Thursday, May 23, 2013


If you still read here, you've seen my rants against Mayor Laughable Bumblefuck, AKA Rob Ford. If you pay attention to any of the same information streams I do, then you know there's a video out there that appears to show our beloved mayor smoking crack with drug dealers in what's generally considered one of Toronto's worst neighbourhoods.

The saddest part about this is that it's not really all that surprising.

Alright, fine, nobody expected crack. Cocaine had been rumoured for a while. Getting drunk wasn't uncommon for him. He had been pulled over in the States once possessing weed. But crack? Really? Our millionaire moron mayor smoking crack? It'd be funny if it wasn't so pathetic (okay, it's still funny).  This will all be rambly from here on out. What else is new.

It's day 7 since this all started, and there has been one comment from the Mayor. He claimed this was the Toronto Star going after him and that the claim is ridiculous. His brother Doug, a councilman, spoke yesterday with what sounded more like a campaign speech than anything of substance. Oh, and he attacked the Star as well.

As an aside, it should be pointed out that the Toronto Star is the most-read newspaper in Canada. It's generally well-respected, if a bit left-leaning. It isn't a tabloid, or a rag, or known for wild accusations and ill-researched propaganda.  That's the Sun (the firmly right-wing tabloid counterpart that Ford loves). The way the brothers Ford have talked about it for the past few years though might leave the impression it's the National Enquirer and Daily Mail and NY Post all in one. It isn't.

Also absent in these attacks is mention of Gawker's independent description of the video. That would lend credence to the story of course.

So, a week since this story broke, and no real comment from the accused Mayor. I'll grant the long weekend to him as time to circle the wagons and meet with his lawyers. But it's 3 days now since that ended. Indications are that his lawyers told him to shut the fuck up, and he's listening for a change.

Of course, none of that looks good on him. I mean, if I hadn't smoked crack and someone had video of someone who looked like me smoking crack, I'd deny it immediately.

Any hope that this will go away is foolish. It's only getting bigger.

Of course, with everything else this dipshit of a politician has done, who knows what effect this will have long-term?

Although he has lost his real job - high school football coach. The one he spent more time at than his elected office. The one that had him hire football assistants on the city payroll. The one that got him booted once from office for raising funds using city materials. I imaging being told he can't coach his team any more to be the bigger blow to him than any political fallout. Because priorities.

My guess for what will happen. Eventually he will have to speak. Either because Gawker buys the video and posts it, or his team finally figures out a way to confront this. It will go like this:

Blahblahblah I've done great things for this city blahdebloopbeblah The Toronto Star hates me and has been harrassing my family blahblahblahblah the left-wing commies are out to get me blahblahblah I am not perfect and have made mistakes blahdeblah nothing in my personal life has affected my performance at City Hall, I fight for the taxpayers, I'm doing a great job blablahblah I am stepping down as Mayor because of the pressure from the media on my family and it's affect on my health or some bullshit.

A video of him smoking from a pipe isn't nearly enough for a criminal charge. An admission of guilt might be problematic. So he won't directly admit anything while admitting it. Or, maybe his blubbering honesty will come through and he'll actually admit to it, seek help, and still blame the Star and the leftists.

One other alternative: A conspiracy gets tossed out. He was drugged and then given the crack when he was under the influence of something else in order to blackmail him. He's the victim here. He confronted these guys to protect his at-risk players, and they tricked him.

Regardless, this isn't the last we've heard of this buffoon.

Hey, local news is now covered with coverage of a city Councillor getting pulled over and failing  a breathalyzer and getting a warning. That should buy Rob another day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How it Goes

Out in 10th.

The tweet said KJh < 66. But that of course only tells part of the story.

With stacks as low as 17k and 3k/6k/500 being the starting level, I knew that action would be fast and furious to start. So I kept my 124k chip lead mostly out of the way.

Things settled down a bit as people dropped and chips consolidated. I stole some blinds and antes, wasn't stealing when I won a couple as well. I more or less stayed where I was, which was enough to stay above everyone else, but I knew that couldn't last without being proactive.

Eventually, I looked down at 66 in the BB. At this point the button and SB had both limped to me, and I opted to check and set mine.  Flop came 288 rainbow and the SB checked to me. I pot-bet and the button folded. The SB debated for a bit and then pushed all-in for 65k more. So I'm calling 65k for 118k pot. I have around 95k in front of me, and 66 with a paired board and no information. I'm kicking myself for not raising pre. I finally fold, worried not only that he caught an 8 or had pocket 2s, but that he's actually got a couple overcards that will hit. Right after I fold I realize I've been in a hand with this guy once before, and that he's capable of pushing with air. My internal monologue is ranting at me for being a wuss.

I'm still in okay shape though. An orbit later, again in the BB, UTG pushes all-in for 28k. SB (same guy as before) calls, and I come over the top all-in. UTG is happy for the protection, and SB curses me for my move before folding. My AQ falls to a KJ with the jack on the river, and I'm down more. SB explains the concept of calling and checking down to me. I explain the concept of "no prizes for making the final table" to him. There's no way KOing UTG and gifting SB over 80k helps me out.

I'm short now, but manage to limp to a river against the usual suspect, and win a small pot with a pair of 4s. I take it.

Break comes and I spend it eating while staring at my stack and talking poker pro stories with the guy I've been sparring with. Coming back it's 6k/12k/1k for 10 minutes before we get to 5k/10k/1k.  I'm in trouble.

I let a couple hands go by before pushing with A7o UTG. The same guy as previously tanks in the BB and finally calls with... A8o.  Dammit. AT4 on the flop. 8 on the turn. Fuck me. T on the river... Two pair, 10s and Aces with an... 8 kicker. I survive and win half the blinds.

Couple hands later, AJo. I push, win some a couple limps and the BB. I have some chips. Around 90k. 5/10/1 though, so it ain't pretty yet.

A couple hands more and I see KJh.  My nemesis for the evening raises to 20k, I push over the top. It's enough to make him think. And think. He finally calls with 66, a hand that in hindsight hated me last night. Two hearts and a queen on the flop and I'm in good shape with 15 outs twice, and a runner-runner straight draw for fun. 6 on the turn does me zero favours, but I still have the hearts as a possibility. River is a black card and I'm done.

I have no complaints about the final hand. I have none about the previous plays I made. Except one. The 66. I'm positive I was ahead there, but talked myself out of it. Maybe he catches something and I'm out earlier. Maybe he doesn't and I'm huge and he's gone. Either way, I'm sure I made a mistake.

Oh, and it's how it always goes - the guy who I battled with? Won the whole thing. GL to him in whichever 1k WSOP event he's playing.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Divided Attention

Two unimaginable games. Back-to-back victories over the Bruins. Somehow, The Leafs, MY Leafs, were in game 7, with all the momentum their way.

And I was heading uptown to play free poker in a bar with poorly placed televisions. My Leafs jersey (Clark 17, C, Winter Classic) was on, and a Tim Hortons cup was in my hand as I boarded the subway. I exchanged nods with the random stranger in a Leafs jersey sitting across from me. I looked at the other jerseys around me. They all got off at Union station, a short underground walk to the Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square. I stayed on the train.

It was day 2 of the main event after all. I didn't play to get here for nothing.

Up the stairs I wandered, got my seat assignment, and listened to the welcome and game changes for this stage of play. I was table 6, downstairs, away from the rest of the action. Seat 1 was obstructed view of the TV in the opposite corner. It would suffice.

7pm saw the cards in the air and the puck dropped.

20,000 chips in front of me. 20,000 fans in their seats.

I called a few small raises with hands meant to catch. They didn't. I was more interested in the game on the TV than the game I was playing. Boston scored. The bar groaned. I said it was still early. I counted my chips and was down 10%. It was still early.

Franson scored. The bar erupted in cheers. My chips hadn't changed much.

We broke for dinner, I was down 5%, Leafs were tied at the beginning of the second.

Franson scored again, 2-1, happy bar. My grilled chicken caesar wrap with tasteless fries was served.

Back to the game, back to watching the game. I make a huge error. I flip the 5k chip off the top of my stack instead of taking the 500 from the bottom, plus a couple 100s. 5.2k pre-flop raise in the hijack instead of 700 at the 100/200/25. Pocket nines. The table pauses, unsure how to react. Folds to the small blind, who tanks and then calls. Big blind is in pain, wanting to take part, but now extra scared by the call. He folds.

Flop comes K99. Dem's quads. SB thinks and bets 5.1k into the 10.8k pot. He has less than 10k behind, I have around 14k. I push, figuring he either can't get away or has AA, AK, or KK and won't leave. He calls and flips over TT for the runner-runner quads draw. It doesn't come and I find myself with around 38k, having doubled my stack.

Third period starts and Kessel scores. 3-1 Leafs. Table lead me.

Kadri scores. 4-1 Leafs, nothings changed at the table, but most of us are cheering and watching the TV anyway.

Bruins get one back, I comment that I HATE 2 goal leads because they create a false sense of security. Two idiots at the table comment that it's okay, because there's no way Boston scores two goals in 10 minutes. The Leafs will shut them down. I politely inform them to keep their traps shut.

Play continues both on the ice and at the table. My chips stay static, my hands inconsequential.

Boston scores again, after my guys can't pot an empty-netter. We can't see how much time is on the clock due to obstructing wall. I check my apps and see 1:22 left. Sonofabitch.Same morons as before tell us not to worry, I contemplate defenestration, even if it's only onto the patio.

Tied game. I tweet one word, but use a lot of capital letters and "U"s.

We colour up and the table breaks to join the rest of the tournament upstairs. Overtime is starting. I hope nothing happens until I get to my new seat.

One TV in the corner, but I have a better view than before. The upstairs guys are a few minutes behind us, and are still colouring up the small chips. I lean against a bar rail and try to keep my stomach from churning. 3 games of momentum completely switched around. 3 minutes of unfortunate play exposing the inexperience of a young team. Gasps and almost cheers and texts and tweets and nerves and pain and anticipation all roiling around, and I still have a tournament to play.

Bergeron scores for Boston, and I pound on the rail and hang my head. The bar empties out. Play resumes. It's suddenly very hot under my Jersey, so I hang it on my chair. Börje Salming was dealing, now it's just a guy named Phil who looks about as thrilled as I am. I fold hands and pay no attention to the table. I tweet and text and support my forehead with my hand as I toss out antes.

A Canadian is returning from space and landing in the sea in Kazakhstan, contained in a sardine tin with two other astronauts. He's inspired hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people over the past 5 months with videos and photos and songs and a goofy and ultimately Canadian sense of humour. He's cheered the Leafs the whole time. He's watched the games a day behind, asking 750,000 people not to spoil the outcomes for him. He was hurtling towards the Earth and experiencing forces I never will as the boys in Blue and White were choking on youth and anxiety. I hope he doesn't ask what the score is until he's out of the capsule. I'm incredibly proud of our representative to the world while simultaneously sad about a hockey game.

I start paying attention to the game. The dealer/player is raking in a big pile of big chips. He's a good player with the apparent table lead, and two to my left. This could take some work. I see nothing particularly worthwhile, but steal some blinds and antes. I fold more than I call, but my 29k in chips is rapidly depreciating as the seconds tick by.

A 5k chip is found under the table. Everyone agrees it's probably the dealer's from his big hand. Tournament director declares it a dead chip as it had been there for a while. Dealer tilts. Leafs loss was probably the instigator, chip is the catalyst.

Parachutes are open and the Soyuz is on screen. All systems look good. I watch players push and survive. I keep getting change for my antes and blinds.

Dealer, still tilting slams down a call against two all-ins. His KJs catches a J on the river and knocks them both out. Still a roiling boil under the lid.

Splashdown. I see QTd with no action ahead of me. I raise and get only the BB calling. Q6T on the flop, BB bets, I push, BB calls. K6 is no good against my two pair, and I double up to a useable stack.

Next hand see QTs, and again, no action before me. I raise again, and get called by the simmering dealer. Everyone else folds. Flop comes all spades, all lower than my T. I bet just under the pot. My opponent tanks with an incredibly deep scowl on his brow. He almost starts talking to himself. I get a death stare and blink. He calls. Flop is a red card. I push. He calls and says, "You have a flush?" "Yup." "I knew it." He shows AJd, and maybe caught a pair on the river. I somehow had him barely covered after my last win. He calls over the floor and demands that he be relieved NOW. Deals one more hand. They break the table to let him get away. I say nothing. A "good game" sounds insulting in my mind, so I keep it to myself.

I count as I rack up for the move - 120k. Chip lead.  Commander Hadfield is out of the capsule, last of the three. All safe and sound and getting used to gravity while looking forward to a hot shower and toilets that flush. I imagine a flame-grilled steak wouldn't suck either. Our achievements so far are not comparable, although I'm okay with a camera.

New table is uneventful. CBC continues in the background, but it's nothing of interest anymore. We break to colour up the 100's and we are 5 away from breaking for the day, or 23 minutes, whichever comes first.

Shortly upon return, I'm moved for the final time. Best view of the TV all night, nothing good on. As I unrack my chips, the classic "ah, here to distribute the wealth" line is quipped. I retort with "no, I'm on a mission of consolidation so they have less bags to worry about tomorrow." Then I steal the blinds and antes to show that I'm serious.

I get a walk in the BB a bit later, but otherwise don't play as stacks drop off. 3 left. 2. On the bubble and hand-for-hand between the two tables.

A medium stack raises from the button. The BB pushes all-in. They're close. Button calls quickly with AKd. BB shows QJh. The board plays out with low cards, but a third heart on the river. AK doesn't see it and assume he won. Comments that he feels bad, but thinks the BB has him covered, so the BB is still around for tomorrow. Dealer counts, and he's right - the BB does have him covered, so the button is out. He doesn't understand. The whole table points out the flush. AK feels like a fool and announces he's the bubble and out, wishes everyone good luck, and scampers out.

On his way, the floor lets him know he's actually out 16th, as an all-in went out at the other table just before him. The result doesn't change, but Day 3 is now 15 players instead of 16, and the guy gets to feel worse on his way home.

Chips are bagged, photos are taken, handshakes and congratulations are offered all around. When all is said and done, I'm still chip leader with 124k, ahead of the 101.5k second place before it drops to 80's and 50's and lower. 935,000 chips in play, 62k average stack. 3000/6000/500 8-handed to start today, 20 minutes a level.

And the Blue Jays will be on in the background.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Learning Experience

I'll keep telling myself it's not over. That it's just a 3-game win streak. One game at a time. Hope reigns eternal in Leafland.

But my Leafs are down 3 games to 1 against the Bruins. This isn't actually unexpected. Once the matchups were known, the jokes flew. "I'll enjoy all 3 games" was a popular one. The reality is that the Leafs have had a hard time with Boston for a long time. They're a solid, hard-nosed, suffocating team with great chemistry built from years of playing together. The Leafs are a young team with limited experience that's really only had half a season to get to know each other and their coach.

Still, my guys have played some great hockey, and even with reality in the back of my mind, I want to believe. I sat on my couch with my Clark jersey and Leafs cap on. I reminded myself to breathe time and again. I scared the cats. I'm sure I scared the neighbours. And in the end, I nearly collapsed with Boston's overtime goal. Krejci Temple-of-Doomed my heart out of my chest with his hat trick.

If it had been a blowout, I would have sighed. But this was sudden death overtime. This was an evenly-matched game. This was the Leafs showing great pressure, hitting posts, and Rask somehow stopping them time and again. This was all kinds of anticipation and joy crushed in an instant. Hell, I even thought O'Byrne had knocked the puck off Krejci's stick at the last second. It hurt.

But, like this series, like this whole season, this is a learning experience for my team. Of the whole team, only 9 guys have ever seen the playoffs before. That's some serious inexperience. Carlyle can preach and teach and drill, but until these kids see what happens when they don't listen, they won't learn. This is the school of hard knocks for them.

Kadri's learned that he can't be a fucking superstar if it means he'll give away the puck.

Reimer's learning that any weakness will be exploited, and that he has to see through bodies.

Gardiner is starting to show why he could be a great offensive defenceman with some more seasoning and maturity.

Grabovski's showing that all he's ever wanted is the chance to play in the second season.

Lupul and Kessel are showing great on-ice leadership.

And Phaneuf has been reminded that high-risk plays in playoff overtimes are fucking idiotic.

They're learning. It's apparent every single game. On Friday they get another lesson, and their hardest test yet - how to face elimination, and how to do it in a hostile environment. This will be mentally hard on them. The one-game-at-a-time belief will HAVE to sink in for them to have a chance. They'll have to remember every lesson, and summon every ounce of skill and discipline. And if, by some chance, they find themselves in a game 7? They can't get cocky.

But in the more likely event that I won't be distracted during my Monday night poker tournament, they'll have to take these lessons home with them. When they come back to training camp next season they'll have to remember everything they've learned and be ready to build on it. Carlyle's messages will mean more. They'll have the weight of experience behind them. They'll be prefaced with "remember when you did this in the Boston series?" The roar of the crowd will still be in their hearts, the taste of the playoffs in their mouths. The expectations of Leaf Nation will sit heavier on their shoulders. They'll have war stories between them, bonds made stronger by crushing hits and heartbreaking goals.

And they'll only get better.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Poker For Fun And... Fun

A while back a friend of mine moved to an apartment building over a sports bar. He's not much of a sports fan, but they also happen to host a weekly game in a local bar poker league, and he does play some recreational poker. His weekly tweets about the game piqued my dormant poker bug and a couple months ago I finally dragged myself up there to toss some free chips around.

I returned weekly. I peeked at the other venues they played at, and considered joining in the Sunday Poker Stars home game they host (but seeing as my online roll is limited, that was unlikely). Turns out I was having fun playing with nothing really on the line.

The added incentives of points and final tournaments and champions games for WSOP trips didn't hurt either.

So I showed up for 7 of the 8 possible weeks I could have played, and picked up enough points for two entries into their main event, made 3 final tables, and have generally had a good time. Then they went and gave me a 3rd entry from a random draw of people who had hit one of the nightly bonus hands (I hit a flush early once and got credit only because everyone had forgotten it had been added that week as a bonus hand).

Entries are simple enough - they're running 6 day 1's, and I could enter 3 of them. If I made the final 8 in any of them, the remaining were forfeit, as day 2 starts with a fresh rack.

I played in the first of them last night, and now don't have to play the other two, having very undeservedly made the final 8.

It was my second straight week of fairly terrible poker.

The structure, as would be expected, is terrible. Designed to get everyone (around 40 players on any given night) out in five hours. 8-handed tables and 15 minute levels means one's range expands, and one's aggression increases. The mix of players, from absolute donkeys with gills to players who have WPT and WSOP cashes under their belts also means you have to be at least somewhat aware of who you're up against and what they are or aren't capable of.

I played weak, passive poker while being distracted by the Leafs-Bruins game playing above me, knowing I had two more entries in my pocket. Truly a fantastic mix.

I overcalled and overbet early on, blowing 25% of my starting stack by the first break. A bit of luck helped in the second hour of play, where my 9Tc saw a 7JK rainbow flop, giving me the ol' double gutshot straight draw. A pot-sized bet from my left thinned out the crowd, but wasn't enough to get me away. The 8o on the turn was perfect. It checked around to me, and I bet 2/3 of the pot, leaving me with a pittance behind. Left of me tanked and tanked before folding (I had him on a call for sure), and the 3rd player in our hand verbally called, thinking I had bet 1/10th of what I actually had (500 instead of 5000). When informed of my actual bet, he was obviously unhappy but bound. The river T wasn't something that pleased me, but I pushed in my last few chips, which were called by Mr. Can't-see-across-the-table with his pair of kings. I got a nice double-up plus some to let me breathe. The original bettor revealed he had folded two pair, which shocked me and gave me a ton of info on him.

I was able to take a few blinds and antes, and chip up a bit more. Then I gave all my winnings away on a bad call (2nd pair vs two pair) when I didn't believe the dealer's all-in (the dealers are also players, and are generally a higher caliber). Back to push-or-fold mode for me.

A couple hands later I got it back with AQ beating AJ, and then another AJ going down to my KK a hand after that.

Then I gave most of it away when my QJ ran into KJ with Jxx on the flop and a short stack pushing against me. I didn't like the call, but I needed the chips and could barely survive the loss. But we were down to sixteen players, and the numbers were dropping fast.

I did a lot of folding when I couldn't afford to. Wishing I had enough chips to scare someone out instead of getting an insta-call from the blinds. I lucked out and scared off the SB to my BB with a push to her limp that she really should have called. Some fishhooks got no calls and I pulled in blinds and antes. More players fell. With two left to the end I once again shoved my BB into the SB's limp and she called. My KJ caught a J on the flop that held and she was crippled while I had nearly tripled up. Someone on the other table went out. I returned the favour a hand later, calling from the SB to her less-than-the-BB all-in on the button. A check-down between me and the BB saw me win back my call in the side pot and triple her up.

Two hands later, the other table saw the final elimination and there was much applause and hand-shaking.

The organizer of this league astutely noted that I should have been gone hours before. The dealer we'd had for most of the game was amazed I'd come back so many times. I wholeheartedly agreed with their assessments. I was just happy that my evenings had cleared up this week.

Day 2 comes next week. Day 3 the day after with the final 16. The winner gets a trip to Vegas and a $1000 WSOP buy-in. If I have any aspirations to spending a few days in the sweltering Vegas heat this summer, I have to play much better. But if I don't? The summer session is playing for a shot at the LAPT in Panama City.