Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jays Early Season - Again

Well here we are at the end of May, and once again, the Blue Jays are "surprising". They shouldn't be, as they have a lineup that on paper should hit a ton, and the pitching was questionable due to its youth. But the pitchers have so far been pretty decent, and the hitters are actually doing what they're supposed to. I mean, Vernon Wells is having his best start in recent memory... finally.

And for all that, the Jays are in 3rd in the AL East, with a .563 record. 6 games back of the Rays, 1 back of the Yankees for 2nd, and a half game up on the Bosox.

In the AL Central, they'd be 1 game back of 1st.

In the AL west, they'd be tied for 1st.

NL East? 1 game back. NL Central? 3-way tie for 1st. NL west? 1.5 games back.

Not that anyone's talking about them. Even here in Toronto, where attendance is abysmal.

Major Leagues leader in homers? Toronto's Jose Bautista with 15. Bautista's also 4th in RBIs with 39... 3 back of 1st. Vernon Wells is in the top 10 in both categories in the AL.

Ricky Romero has 72 strikeouts for the 2nd most in the majors, only 3 back of the leader.

Alex Gonzalez and Vernon Wells are 1 and 2 for doubles in the AL (3 and 5 in the majors). With Fred Lewis putting 3 Jays in the top 10 in the AL.

Jays lead the MAJORS in slugging percentage, home runs (by 14 homers), doubles (by 10), RBIs, total bases (by 38), runs, and at bats. The pitchers are leading the league in strikeouts.

By any measure, that's a powerhouse.

Too bad their batting average and ERA stink.

Once again, the only team in Canada is playing exciting baseball to start off the season. In any other division, they're either in first or fighting for it. But in the most competitive 6th of baseball, they're already 6 games back and can't drum up interest from the fans.

So how do you keep up the team's interest in this case? "Hey, you guys are doing GREAT! Too bad it won't amount to anything against the Yankees and Rays and Sox. Or that nobody in the city gives a shit." If they can maintain this pace through the season, then they very well might get the attention of some people here. But it would suck if they have a fantastic season, only to be overshadowed by two other teams having slightly better ones.

Monday, May 17, 2010

He Who Lives By The Cardrack

After a disappointing home-game, saved only by a spur-of-the-moment winner-take-all second tournament that saw me break even, I came in a bit late for the BBT5 Invitational last night.

And promptly won back my blinded-away chips, doubled the initial stack, tripled it, and nearly quadrupled it over the next two hours.

I was getting hit hard in the face by the cardbat.

JJ, QQ, JJ, QQ, KK, mid-pair set, AK, AK, flush, etc, etc..

Was winning hands all over the place. Taking chips and names. Even the shit I folded would have won with top-two, flopped straights, and the like.

And then KK ran into AA, and I was done.

Not sure if it would have played any differently, regardless of how I played it.

I raised, got re-raised to around 2.5k. I had around 8k in my stack after having to hand some chips back to someone earlier. To test for aces, I'd have to put in 5k, and then what? Fold the last 3k if re-re-raised?

Or call and NOT get it all-in on a disconnected raggy flop? No ace or connecting anything came on the turn or river either, so I'd have been pot-committed the whole way I think.

No, I think I was going broke there anyway. Especially since I had been hit by a solid case of the run-goods to that point, and was supremely overconfident.

So out 36th... damn.

Poker from the Rail tonight? Methinks... yes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mookie Fail

Wow, that might have been the worst game of poker I've played in forever.

Card death? Let's see if I recall the decent starting hands.

KK won the blinds
88 won a small pot on the flop
22 was folded and missed a flopped set, but would have been crushed on turn flush
AK won blinds
AQ won blinds
AJ won a small pot

It didn't help that Joanne had position on me for most of the night, and she's taken to floating me to the turn and then popping me on the river. I'd stop her, except that (a) She's generally got something and (b) I usually have nothing when she does this. I think she's got the BDR superuser account tuned to me.

Couldn't get anything going. When I'd take a stab with air, I'd end up with multiple players. Position meant nothing with the crap I had and terrible boards that came. I think I folded all of ONE terrible hand that would have caught a winner.

In fact, I was lucky with my folds. I folded a bunch of hands that I might have considered for play, that flopped monsters and would have been killed by bigger ones.

But nothing going. Never above starting stack, never an opportunity to chase people away. Just awful.

And out 47th or so of 96.

Congrats to Tripjax for taking it down. Well-deserved sir. Now try and do it on a bigger screen.

See you Sunday. I'll be fresh from a home game, so I should be raring to go.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


It's really not that hard to spell people.

The Mookie is tonight! In all its Mookieliciousness! It's Mooktastic! Mookerrific! Un-be-mookin'-lievable!

10pm ET, Full Tilt, private tournaments, pw: vegas1, yadda, yadda.

Anybody remember Mookie Wilson? Anybody other than Torontonians remember when he played for the Jays and was a fan favourite here? Yah, he wasn't always a Met.


Okay, so my major problem in the BBT5 has been building enough of a chipstack to make a serious run in the middle-late stages. Making the final table with 1/2 the average is no way to win.

So why do I keep doing this? Because I'm not taking enough shots early on? Not paying enough attention to my opponents' moves? Just being card dead at the wrong times?

Probably all of those, plus lapses in positional awareness, and fear of the slowplay. I usually fall prey to chasing the wrong hand at least once and then having to walk away on the river when I've got a steaming pile of nothing.

So I've been prepping by playing a few games that I couldn't care less about. $1 SnG's. Some with regular blind levels, some super-turbos. The goal? To push around some players who I can be relatively confident aren't doing anything more than playing the cards in front of them.

No, I'm not saying all the bloggers follow this pattern. I'd hope that by now there's been some evolution. But it's to drive up my aggression and confidence a bit. This isn't a "raise or fold" experiment, but an exercise in table domination. The goal of these game is to grab a choke hold of the table and not let go. To strike fear into the other players. In the rare occurrence I run into another alpha at my table, I play with other strategies.

So far, so good. Let's see if it pays some dividends.

I fully expect to find myself at a table with every semi-pro big-game playing blogger in our group tonight... in which case, I'll just peddle some nuts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Cash, Another Spot Missed

Out 7th in the Poker From the Rail game. So I'm back to my highest finish in this series so far. 3 final tables, 2 min cashes, that's 5 cashes, no seats.

This wasn't a great game by me. I had a few moments of desperation aggression that worked out, but generally played cards, and won little.

I need to get out that rut.

Because I was the short stack when I went out. If I'd built up some damned chips, I'd still be playing, as I was taken out by the next shortest. Of course, it was T7h turning a flush that beat my pocket Jacks.

Mookie Wednesday. Let's see if I improve over the last time I finished 7th...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Economy and Poker Comparisons

A rather long, boring write-up on market reaction to the EU's proposed trillion $ aid package is here. But the segment I'm interested in is this:

“There has been a poker game going on between the markets and the EU,” said Gary Jenkins, head of credit strategy at Evolution Securities Ltd. in London. “This is probably reaching a climax as the EU has just gone ‘all in.’”

This is hardly the most egregious misuse of the phrase "all in", but it's not precisely accurate. Going all-in suggests that you've put everything you have on the line. In a tournament, if you lose, you're out.

But the economy isn't a tournament. It's a cash game. You go all-in there, then you may very well have some more cash in your pocket, or be willing to make a trip to Ye Olde ATM. In fact, if you aren't, then maybe you shouldn't have sat down in the first place.

And the opponent they're going all-in against in this case is a broke-ass degenerate gambler who's chasing more losses than he could ever hope to repay. This is the guy who has markers at every casino, have hit up all their friends for cash to the point where they don't have any more friends, been disowned by their family, and have five gorillas standing at the rail waiting to break their knees or take their money for the mobs they work for.

In short, they're going to call no matter what. Then, regardless of the cards, they're going to take all the cash and run for it. By the time the EU catches them, they'll have lost all the money and be sitting at another table.

And the EU will pull out its ATM card and reload.

Another Invitational, Another Cash

18th. Again.

At least the BBT5 has been cheap for me.

Last night was a tale of mediocrity, and ended as it should, with a mediocre finish.

I was playing a pretty tight game early on, and unfortunately had a table that respected that. Meaning that I didn't pull off much when I had the goods. How tight? Well, I folded KK to Joanada when she kept calling me down and then put out a good-sized bet after a flopped ace.

An otherworldly suckout against 1QueensUp1 with Q2h vs 55 on a Q53 flop gave me some real chips (runner-runner hearts), only to have James McManus take a chunk of my chips and move tables.

But I aggro'd my way back to a respectable position after that, only to then hit a run of counter-aggression from my table that led to me backing off for a bit.

After that, I never really got things going again, and the blinds caught up to me. I was ready to shove a few times, but not against other aggressors or with cards like 94o. KTc won me blinds and antes, and AJo ran square into McManus' AKo to KO me in 18th. MCMANUUUUUUUUSSSS!!!!

Seriously, loved the book, hated the being knocked-out. I believe I now have to send him a t-shirt.

Did I play badly? Not necessarily... but I played safely. Which was odd, because I was more focused on this game than any previous ones. No TV, no other games, no photo editing... just the game.

I need to adjust my mentality a bit too. I usually try to get to the late game with an around-average stack, and then play for first. I think I'll need to play for 1st from hand one now.

I'll try and fix that tonight in the Poker From The Rail game. Full Tilt, $26, 10pm ET, pw: 2010WSOP.

Friday, May 07, 2010

UB Security Flaw Take

Putting aside the general dislike of Cereus/UB/Absolute that is out there, I think the recent security flaw isn't as major as has been suggested by the various commentators out there.

Yes, using a simple XOR encoding instead of the industry standard SSL encryption is dumb. In fact, it's flat-out inexplicable. That's day 1 in cryptography. They may as well send the data as a text file.

But why it's NOT as major a concern as it's being made out to be is the interception portion of the situation. The vulnerability as it was described can only be exploited with access to the end-user's network.

So to be abused, the following conditions would have to be met:

- You're playing on UB/AP on a wireless network
- Someone knows you're doing this
- This someone is within range of your router
- This someone must access your router, either because its unsecured or by hacking it
- They must run some relatively available and simple code to access your hole cards
- They must ALSO play on UB/AP and sit at your table

This isn't a case of some random insider creating a superuser account against random players. You would have to be targeted. Now, if you broadcast that you play at these sites to unscrupulous people who know where you play from AND have the technical knowledge to pull this off (not complicated for anyone with a computer background, but above the heads of your average Joe), then you could make yourself a target. If you play from public, unsecured wireless networks (ie.- coffee shops, wi-fi hotspots), then you could be in danger. But again, someone would have to know you were playing on these sites AT THAT TIME, and know your online name in order find you.

If you're playing at home, have any level of access control on your router, or are wired-only, then you don't have much to worry about.

That said, I still won't play on these clusterfuck excuses of poker sites.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Playing The Mookie

The losses seem that much bigger in 50"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

BBT5 Square 1

I'm exhausted today. Why? Because I in a foul mood for hours after the PftR game last night.

The evening started off poorly when I tried to get rush tickets to a doc I really wanted to see. My own stupid last minute change in plans and lack of compensating for the extra time resulted in my being too far back in line to have a chance. But I stuck it out anyway. Kicking myself on the walk back, I figured I'd soothe my mood by picking up some quality food if the Healthy Butcher was open. Nope, missed it by half an hour.

I cabbed it the rest of the way, and opted to turn just over a pound of ground elk into spaghetti sauce.

Caramelized some onions, softened up some yellow pepper and zucchini, all with a bit of salt and a mix of fats (vegetable oil, olive oil, butter, garlic oil, and bacon fat). Added garlic just before tossing in some ground star anise, and then browning the elk with it all. Shake some fish sauce on top (mmmm... umami), ground coriander seed, and more salt. Some canned tomatoes were added to the mix with dried oregano, smoked paprika, and a bit of cayenne. Bring to a simmer. Taste, added a mix of green peppercorns, black peppercorns, cubeb pepper, white peppercorns that were mortar and pestled. A splash of hot sauce, some spicy sundried tomato hemp pesto, and a couple splashes of worcestershire sauce finished it off.

It was delicious, and served on some barolo-infused pasta that my best friend got me ages ago and gently reminded me I'd never opened. Also delicious.

Having cooked some tasty, I was back in a happy place, 10 minutes before game time.

I sat down, and on the 3rd hand I saw KJo. Buddydank put a standard raise out and I called in position.

Flop comes KdJdx. Okay, top 2. Buddy bets, I raise, and he calls.

Turn comes 3d. Buddy checks, I bet, and he thinks and pushes. I have BDR on, and he's talking about how he's putting me to the test here. I review the hand so far, and figure there's no what he turned a flush. The talk on the radio is obviously meant to make me think he's weak. But I figure he's fairly strong here. Knowing it's Buddy, I put him on AK and make the call, and am willing to go home now if he's got AKd.

He shows AdAx. Stronger than I thought, but for all intents and purposes, the same thing. Before I can say "here we go" the 4th diamond hits the river, giving Buddy the 4-flush and sending me to the rail as Gigli.

Sure, it was the first level, and I could have folded on the turn, but you have to go with your reads, or why bother playing? If I win there, Buddy's gone, I'm the chipleader 3 hands in, and I can loosen up BIG TIME and maybe build a significant chipstack early on. I can't be pissed with Mr. Dank, but I can be plenty upset about the river. And I was.

This hand covered everything I needed to do to up my game in this tournament. Trusting my reads, making a good one, and being aggressive. I just needed a touch more luck, and I'm off to the races. In the end, if you get the money in good, and the river kills you, that's poker.

Still, I was back to a foul mood. So I fired up Arkham Asylum and beat the crap out of Joker's goons. Then I quit and played angry super turbo SnG's. The $5 one didn't go so well, but I was HU in the $10 one before the 25/50 level was over. Properly revenged on poker, I called it a night.

Except when I hit the pillow, I couldn't sleep. Bad moods will do that. At some point, exhaustion won. Still, today's looking to be a foggy one.

Monday, May 03, 2010

They Like Me! (Bragging)

Well, no... they like this:

Sunrise From The B

I had finished putting away groceries and playing some Guitar Hero when I checked Twitter for the first time that day. I had few @'s waiting for me, and all were along the lines of "Congrats Astin!"

Huh? Lost in my tweets was this one from Scott Bourne:

ScottBourne: Congrats to Astin who won our Spring Flickr contest - see his winning picture here. More contests coming -

Wha? I had heard about the contest last week, joined the Flickr group and submitted the popular sunrise shot from December's WPBT trip. You were allowed one addition per week, and I forgot to add another before the deadline.

Turns out I didn't need to.

I love the shot, but was shocked that it won. I'm under no illusions about my ability with a camera. I take enough pictures that I occasionally get a good one. See: blind squirrel, nut. That one turned out great, but I figured the HDR aspect of it and unusual dimensions would work against me.

From the announcement post:

Note the horizon doesn’t cut through the center of the frame, which would be distracting. The fountain center and the tower at the Paris hotel are both just slightly off kilter to each other which creates a nice balance.

The horizon is actually exactly where I wanted it. The photo has obviously been cropped (side and bottom taken off). Part of that was because the Bellagio centre column was in the right side of the shot (my room was adjacent to it). But the top/bottom was cropped to get the horizon and road roughly straddling the middle of the picture. Ideally, I'd have liked them both to be on the thirds, but opted for the horizon to be closer to that goal.

The fountain centre and Eiffel tower being off-kilter was purely a function of location. The room is where it is, and the table in front of the window is where it is. That table was necessary to set up my mini-tripod to get the shots. I'd have to check, but I believe I used 4 (maybe 5) exposures for the HDR.

Of course, this has now taken the most popular photo on my Flickr account and trebled its views. If nothing else, it's motivation to keep at this photography hobby, especially as I work through older shots and am reminded how much crap I end up with.

Movin' Up




My finishes from the last three BBT5 events I've played. I missed The Mookie last week, but my finishes have continued to crawl upwards with the Invitational last night.

Card rack? Maybe. AA 3 or 4 times. KK 3 times I think. A few AK in there too. Thing is, only a couple of those got paid.

One big suckout where 66 > 99 kept me alive at a key point.

Other than that? I tended to stay ahead of the blinds and upped the aggression in a few spots. But I fell behind in the wrong places. Near the final table bubble, and then with 8 left when I ran AQd into AKo. I should have really been pushing it after that, but just couldn't pull the trigger on hands like 83o and KTo with action before me.

I finally went down with A8o on the button running into the BB's AK. Unimproved for both = IGH.

I know what I have to do to step it up, and will aim to do so. But I'm not going to win anything unless I can get paid more on my big hands.

Tonight's the Poker From The Rail game. I'm already signed up, but there's a slim possibility my blinds will be up for grabs.