flop two pair on a rainbow, non-straightening flop and check-raise a guy all-in. He calls with an A3o that paired the 3??? Of course, the next 3 hits the river.
Runner-runner straights, flushes, 2-outer full boats... I think I've seen them all over the past couple days. I've taken most of them with a nod and moved on. But twice I've walked away having lost what I started with after the moron reacts like he just made the greatest move in the history of Poker. There's little as annoying as a "yesssss!" when somebody rivers their THIRD STRAIGHT IN A ROW (all rivered).
But, I'm pissed at myself most of all - I got cocky and let it beat me. I don't think I made too many horrible moves, and I wasn't play every hand in an effort to catch... but I got sick of letting go of decent hands to people who raised with nothing.
So I might play the Mookie tonight, I might not. My FT account is still okay, and I should really start chipping up my FCP account again... once they figure out their transition problems. Hell, maybe I'll see how Absolute is doing these days. At Stars though, I'm going to try and turn $2 into $200... let's see how that works. At least I've still got the winnings from the live tourney. Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly betting my shirt here... and I think the fact I'm so put off right now is a good sign -- it means any amount of cash still matters to me. If I wasn't so beat today, I'd probably head out again tonight for the live game.
Or maybe I'll just sit at home, catch up on Torchwood, play some Ultimate Alliance, fire up the Gamecube, read a book or 12, or most likely -- try out my brand new DS Lite. Hmm.. looking back at that, I'd think I was 18... but nope, I'm just a geek.
15 days until I leave for Banff for some skiing and possibly gambling (in Calgary, guess I should talk to Jo). A month until bonus time at work... that could be dangerous. If the blogger trip to Vegas was the following weekend, I'd be all over it like a fat kid on a smartie. As it stands though, I'll just have to live vicariously through the rest of you.
Posted by Astin at 1:29 PM
Monday, November 13, 2006
A Profitable Endeavour
Well, that was a profitable weekend. As I wrote earlier, I've decided to play a live cash level online. For me, this equates to $1/2 NLHE, with a $200 buy-in. The first day I tried it saw about a $72 profit. I sat down Friday night to play a bit... and lasted 15 minutes. Why? Because I decided that after 15 min, I should quit whilst ahead, and I was up $167 in that time. The cards were hitting hard, and the donkeys were in full effect.
Sunday rolled around and it was time to make my way to the first monthly deep-stack "Long Grind" tournament at the club. $200 buy-in, 10,000 in chips. 21 players, and ridiculous amounts of action. All-ins in the first level (25-50), a table merge in the 2nd level, a cash game started up after the break with the number of people knocked out, final table before the 3rd hour if I recall. Moves that didn't work, incredible draws that caught, one good solid blow-up by the person everyone expected it from when he watched the big stack knock out another victim when his 67s caught two pair on the turn. Nothing quite like someone say repeatedly "I play GOOD poker. I'm a GOOD player. I don't play crap like that." Especially when their definition of good poker is: Play with pocket pairs, any two faces/aces and AGONIZE over folding middle pairs when there's 2 overs on the board and they're faced with a raise. Guy has no concept of betting, playing draws, odds, etc.. Which is why we love him, because he bitches every week, and then comes back for more, never actually improving his game, and passing judgement on everyone (somehow I went from being a "good player" last time to "eeeeeehhhhhh" this time).
Sorry for the tangent... where was I? Oh yah, lots of action, fast-paced game, and I was sitting pretty. My pocket Aces early on won me a good chunk of change which held up through fairly solid card death until I started catching again. My big moment came when I crippled the chip leader when my pocket Aces held to the river and I nearly doubled my stack to take the chip lead (after slowly chipping up for the last 10 hands). From there I played, in my humble opinion, pretty good big-stack poker, stealing blinds, scaring away callers post-flop, and slowly but surely building my stack. When the bubble came, I did what I could to keep it alive, but the next biggest stack had other ideas and burst it prematurely.
In the end, it was down to three of us, and after at least one bad fold on my part (I folded pocket 8's to what ended up being A2o), and blinds at 2000/4000, I was dropping chips fast. With 20,000 left on the button, I went all-in with K3c, which ALMOST scared off an A2o, and should have scared off whatever crap the BB had, but didn't on either count. Caught my K on the flop, but A2 caught his A as well, and IGH. But, 3rd place was good for $540... a $340 profit for about 6 hours of play. Not too shabby. Would have preferred he $900 for 2nd, or $1800 for first... which the remaining two decided to chop.
And so home I did go, wallet a bit fatter. I toiled around the homestead for a couple hours before sitting comfortably in front of Stars. Found Kat in a SnG she was too tired for and railbirded for her last few hands before I picked a cash game. Again, 1/2, $200 buy-in. Up a small amount to start, and then a slow drop in chips as people stopped respecting my raises and I stopped catching anything. Then... the cards improved and the donkeys got cocky. I completed my SB with 64h, 6x4 on the flop, which I bet at and got called, 4 on the turn, which I checked and got bet at, followed by me checking on the river and getting bet at again brought me over my starting position. A couple hands later, I find QJ, raise, get callers. KsQx4s, bet, call. Qx on the turn, check, bet, call. Js river. I check, he big bets, I re-raise bet-size, he re-re-raises the bet size again, I push, he calls... he steams. You could feel the disbelief and anger through the screen, even though he didn't type a thing in the chat. I mean, how could his flush not hold up with KxQQJ on the board? Thank you Party Poker for closing down your US operations. Full Tilt and Stars have never been better.
After that, I knocked out some small stacks, dropped my jaw when my AJc held up with AKTTx on the board against two big betters, and shut it all down after and hour of play and a $202 profit. So.. from Friday to Sunday night... let's say $709 profit in about 7 1/2 hours of play. The Stars earnings alone have brought me about $160 off of breaking even since I zeroed-out my account in August and started tracking my cash flow.
This probably means I'll be playing the Hoy tonight, where I'll get rightly smacked down and brought back to reality. Then again, I've won a MATH before... who's to say I can't repeat?
Like I've maintained... a long post that is nothing but me babbling about me and teaching you nothing. A man's got to do something at work, right?
PS - Should I go to this Vegas thing? Seems like people have the fun, and I like the Vegas. But I was there a month ago. Plus, I'd be soloing, which, in Vegas, might not be a bad thing...
Posted by Astin at 10:53 AM
Friday, November 10, 2006
Neither Tom Hanks nor a Donkey
In my last post I mentioned a bachelor party for a buddy. Buddy likes the poker. He's an alright player, but in that home-game way. For the twilight of his years of freedom, part of the festivities involved a poker tournament. Of the 20-some people in attendance, there was a significant percentage for whom the game of poker was a mystery. Sure, they knew OF poker, but that was about it. For instance, it happened more than once that someone would win with a flush and say, "I know I won... but could somebody explain to me why?" I personally saved one guy from elimination when nobody else at the table realized he had flopped a flush... and that it beat another guy's turned straight.
Now, this should provide ample opportunity to succeed for the more knowledgeable. I was, in fact, quite happy with the situation... at first. This would be turn out to be the most card dead night of poker I have ever experienced. Playing at a 6-handed table, I saw narry a hand I could play. The first, and only, truly playable pocket cards I saw were AKo, and when I bet, everyone folded. Considering the word "fold" seemed foreign to my opponents prior to this, they quickly displayed their aptitude for the language.
Often, when one is card dead and folding merrily away, there are boards that cause the player to cringe. Their T4o flops trips, and then discovers it's really a full house that didn't know it yet when the river comes. This didn't happen once in this game. Every single hand I folded I had no post-decision regrets about, because I would have never even caught a pair.
I tried to crank up my aggression and scare them away... no dice. Weak players who are call stations... fantastic. Needless to say, I went out before any tables merged.
So -- what does one do in this situation? Other than lose that is. You have absolutely NO cards, and the players around you are calling stations so you can't scare them away. Is there any way to win? Do you become even MORE aggressive? Start going all-in all the time? Play every scare card as if it just gave you the stone cold nuts? Shout "Hey! Look over there!" and then steal all the aces when everyone looks? Thoughts?
Posted by Astin at 9:57 AM
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The Long and Winding Road
Gimme a "P", etc.... POKER! So, post-Big Game, I haven't played a blogger event this week. No Hoy (no money), no WWdN (busy), no Mookie (playing live).. Kind of refreshing actually. Don't get me wrong, I still like 'em, but I just haven't been in the right mindset for comitting to an online tournament of late.
Instead, I donked off my Stars balance to $0.01, and then decided to try an experiment... refill to $211 (the $11 was for the WWdN, but that didn't happen), and play my live limits. So I sat down at 1/2 NLHE cash and dropped my 2 C's on the table. First game - lost $38... cleared my $40 bonus. Next game - up $70 before I decided to try sleeping. Next time, I'll start before 11pm.
Then I played live last night. Didn't make it too far in the tourney - out shortly after the break when my KJo met another KJo and pocket Aces. Me and my card-twin both got knocked out. Considering my all-in was one BB... I saw it coming.
Cash game was long and arduous, and I ultimately lost. The last time I was that card dead was at a game for a buddy's bachelor party with a bunch of noobs who needed the rankings written down for them and constant explanation of what a flush was. Seriously. That's another story though. Last night, my BEST hand was AJs, which caught NOTHING on the flop, and my pre-flop raise was called by everyone. I don't play a hand for an hour, and suddenly everyone has a a hand? That was my night. I chipped up a BIT at the beginning when my pocket deuces became a set, and then 2's full of Aces and I took out Mister A8c. After that... nada. I'd fold crap and watch it turn into two pair or a straight... I'd limp in with anything and watch nothing come of it. I think I changed up my pre-flop strategy 4 or 5 times to no avail... I couldn't scare anyone away (stupid calling stations), I couldn't catch anything, I couldn't even play an effective luckbox donkey. So, after a few hours, I finally put in my last chips with K7s, which ran into call-boy's QTo which caught a T. I should've left much earlier.
Strangely enough, I'll be back there for the deep-stack tournament... 5-7 hours of grinding poker. Should be fun.
No WWdN Not for me tonight, or CC's, or donk2shark. Instead I'm going to go listen to Bill Clinton speak and give some money to Nelson Mandela's Children Foundation. I think it makes for a more interesting time than soaking up the rays from my monitor. Plus, it gives me an excuse to wear a suit... and I look good in a suit.
I hope Kat feels better soon.
Posted by Astin at 11:49 AM
Monday, November 06, 2006
As planned, I saw Borat on Friday - hilarious movie, with some truly idiotic people. 2 of the 3 guys in the RV will never get laid again. If they do, I will weep for the state of the world.
Hit das poker on Saturday, and blasted through two token levels to get my $75 for the Big Game. Seriously, the level 1 token was a walk in the park. It helps when you start with AK, followed by AQ, then KK a couple hands later, and knock out the donktastic calling stations along the way. Level 2 was a bit trickier, but in the end, it didn't take much effort to get the token.
Then I tried again - level 1 no problem... level 2 - went out 9th after a boneheaded move.
Played some cash, made some, lost more.
Played The Big Game, and went out after the first break, but in a less-than-flatering position. That said, my call with A6c vs QTo did have me ahead until the Q hit on the flop. I think I'll live though.
Don't know if I'll play in The Hoy tonight. My Stars account is low, and I'm kind of sick of refilling it. I might do a little grinding or play an MTT or SnG to try and build the roll first.
I AM getting a hankering for live poker again though - Kat? Guin? Any interest in hitting the Wednesday game? How are you looking for the deep-stack this weekend?
And now today's 6-word entry. This one isn't mine, it's taken from Wired's Very Short Stories.
Osama’s time machine: President Gore concerned.
- Charles Stross
Posted by Astin at 10:43 AM
Friday, November 03, 2006
Real Life today had me thinking... how WOULD a 2nd-person video game work?
First person is easy, you're the character. Third person would be you controlling a character that isn't you. But second person would require you to control a "you". Perhaps by interacting with another character who is, in fact, the main character. Something like Tiger Woods' Caddy 2006, where the golfer asks for a particular club and you give it to him. Or you get to be the useless sidekick for the hero?
Definitely an untapped market.
Posted by Astin at 4:07 PM
No Poker - Day II
Woohoo! Another succesful day of not playing poker! I think tonight will also be successful, because I'll be seeing Borat! I hope movie is success, I no want Borat execute.
Mayhaps Saturday I'll take a stab at a token for Las Big Game. If I get all the usual around-the-house crap done that's been piling up (literally) for weeks.
When the robots rose, things worsened.
Posted by Astin at 12:48 PM
Thursday, November 02, 2006
It appears that just about everyone is doing this write-a-novel month thing. Bully for all y'all. No, seriously, I'm impressed by your valiant literary efforts. You definitely show more ambition than me. Then again, there are days the ambition of a sea sponge is a stretch for yours truly. Regardless, good luck to everyone who is making the attempt.
I, however, am tempted to start the NaSeWriMo - National Sentence Writing Month. Yup. One word every few days to get out a whole sentence by the end of the month. But that would get tired quickly. Instead, I will write the occasional very short story to show my solidarity with your cause.
My first, and last, thought -- you.
Posted by Astin at 4:49 PM
Know what I did last night? I didn't play poker! Sort of a shame, since the Mookie had been mildly profitable for me of late. But still, it was refreshing -- especially since the past few days, my play has been sub-par and forced. I think I'll avoid it tonight too, and see how I feel come the weekend. Poker burn-out is dangerous.
Nietzsche Family Circus - random combinations of a Family Circus panel and a Nietzsche quote. Brilliant!
Some of my favourites.
Posted by Astin at 10:39 AM