Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fairly Routine


I wake up somewhere between 9 and 10 in the morning. Our bed is the most comfortable bed in the world. My dear wife has been up for a few hours. I warm up a heating pad for my neck (arthritis), pour a 20-ounce mug of coffee, fix and eat breakfast, which is always a bowl of cereal and a banana, watch the news and weather, get another mug of coffee, go down to the basement to read forums, blogs and write a little.

Just about an hour and a half after waking up, I get dressed, go outside and attend to the birds. (Sometimes my dear wife does this. We switch off.) We have 12 ducks and one Guinea Fowl. We used to have 18 ducks and 4 Guineas, but death happens.

One of the ducks hurt her leg a week ago. We have no idea how it happened. My dear wife went to put them in the pasture for the day and one, an older chocolate Indian Runner, didn’t get up and run out of the coop with the others. Her left leg was splayed out. Leg injuries are common in domestic fowl. Usually, after a couple weeks of rest, they are good to go. Sometimes they are not. We put her in the “infirmary,” a small area in the coop that I built just for such situations. She’s not eating or drinking much on her own, so each morning and night we put a half-dozen night crawlers in her water bowl. She gobbles them up right away. These worms will determine whether or not she survives.

The last Guinea has broken each of his hips once. He spent a couple months in the infirmary. He now gallops when he runs, and his tail is at a 45 degree angle to the left. We call him Legs. He still manages to terrorize the ducks when out in the field by charging at them, Male Guineas do this to establish dominance. Yet, Legs wasn’t always the Alpha. Another male that died from a really bizarre leg injury was the big dog before, but when he kicked, Legs filled in right away.

So the birds that can walk go out to a back pasture for the day. They have 3 big bowls of water that they climb in to wash off, and 3 smaller buckets from which they drink. These all get cleaned and filled every morning. Then it’s back to the coop to collect eggs, and clean out the food bowl and watering trough.

We still have some veggies in the ground. I put in a couple rows of spuds this spring and some lettuce. There are a couple raised beds of mint, which we still sell, Then there’s the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in the hoop house. We planted enough garlic to last us the year. The garlic is almost ready to harvest, so it doesn’t get watered any more; however, the irrigation for the other plants still needs to be managed. We had our first new potatoes for dinner last night, seasoned with some green garlic and peppers. Yummy.

There are a million things I could do outside at this point. Our 3 cords of firewood were delivered yesterday evening. It needs to be put away in the barn but the area where it is stored still needs to be cleaned up, irregular pieces of wood from last year put elsewhere in order to neatly stack the new wood. But I still have to cut down the Photinia, buck the wood and stack it with the green filbert logs I bucked up last week. All of that wood needs to go behind what we are going to burn this winter.

And then there’s the barn. It’s a mess. The stall where we put stuff that needs to go to the dump is overflowing. I have about six trips to the dump ahead of me. Tools are strewn everywhere; hoses, hose manifolds, ground cloth, plastic trellis and potting cans all dropped with a “I’ll deal with them later” from last season are waiting to be dealt with.

One of the paddocks still has tomato cages and soaker hoses from last year. They are overgrown with weeds, so getting them out of there will be a monstrously hard task now. I may have to wait until winter to deal with them.

The roof needs power washed, a window sill needs replaced, the paint on the house needs touched up, the deck needs to be treated, screens in the windows need repairs, and I need another cup of coffee.

I go inside and sit down to write.

Then it’s time to go into town for the mail and sundries. And before I know it, it’s late afternoon. Time for a little poker before evening chores.


Poker Academy Online #40,179,664
No Limit Texas Holdem ($0.5/$1 NL)
Table Emerald
July 30, 2008 - 15:58:12 (PDT)

1} ubu roi $164.75 6s 6d
2) gwpro $275.55 ?? ??
3) trubbel $85.15 ?? ??
5) ctrl $105.20 ?? ??
6) Papageorge * $188.20 ?? ??
7) Boomerang (sitting out)
8) TIRAMISU $91.10 ?? ??
9) Loki9 $204.50 4h 7d

TIRAMISU posts small blind $0.50
Loki9 posts big blind $1
ubu roi calls $1
gwpro folds
trubbel folds
ctrl calls $1
Papageorge folds
TIRAMISU calls $0.50
Loki9 checks

FLOP: 7h 6h 5d
TIRAMISU checks
Loki9 bets $4
ubu roi raises $12
ctrl folds
TIRAMISU calls $16
Loki9 raises $187.50 (all-in)
ubu roi calls $147.75 (all-in)
TIRAMISU folds
ubu roi shows 6s 6d
Loki9 shows 4h 7d

TURN: 7h 6h 5d Ad

RIVER: 7h 6h 5d Ad 8c

Loki9 wins $344.50 with an Eight High Straight
$3 raked.

Chores are going to start early tonight.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

V(o)ices

May came back! (See July 16, “May”)

Actually, she came back last week. Comes strolling in the door about 15 minutes late and says, “Hi everybody!” I’m the only person who says hello. Late in the session players are talking about her again, loudly. I figure I missed her busting out and she’s already left the pub. I look over at the table she was sitting at. She’s still there. I bust out early so I don’t know how deep she got. I still wondered why she came back at all. Clearly, folks don’t much care for her. Tonight she was at my table, and busted out early.

I didn’t last too much longer. Short with A 10 suited, a 10 on the flop, all in, called by AQ. Rivered. It was too early to go home. Beer on the breath in a small town with cops trying to prove something is worth avoiding. Two beers all night and I may find my name in the paper next week. So, I watch a bit of the final table. Pretty soon, May moseys up and starts a conversation.

“Do you play for money too?”

I’m a little hesitant with my response. “Sometimes, yeah.”

“Have you ever been to Las Vegas or Reno?”

“I go to Las Vegas sometimes. I belong to an online group who go annually.” A woman knows that if she asks a man about himself, he’ll warm up.

Screeeeeeeeech! That’s the sound of me slamming on the brakes in order to back up.

May has been playing in this game for what, a couple months? One hand tonight she had to be reminded what denomination the red chip was. $100. In another hand, I knew I had the best of it on the turn when she and Doud were in the hand as well. (I’ll write about Doud in the future.) Doud checks after his preflop raise and c-bet. I put him on paint and bet $500, about 3/4 of the pot with my pocket fives and a gut shot. It’s May’s turn to act and she starts fishing through her dirty stack to find a green chip. Then it hit me: she wasn’t thinking about the value of the chip; she was only concerned with matching the right color!

I started yapping. “Yeah, you want the $500 chip. The green one is worth $500.” She paused, then mucked. Doug then mucked his pocket twos. I gave them both immense shit.

Usually, I’m pretty quiet at these games, and people have remarked about such. In fact, during breaks, I pretty much keep to myself or sit and listen to tales about misbehaved children, low-paying jobs and benders. For some reason tonight I found myself rather loud and taunting, and people noticed. The jury was mixed as to whether or not they approved of my witty banter. May liked it. Another woman, Lois, who is pretty quiet herself, seemed perturbed, and the guys…hell, they’re good ol’ boys, and I was acting no different than some of them, except for the wit.

I gave them a choice: “Play like shit against me, and you get the loud me; play well, and I’ll shut up.” For the most part I stayed loud, maybe even got louder as Doud stayed in with bottom pair to hit two pair on the turn, and Suckout Dan rivered me twice, including on my final hand. It seems that if one has an ace or any paint in his or her hand, then seeing 5th street is advised. But hey, it’s free!

Anyhoo, when May sidled up after the game, I was still pretty pumped up, full of myself, what-have-you. So, it was probably easy for her to get me going again.

She says, “We didn’t even make the final table.”

“Nope.”

“You always say that you can fold your way to the final table.”

“I can, but when I have the best hand, I have to play to win, not just make it to the final table.”

“I want to make the final table next week. Let’s make a pact. Let’s both get to the final table next week. Promise?”

Something just ain’t right here. “OK, I promise.”

“Was she hitting on you?” That’s what my wife wants to know when I relate the encounter to her.

“Nah, I don’t think so. I’m nice to her. That might be enough.”

“What else did you two talk about?”

“She wants to get a group of us together to go out and play at the casino. I told her that wasn’t going to happen, as these folks like to play free tourneys and penny home games.

Then she asked me to call her the next time I went.”

“What!?”

“Yeah, I know.”

Back to the bar.

“So what do you play when you go? Cash or tourneys?”

“Cash, mostly. 1/2.

“Do you win?”

Most of the time, yeah. Sometimes I’ll lose a buy-in.”

“Well, when I lose $1,000, I just write it off to having some fun.”

“$1,000? I’ve never lost that much in one sitting. Hell, I don’t have much more than that in my total bankroll.”

“Then how do you afford to play 100/200?”

I’m dying inside. “One dollar, two dollar.”

The conversation then shifted to whether playing poker is fun. Never. The environs may be fun; the game isn’t, whether winning or losing.

“You take poker pretty seriously. Do you play a lot?”

“Every day.”

“Do you ever go to the local casino?”

“Every other week or so.”

(Insert group trip idea.)

“Well, if I give you my phone number, will you call me next time you go?” I’m thinking to myself that she would get chewed up and spit out. “I’d like to play but I don’t want to play against any really good players…what do you call them?”

“Sharks.”

“Yes, sharks. Can you tell who they are when you’re playing?”

“Most of the time, yes. Especially the locals. But I have to tell you, there’s usually three or four at every table.”

“But you can tell me who they are. Call me, please? I’ll give you my number.”

My mind is going at a thousand miles an hour. Here’s someone who by my estimations is a complete fish/calling station who is either going to suck out and clean up or dump a G and not fret. And because I’m sufficiently literarily paranoid, I wonder if this is some elaborate ruse. This chick just moves to town, finds some sap poker pub players and sets them up for a trip to the local cash game to clean them out. Of course, this is just my mind doing its thing, that thing that keeps me at home most of the time, quiet and holed up in my basement.

But something is just not right. Of that much I am certain.

She hands me her business card. She works for a regional bank that has lost 90% of its stock value in the recent mortgage fiasco. She’s a home loan officer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

45 Degrees Latitude

We live in an area known as the “Grass Seed Capital of the World.” Every year at this time, fields of grass are being cut and winnowed, seed is being harvested, and fields are burning. After the grass seed is removed, the burning destroys weed seeds and adds a little somethin’- somethin’ back into the ground with the first rains, which, according to the weatherman, may make an early arrival tomorrow.

Last Friday, and again all day today, huge columns of smoke arose in all directions. I would venture to say I saw at least seventy-five of these fires today. And when I say “huge columns” I mean apocalyptically huge. Like a volcano just blew its top and a half-mile wide swath of ash is rising four miles into the sky. Only it’s ten volcanoes blowing at the same time. The air gets pretty smoky and little black blades of burned grass fall all around. And every year at this same time, city folks get in an uproar about the air pollution. The same folks that buy the grass seed for their lawns. Hey! grow a vegetable garden instead.

I feel a tangent coming on, so before that happens, let me cut to the chase: After the field is burned, the contrast is quite striking between those large blackened tracts and the surrounding, still green, yellow or brown fields. I have been admiring these neo-geo landscapes for several years now, and have always thought they would make a great photo study. In that the area is quite hilly, there are some great panoramas that should translate quite nicely into a two-dimensional format. In previous years, unfortunately, our harvest has been in full swing at the same time as the burnings, and I have not been afforded the time to go out and shoot what I have seen as I drive to and from deliveries.

Since we’re not farming this year, I have been looking forward to the burnings, and today I went out with my trusty Canon A-1. I believe I framed some pretty nice shots. Plus, I scouted a lot of fields that have yet to be harvested that will yield some really nice close-up work. As soon as I get the slides processed and scanned, I’ll post a couple pics.

And because the song rocks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10BbpGKLXqk&feature=related

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Still Looking...

I’m subject to human frailties, indecision. Imagine that. I went to the casino yesterday and, after 8 hours, came home with $100 extra in my pocket.

Still, I’m torn. I had discussed the casino problem that I wrote about last week with my dear wife, and she more or less agreed that online might be a better way to go. I went yesterday with the half-baked idea that I would give it one more shot. If I did well, meaning that I worked toward building my bankroll, then I might consider keeping the casino as part of my poker repertoire. If I lost another buy-in, then I’d back off to only online.

I was halfway to online (down $100 at $1/$2) when good things started to happen: my suited connectors hit, my BB checks hit boats, an 11 outer with the flush and gut draw turned into pairing the turn and hitting the flush on the river, and I pulled off a spectacular river bluff. I was in good form late in the day, and I think I played a game that kept my opponents guessing.

Not that it was the easiest table I’ve ever played at, There were some monster stacks and some pretty aggressive players that I had to work around; yet there was enough dead money coming to the table to work with. There was a good cast of characters, and if I were to quit going to the casino, this is what I would miss the most.

I initially say in the #9 seat, next to the dealer. (I don’t particularly care for this seat, yet it’s not as bad as #1. I like to see the whole table and much prefer seats 3, 4, 7 and 8.) In the #5 seat was a guy that I’ve played on a number of occasions. He’s a quiet, studied player. I’ve seen him get clobbered in the past, but today was his day. As I sat, the table was talking about whether or not his high hand for the hour ($250 every hour), quad sixes, would hold for five more minutes. They did. Then he hit quad aces on the river against an all-in baby flush. Another $250 on top of a big pot. Later in the day he hit quad 8s and another $250. In the midst of all of this, he was getting hit with the deck, and by the time I left he had about $1100 in front of him, plus $750 cash in his pocket.

If I ever had a day like his, I’d be on cloud nine and have a hard time hiding that good feeling. However, this guy was pretty much monotone. He would occasionally talk about a hand, talk a little with the other players, but not much. I kinda figured him for some computer guy, maybe working for Intel, Hewlett Packard or some such company. You could see his brain working out the numbers on a hand, replaying the action. He was a joy to watch. And I watched him a lot, looking for tells. Nothing. I asked him toward the end of the day if he was going to wait until he got home to let out a “woo hoo.” He gave me this look that said he thought the whole idea of celebrating his wins was crass.

One of the players that donated a fair amount of chip to Mr. Rush was Mr. Know-it-all. Mr. College. The guy never shut up, sharing his poker theory with a buddy of his who was visiting from New York. He nearly always raised 5 x BB when on the button and in the cutoff. His cutoff was my big blind. I never had an opportunity to successfully defend my blind for that size of raise…but I wanted to. At one point he raised 3 x BB from the SB after several limpers. Indeed, he had several callers, and after he folds his hand he says, “I had 79s. I had to raise to get the pot to a size that would be worth playing those cards. I knew I’d get callers.” OK.

As the day wore on, a few young guns started showing up. One kid sat to my left, sunglasses, ball cap, stern poker face, a $200 stack of whites and a nervous cough after every hand he won. I was in the BB and the kid coughs preflop and bets 3 X BB. Wow! He must have a monster. Mr. Money bags calls, I look down at K5 off and fold. Board is K525K. His Aces held after quite a bit of betting. Oh well.

When it comes right down to it, I don’t know if I can give up the live play. With that said, I know that to continue means that I have to build a roll to match. Look for some online experiences here in the future. If I can get something started online, I can then better afford live.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Discover a new world

http://www.adultswim.com
http://www.superdeluxe.com

No, this is not spam. These are avenues to laughter. But be forewarned, the humor can be a bit bizarre or untoward.

My Favs: Squidbillies on Adult Swim; Babycakes on Super Deluxe; and Tim and Eric on both sites.

Please don't think less of me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just that quick-last 3 hands

It was one of those nights. I was playing 18% - 21%, catching nothing, losing just on pre-flop calls and folding lower aces. I had caught some nice pocket pairs early in the game but there was an all-in fest going on, boys waggin' their peenys at each other. I wasn't going to get involved and folded. Meanwhile, the Major wagger has lost about eight buy-ins, playing that kind of game where a player will lose that much just to bust out someone for a single buy-in and then crow about it. After all, when it's play money, ego has a premium.

I had been at the table for only 40+ hands yet it felt like I had been there an eternity. The table had slowed down a bit, albeit overbets were not uncommon. I picked up AK and took down a small pot. Then the following occurred:

I'm ubu roi.

Poker Academy Online #36,377,425
No Limit Texas Holdem ($0.25/$0.5 NL)
Table Dolomite
July 23, 2008 - 23:57:31 (PDT)

1} ubu roi $55.55 Qc Jd
2) emptytofull $142.90 Td Kc
3) MonkeyFish $57.65 ?? ??
4) ElkY jr $256.19 ?? ??
5) Poliweb $96.84 ?? ??
6) RiverKillsMe $65.30 ?? ??
7) KennKid * $78.45 ?? ??
8) Aristophanes $47.25 ?? ??
9) Aces2 $47.75 ?? ??
10) MAJOR $101.25 ?? ??

Aristophanes posts small blind $0.25
Aces2 posts big blind $0.50
MAJOR folds
ubu roi calls $0.50
emptytofull calls $0.50
MonkeyFish folds
ElkY jr folds
Poliweb folds
RiverKillsMe folds
KennKid folds
Aristophanes calls $0.25
Aces2 checks

FLOP: Ad Ts Kd
Aristophanes bets $2
Aces2 folds
ubu roi raises $6
emptytofull calls $8
Aristophanes calls $6

TURN: Ad Ts Kd 8s
Aristophanes checks
ubu roi bets $47.05 (all-in)
emptytofull calls $47.05
Aristophanes folds
ubu roi shows Qc Jd
emptytofull shows Td Kc

RIVER: Ad Ts Kd 8s 9s

ubu roi wins $117.10 with an Ace High Straight
$3 raked.

A bit surprised he called my all-in but I was happy to be above even. I now had some chips to play with, maybe loosen up a bit...

Poker Academy Online #36,377,426
No Limit Texas Holdem ($0.25/$0.5 NL)
Table Dolomite
July 23, 2008 - 23:58:09 (PDT)

1} ubu roi $117.10 Qs Qd
2) emptytofull $87.35 ?? ??
3) MonkeyFish $57.65 ?? ??
4) ElkY jr $256.19 ?? ??
5) Poliweb $96.84 ?? ??
6) RiverKillsMe $65.30 ?? ??
7) KennKid $78.45 ?? ??
8) Aristophanes * $38.75 ?? ??
9) Aces2 $47.25 ?? ??
10) MAJOR $101.25 9c 6c

Aces2 posts small blind $0.25
MAJOR posts big blind $0.50
ubu roi raises $3.50
emptytofull calls $4

I figure empty is looking to get back some of what I just took off him.

MonkeyFish folds
ElkY jr folds
Poliweb folds
RiverKillsMe folds
KennKid folds
Aristophanes folds
Aces2 folds
MAJOR calls $3.50

But of course...

FLOP: 6d 9s 2d
MAJOR bets $97.25 (all-in)
ubu roi calls $97.25
emptytofull folds
ubu roi shows Qs Qd
MAJOR shows 9c 6c

TURN: 6d 9s 2d Kh

RIVER: 6d 9s 2d Kh 4d

MAJOR wins $203.75 with Two Pair, Nines and Sixes
$3 raked.

To which he tells me that I should know better than to call his all-in. Perhaps so, but this guy goes all-in with a draw, top pair on the board, etc. He's also trying to make up for a ton lost earlier. Plus, the only way this guy makes any money off of me is with bad beats. I'm calling on principle, hoping to re-suck so he can scream about being robbed. Didn't happen.

It's getting late, I've about had enough and I'm not going to stick around for another couple hours to try and get back to even. Life's too short. Last hand:

Poker Academy Online #36,377,427
No Limit Texas Holdem ($0.25/$0.5 NL)
Table Dolomite
July 23, 2008 - 23:59:33 (PDT)

1} ubu roi $15.85 Ad Kd
2) emptytofull $83.35 ?? ??
3) MonkeyFish $57.65 ?? ??
4) ElkY jr $256.19 ?? ??
5) Poliweb $96.84 ?? ??
6) RiverKillsMe $65.30 ?? ??
7) KennKid $78.45 ?? ??
8) Aristophanes $38.75 ?? ??
9) Aces2 * $47.00 ?? ??
10) MAJOR $203.75 Ah 7s

MAJOR posts small blind $0.25
ubu roi posts big blind $0.50
emptytofull folds
MonkeyFish calls $0.50
ElkY jr calls $0.50
Poliweb calls $0.50
RiverKillsMe calls $0.50
KennKid folds
Aristophanes folds
Aces2 calls $0.50
MAJOR calls $0.25
ubu roi bets $15.35 (all-in)
MonkeyFish folds
ElkY jr folds
Poliweb folds
RiverKillsMe folds
Aces2 folds
MAJOR calls $15.35
ubu roi shows Ad Kd
MAJOR shows Ah 7s

FLOP: 4c Td 9s

TURN: 4c Td 9s 2h

RIVER: 4c Td 9s 2h 7c

MAJOR wins $32.50 with a Pair of Sevens
$1.70 raked.

I didn't stick around for the commentary.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All Good Things Must Come at the End

Now that we’re not farming as much, if at all, I can no longer ignore all of the other projects that need done around the property. Today I have concentrated on pruning trees. I started with a plum tree that someone in his infinite wisdom planted about three feet from the corner of the garage. A large portion of it was lying on the roof of the garage and had dented the gutter. This same tree has suckers (little babies sprouting from the root system) growing up all over the place. Add to this list the damn thing is near barren. We might get two or three plums a year. I removed three overflowing truck loads of limbs and managed to only pull the gutter away from the garage in one spot.

I then attacked one of the two filbert trees we have. Filberts? Hazel nuts to the rest of the world. Filbert trees in the orchards around here look considerably different from those in our yard. In the orchard they look like most any other tree with a trunk and branches. If left to their own devices, filberts will send up many long slender shoots from the base of the tree, and if they aren’t cut, they become the tree. Think of a fountain. Filbert wood is also somewhat brittle, so if the trees aren’t trimmed back, any strong wind or heavy snow will send branches crashing. And because the canopy of these fountained filberts can be rather dense, big branches that break off may not get to the ground. Instead, they’ll hang around waiting for someone to come along on a lawn tractor and then drop, bringing a few other limbs with them. Four truck loads. Tomorrow I’ll work on the other one.

That will leave the big Photinia in the front yard. The Photinia sans leaves. When we bought this place five years ago, it had leaves, albeit riddled with Entomosprium Leaf Spot, and it also had a big black streak of who-knows-what running down its trunk. I sprayed it with compost tea that first year, and that seemed to help some. Nah, actually it was just the dry weather, for over the years, and with our long wet seasons, the disease has progressed to the point where I want to take the tree out. I am meeting with resistance.

“Why do we need to take it out?”

“Because it’s diseased.”

“Can’t we do anything to make it better?”

“We can spray it with a fungicide every 10 to 14 days for the rest of our lives.”

“I’ll do it.”

“It’s a thirty-foot tree. It’ll be impossible to spray the whole thing.”

“How about if I just spray the black streak? That’s got to help.”

“It doesn’t work that way. The fungus is airborne.”

“You have to cut out the whole thing?”

“I can try to save some of it. I’d rather just be done with it.”

“It’s going to leave a big empty spot in the yard.” Thirty years ago someone went to a lot of expense to landscape this place. There are some beautiful specimen trees in the yard.

“I already planted those oaks and cedars, but they’ll take a long time to fill in.”

“What are you going to do with the wood?”

“We’ll use it for firewood.”

“But you said the fungus was airborne. Won’t the disease go up and out the chimney?”

“The fungus is already out there, everywhere.”

Well, to make a long discussion short, we’ll take the damn thing out and have someone come out with a big tree-digging machine and transplant one of the more mature trees in an adjacent lot of ours.

Now, I have to confess that while we were having the above conversation, I didn’t know the scientific name of the fungus. I just knew it was similar to the fungus, Black Spot, that infects roses. I looked up Photinias and then found their common diseases, looked them up and found the culprit, Endomosporium.



“Severely defoliated plants may need to be pruned heavily to have a small, easier to spray plant, to reduce the source of spores and improve air movement. It may be necessary to remove severely diseased plants that have also been damaged by cold injury and replace them with another plant species that is not susceptible to leaf spot. This disease is very difficult to control after plants are severely infected.”

I have just come back from getting a cocktail, and while I was pouring it I said to my dear wife, “It’s called Endomosporium.”

“The fungus?”

“Yes. And what I read said that severe infections are almost impossible to get rid of.”

“Well, okay, but promise me that you’ll talk to the tree while you’re cutting it down.

“I will.”

“And thank it for it’s many years of service.”

“I will.”

And as I was heading back downstairs: “What are you doing?’

“Writing.”

“About what?”

“Endomosporium.”

“I just gave you the end to your piece, didn’t I?”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thoughts Looking for...

No casino this weekend. We had dinner guests Sunday and I spent the greater portion of my afternoon sitting in front of my grill, Stella Artois in hand, getting up only to check the temperature gauge on my grill top, turn the chicken and slather on more barbeque sauce.

Missed my home game on Friday as well. It starts at 7 o’clock with a tourney, the cash game for losers begins at about 10, and the whole affair can wrap up as late as 4 or 5 in the morning. Lately, I’ve been avoiding the tourney and hitting the cash game late, but not this week. I wanted to be well-rested for the Highland Games outing.

I am, however, managing to squeeze in some time at Poker Academy and I’m doing OK there. Play money can have a treacherous field of players who will call nearly any pre-flop raise, no matter the size, hoping 26 suited will hit big on the flop. I could get pissed, except this type of play is not unlike the $1/2 game at the casino, or even our home game after players have finished off the six-pack they brought with them. Instead, I look at the loose play money games as good practice for the type of games my bankroll forces me to play elsewhere.

There is a general assumption that play money games are looser than cash games. While this might be largely the case, I would maintain that it is not whether there is real money at stake, but how much real money one has to “blow” without feeling any effects on one’s ability to pay bills, eat or send the kids to college. Additionally, in that time is money, for free games, one must also take into consideration whether responsibilities are getting blown off in order to go all-in with any Ace or spend that time improving one’s game. If one has wads of cash or oodles of time, and doesn’t really give a shit about frittering either away, then the play in either a cash or play money game can pretty much be fancy-free.

The consensus of serious players is that donks are always welcome. And yes, I love getting a good piece of a calling station who hopes to spike an Ace. But again, when that Ace does hit on the river, and there is real money involved, the effects can be devastating for someone like myself who has a rather paltry roll.

So, while on the one hand I’m anxious to go back to the casino, I’m also anxious about encountering the cooler. To get stacked at Poker Academy is a minor setback and I can rebuild over the next couple sessions. At the casino, losing a buy-in means one less day at the casino in the future, and therefore one less opportunity to build a bigger roll.

I have a friend who insists that I start playing Limit at the casino. I can play $3/6 for quite a while and not lose as much as I do playing NL, nor win as much either. (I don’t lose all of the time!) Perhaps I’d need a little more practice and patience before delving into a game where half the world may be with you at the river. Or, it may be the perfect game for me inasmuch as every board seems to suggest several ways I can be beat. Wrong or right, if the odds merit the showdown, then I won’t be getting too far out of line on either the weak or aggressive side. I’ll see. (If I do play, rest assured I’ll post about it.)

Again, what I don’t want to do is lose all of the money I have put aside for poker. I could just play the home game and be done with it, satisfied with the $.50/1 game. Or, I could find a way to get more cash onto an online cash site. The money I have set aside for the casino would go a long way online, provided I stayed at the .10/.25 or so games.

I’m thinking that online might also be a more efficient way to go as well in that I don’t have to worry about transportation costs, food, tipping, etc. I would miss some of the interactions and people-watching that live games afford. That would be the only downside. Another benefit would be that it would keep me far away from those slots. Even though I have replaced the term “slot” with the name of an old girlfriend, well, sometimes I forget to remember the pain and suffering. Hoping to get rich on the slots is like hoping the beatings will stop.

Do I overstate? I don’t think so. And I imagine the same can be said for poker. I see people on their way down or already there at the casino. And for those of you who play in the poker rooms in the Los Angeles area or spend time at online sites, you’re familiar with the room trolls looking to be “staked” or just out-and-out given a few bucks to go toward the buy-in that’ll turn everything around. The latter type are the same guys that earlier in their poker “career” were visiting the ATM every half hour. The earlier version is happy time for other players; the latter, the end result, is a tragic individual, and a pathetic pain in the ass.

I bring this up for one reason: What would I do if I lost my whole roll? Would I quit playing poker? Well, there’s always Poker Academy. I can still play for fake money. But what would be the point? For fun? I don’t play poker for fun. I play poker at PA to get better at playing poker. It’s not exactly a task; it’s a regimen to build a skill that promises certain rewards. Those rewards are supposed to be monetary. At Poker Academy there is a ranking system of players, and I have been fortunate enough and/or sufficiently skilled to remain among the top players there. Not enough. “He’s one helluva good poker player but he’s broke” is not what I want to hear, ever.

A lot of pros have reportedly lost and won fortunes, gone into the hole, borrowed money to stay in the game, and eventually get to the point where they no longer have money worries. Such stories may do a great disservice. I can see someone using such apocrypha as an excuse to go deeper into a financial hole. We know it happens, and thankfully, recognizing this will keep me from that depth of despair.

Of course, as soon as I write the above, I return to the question: What would I do if I lost my whole bankroll? I’m going to dodge my own question for the time being. The same friend as above also maintains that within a year’s time I will have grown tired of this game and move onto something else. I suspect this is what happens more often — not the gutter — to those of us with inadequate funds to continue. If this is the case, I had better start working on new subject matter for this blog.

How about a photo?



The end of our first year. Roma tomatoes
we put in the geodesic greenhouse to ripen.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bagpipe

My dear wife, our vet friend and I went to the regional Scottish Highland Games today. There were men in kilts everywhere. For several months now I have been talking about getting a kilt for myself. Not a tartan, but a Utilikilt (www.utilikilts.com). These kilts are made by a company in Seattle. They come in solid colors and in several styles, yet all are still the basic kilt design. I am partial to the “Workman,” which is what kilts would look like if Carhartt made them, with a lot of pockets and a hammer loop as well.

There were a few vendors with kilts of varying quality. Some were surprisingly heavy and lined, others were flimsy, wear-once-and-stow-away-forever novelty items. One can drop a pretty penny for a good one.

Of course, if one is serious about wearing kilts, meaning that they become part of one’s regular wardrobe, then it makes sense to buy a quality garment. And it would also become necessary to have more than one. I don’t have that kind of money, but more importantly, I’m not too certain I’d be wearing one much at all.

I imagine myself walking through tall weeds and brambles, as I often do here on the farm, and I see my legs all scratched up. Or with a wasp tickling my inner thigh before the inevitable happens. With this said, I’m still intrigued by them as a clothing option if for one significant reason: to let the twig and berries breathe.

Go without underwear? Not on your life. But to reduce one layer of fabric would be a welcome relief, especially during the summer. As I sit here writing, I have on my undies (mid-thighs, thank you very much) and a pair of sweats. There seems to be no escape. Even if I were to work in a pair of shorts, I’d still be chaffing.

Can I hear an Amen? I suspect not. Guys can’t get their minds around the fact that a kilt looks like a skirt. I can see the local town folks’ reactions now, the stares, the snickers, the sneers of old codgers as I get out of my truck and flash an up-skirt for their wives.

What surprises me the most is the reaction of some women I know when I have mentioned that I am considering donning my version of the lower half of a Catholic girl’s uniform. I would think that they’d be thrilled. Instead, I get an “eeewwwww.” Not from my dear wife, though. She thinks I have sexy calves. Big, strong, manly calves. In fact, I do. And even my thighs are shapelier than the majority of women’s in these parts.

But I digress. Or not.

When we first got to the games, we spent time pointing out the kilts we saw in the parking lot. By the time we had watched the pipe and drum competition and the athletic events, in which kilts were mandatory, we had become completely accustomed to seeing them and had moved onto wondering why some women had come to the event dressed as wenches from the Elizabethan period. So, when we came across a vendor with Utilikilts, you better believe I tried one — no, several — on. Dropped trou right there and gave the ladies a thrill. I have to say, even with my whiskey gut, I looked good!

Still, I’m not thrilled with the idea of being the only guy in our small town who’s wearing a kilt. If we lived in the city, it might be a different story. I guess I could wear it at home and change before heading out, but that seems like too much of a bother. Perhaps it’s a good thing that they didn’t have the style I wanted in my size.

I found a website called “MUGs Around the World” (www.kiltmen.com/world.htm). What does MUG stand for? Many unbifurcated garments. I like that: unbifurcated. The caftan, dashiki, gho, sarong and hakama. Men in other cultures may know of a special freedom that we lack.

If I do end up getting a kilt, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

God made Chihuahuas

The question is: Why?

I went to pick up our diabetic cats at the vet clinic tonight, and needed to have a quick visit with our vet to talk about his test results. The vet’s assistant put me in an examining room to wait. Our vet is also a friend. The last time we had dinner together, she told us about this little Chihuahua that was a charity case at the clinic. It had jumped off of a kitchen counter and broke both front legs. The dog had never been to the vet before this accident as the owners couldn’t afford the expense. Now they had to, even though they couldn’t afford to, and left the dog at the clinic. The broken legs were the least of this dog’s problems. It also had a heart murmur.

When the Vet came into the room, she was carrying this dog. Both of its front legs were in little hip-to-toe casts.

“Is this the dog you were telling us about?”

“Yes. I just love this little dog!” The dog was visibly shaking, like many of these little dogs do when they are in the least bit stimulated. This dog was so small, it had to be a toy Chihuahua, if indeed some sick bastard has seen fit to breed such a dog.

I asked, “Does it even qualify for being called a dog?”

“Ha! Here, hold it just like this.” She directed me to support it’s chest with the palm of my hand. “Feel that?” I could feel the dog’s heart pounding a mile a minute, yet there was no steady rhythm to the beats.

“Man, that’s some murmur.” She put the dog in a sink while she talked to me about our cat. When we were wrapping up I asked, “Say there is such a thing as reincarnation, what sort of people would come back as a Chihuahua?”

“People who fucked over other people.” She confided in a hashed tone. Sounded good to me. This little over-bred thing was so jumpy, I half expected its heart to give out while we were sitting there.

I thought about the previous lives of Chihuahuas on the way home. If all Chihuahuas were shitheads in a previous life, then there’d be a helluva lot of Chihuahuas on this planet. More likely those who had bred that type of dog must come back as one.



A Bold Bluff

Why aren’t there any Chihuahuas in these paintings?


A Friend in Need
Do Chihuahuas play poker? If so, what kind of player would they be?

Poker Sympathy

Even if a Chihuahua won the WSOP Main Event, could it get any sponsors afterwards?

Perhaps an even more important question is: Why would a serious poker blogger even put these painting on his site? Because someone said there was too much text, that I needed more pictures.

NEWS ITEM:

'DOGS PLAYING POKER' SELLS FOR $590,400 AT DOYLE NEW YORK ON FEBRUARY 15, 2005

ANNUAL DOGS IN ART AUCTION SETS WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR 'POKER DOGS' ARTIST CASSIUS COOLIDGE

Intense Competition for Pair From Coolidge's Original 1903 Series

Paddles were wagging at Doyle New York's annual Dogs in Art auction on February 15, 2005. Coinciding each year with the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the auction offers two centuries of canine paintings, paintings, prints, bronzes and other objects.

Highlighting this year's sale were two rare paintings from Cassius Marcellus Coolidge's 1903 series of dogs playing poker. The pair were estimated to fetch $30,000-50,000 at the auction. After intense bidding from several determined bidders on the telephones and in the salesroom, the pair sold to a private collector from New York City for a staggering $590,400, setting a new world auction record for the artist.

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was born in upstate New York in 1844 to abolitionist Quaker farmers who named him after statesman Henry Clay's brother, Cassius Marcellus Clay. An accomplished cartoonist, he is also credited with creating the familiar life-size Boardwalk cutouts, which he called Comic Foregrounds, into which one's head was placed so as to be photographed as an amusing character.

In 1903, Coolidge contracted with the advertising firm of Brown & Bigelow of St. Paul, Minnesota to create sixteen paintings of dogs in various human-like situations. Nine of these paintings depicted dogs around a card table, two of which were offered at the auction.



Poker players who placed form 10th to 12th at the 2008 WSOP Main Event made just a little more than this at $591,869.

A Parable for Poker Players and the Like

The big Mexican has been off medication for quite some time now, living on the street and in the same clothes at least as long as I've lived in the neighborhood, which is about a year. Today I passed him sitting in the shade on the side of a fast food place, shuffling golden twist-off bottle caps from swollen hand to hand like Timon of Athens sifting riches from the sand outside the city wall.

"You want a cigarette, Brother?" I say, stopping just past him on my morning walk.

He nods once.

"Do you need some money?" He stuffs the two cigarettes I give him into one of his filthy socks and glances back up at me. "Do you need some money?" He shakes his head. "Take care, Brother."

I have taken to calling the needy men on the street "Brother." It is my religiosity showing through. Many are, I suspect, drug addicts. The women outside of Walgreens too. "Sister, you gotta kick that shit." (I am not opposed to using vulgarity or the vernacular, although it may at times seem as forced as the parenthetical transitional sentence. To convince is to make a point in the story.)

Empathy is like that, recovered from a habitual misuse of drugs, having lived in rural poverty as a result of that abuse, sleeping with local girls who stash their kids in another room while we go at it, believing the situation temporary as I acquire two college degrees at the same time, privileged by the G.I. Bill. They have kept me awake many nights hence, my nervous system on fire with the memories, battle with demons long-assumed beaten. I feel like an outsider, unable to offer real assistance when what is very real is the fix, and assistance is the means to acquire it; or the voices that, should I stand here for five more seconds, will convince my friend that I am anything but an angel of mercy.

I have a friend, who, although an ordained minister, has left the church and taken his tithes to the street. Ask of him and it is yours. Even though I didn't ask, after a recent tale of temporary financial troubles, he handed me a fifty dollar bill while we ate lunch. The spirit told him to, knowing he would be blessed doubly by his act of generosity/mercy.

I pray for mercy as much as wisdom, understanding and the benefit of others. I have faith that my prayers are answered: proof in my pocket, so to speak; words on a page that rounds-out as a grace-filled thing of beauty; and lastly, hoping a small light has been lit or a light burns brighter as a smile, no matter how fleeting, on the faces of loved ones.

I give thanks and chip away at my own despair.

In Shusaku Endo's novel, Silence, one of the priests, his ministry outlawed, hidies from the officials and despairs at being found out, killed, or worse yet, tortured. He is sick at his fear, thinking personal despair a vanity of self-preservation, the greatest sin of all for the faithful drawn to alleviate the suffering of others. He feels called to put an end to another's despair by bringing the word of our Lord to empty and over-taxed stomachs.

Who then is the greater sinner, the priest or the heathen? It is neither. It is the overlord. Here in the United States it goes by the name Private Interest. Greed.

The funny and sad thing about greed is that it perpetuates despair on all fronts. As clich├ęd as it sounds, the more one has, the more one wants and will be taken advantage of; while to that same end another aspires or suffers in direct proportion. A two hundred dollar pair of sneakers feeds six people three times a day for a month or is the M.O. in a slaying. A multi-billion dollar merger starves a whole nation or leaves an inner city school population largely illiterate. Psychotic people roam streets until they freeze to death or are bludgeoned for their torn but quilted jacket.

Still, a sense of entitlement pervades, like a perverse mutation of the work ethic. Even in my own way, I am guilty, asking in my prayers that others be blessed, assured that in turn I will be blessed for no other reason than my Lord is both love and mercy unbounded. And perhaps, this is a conceit on my part, comfortable even in the paradox, afforded that perspective whereas others are not. Abjection of the over-informed and privileged, contemplating my complicity as a way to relax after dinner.

One may feel that things have gone so awry, the social programs of the last thirty years so destructive and self-defeating, bringing out the worse in everybody, that there is no hope for stability save everyone retire to their respective corners: the haves to the burbs and other semi-insulated residential areas; the have-nots left to die or feed upon each other before rot sets in. This will not be the case. Everyone will suffer for the hunger will be so great, the madness pervasive.

What solutions can I propose? I have none. That's what I want to talk to you about. Suffer my neighbor and me, and we shall honor you as well. Maybe we can come up with something together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

May

Tonight was the weekly pub tourney.

I try to go every week. Lately I’ve been hitting it twice a month. In that I live outside of a rather small town, there is usually anywhere from 12 to 24 people playing on any given night. Tonight there were 12. I went out in sixth place when my AK was beat by A8. That’s not so bad. Getting re-raised pre-flop by K5 suited against Aces hurts more. But it’s a freeroll, not counting the booze, food and video poker. People are here for more than serious poker. At least most are, so the bad beats abound.

One of our newcomers — new to town, new to the bar, and supposedly new to poker — wasn’t in attendance this week. Her name is May, a nice small-town, old-fashioned name. May is a calling station that somehow manages to end up at the final table every week with a huge stack. I think her last name is Very-Likely-Call-Any-Raise. So far, she’s not won a tourney. (But hell, I’ve only won one in two years, so who am I to say anything?) Noticing she wasn’t playing, I asked if she had been there the week prior. No. Somehow, I don’t think May will be back.

May showed up about five weeks ago. She sat at my table. I went out of my way to welcome the new face. She had just moved to town that week. You see, I’m a newcomer as well. I’ve been here five years. May had showed up a little late, and her seat had been a ghost, so she had already lost a few chips. And within the first five hands, she had to re-buy. After that, she amassed a huge stack, mostly from pure luck. She couldn’t or wouldn’t lay down a hand, and eventually made it to the final table. I was short-stacked (M of 4 or so) and went all in with AK. She was the lone caller from the button with 23 off.

I said, “No hard feelings.” Beginners luck, right?

I missed a couple weeks, and when I returned, May was there, and she had brought her hubby. He didn’t play. May was playing at another table, but from the cries of her name and a tone of disbelief that came from those players, I knew May was at it again.

Said one player at my table: “She’s a ringer, that’s what she is. Never played before… bull shit.”

And another: “Fucking calling station is what she is. Doesn’t hit the flop and still calls.”

Wow.

May was at the final table again. I was short again with an M of 6. AJc UTG, I raise 3 x BB with $1K and $2k blinds. May is on the button again and is again the sole caller. Flop comes K36, two clubs. I say, “What the hell” and I push with the rest of my chips. She calls and shows K3d. The table starts calling for another club, which doesn’t come.

The whole table was calling for a club!

And that’s why May won’t be coming back.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If this is Sunday...

Another Sunday at the casino. Sunday is High hand Day, so there’s a good crowd. Actually, the room has been rather empty for the most part this year. The economy. But today was a little better. When I arrived, there were 2 tables of 1/2 running. One had 1 seat open, the other had 3. I sweated them a bit, checked out chip stacks, looked for regulars and picked a table with some folks I recognized, but with more folks I didn’t.

First hand I’m in the cut-off. AA. I bet $10, get three callers from earlier limps and take it down after the flop. Small pot but I’m up. I choose to show. I want my image to be tight. Those whom I play with on a regular basis already think that I’m tight. Tight weak, even. Maybe so. Maybe not. Let’s just say “Less so.” I enjoy a 78 suited just as much as the next guy. After the Aces, I had a short flurry of playable hands that went nowhere.

Of course, QQ plays better than connectors most of the time. Mine held up at least three times. My connectors never hit. And the one time I was able to limp with 34 offsuit in the Small Blind, I chickened out with an open-ended on the flop when I guy bet 120% of the pot. Straight hit on the turn. Oh well.

Others had less trouble with a bit looser playing style. I had 10s UTG, so I limp. Several other limpers. Flop comes 10d7d3d. Small blind goes all-in. He’s short-stacked, maybe $45. I call. He shows 45d and hits a straight on the river. Oh well.

He thinks it’s a riot and says, “I always do better when I’m behind.” I hold my tongue. He says it again. I say “Nice hand. I knew I was dead when I saw diamonds.” The guy chews his fingernails to the quick at the table. Lovely.

The guy to my left is a pretty good player. I’ve written about him before, taking a pot from him with a bigger boat. We always seem to be at the same table, and usually I’m to his left. Not today. I’m Mr. Right today. I watch him take down a pretty good-sized pot with 10Q suited when he hits two pair on the turn. Next hand I get Q10 off and I’m inspired enough that I call a small raise from the nail-biter after a couple other people have called as well. Flop gives me an open-ended. He bets the pot and I call, Turn completes my hand. He bets half the pot and I min-raise. He folds aces. Oh well.

I have to say that the only real mistake I made all day was when I over-played AQ . I raised 3 X BB from the cut-off and was called by the guy on my left. Flop had a J, and he called my C-bet. Turn was an A. AJ crossed my mind but wasn’t certain until the showdown when he said, “I sure hope you don’t have pocket Aces.” I lost a bit of change on that one. Oh well.

There’s a point in the day when I know I should go home. The key is paying attention to this notion. I was down $100. As a matter of fact, I’d been down $50 to $100 most of the day. I got close to even a few times, and I said to myself that if I got back to even, then I’d go home. Never works that way, does it? I waited until I lost $40 more. Oh well.

Bankroll below even for the first time this year. Might be better to hit the home games with smaller buy-ins. Or, as a certain friend keep insisting, play Limit. After all, I’m not so sure if building a bankroll or just having enough money to play more sessions should be my immediate goal.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Other things happen

Yes, other things, better things, beside poker happen in my life. I just won an award for a photo I submitted to a big local juried art exhibit. 500 smackers. My dear wife had to choke back tears of joy as the Mayor presented the award. I’m pleased. Now, if the piece will sell as a multiple edition…

I haven’t been making a lot of art lately, because of several things. Mostly poker, I think. It used to be the farm that kept me busy as hell. Not so much anymore. I hit a wall physically and emotionally, weed and drought. I’m feeling better now, thank you. And with that, I’m able to pull myself away from poker a bit more. (Yeah, poker can be a way to self-medicate and can be abused. I’ll have more on that in the future.) Yet, before I flamed out, I had amassed a lot of photo and video projects that had never seen the light of an audience. I’m now going through all of that work to put together an updated website of art. This show I’m currently in helped push me in that direction.

A few months ago, my dear wife saw an article in the local newspaper about a big annual show, now in it’s second year. They were looking for new entrants. She tore out the clipping and left it on the coffee table where I eat breakfast while watching the weather report. She didn’t say anything about it; she just left it there. And for a few days, there it sat.

Looking back, it seems like it took all of the emotional strength I could muster to finally pick the article up, read it, and a few more days to go to the website for a submission form, look through some photos I had taken of this area, choose three photos, write an artist’s statement and send the package to the jury committee. I was that bad. Maybe it was the four months of rain…

I made a mental note of when the selection process would take place, but soon forgot about it. A couple months passed. Dear wife and I celebrated our ten years of marriage with a weekend getaway, and when we returned, there was a postcard in the mail. It said to save the date for the show. What? Did I miss some notification? Whether I was or wasn’t in the show, I surely would have heard before the invitations went out, right? Maybe my dear wife, wanting to spare me the lament, had intercepted the rejection letter or email. No, she hadn’t seen anything. Then I checked email: Congratulations!

Thirty-seven artists had been selected from a couple hundred submissions. Goodie gumdrops.

I have to back up a bit. Not everything was in darkness after the initial submission. In fact, just the act of putting everything together for this competition helped me get back on track, at least a little bit. I had been thinking about a video project for couple years and somehow found a way to make it happen. And when the sun finally broke, I had some time to kill one day and mustered the wherewithal to go into a local gallery. I hadn’t been in a gallery in four years. Not my cup of tea, yet the woman who owns the gallery is doing what she can to make a go of it in an area where folks just don’t take a shine to anything except pottery, landscape painting and the like. By the time I walked out of that gallery, the gallerist had invited me to be in a one-day show/event the following month. I said. “What the hell. OK.”

I had four weeks to conceive and prepare an installation piece. In the past I have had several months to prepare works of a similar size and scale. It took four days to install. By all accounts, it went well. The gallerist seemed please; people took pictures with their cell phones. As the day was winding down, I mentioned to her that I had submitted to the Mayor’s thingamagig. She said that she had a role in that show too. The conversation didn’t go much further.

After reading the congratulatory email, I began to think that maybe she had had a role in the selection process. I dropped by the gallery the next week to find out, and if she did, to thank her. It turns out that she was in fact on the jury, so I thanked her. But she gave me this quizzical look. “What piece was yours?” Oh, it was a blind jury? “Yes.” When I told her the name of the piece, her eyes lit up. “Oh yes, absolutely!” Apparently those were the words of several jurors.

It occurs to me that this might read as some sort of brag. No, this is more the thoughts of a guy who is mildly surprised that he has been able to go from being in the crapper to a semblance of what it must feel like when good things happen.

The opening reception was a couple days ago. There were hors d’ouvres and a jazz duo. There was about 100 people in attendance. (The $15 ticket price may have kept some people away.) Dear Wife and I ate a bit and had a cocktail as we walked around to see the art. Lots of landscape painting and photography, some abstraction, a few figures, some calligraphic stuff, and my piece. My piece was the very last piece on the walls, kinda stuck back in a corner. I had been late in delivering the piece (our well pump died that morning), so what I got is what I got.

After about a half hour I was ready to go home. I don’t do well in large gatherings like this. I had to wear a tag that said “Exhibiting Artist” and felt like no one could really give a shit. There were other tagged people wandering around, looking at the work or staring out a window at traffic. I am so glad my dear wife was there. The gin and tonic helped a little too.

An hour into the reception the Mayor got up on a stage to start the awards ceremony. Five artists were to receive honorariums and one would win the Purchase Award. My wife and I moved closer to the podium to appear more civil and to hear. As is the case with most events like this, there are a lot of people who’d rather continue their conversations than listen to what they supposedly came to hear.

Four names were called before mine. I was the last of the honorable mentions. It was a little odd. I knew it was my name. People actually cheered. The gallerist was handing out the award envelopes. “Surprised?” she asked. Did I expect it? No. Did I hope for it? Of course. I’m not that depressed.

I kissed her hand.

Short stack strategy

Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:56 pm Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post

Sundays seem to be my casino days. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I said I was going to take a break from the casino. I did. For a week. And now I’ll wait another week before I go again. I don’t want to wait, yet I will. In the mean time, I have a couple things to mull over.

I’m already working through my issues with big pocket pairs. Last week I had to fold Pocket Aces and Kings. The good news: Queens worked well on a couple occasions, and I managed to crack a guy’s set of aces when my twelve-outer nut flush/broadway hit the latter, and then the same two cards came up again for another broadway. I was up $150 fairly early on.

And then the short stacks showed up.

The first guy I had never seen before. He comes to the table with a big smile as a couple other players do recognize him. The woman to my right, a regular, and known by readers as the gal who caught me nose-mining, asks him, “Are you here to give me my money back?” There follows a discussion about a bad beat he had delivered. He puts down about $20 in red and $80 in white. Within ten hands he’s lost half of it.

As I mentioned above, big pocket pairs have been causing me problems, mostly, perhaps, because I have been catching them in the blinds. This time, KK in the BB. There are two limpers, one of which is the newcomer, the other is the woman to my right. I’m not going to mess around this time and raise to $20 ($1/2). Mr. Short calls immediately and Missy goes into the tank.

Missy thinks aloud. By the time she folds, I know she is holding A5. The flop is all low, 234 rainbow. Shorty has $25 behind so that’s my bet, which he calls. Missy says, “I would have hit my straight. Dangit.” Shorty flips over 96c. The turn is a blank and the dealer lays out 5th street face down. Turns up the side facing Shorty so he gets to see his 5 before I know I’m beat.

OK, I can handle it. Thank God he was short. Still, I think it wise to take a little walk, maybe call the wife, whine a little, get it out of my system and come back to the business now at hand: waiting for the opportunity to knock this donk off the steep mountain path. By the time I get back t the table, no more than ten minutes, he’s gone, busto. Note taken.

Shorty #2 didn’t show up short-stacked. He had a full buy-in of $100. I remembered him from previous trips. He played a lot of hands, complained a lot, went into the tank a lot, asked players what “they could possibly have?” and then fold, or, on one hand, call with QK off with paired Aces on the board. It wasn’t long before he was down to $65 or so.

Shorty #3 came short and stayed short with about $50. A clean-cut kid. Seemed polite, quiet. He was set mining.

From mid-position I limp with 9s. Shorty #2 had already limped UTG, as did Missy. Shorty #3 is BB and checks. Flop comes 9, 10, Q. #3 checks, #2 checks, Missy checks, as do I. The board is scary enough, but I’m going to hold out to see what comes on the turn. It’s the 5c. Now there’s two clubs out there. Everyone again checks around to me and I read this as a good time to bet. I bet the pot. #3 in the BB calls, #2 UTG pushes in for his remaining $65 or so.

Tank time again for Missy, and for me as well. Missy has about $125 behind. She’s saying things like, “I want to call, but I’m worried about him (pointing to my stack).” I’m thinking about the hand Loki9 outlined last week with Mr. PE. If she calls, how do I handle this? I may very well be behind at this point, but I’m not folding with my set against two short stacks, for more than likely Shorty #2 is calling the all-in with his last $30 or so. Someone has the straight, someone has two pair, someone is on a draw. Who knows? But right now I’m thinking about Missy. I am certain I have her beat and I am hoping she calls. If she does, I will re-raise her all in. Alas, she folds.

All of a sudden, #3 says, “I’m going to need some help here.” Having seen him donk off with the KQ, I’m thinking he has two pair or the draw. I still don’t know what #3 has, but in that he called my pot-sized bet, there’s a good chance he holding KJ or 8J. I call his all in, and as I anticipated, #3 puts his money in as well.

I’m still kinda liking my chances here. I starts a little chant: “No suck outs, no suck outs.” The dealer turns over another 5 and I let out a little whoop. #3 turns over the straight and #2 turns over 10s full.

Oh well, I’m back to about my original $200. $213 to be exact. Time to maybe call it a day.

A Day at the Aces, part 2

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:12 pm Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post

Having no kids to sit at my feet and adoringly look up at me on Father’s Day (they are grown and live elsewhere), I made a day trip to the casino. The room was fairly empty. The crowds of last summer have dissipated. Three tables of $1/2 all had a seat available and I took the 9 spot on table 3.

I was going to try out my new prescription sunglasses. I couldn’t tell if the Q on the board was a club or a spade without straining to see, so off they came. The refraction is a little too strong for that close, so I guess I’ll have to wait until my eyes get a little worse to use them.

In short, I was pretty much card/draw dead for most of the day, and when I got action, it was weak. I was able to limp numerous times with Ax suited with nary a flush to be found. Suited connectors limped from position went nowhere, I hit a gutshot after pairing the board, and when I raised, on the turn, the player folded. I rarely saw the turn. I’d go up $50, down $50, up $10, down $75.

Down $75. This big burly 35 year old sat to my right. He was playing a lot of hands, even though he was a relative newcomer. He was also doing a lot of talking: “When I was a chef; I used to be a semi-professional athlete; I was fast…” He was about 150 pounds overweight, had squinty, puffy eyes and was wearing flip-flops. He had mild BO, would get up from the table every few rounds and disappear for a couple big blinds. Each time he came back, he smelled a little bit stronger of alcohol.

Early on, before I had much of the above information, he called a mid-position $7 dollar raise from his SB. I had AA and raised it to $20. The first player folded and he called. The flop came with three hearts, one of which was a jack. I had no heart. He checked and I bet $40. He raised another $40, I folded. Without looking at his cards, he turned over one card, a black jack.

He asked, “AK?”

“No.”

So, without a good read at this point, I had to put him on AJ or JJ. He called the initial raise, which could have meant AJ, and he called my re-raise, which could have been a loose AhJ or JJ. As the day wore on, it become apparent that he over-valued his hole cards, but I still felt pretty good about my read. He sucked out on a very solid player a bit later, so I thought perhaps if I was patient, I might get another opportunity. Yet, none came as he changed up his play, protected his stack a bit, and still managed to lose $100 before he racked up and left.

Aside from Mr. Bloat, and the parade of short buy-ins, the table was pretty conservative and solid for a long time. A guy in the #1 seat was hitting hands and had more than doubled up. Then things started to change. A dealer who is known to play LAG sat down and blew through $200 after winning $700 at $2/$5. I was again dead for a couple hours and my stack went nowhere except down from the blinds.

The action continued when a few other players sat in, ready to gamble. An old guy with a hearing aide and a short stack consisting of a few $25 chips from blackjack or craps sat in seat 8. He doubles up on his first hand at the table. In 7 was a rotund individual, rather jolly and chatty, placed, never using it as a card protector, a Buddha next to his $200. I was able to get a fairly good read on both players early on. Both knew their game but there was nothing fancy going on here. It was the guy in seat 6 who got my attention. Almost right away he stacks the old guy with set over set after Buddha had led out pre and on the flop. He doubles up and doesn’t bat an eye. He just stares ahead, no emotion whatsoever... ever.

I have to describe the physical characteristics of this guy. Old clothes, not dirty but gray, much like his weathered skin would be if he didn’t have a deep tan. His hair was greasy, his fingernails long, some 1/2” (1 cm) or so. The nails may have been dirty, I couldn’t really tell, yet they were dark. This guy was a loner. I should have been paying closer attention to his play.

Again, AA in the BB. A heart and a spade. I have 4 limpers so I raise it to $15. The quiet one is my only caller. The flop is 7d6h5h. I bet the pot and he calls. Set? Possibly. Either that or he limped with KK. The turn is 9h. I now have a flush draw and bet 1/2 the pot, which he calls. Pocket 8s? A 5d on the river, I throw in my last $25, he calls and shows Qd8c. I leave to the looks of pity from a couple other players.

My initial reaction, and indeed a normal reaction, was “Call with that crap?” The answer, I’m afraid is, “Of course. Why not? I know what you have while you have no clue as to my hand.” I am reminded of the guy from a couple weeks ago who called my big AA raise with what he believed to be Q 10 (actually 8 10). If either hits, I’m dead money. It is a style of poker that is hard to defend against. It is a style that makes sense (as Harrington points out in his new books) in a deep stack situation. Q8 was deep; I was not. He was getting about 11 to 1 implied odds. Q 10 was short and I had 3 x his stack. Was his call justified? Was either call EV+? (OB, work your magic.)

Yeah, I left. I was tired, stunned and pissed. It’s a shame the day had to end the way it did. As I drove down through the mountains toward home, my phone alerted me that I had a message. It was my son wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. He said appreciative and loving things that neither of us, being guys, might say in person without a couple beers under the belt. The day ended quite nicely.

A Day at the Aces

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 12:55 am
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I just arrived home from the local casino. I haven’t played there since Labor Day weekend, primarily because I didn’t want to sit in a $2/$5 game with all of the local sharks feeding off of each other’s tails to sustain them through the slow days of winter. The way I look at it, my skill level and roll is only good enough for the tourist trade, so Memorial Day weekend more or less represents opening day for me at $1/$2.

Anticipating a large crowd, I wanted to get to the casino at about 11 a.m. I was surprised that the parking lot was only about half full and the poker room had 6 tables running, one of which was $1/$2. I took a pager, said hello to the floor assistant and a dealer who remembered me, and sat down at some 5 cent video poker to wait. It wasn’t long before I was called, as they opened up a new table.

I don’t recall who was at the table from the get-go. A lot of people initially came and went while waiting for a big tournament ($500 buy-in) to begin. (A guy from my pub league was at the final table when I left. 100 players in that event.) Eventually the table settled into the same people for the greater part of the day.

I was in seat #10. I hate that seat, and #1 as well. I like to see the whole table. I almost moved, but then decided against it, thinking that perhaps a benefit of the seat is being somewhat hidden from a few players. Seat #1 kept changing throughout the session. In seat #2 was this older guy, short-stacked, who nevertheless liked to see a lot of flops. In seat #3 was an older Asian gentleman whom I remembered from last year. He also liked to see a lot of flops, raised frequently, and had a fluctuating stack. In #4 was a hulk of a guy with big-knuckled hands. He also liked to see flops and called raises to do so. From his chat with dealers and other players, I determined he was a regular. In #5 was another regular, a younger guy with sunglasses. He gave the appearance of being a serious, solid player. #6 and #7 was a boyfriend/girlfriend duo who spent a lot of time telling secrets (what they had been holding in the previous hand). Seat #8 was an older gent, a regular whom I remembered. He also liked to see a lot of flops. Seat #9 was a younger guy, pretty quiet, and serious.

The table overall was one of those 6-limpers-to-see-the-flop. If someone happened to raise 3 x BB, most of those who had limped behind, and those yet to come, would call. The first hand I played was a limp with A8 off in the SB, with just the BTN, SB and BB in the hand. The flop: A78. I checked, as did the BB. The BTN, put in a ten dollar bet, which I called. Turn was an 8. I checked again, and the BTN did as well. River was…who knows? a bunny rabbit, and I bet $15. The BTN raised to $45. I didn’t have a solid read on this guy yet, so I just called. In retrospect, I could have gone all in, as he showed 8 7. What kept me from re-raising were the A, the 10 and the movie, “The Rounders.” Had he been looking for action and held a pair of either in the hole, I was dead.

Much of the next several hours were played in the same vein. I folded a boat, a straight and a nut flush by playing just a tad too tight. I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get up and take a walk and think about how I was playing. What is a good mix? Yet, perhaps more importantly, were these early folds putting a little tilt into my game? I didn’t want to start chasing.

Not too long after I sat back down hand I found myself with AA. I took down a small pot from the boyfriend and flashed. Then, for the longest time thereafter, I was card dead. I must have had 26 off five times, and Q3 off an equal amount. If I was granted a limp with suited connectors, it was for naught. I blinded and limped off everything I had won to that point. And then I woke up with Qs in the SB. Boyfriend raised to $6, which girlfriend called. I raised to $30. SB, who had just sat down, re-raised to $60. SB was a young guy with sunglasses and short, moused hair. I had no read, and after the lovers folded, I called. My thinking at the time was to see the flop, and if the Qs went nowhere, fold. Well, the flop gave me a spade flush draw. I bet $45 and the SB went all in. I called while saying “You got me.” He had a K of spades and another K. $200, poof.

Even though I think to myself that maybe I should call it a day, I buy in again for $200. I play this hand over in my head. How would it had gone if I had re-raised all-in preflop? Would he have called? Should I have re-raised all-in, or should I have followed my original plan? My stack starts to blind, limp off again so I get up from the table and went for a walk. When I came back, it wasn’t too much longer than I picked up AA again. Lover boy bets $11 and I raise to $22. He says. “All-in.” I call. He has Kings and the Aces hold up. I am now almost even and lean back to talk to the #1 seat when he says, “Nice hand.”

“I feel a lot better now.” I say. He then informs me that he had been worried that I had been holding Aces in our hand, but knew I didn’t have it when I paused. Crap. Presence of mind, Patrick, presence of mind…

I’m about $30 short of even. I can live with that. I’ve been at the table for about 6 hours now and even though I’ve loosened up my game, it’s been primarily big pairs that have won pots. My10s. 8s, 9s, 5s and 4s, my 89s, etc, have gone nowhere. (I did limp with 23s on the BTN and take down a smallish pot from girlfriend when the flop came 23J and she bet out.) Then I get AA again. Boyfriend bets out $6 and older gent in #8 calls $6. I re-raise to $20. Boyfriend folds and #8 calls. He has about $80 in front of him. Flop comes AKJ. Nice. But worrisome. #8 checks, so I bet $30. He calls. Turn is a 2d, he checks and I bet another $30. He calls, I am worried, yet because he has such a small stack, if he has Q 10, I’m not that worried. The river s a 10 and he puts in his remaining $17 or so, to which I ask, “You went all the way for that?” and call. He looks at his cards and flips over a 9 and a 10, and says, “I thought I had Q 10. I knew what you had. Damn.” I consider myself lucky.

OK, three pocket Aces at this point and folks are starting to get spooked. They start asking me what I do when I go on breaks. I watch women wave their hand over the displays at the slots, hoping that Divine mojo will deliver them.

After I flush the older guy in #8, he leaves, as do the couple. The table changes. Limit players start sitting down with their stacks of $1 chips. I don’t particularly like this change in the table, thinking “calling stations.” Then I find KK in the hole. It holds up nicely against one of these players holding Jacks and she is stacked. After a few more hands in which I take small pots or fold my suited connectors on the flop, it is now 9:30 p.m. and time to call it a day up $191.

On my way home I find it curious that all of my big hands were big pocket pairs. Fancy play garnered me little. I often start composing these missives as I drive. What lessons have I learned that I can share with my dear friends? What shall I title the piece? Do I like to write about poker almost as much as I like to play? I saw some amazing shit at the table tonight, much of what I could use to write an equally lengthy entry. Yet, I think this will do for now.

The Good, the Bad and the Buggy: My Poker Game in Las Vegas

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:36 pm Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post

The third annual Poker Academy Rendezvous has come to an end. Six days in Las Vegas of friends and poker! It was great seeing folks from last year once again, and it was a wonderful honor meeting others for the first time. Several of us play poker with each other at the Academy quite often. That experience pales in comparison to playing with these people live. One’s idea of them as players changes, becomes more real. One gets a better read that will undoubtedly influence us in how we play each other online in the future.

The Poker Academy events in Las Vegas were the high point of my trip. I won the short MTT practice tourney, which covered that buy-in, plus the big PA Tourney the following day in which I busted out early after a series of bad flops. That left the buy-in I would fork out for P K’s Birthday Bash and Drink Fest Tourney in which I finished in last place. The rest of my time I spent playing cash games.

As I indicated above, this was a return trip for me to the Rendezvous. I went last year (posted somewhere in these forums) and did quite well, paying for the trip with my winnings and setting myself up with a modest starter bankroll to play poker through the summer at a local casino. (That experience is also posted in the forums.) This year’s trip was in direct contrast to last year for a number of reasons, some of which I am still working out. If my readers will bear with me, I might discover some of the subtleties that impeded my success.

Overall, I was card dead for the greater part of the week. In one session, Chana Pal was sweating me and told me later that he counted more than 30 hands in a row where I folded preflop. That was probably more the rule than the exception for the week. I don’t believe I saw more than ten pocket pairs all week, and of the two sets I hit, one made a guy’s straight and I got no action on the other. I saw pocket aces three times, once on the button with no one behind, another time UTG and one other time in mid position. For the latter I bet $12 and was called by the small and big blinds. They were two friends clearly in cahoots. The flop came 23J, I led out and the small blind said that he knew I was a good poker player but to fold, that my AA was no good as he had hit two pair. I believed him and folded, but I asked him to show, to which he replied that he would for $10. Well, I went off on him (I’m not pretty when I’m mad), and he relented, showing me 23 off. Another time, only the big blind called, a young kid who had just sat down and talked a lot of smack. He flopped an Ace high flush and took about $80 from me before I folded on the river when the board said straight and flush and I was drawing dead to everything from pockets 3s to J2 of spades.

$80 isn’t too bad, right? I must say I was never once stacked in ring. Yet, is that a good thing? Perhaps. Another sizable loss came again from early position. I limped with AJ and the flop came 78J. I bet out and was check-raised by the big blind. I called. The turn was an Ace and I called the Blind’s bet. The river was a 5 and I folded to the BB’s bet, stating, “I believe you.” He showed me the 9 10. I didn’t get it all in with top two pair. A good read? I knew I was beat, even though I wasn’t clear on how. That hand cost me all of the $100 that I had won from an old local regular who caught the AJ flush against my flopped quad Kings. After the Ks, the same guy who caught the straight remarked that he thought I might have been able to get another $50 more out of the old guy. Hmmmm. I had just doubled his bet on the river, which he called. He was down half of his buy-in and with the board paired I figured he’d smell a boat with anything larger.

Still, the question needs to be asked, was I playing too conservatively? Folding as much as I was, that was certainly my table image. It was more than conservative as will be demonstrated below. I am embarrassed, as I believe I took weak tight to a whole new height. I was in the small blind, listening to my iPod when I was dealt 26 spades. I limped and the flop came 345. I bet the pot and it was folded around to the cutoff, who raised. Thinking he had a set or some such thing, I re-raised and said, “Save your money. You’re beat.” He didn’t believe me and re-raised and asked, “Do you have 57? If you have 57, why would you raise?” In that I had my music on, I wasn’t hearing everything as clearly as I could have, and began thinking that it was not out of the question that he may indeed have 57, Limping from the cut-off with 57 suited is not out of the question. And lord knows that I have been beat in just such a manner playing hands like 26 suited. I showed and folded, and of course he had the wheel.

Why did I fold? Why didn’t I play out the hand? The fear of being beat outweighed the confidence in my hand. And to make matters worse, not only did I lose the hand, I lost any advantage I may have had at the table from there on. Everyone at the table now knew that I could be pushed off of a hand. I could not remain at that table, so after a short while, I took a break and went for a nap.

Except I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for about an hour, going over that hand. I got dressed and went back to the poker room. The table I had been at had broken, the Wheel Draw Guy had mover to a $4/8 game, yet there was still a $1/2 game going, so, after waiting for a seat for quite a while, I sat down once again, perhaps to redeem myself. This table had been going for a long time, and it was known to be wild at times. I knew I had to play tight yet somehow not be afraid to call a big pre-flop raise if I had the goods. Actually, railbirding had helped. I had seen this one player raise up big preflop with Q8h. hit his flush and take down a huge pot earlier in the evening. When he opened for $12 and I looked down to find pocket 6s, I called. I hit my set on the flop, and by the river I had all of my money in with 6s over 8s to his trip 8s with an A.

The remaining two days of poker brought me up a little more to the point where I was leaving down no more than $300, most of which, sadly, seemed to go to the blinds and rake. Something in me changed after that one hand. I made a few other questionable lay downs but felt comfortable with them. More importantly, I made some great reads and stayed in hands where I had the winner although the board suggested I might be beat.

I must say that my attitude while playing in the Poker Academy events was in direct contrast to my cash game. I was among friends, and therefore comfortable, confident, and sometimes cavalier. I was having fun. It makes a huge difference, but I know that if I am to continue to play poker outside of PA or with my home game buddies, I’m going to have to work on a few things. I still have a long way to go before I feel I have enough confidence in my overall game to be a steady winner. I need to work on my hand reading skills, not the board, but what other players may have. I say “not the board” because the board can be deceptive. I can see 3 ways I am beat when it may not be the case. I need to pay closer attention to a player’s betting patterns, both in the current hand and throughout a session. I need to be able to better decipher their behavior and personality and use those things to my advantage. But more importantly, I need to make sure that my head is on straight when I sit down to a game.

Poker is a game of narrow margins, razor thin edges…transience. When one’s life mirrors this, it is best to stay away from the game. It became apparent to me things in my personal life: leaving farming, looking for work, etc., were affecting my game. This realization actually helped the last couple days, yet I was still very ready to go home and cut back on the poker until other things were resolved.

I realize that this little essay may contain a higher level of self-disclosure than some may find comfortable. That’s the risk I take. Overall, I don’t think I’m so different from others that they can’t see themselves in the situation I found myself. So, I put this cautionary tale of woe out there to Poker Academy members who are also new to the game, or indeed passionate about the game. If you find yourself distracted by life, do something else besides play poker for money.

P.S. Las Vegas is a city where everyone seems to be working any edge they can muster. At times I thought some of the bullshit artists must practice their line of crap in front of the mirror. The big talkers didn’t always walk away winners though, which manifests as a sort of pathos and tragedy. I also witnessed squeeze plays and knee-capping, truly sociopathic behaviors, which may have added to my cautious play. I’ve been down on the farm too long, and enjoy that quietude, to see much reason to endure these types of people for any extended period of time.

Throwing this out to the community for input

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:18 pm Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post

In a couple weeks a group of Poker Academy players will descend on Las Vegas for the third annual Poker Academy Rendezvous. Some of us will make money, some of us lose, yet all of us should have fun.

While I am certain of the fun, and hope that I come home a winner, I am contemplating how best to maximize the money I will be taking with me. In preparation for the trip, I have been experimenting with a new nick and using that bankroll to approximate what playing in casinos for six days might garner. I have run this experiment twice with contrasting results. On the first run I lost 50% of my roll; on the second I increased it by 50%.

The first found me initially winning big only to suffer some serious bad beats, and then, after a continued bad run/slow leak, I got stupid and played way out of my bankroll comfort zone in an attempt to recoup my losses. It ended poorly. Yet, toward the end of this first run I was speaking to another player who suggested that I play in larger buy-ins initially, and then if things went poorly, I could move down. Essentially, it was the inverse of my first run. In my second test I ran well and started to make up for my losses from the prior 6 days. I found it curious that I was able to make money playing up while I struggled to break even playing at a table suited for my bankroll. Yet, now that I think about it, there might have been some factors that did effect my results at the lower tables: there are some very solid players that may not have a large bankroll yet; some players with big bankrolls visit these tables and play considerably looser than they might in higher rooms, and in fact, at times, bully the table; I was playing much tighter than most of the table and players may have picked up on this, thereby getting very little action on my good hands; and finally, I just seemed to be card dead a great deal of the time.

I know that I can expect similar factors and results to come into play from past casino experiences, and that one should expect anything to happen with a hand or session. One must know how to play against any type of player: the shark, the maniac calling station, the luckbox newbie or the gambler with money to burn. My question for the forum is more about money management.

Say I have $2K at my disposal (bad word choice) for use at the tables. This is also my total bankroll, yet if I am to stay away from the local casino for the forseeable future, there are few other opportunties to play poker for cash in our area, aside from the bi-weekly $20 home game. So, how to best utilize that which I will have wjile in Las Vegas? I can probably play $2/5 and hold my own, yet I have not done this more than once in all of my short career (first local casino experience posting). The competition is tougher though, and I don't know if I want to play exclusively at this level. Probably not. Yet, it has some appeal and seems to make some sense that I start out bigger, and if it does not go well, move down to $1/2. Even if it does go well, I can't imagine playing at this level for the duration of the trip. However, the downside would be that if I do lose a buy-in at this level, it will be more difficult to make it up in $1/2.

See what I'm getting at? I'm conflicted. While I'm allotting a sum for the trip, I'd like to think that I'm not going to lose it, and hope that I actually can find a way to bring home more. Pretty standard hopes and dreams while reminding myself that I am going there to have fun as well. What I am asking for is some advice/ideas from those of you who have approached such a trip in the same manner: going with a set budget/bankroll.

One idea that CaptnBen gave to attendees last year was to divide the poker money into equal parts, giving oneself a set amount to use each day. Losses were threby kept in check and any profits went into an envelope to take home. That is a great idea, and perhaps the best way to go about the 6 days. So, maybe I'm just thinking aloud, as it were. Still, any ideas, experiences or admonitions will be appreciated.

2nd Anniversary at Poker Academy

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:51 am
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A little more than two years ago my mother-in-law took the first step in making a seemigly irrevocable change in my life. She gave me TJ Cloutier's poker software for my birthday. I had been watching poker on TV for several years, she knew I had an interest in the game, so there you have it.

Although I had been watching the WPT and a bit of the WSOP, I must say, I was generally clueless as to many aspects of Hold 'em, and knew nothing of Stud or Omaha, and the TJ software wth it's pop-up tips from the master himself helped quite a bit. It was not long, perhaps six weeks, until I had amassed a sizable bankroll against the software. However, this accomplishment did come with a price.

It might have happened right away: I began dreaming about poker; and if the dream wasn't specifically about poker, then poker was the metaphor that drove the dream along. I don't know, playing 6 hours or more each day may have had something to with it. The monkey was firmly attached to my back in no time flat.

Well, that Christmas season was quickly upon us, and my dear wife, always taking note of things her husband takes an interest in, ran across the Standard Version of Poker Academy at the Mac Store and picked it up, along with another piece of poker software, wrapped both, ad gave them to me for Christmas. She said, "I didn't know which one you'd like better so I got both. We can return the one you don't need." Once I saw that there was an online component to Poker Academy, my choice was easy. The prospect(er...get it? Still waiting Sam.) of playing against others online was exciting. I spent no time in loading the software and logging on.

I spent about four hours playing the bots before checking out the live rooms. Is it wrong of me to have never returned to the bots? The live play was too much of a draw. Here were other who, presumedly, were learning the gae just as I was, yet I was getting my ass handed to me over and over. It soon became clear to me that I had joined a community of poker students and enthusiasts alike.

Two years later and it seems like I have never logged off. A lot has happened both within Poker Academy and to my game, and I would like to think that both have improved, even with the growing pains. I can still donk off chips with the best of them, yet I know that with each new game, I get another little "plug-in" for my game as a watch and play against players whom are much more skilled than I, and against those whom approach the game and the value of the software from a much different perspective than I. As I have found out -- the hard way -- both types of players play for real money.

Thankfully, I no longer dream about poker, or at least not as often. (Last night I dreamt about shopping for chicken flavored wet cat food.) Of course, who has time to sleep when there is poker to be played? And now, I look forward to my third year and wonder what it has in store. How will Poker Academy change and what will 70,000 to 100,000 more hands do for my game? Each day new players show up and begin working their way up through the ranks and the "regulars" return with new tricks up their sleeves. Because of this Poker Academy remains a dynamic environment from which to learn. In many ways I feel priviledged and grateful to be a member of this community, even if it has taken over a large chunk of my life.

Thanks for being there.

(edit) I just saw that I've posted 673 time as well. Oh lord I'm a sick puppy!)