Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The European Option

Haven't seen this posted anywhere yet -- not that I've been looking all that hard. It's obviously still in the twinkle-in-the-eye stages, but could hold some promise, and may be the best shot the US online poker players have. Eventually the US government will have to realize that the EU is a force. This ain't Antigua and Costa Rica they're dealing with, where the US can be found in violation by the WTO and then say, "so?" The EU likes to enforce its will.

It is nice that someone with more of a voice than a blog is calling it for what it is - protectionism. It's time people looked away from it being about Frist and his ultra-right cowtowing, and instead to something that actually holds some weight. This is why horse racing, lotteries, and casinos are untouched, because they contribute directly to the USA's pocketbook... online poker sites don't.

This will obviously be a long time coming, and there's nothing saying that the US government won't do their usual schtick of "Oh no! We is in trouble with the (WTO/UN/Other International Body)! What we gonna do? Go fuck yourself." But as I said, it's a bit tougher to push around the EU.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rinse and Repeat

4th in The Hoy again. As usual, 'twas the bubble. Somewhat unusually... Fuel done gone and sucked out on me to knock me out. AQh vs my AKo. Kh on the flop, Jh on the turn, Tc on the river, straight beats my pair. Of course, I knew the T was coming, and I was expecting it to be a heart.

Ah well... Fuel excels at the suckouts, he just plays bad, bad, blogger poker. I hope he can look himself in the mirror after this. :) Freakin' Canadians.


Man, I have a lot of beer. Just take a look on the right-hand side there. Yet, I still feel I need more?

You should see my hard liquor collection... and the wine... and the pop. Maybe I should take up alcoholism.


This Post MAY Contain Traces Of Poker - It Was Written In A Blog That Creates Poker Content.

It's not so easy to capitalize every word - damn my punctuational abilities!

Anywho, been a bit since I posted anything, mostly due to the lack of exciting do-ins a-transpirin'.

Look, sentence and line number 4.

Eh-Vegas is coming soon! Less than two weeks away. Not that anyone reading isn't reading Kat's blog as well, but it's been awhile since she's posted about it. It should be a good time... so come kick it T-Dot style! Or something.

Mansion switched the time of their 100k from 0300 GMT to 1600 GMT. What the hell? This relegates my ability to play in it to Saturdays and Sundays when I don't have something better to do. That hasn't been the case of late. I'll have to look into eliminating this "social life" thing. Oh, of course... no more US poker players = no need to run it so that they can play. Leaves us poor Canucks out in the cold... but it's not that cold, because we're tough. Why not 2300 GMT? I could have pulled off a 6pm start time.

Neteller - oooo... bad move guys. Now the poker players that were flushing their money out of you are pissed. You should have just put inordinate delays on transfers. Unlike Hoyazo, I don't think they're about to royally screw everyone over. They are a publicly traded company, so it's not quite so easy for them to close up shop and move to Sealand. Plus, they do have business (however dwarfed by their US business as it is) in other countries. I think it's far more likely they're closing the shutters to weather the storm, and are protecting their assets. It's tough to turn around in your next quarterly report and say "80% of our clients withdrew all their funds en masse." Mostly because some people don't speak French. The stock has lost over 80% of it's value over the last year, I'd be worried if I ran the place. This is month one of their year it seems... great way to start it off.

Been screwing up my Tier 1's of late. Haven't played too many, but got nailed when my great call turned into a bad beat in one, and when my cowboys ran into a set of twos on the flop in another. Smokkee and Surflexus were on hand to see the latter. I found it quite coincidental that there were 3 bloggers types randomly in the same Tier 1. All told though, the cash game was nice to me last night when it more than doubled me up in one hand (why would you think your pocket 8's are worth a $19 re-raise on your $12 bet pre-flop? Why would you THEN think that me re-raising your $30 bet on the brickish flop with an all-in push would be worth your call? Oh yah, cuz you're donkey, and my Aces kicked your ass when your river straight didn't happen.) I finally (I'm slow) figured out the beauty of the 1/2 cash games, play the multi-tablers. You'll always know what they have when they're in a hand - Aces or Kings. Take their blinds the rest of the time, and just be wary of the people only playing 1 or 2 tables... but they're fish anyway.

Lastly, I'm off to Israel I think in a few weeks. Visiting a friend there... wonder if he knows any good local games. I mean, I'll be missing a home game here where I'm some kind of defending champion or something... so I should make up for it, right?

Monday, January 22, 2007

So Crumbles the Cookie

Played live yesterday. $200 deep-stack that I went out 13th in (out of 20)... 2 hours of play. I was doing pretty well until my KT ran into a KJ with two kings on the flop and both of us slowplaying until the end. Oops. This short-stacked me and when I flopped 2 pair with KT out of the BB on a 9TK flop, I went all in and ran into Mr. QJo and his straight.

Unlike some of the previous 7 people (and many of those that followed), I didn't storm out, but sat around and watched the Bears/Saints game and then the Pats/Colts. A $60 freezeout started and I signed up and bubbled in 4th (grrr), when an old co-worker of mine flopped the nut flush and checked-called my all-in when my M was about 2. He went on to win with his dominating stack.

So what's a guy to do but drop $60 more in the 1/2 cash game to finish off his night? That lasted around 40 min (I never min-buy... but I still felt like playing and didn't want to commit), and I finally went home after being at the club for 7 1/2 hours. I think I'll stay away for a week or so.

I pointed out my mistakes above... my all-in ouster from the $60 was a desperation play that failed miserably, the rest I think were valid at the time. I'm not a horrible player, but I think I really need to buckle down and get consistently better.


I wonder how the blogger events are going to pan out over this week. I'd imagine this Neteller thing is going to lower numbers. That kinda sucks a lot.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Soft Serve

I know, I know... everyone knows the Tier 1 token games at FT are stupidly soft. But I hit a new high of disbelief last night.

Sat down at the computer around 12:40, Colbert report on (only reason I was staying up), and decided to fire up a Tier 1. Sound off on my machine, watching the show, and I KILLED the game. I'd time out because I missed that action was on me, I wasn't paying any attention to the donks around me, and I got to the final table in 23 minutes with around 44% of the chips in the game in front of me. The number of semi-bluffs (middle-pair with a 4-card flush on the board?) was unbelievable, and the people calling down with bad draws... wow. I think I knocked out half my starting table.

Final table dropped to 8 quickly, when someone was so in awe of my chipstack that they got knocked out while commenting on it. Then it sat at 8 as I decided to fold my way to 5th and everyone else just passed chips around. Finally I found a decent pair in front of me and called a small all-in bet to knock the button's 74o out (bad time for a steal I guess). 7. Then I knocked out 7th to get to 6, and finally 6 to get to 5 (someone had to do it). I had over 50% of the chips at this point, and the all-in fest (after 4 hands) found me finishing in 2nd to the only other player who seemed to know what he was doing, and got lucky when his T's full of 3's beat my 3's full of T's (T3xT3 :) ).

By far the most effortless token I've ever taken... and that's saying something. I guess I could have been sucked out on once or twice and it would be a different story, but this time the odds were in my favour. Not saying I played a genius game or anything, but I had the cards, and made far fewer mistakes than my opponents.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

O Canada

So yet another blow is dealt to US online players. Yup, us Canucks are a devious lot who create companies like Neteller to bring down the US government... or something stupid like that. That said, *I* (and others in this world of blogitude) am still able to move my money through their glorious instacashing. Which is a good thing, because I'm down to $0.44 or something like that on Stars.

What can be said that hasn't already been said? Did anyone not see this coming? To be fair though, although 85-95% (depending who you believe) of their transactions were to gambling sites, that leave 5-15% that weren't. This means that it served a legitimate purpose beyond transfer of funds to poker sites. Doesn't that count for something?

It's obviously a scare tactic by the feds. Hit the biggest player in the yard and watch the smaller ones scatter. They know the poker/gambling sites aren't stupid and will stay offshore and off US soil, so they'll cut off their funds. Problem is... these guys are rich former lawyers, and no doubt have some sort of case already in the works. Plus, Lefebvre is a philantropist hippie busker who's given away millions to the arts and other causes. Not exactly the big bad money-launderer image. I imagine that (a) this will go on a while and (b) people will be watching.


Hit some live action last night for the first time in a while, brought a buddy along to introduce him to the exciting world of underground poker. Place was PACKED, running a full over-stuffed 4 tables for a $40 freezeout. Me and buddy ended up on the waiting list because I didn't reserve earlier (never had a problem before), but we didn't have a problem getting in.

Due to a coworkers 40th birthday the day before, some coworkers and I decided to have a few frosty beverages after work... 3 beers was just enough to make it not so cold, and make my judgement drop ever-so-slightly. That said, I played pretty well for the first hour, and had a decent stack in front of me. 5 minute break, and buddy and I run out to grab some food. McD's down the road and we're back having missed maybe a hand. One hand later, in the BB, I've got pocket 9's. I completely miss the SB nearly chucking his hand pre-flop before someone points out he is the SB, and check when he completes for the only action before me. Whoops. Flop of 55x gives him his set, and I give it all away. $40 double cheesburger combo. I don't think I could have played that MORE incorrectly.

So I finish off my food and wait for a 2nd cash game to break out. Sit down with my max buy-in, and slowly chip up. A turned straight nets me a nice little win and I'm doing well. I lose a pile when my flopped TPSK runs into cowboys (put him on AK), but learn a valuable lesson and fold to the guy's AK later on when I have KQ with a K on the board. Got slowly chipped down until I started playing the girl on my right. I think she was KK's girlfriend (or maybe sister?), and she was learning the game that night. She'd chase mid-pair all the way, kept asking for the definition of an inside straight, and won with straights she missed while looking for a flush. She "loved [her] hand" far too often when her hand was T5d or equivalent. So, a flopped straight, two pair, even TPMK would be enough to take her down and get paid. She COULD be scared out though, but I ended up chipping back up to a small loss. On my last orbit I gave away a few more bucks and called it a night.

Until I got home and found Kat still alive in the Mookie (congrats on 3rd!). I sweated her for a while and joined Weak in the 1/2 cash again, where we were soon joined by Don and CC. Not a bad mix, since I find a full blogger table a bit too even, but half a table is just about right. And what a table it was. I stupidly raised Weak's small bet at a straight (which we both made) and scared out the 3rd player whose stack would have been worthwhile, but that was one of only two mistake I think I made in the game.

Taking one stack with a flush that took out an A-high straight (one of THREE KT's dealt in that hand, and he was the only one to call me) was nice... but taking out Mr. "I'm going all-in on the flop that gives you the 2nd nut flush because my useless missed straight has to get me something" was sweeter. I personally enjoyed the comment from our favourite victim who piped up with "How can you think about NOT calling with the 2nd nut flush? If you can't play that hand, you don't deserve to play poker." Strange... I DID play it, but I had to think about it with paired tens on the board -- nut flush, numerous ways to have a boat, or even quads were all possibilities, and I had to make a call for 1/2 my stack. Plus, I figured a little hemming and hawing might draw in another call... not that Don would fall for it, but it's good to practice. Needless to say, the bloggers jumped on the guy's unneeded commentary and he quickly decided to take his ball and go home. I'm sure glad I played it, because I'd hate to lose my poker privileges.

Anyway, I made one other mistake that cost me a good-sized bot and around 1/6 of my stack (after I was up over $200). I had pocket ladies and re-raised a 4x BB bet to 8x BB and got called. Flop comes all diamonds, of which I have none. $15 bet to me and I deliberate and call. Flop is Ah and it's checked to me. I check and the river comes a 4th diamond. A $20 bet (into a $65 pot) is made and a think and call. Pocket 9's are flipped over with the diamond in there. Some might claim my mistake was calling on the flop, but I just couldn't put him on the made flush... gotta trust your reads. My mistake was not betting hard on the turn, with the A there along with the flush draw, it should have been enough to scare off my opponent, but I didn't take advantage because I was scared of the same things. The check SCREAMED weakness and I did nothing. The weak bet on the river also called out "I have a weak diamond!", and I could have re-raised hard there, especially with the 2 flushes I'd cashed in on earlier and possibly taken it. Hell, for that matter I could have re-raised on the flop if I really trusted my read. Nothing saying he wouldn't have been a calling station anyway, but at least my play would been right. Somehow though, in my sleep-deprived mind, I figured I'd wait for him to bluff at the missed 4-card flush and I'd take it down with my superior pair, knowing full well the 4th diamond would come. The call on the river was simply because I had to be sure.

In the end, I made back my live losses + a bit, and once again got insufficient sleep.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Always Room For One More

And consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows, and no doors... which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out!

I signed up for Mansion Poker last night, despite the need for ID to withdraw funds. The way I see it, I've never withdrawn funds from any site (since, you know, I suck), and if by some miracle I made enough to make that worthwhile, then it would be a minor inconvenience.

I signed up for one purpose - play the $100k. 593 entrants (word might be spreading, but that's still a huge overlay) @ $100 each. I wasn't necessarily card dead, but it was a rare occurence that I'd get any action on decent pockets. I did manage to double-up at just the right time as the blinds started becoming significant, but then went dead again. Finally, with an M around 4 and KQo on the button with one limper in EP, I went all-in. Unfortunately, the BB called with AQo, and the limper folded HIS KQo. I didn't hit my 2-outer and went out in 195th place. I guess top 33rd percentile isn't TERRIBLE, but with the play as soft as it was, I should have done better. I'll call this a $100 fact-finding mission. If I find myself home in time tonight (unlikely), maybe I'll try applying some facts.

I did win a tier 1 though... of course, that's an accomplishment on par with successfully waking up in the morning.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Not a bad night at all. It's late and this'll be quick. Only two games - a tier 3, in which I came 3rd for $124.50. Then The Mookie. Up until the final table, I played pretty solidly and made the final table in 1st overall. Then I started winning races and sucking out when needed and found myself deeper than I've been in this tourney. Almost lost it when my ladies lost to cowboys with two jacks on the flop... but scratched back to first. Then dropped again when my AJs ran into A7o - A on the flop, 7 on the river.

Tens were golden though and got me some blind to keep me afloat, and a pair of 6's that turned into a straight flush (which I completely missed!) and then this happened:

DQB!! Finally got heads-up with DonkeyPuncher (who got my chips with that A7o), and clawed up a bit (as in, he still had a 3-1 chip lead on me) before going all-in with The Hammer. Hey, I'd just folded the velvet hammer two hands before... how as I to know he'd have pocket 9's? Caught the 7 on the river, but it obviously didn't help and I go home in 2nd with $119 and change. Still, $19.80 spent, $234 earned... not bad.

This makes 1 Hoy Win, and 2nd in the Wheatie and Mookie (and a host of other cashes in all of them).. let's see if I can win each at least once this year.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fearless Stupidity

Got into another Blogger 1/2 cash game last night. It was about midnight, I just planned on playing for half an hour and calling it quits. Put in my $100 and started playing.

Unlike Monday night, this time I played by the rules. I wasn't tired yet, and I didn't have 7 other things going on (only 2). I was mildly aggressive and it paid some dividends in small and medium wins. As 00:30 rolled around, I let it be known I was leaving soon (and I planned to stand up after that hand)... and found the ladies in front of me again. A raise got it down to me and Don again. Flop of 29J didn't scare me much, and I bet the pot to Don's check. He check-raised and I called. Turn wasn't scary and he put me all-in. I debated and called. It seemed to aggressive to be a set of Jacks, and I put him on overs or TPTK. Turns out he had the ducks and flopped his set, so I was out anyway.

If this was a tournament, I'd probably regret it more. While I'm not thrilled with being unable to get away from my overpair, and maybe should have turned up the volume on the voice that was warning me to be careful, I did get a bit more info on Don, which he will no doubt exploit in the future.


Some thoughts on Apple Inc.'s new toy. Okay, the iPhone is cool. No doubt about it. Let's do a quick run-down of features off the top of my head:

- One big honkin' touch screen
- Touch gesture interface is always nifty
- 2 MP camera
- 4 or 8GB iPod
- WiFi, Bluetooth, EDGE
- 3 sensors (proximity, ambient light, and accelerometer)
- POP3 and IMAP e-mail, AND now Yahoo! push
- OS X
- Full native web browsing
- Visual voicemail
- All them nifty widgets (stock watch, weather, calculator, notepad, calendar, etc.)
- Sleek add-ons
- Seemingly easy to use

And the downsides:

- 5 hours of battery life (16 if only used as an iPod)
- Tied to Cingular (this is apparently not a great thing. I'm in Canada, I don't know)
- GSM only
- Can't be used if NOT on the phone network (ie.- can't buy one and just use it as an iPod/camera/internet device)
- iPod and all the issues that go with it (iTunes DRM, non-functionality with other services, battery removal, etc.)
- Can't download wirelessly, has to be done with iTunes on a computer
- Can't be wirelessly synced with the computer, has to be docked
- Lots of new tech = lots of possibilities for problems
- Is a phone/camera/internet device/iPod - no option to be anything but all of these things
- $600 WITH the 2-year contract for the 8GB model (and really, why would you get the 4GB for $500?)

Frankly, the cons temper my enthusiasm tremendously. Much like Microsoft's Zune, there's a TON of potential that is being ignored, likely due to copyright concerns. But DRM and copyright law and how they're crippling innovation and usability is a rant for some other day.

Battery life - this is fully expected with a device that has as much on it as the iPhone. A video iPod only gets 6.5 hours, so 5 hours isn't terrible, but it's not great.

GSM/Cingular - This means that in Canada only Rogers/Fido (same company) will be able to carry the phone. Bell and Telus are both CDMA, and Virgin rides the Bell network. Assuming Cingular has at least a 1 or 2 year contract to be the exclusive carrier in the US, that means a CDMA version isn't likely.

Unable to use without a cell contract - Some people would likely pay $1000 for this toy without a contract, but that's not going to be possible. This means you're not only paying $600 for the phone, you're paying a monthly fee for 2 years for a voice plan, data plan, and whatever other costs come into play. Let's say you stick to the cheap, not planning to use it as anything other than an iPod... that's still at least $20-30 a month for 2 years, or $480-$720 on top of the cost of the device.

iPod issues - These have been discussed ad naseum out there, but DRM, battery issues, etc, still make the iPod unappetizing to me.

Multi-device lock-in - What if you already have a phone you like? Maybe you don't want to surf the web or check your mail from your iPod. Too bad, you're paying for features you won't use.

Missed opportunity - WiFi, EDGE, Bluetooth... and you CAN'T sync wirelessly with your computer? You're paying $60 a month for an unlimited data plan and you CAN'T download iTunes songs directly to the device?? For that matter, can you transfer the pictures from the camera to your computer without going through the phone network? How about other files? This ties back to the phone company lock-in -- so many features get crippled on phones by the carriers, why would this be different?

Cost - Let's face it. $600 is a lot of money for a phone. The iPhone doesn't quite match the Blackberry for actual business e-mail usage (lack of security, PIN messages, etc.), so the execs won't be switching en masse, and $600 WITH the contract is pricey for Joe average. This thing better be built like a brick for when it gets dropped.

Personally, I'll be waiting for the next generation to come out. I can't imagine Apple won't migrate this tech to an iPod-only platform in a year or two. I also have to believe that the price WILL drop once it gets widespread acceptance and the costs go down. Besides, in a year or so the rest of the MP3 player and cell market will have their own pathetic knock-off attempts coming out, 200 patents be damned.

Jobs is right though - this will revolutionize the industry. It's created a potential paradigm shift in cell phone design. Once it gets FCC approval, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, LG, etc, etc, will be pushing the carriers to allow THEIR design changes. If the things takes off, and doesn't adopt CDMA compatibility, then you'll see some shifts in the carriers as well. GSM over CDMA anyone?

I've never owned anything by Apple. I eyed the Mac mini as an addition to my TV setup, but now the Apple TV is out and looks to fill my needs. As is my wont though, I shall wait for the early adopters to find the bugs first.

Oh, and wait until the exclusive iTunes access to the The Beatles catalogue gets announced.

Regardless, cool device. Too much hype. I watched RIM stock go down 7% yesterday, and Apple Inc. go up just as much. I imagine this will correct itself shortly, once the reality of a June delivery date, single provider, $599 price point, and the large number of people in locked-in contracts sinks in.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Keynotes and A Thought

First, Apple iPhone - wow, more on this later. Now if only they can drop the phone, camera, and iPod (and all its DRM), it'd be a kickass music/video player and Internet device. Second, Apple TV - will be next to my TV if it supports non-iTunes video (looks like it does mpeg-4).

Next - Daniel Negreanu's latest blog post had some interesting high-level ideas towards the end. This quote struck me:

"In the meantime, spend some time thinking about all of this. Look in a mirror and ask yourself if you spend enough time experimenting with new things? Are YOU stuck thinking inside a box? Do you play poker thinking in terms of hard fast rules? If so, maybe it's time to think about improving your play in some more unconventional ways... for example, have you ever gone to the mall and just watched people interact? "

I think it's something a lot of the poker blogger world could think about. I see a lot of non-adaptive, immutable play out there. Reads I've put on some players months ago still hold true today. I'm sure I'm guilty of not changing as much as I should, and I know I've got holes in my game, but I generally try out new strategies on a regular basis. Some work, some don't, and some just don't have the numbers to back them up, but if I don't try them, then I'll never know how I feel about them.

5 years ago, it's probably safe to say that most poker players were casual, home-game types who played 5 card, 2 draw poker and had maybe dallied in some Texas Hold 'em but weren't sure how to play anything other than pocket pairs and would chase a flush until it killed them. They're the true donkeys today. Since then, there's been a proliferation of books, and I'd imagine Doyle Brunson's made more of the 2 System books in that time frame than all the years before. The problem with this is that it's created an swarm of players that take these books like their Bible. You can peg the Brunson followers, the Harringtonites, the Gordonologists... heck, there's probably even a few Hellmuthians. Kidpoker himself has books coming out, which will undoubtedly grow the number of Negreanists. This does, however, make it easier to play against those who are hung up on one system, since we all have access to these books.

In the end, you have to find the right mix of styles that suit you. There's an even an argument to be made for playing "terrible" poker to win... I mean, if you can scare out the Harringtonites with a raise, the Gordonologists when they're out of position, or the Hellmuthians if they don't have 1 of 10 hands... then why even look at your cards? Or use the theory that online sites are rigged and go all-in when you're short-stacked and have the worst hand. The fact that you're not following a "proper" system will freak out a large number of players. Of course, that's -EV in the long run :).

We Have Nothing to Fear...

1) Play smart, not scared
2) Don't play exhausted
3) Don't play drunk
4) Pay attention to your table
5) The chips in front of you have already been spent
6) Be aggressive
7) Keep 'em guessing
8) Don't size your bet based on your cards
9) Trust your instincts/reads
10) Play within your limit

Last night I broke rules 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Needless to say I could have fared better. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it's not a bad sampling of what I try to maintain when playing poker.

Found myself with nothing but chores to do last night, so in lieu of actual work, I sat down to play poker. Fired up a Tier 1 on Full Tilt (first time I'd played on the site in a month) while chatting with Joanne and Kat while they played their own token games. I fared better than they, pulling out a 3rd place finish.

While I was finishing up this game, I got a call and had a minor emergency to attend to. I hurried out the door, and made it back in time to late reg for The Hoy (mere seconds before Drazz got knocked out). The fates decided to toy with me however, and kicked out my wireless connection, causing me to miss around 5 minutes and come back with a not-insignificant chunk taken in blinds. I wasn't long for the game after that.

But that's okay, because the night was still young... or at least middle-aged. I joined the blogger 1/2 cash waiting list, fired up a level 2 token game on FT, and an 11+1 5 table Turbo SnG on Stars. I went out 21st in the SnG (sloppily) and was at the final table of the token when I finally got into the cash game.

This is when the rule-breaking started. It was late, I was tired, I had another game open, two chat windows, a friend's article to edit, and the TV on. These were not ideal conditions for giving the game my undivided attention. I made the first of two mistakes I regret near the beginning.

I find the Hilton Sisters in front of me in EP and raise 3x BB preflop. I get my set on the flop, but there's two clubs there. I bet out a less than 1/2 the pot ($6 into $14), and Don re-raises to $15. I've still got the slow token going on, and just finished at the turbo, so my head is in tourney mode, not cash game... I re-raise to $50 and Don thinks for a bit until folding. I show the queens and get a "thanks for saving me money." Any game other than a blogger game and I kick myself a lot harder. I still like the re-raise on my part, but it should have been for much less than 1.4x the current pot.

I finish 3rd in the tier 2, netting a $75 token, and now only have the one table open (and all the other distractions + a cat who's suddenly about to hack up a hairball on my carpet). More rules are set to be broken. I start limping with just about any face, suited cards, or 1 or 2-gapper. Why? Because I just want to play, it's a blogger table that's limping all over the place, and I'm distracted. I've been playing at too many weak cash games, and it's developing a nasty limping habit at them and a dangerously loose hand selection. What made this is worse is that I'd start raising with premium hands, becoming totally transparent.

Then I find the ladies again in LP. Preflop raise gets us down to Lucko and someone else. K-high flop and checks to me so I bet out 1/2 the pot. Lucko calls, player 2 folds. 7 on the turn, and my weak bet gets a big raise from Lucko. I stop and think and I'm sure he doesn't have the K, so I call. Another 7 on the river and Lucko goes all-in (I have him covered... barely). I think until my time almost runs out and reluctantly fold. Damnable tournament mentality. I'm relatively sure I had him beat there, but I played scared and feared losing my chips (which I should have already considered lost in a cash game). If I can't trust my reads, then I shouldn't bother playing beyond 0.01/0.02. His "whew" after the hand didn't help matters.

So, I played scared, was distracted, was tired, limped, protected my chips, was transparent, played my cards (not the table), and didn't trust my gut. Everything BEFORE the cash game was fine, and as long as I stuck to my game, I was good... and then I released my inner donkeyfish. That said, I eventually did leave down only $80 in the cash game, so at least I can still walk away.


Doubt I'll make the Wheatie tonight, but I may swing by the 2nd chance. All those chores I avoided are eventually going to catch up with me.

Just noticed the Big Game is back on this Sunday... shame that I have other plans, especially with that token burning a hole in my account.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Take Me Out...

I'm a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. I remember going to games with my dad when I was a kid at the old "Mistake by the Lake" Exhibition Stadium. I'd get cool things like a Blue Jays digital watch just for being under 14! I almost caught a George Bell foul ball when it ricocheted off a pole and flew backwards into the most impossible place in the stadium to hit a ball... and the fat woman next to me who had JUST sat down in the 6th inning caught it instead of me. I remember not knowing who any of the players were and not even being quite sure how the whole thing worked. Why didn't we get to stay for the whole 9th inning just because the home team was already winning? I lost interest during the baseball strike (and was angry that the Expos were robbed of their playoff glory), but in the past few years my interest has returned. There's a lot to like in this team.

I think my favourite Jay of all time was Tony Fernandez. It didn't take long for me to like the guy... he was amazing on the field, and seemed to ALWAYS get a hit. Sure, Fred McGriff or George Bell could hit them further, but Tony was almost a sure thing to be on base. How many guys hit 17 triples in one season? I was sad when he got traded along with McGriff for two guys named Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, and I was thrilled when he came back in '93 (Alomar and Fernandez up the middle.... wow). He was nuts to leave after that season, and the two more times he came back made me smile.

Strangely enough, for all the great double-plays, all the clutch hits, the '93 playoffs... my best memory is at the end. September 4th, 2001 vs the Yankees at the Skydome. Day after Labour day, and I'm in the 200 club seats behind home plate with my brother. Jays are up 8 or 9 to naught in the 7th inning. Tony's on his retirement tour, and gets subbed in DH for Shannon Stewart. The tiny crowd (couldn't have been more than 20,000 in a stadium that seats 55,000) starts cheering as Tony's name is called, with the bases loaded and 1 out. I yell "HIT IT OUT ONE MORE TIME TONY!" He hadn't hit anything out of the park in the time he's been there this season as a pinch hitter, and he's never been a home-run hitter. Next pitch... swing.. crack.. and THERE. SHE. GOES!! GRAND SLAM TONY FERNANDEZ! The crowd goes absolutely NUTS!! If you closed your eyes you'd swear there were 60,000 people and the Jays just won their 3rd World Series in the bottom of the 9th with 2 out and 2 strikes. A more meaningless and meaningful grand slam could not have been hit. The Jays went on to win 14-0, but all that mattered was that Tony got yet another moment of glory.

17 years, 2158 games, 7911 at-bats, 2276 hits, 1057 runs, 414 doubles, 92 triples, 94 home runs, 3 grand slams, 844 RBIs, 690 walks, 784 strike-outs, .288 career average, .347 on base percentage, .399 slugging percentage... and he's on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Cal Ripken Jr. and Mark McGwire are also there, and Alan Trammell is trying for the 6th time. Tony doesn't need the Hall of Fame, but I sure as hell would like to see him there.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Just got back from a busy night - picked up a friend at the airport, followed by my dad's birthday dinner (which I talked the family into doing downtown, so it would be easier for me), and then met up with an old high school friend and others for drinks. Coincidentally enough one of the "others" was an even OLDER friend from grade school who I hadn't seen in probably 16 years. Quite the reunion.

Anyway, being mostly sober and having a cat who spent all day alone, I'm staying up for a bit. Time for a non-gambling post.

The interesting thing about this high school friend is our generally different political views. He's much more left-leaning than I am. This means that most of his friends follow suit. I generally don't have a problem with this, as I'm socially left, but economically right, and political arguments seldom spring up due to pure economic beliefs. Regardless... one topic that did come up was essentially this: Do banks have the right to screw with their customers?

Phrased that way, the obvious answer would be "no." However, this discussion started when I said that banks weren't making people bankrupt. This was answered by one of the people at the table (old grade school friend actually) with a "WHAAAAT??" I clarified - banks weren't bankrupting people with user fees and such, and people that were suddenly unable to pay for their exorbitant mortgage had to shoulder SOME of the responsibility for their situation. This lead to a one hour argument over it.

I won't get into all the details of the debate (and I believe we all parted on friendly terms), but my high school friend and his girlfriend ended up siding with me as they heard my argument, but the other two people at the table steadfastly refused to abandon their side. It boiled down (in my mind) to me saying that people had to take personal responsibility for their actions and them saying that banks were greedy and shouldn't be allowed to offer mortgages that people can't afford if the situation changes.

It literally got to the point of me being asked "What if someone can't grasp the concept of a zero-down mortgage with a 6-month variable rate?" And me responding "Then they shouldn't be buying a house!" This got gasps from my opposition and cries of "Or be allowed to live? or work?!" To which I attempted to clarify that if ANYONE is borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars with NO savings of their own and they lack the ability to either (a) RESEARCH or (b) ASK FOR HELP, then they are in no position to make a decision this big. It wasn't like I was denying them the right to breathe. I know full well that in their mind they had two Downs-syndrome people buying a house and me standing there saying "You're too stupid to do this!" Where I was really saying "Ask someone for help first." They were still appalled.

Although aggravating, it was refreshing... it's been awhile since I've had a good, solid debate with anyone. I know I felt rusty, and on my walk home came up with many superior arguments I COULD have made... they're stored for round 2, should it ever happen. They definitely wanted to continue, but I should have been in bed 2 hours ago.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Clawing Back

Let's hear it for SnG's and The Wheatie! I've been mildly addicted to $11+1 Turbo SnG's on Stars of late. $12, 45 players, top 7 paid, and it takes about an hour. 2nd place brought me back from the brink of reloading, and affords me the chance to play some more of 'em.

As for the weekly WWdN - good field this week. I'm not sure what the final tally was, but it was at 68 a few minutes into the tournament. So let's say 70. Top 9 paid, with first getting around $207. Lots of new faces due to Wil advertising in his Team Pokerstars anniversary tournament thingy. To be honest, I was getting a bit worried about the Tuesday game of late -- smaller fields, and lots of the big names disappearing (yet still showing up in The Hoy or The Mookie) -- but this week had some familiar faces again.

First hand of the tourney I get dealt Hilton Sisters in the blinds. 23skidoo raises, Gracie (peacecorn) and another player call, and I re-raise. Calls all around except for Gracie who folds. Flop comes Q9x, making me very happy. I bet about 1/2 the pot, and Ski calls, the third straggler folds. Turn is crap and I again bet 1/2 the pot which Ski raises. I re-raise all-in, and Mr. Doo goes into the tank with 400-and-some chips left. He finally folds and I show my ladies. Before this, Gracie says "I had the best hand." My response while showing is, "you sure?" She folded pocket 9's (GOOD fold pre-flop, I'm impressed), and was happy to have done it. 23skidoo had Tens or some such I believe. I figured this was a sign of things to come.

Won some small pots for a bit, then got to take someone else's money when I flopped a straight after checking from the BB with a 1-gapper. After this I got moved to the TV table and kept my game going. A few hands come to mind. I had K-rag but got in cheap to see two Kings hit the flop, we checked to the turn, and my opponent put out a good-sized "represent the K" bet, which I re-raised all-in for not much more. He dutifully folded. Another hand I had K-rag suited and got in cheap to see a flush draw on the flop, and a K on the turn. Another steal attempt by a player led to me once AGAIN re-raising all-in for not much more to see him fold after much thought. Then I got the ladies again against Wil, with my set once again hitting on the flop. I pushed all-in (was getting short-stacked at the time), and Wil figured I was desperate so he called and I enjoyed his chips immensly. Finally, there was the KQo (which I saw A LOT to little avail) that flopped two pair against Iggy's Q-rag... he was all-in and I knocked the blogfather out.

In the end, at the final table with 8 left, in the SB, I had Ingoal in the BB. We were trading the short-stack back-and-forth at this point and it folded to me with A4o. I push all-in and he is forced to call since he has THE HAMMER!. I utter one word... "damn." Sure enough, turn and river are both 7's and IGH in 8th. There's no shame in losing to the strongest hand in the game though. $35 and change for a 200% ROI ain't so bad, even if it does only work out to a bit more than minimum wage. RogueTV - sorry I couldn't take it all down for Canada.

One other thing I noticed - the observer chat was far more civil this time around. No hurled insults, no attacks on Wil's acting. Some good-natured ribbing about sequel possibilities (which would all involve zombies), and Wil doing his very best ambassador job. Glad to see the Internet Fuckwad Theory wasn't in effect.