Sunday, November 30, 2008

In which I get the dream right

Poker Academy Online #46,219,561
No Limit Texas Holdem ($1/$2 NL)
Table Feldspar
November 30, 2008 - 21:48:49 (PST)

1} bastin * $197.00 6s 8s
2) RAMS $186.00 Jd 7d
4) Call_Girl $185.00 As 9c
5) myers $259.55 ?? ??
6) robertel $179.35 ?? ??
7) Mr President $258.30 ?? ??
8) -KZ- $133.95 ?? ??
9) RiverKillsMe $435.40 ?? ??
10) MAJOR $514.20 ?? ??

RAMS posts small blind $1
Call_Girl posts big blind $2
myers folds
robertel calls $2
Mr President calls $2
-KZ- folds
RiverKillsMe folds
MAJOR folds
bastin calls $2
RAMS calls $1
Call_Girl checks

FLOP: Js 9s 7s
RAMS checks
Call_Girl checks
robertel checks
Mr President folds
bastin bets $10
RAMS raises $35
Call_Girl raises $138 (all-in)
robertel folds
bastin raises $12 (all-in)
RAMS calls $139 (all-in)
bastin shows 6s 8s
RAMS shows Jd 7d
Call_Girl shows As 9c

TURN: Js 9s 7s 5s

RIVER: Js 9s 7s 5s Kd

bastin wins $2 with a Nine High Straight Flush
bastin wins $556 with a Nine High Straight Flush
$3 raked.

Acclimatization

Before moving to Oregon, DW and I lived in Chicago for 18 years. And, by Chicago, I don’t mean a suburb that I opt not to name because few people would know of it, while everyone has heard of Chicago. No, we lived in the city proper, and for much of that time, in neighborhoods that carry the Chitown stigma that one encounters in some foreign countries: “Chicago? Ah! Chicago boom-boom!”

The adjustment to a quiet, rural existence was an easy one for us, partly because both of us had experienced some aspect of this life at some other time, DW in Colorado as a teen, and for me, a rich childhood on my grandparents farm in south-central Illinois. Yet, after so many years in a tough urban existence, there remains a certain edge that both of us can call to the fore at the drop of a hat. DW can deliver well-chosen words to a rude individual that will set that person on their heels, and I can muster a demeanor that lets a ruffian know that I am not the person they want to fuck with. Still, most of the time we remain congenial and affable, as those are the type of people we generally encounter out here in the sticks, and for the most part, everywhere else as well.

We weren’t anticipating any trouble being back in an urban environment last week in Southern California. And we didn’t get any. Yet, the transition from here to there always puts a little edge on, just in case. Senses get heightened, mostly by the contrasts.

SoCal is brown; this part of Oregon is very green. Traffic on the 101 and 405 is a bit daunting; here, we occasionally have to slow down and drive behind tractors or combines for a couple miles. As spread out as everything is in the LA area, people are still stacked up on each other; here, talking to a neighbor over a fence first requires a walk of 100 yards. I belabor the obvious… Our hillsides burn and slide just as readily. They have earthquakes, as do we; yet our geological plate movements have the added bonus of volcanoes.

So, what’s the point I am trying to make?

DW’s grandmother lives in Beverly Hills. Our last full day away we went to visit her, and when we were saying our goodbyes, we asked for directions to Mulholland Drive. We were under the impression that we could take it almost all the way back to Calabasas. Not so, but being big David Lynch fans, we wanted to experience the road for ourselves.

We first had to drive through a park on Franklin Canyon Drive. Who would have thought there would be such a “green” place? It was a pleasant surprise, and for the Dear Wife, rather harrowing. The road ran across a ridge a great deal of its length and was very narrow. If she had been driving, perhaps she would not have worried as much, for I found the road quite navigable…just like any other single lane road cut into a mountainside that I drive to go fishing.

As we hit Mulholland, we popped the soundtrack of “Lost Highway” into the CD player. We zigged and zagged for miles until Mulholland was no more and dumped into Encino Hill Drive. After heating up the brakes on a 13% grade for a mile or so, we hit Havenhurst, which, we were told, would bring us back to the 101 and back to DW’s family off of Valley Circle.

Except that we couldn’t get on the 101 going west at Havenhurst, so I kept driving up to Burbank, hung a left, hung another left on Balboa, and voila! I merge like a native, like I have done this 1,000 times before, because I have, in Chicago, and I exclaim something that startles both of us: “I could live here!”

The view from Mulholland into the valley. Not the best shot, but the winding, narrow road offered few places to pull over.

The DW isn't going to like this, but here's a picture of her reading about the history of Mulholland Drive, named after an early water and power utilities mogul.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Did you miss me? I missed you!

I’m back home after 5 longish days in LaLaLand.

I didn’t go near a computer while away, so being back and feeling the need to catch up on my reading is a bit daunting. I have looked to see what I have missed in my daily blog-cruising ritual, and I see that others have been typing away, telling tales of woe and joy, posting pics and quotes. I skimmed, yet I promise to those who know that I read their blogs, I will catch up. I am also faced with having to write something myself, yet it appears I’ve forgotten how to type, which is a bit frustrating because I have approximately five stories I could tell… if I was so motivated. I’m not necessarily tired but I am exhausted and would rather zone for a bit. An extended LaLa, if you will.

I suppose some adjustment is to be expected. Nevertheless, I will attempt to get something down and hope my spell check saves me some embarrassment (and as always, grammar be damned!).

Or, I could just log on to a poker site right now and forget about writing… No, as a compromise, I will share a poker story.

The first night away I went through a bit of withdrawal from poker and writing, two essential parts of my daily routine. And, sleeping in a strange bed, I had a poker dream that I awoke from, certain an excellent and insightful essay was to be found in the hand. By morning, the enthusiasm had waned for 86off from middle position. Imagine that.

I have a brother-in-law and a cousin-in-law who are both very good poker players. Whenever we talk long distance, it is usually about poker; and when we get together, a trip to a poker room is planned. Wednesday afternoon we went to Hollywood Park for some down and dirty.

For those of you who have been to HP, you know that I am not exaggerating by calling this place a dive. The carpets haven’t been cleaned in years, the banquet chairs around each table are threadbare and soiled, and the felts have no feel left in them. The clientele largely is equally grimy. Not all of them, but enough of them to make for a colorful room. The place was sold and slated for the wrecking ball a couple years ago, destined to be replaced by houses until the housing market went under. Whoever owns it now is just waiting for the spots to be worn off the cards.

I didn’t take notes on what games were spread, yet I know that there was Limit, NL and Omaha of various levels of buy-in. I sat down at a $2/$3/$100 game. I hate a game with 33 BB to start, but moving up wasn’t an answer for all games had the same stupid cap. I heard no less than three players comment that one can’t really begin to play poker there until one doubles up. A fair assessment.

That being said, the two tables I played at were soft, soft, soft. I wish I could say that I made money, which may very well mean that I added to that texture. I had five hands worth mentioning:

Early on and from late-middle position I limped with AJs. Two others had limped before me. The Button raised it to $12 and I was the third caller. The flop had two Aces, it was checked to me and I bet $10, a small bet, to be sure. The Button called. Both the turn and river were blanks, and each time I bet another $10, each time flat-called by the Button. He showed AK! I lost a bit of money on that hand, but all things considered, it could have been worse. Why he just smooth-called to river is beyond me.

I re-bought and started to rebuild. I caught an 11-outer on the river for a good-sized pot and was almost even. Then, a good deal of time and crappy cards went by while I watched one player after another stack off with incredibly bad plays. Finally, I was able to check my BB with pocket fives. The flop was 567 and I led out with an overbet. UTG and UTG+1 were also in the hand. UTG raised! Huh? Strangely enough, I didn’t put him on a bigger set, not only because it is a rarity, but because of how he had played a previous hand. I had seen him do the same thing on a draw and thought it might be the case again. Still I could not be 100% certain that I was ahead. UTG+1 goes into the tank, and after about 3 minutes he puts all of his $55 or so in the middle. There’s $100 or so in the pot, and I have about that much behind. I also have UTG covered, so I jammed. He called with the rest of his stack. The turn is a 3 and the river is an 8. UTG has 89s and UTG+1 has 9Joff. They split and I am left with about $30.

The next hand my pocket sixes hold up in a race with AK and I double up. Then Mr. 9Joff calls me to the river with third pair (7s) against my Kings and I’m down about half a buy-in. My brother-in-law decides to call it a night after his 2nd nut flush loses to a turned straight flush and, after cashing out, I walk him out.

On the way out he advises me that I should try to get a seat at the table he had been at. I immediately drop $50, but just like before, I recover and am soon above even. My cousin gives me a sign from the $5/$10 game that he is almost ready to go home (20 minutes), so I tighten up and wait.

A middle position player raises to $11. This guy is aggressive, yet I can’t help but notice he is bleeding. I am on the Button and no one has called. I look down to see A8s. Should I call? Nah, not without any other callers, so I fold. The SB and BB call. 78833. Yep. Huge pot. I have JJ in the SB and get to limp in with 5 other players in the hand. A on the flop and I’m gone. A 9 was also in the flop, which paired the winner of another sizable pot. Oh well. Time to go anyway.

I cashed out and sweated my cousin for another hour. He left up a grand. Me? Down $60. But I’d go back in a heartbeat.

OH! I nearly forgot! The fifth hand: I was in middle position and the guy to my right, a really, really tight player raised to $18. Holy moly! I have 86s! Man, I wanted to call! The flop is all my suit. He showed Queens.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Untitled

I have the blank page terror. More like a bother. Several things bubbling that might do better to blister another ream of paper than this virtual one. Something mundane like dinner with friends, a reader might care less, unless I find a way to explain the mixed pickle side with my Indian meal and the odd nirvana I experienced from those mystery vegetables fermented in what our friends suggested was lacquer. So far this morning, there are no dire consequences.

Or something a bit more profound, even though a bit of an old saw: a short observation on mortality, when it is no longer a question of when and the compassion that moment engenders from others. Except I am not looking for condolences when I mention at this same dinner that I am no longer a grandparent in-waiting, cut short by a mysteriously stilled heart. Those of us with some age and/or with grown children know the comfort of being able to grieve while escaping having to mourn. Please do not respond, because I already know and appreciate it.

Today will largely be dedicated to readying ourselves to be away for several days in the L.A. area. Something involving a turkey… There is talk of an evening at a poker room. I will have my camera and DW will have her laptop, yet there will most likely be a bit of radio silence until a week from now. Be well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Familiar

By the time I arrived at R’s house tonight, the cash game had already started, much earlier than usual. Many of the usual suspects were there and a couple players already had sizable stacks: one in front of a gentleman with whom I had never played, and the other was Becky’s.

Becky is a good, solid player, as is her husband. They sat next to each other, across the table from me. We tend to keep out of each other’s way. I had R on my immediate right for a good portion of the night, and M on my left. Santa was there, as was Phil. Santa plays a tight game but does so in a manner that makes him seem loose because he makes some outlandishly large pre-flop bets. He does so because of players like M and Phil, who will call nearly any bet size and clean him out, which is how his night ended: JJ all in for $30 against M’s AK after M had led out for $10.

AK was otherwise a loser for the night. After four limpers came in for a buck, I raised one the button to $8 with AKh and got 4 callers. However, immediately after my raise, the table chatter became all about my hand. “Oooooo, bastin raised! He must have a big hand! I’m betting he has a big pair.” And still I got the callers. The flop was 10 5 2 rainbow and the first two callers checked. The next bet $5. I had not played this kid before, and when he arrived late, shortly before this hand, there was some talk about him having a somewhat loose style of play. He originally bought in for $30, which I duly noted, as most players usually buy in for at least $40. The other guy I had not played before called his $5.

I was a little suspicious of the small bet, but something told me that this kid didn’t have much of a hand, and the smooth call from the other guy told me he might have something along the lines of A3s or A4s. With all of the chat about what I could possibly be holding…no, probably holding, which was a big pair, I raised $20, hoping to take it down there. The kid re-raised for his last $5, the other guy folded, and I called, hoping for my overs to hit. The kid had 8 10 off, and I didn’t improve.

Initially, I was a bit steamed but said, “Nice hand” and set to work replaying the hand, thinking about what I would be looking for next time I was in a hand with him. Unfortunately, that opportunity never arose, even though I got to watch his stack disappear over the next hour. He left down $30. Yeah, maybe he does play a little wacky. Come back anytime, son.

R wasn’t playing many hands, and when he did come in for a raise, it was always $6. He did this twice from early position, and the first time I had pocket 9s. Assuming there would be others calling as well, I primed the pump and called. It ended up HU, and with a J on the flop and a K on the turn, I let my hand go. The next time he raised from UTG, I had AQs and called. The flop came Ks, 8s, 4h. R bet another $6 and I called. The turn was the 4s, R bet another $6 and I called. I wasn’t too worried about pocket Kings. The river was a blank, R bet another $6 and I raised to $12. I apparently had him stumped as he mutters, “You didn’t chase the flush did you?” He calls, I turn over the nut flush and ask, “Chase?” I’m about even again.

R is prone to lengthy, albeit quiet steams. It took him a good hour to talk to me again. In the meantime, I hit a baby flush and kept the pot small. I play A8off from UTG+1 and hit an 8 (all fold). I manage to walk out with about $15 more than I put down. I’ll take it.

I have written about this particular home game many times in the past, as I have been playing with these guys for a couple years. I have come to realize a few things. A few of them can’t read the board or a bet size for shit, an equal number have no concept of expressed or implied odds, and, in that I play considerably fewer hands than most of them, they assume I only play big pocket pairs. Add to that the fact that none of them see a need to read about poker strategy. The advantage they have over me is that they will call with anything remotely connected; yet,so far, not much has come from such a tactic. I am way up on this home game as I can remember only three times I have come home with a little less than I went with.

These are the hard facts of this bi-weekly game. It is profitable enough that wish it were a weekly game. Yet, as I suspect it is with other home games, these folks don’t get together just to take each other’s money. We have a tremendous amount of fun, and there is a real camaraderie that I have been allowed to share. I can see it in their eyes. I hope they see it in mine.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Birds of a Different Feather

I was waiting at a stoplight today and happened to look in my rearview mirror to see an older small truck pull up behind me. The truck was in need of work on its exhaust system. There was an elderly guy driving, a bit disheveled-looking and flipping me off.

Just a quick flip, both hands draped over the top of the steering wheel, and a flash, yet well-defined protruding right middle finger quickly gestured my way.

Had I done something discourteous like cutting him off? No. I had been sitting at the light for a good ten seconds before he pulled up. I had my turn signal on… I was just waiting for the light. Then it hit me: my bumper stickers.

I have three stickers on my rig. (It’s a small truck, but a rig nonetheless, dammit, and that means something out here in the land of rigs and male facial hair.) I have a bumper sticker that reads “Free Tibet”. You know the one. I have another that advises “Don’t believe everything you think.” And on the back window I have a Loomis “Fear No Fish” decal. Which one do you think he found objectionable?

I like to joke about my choice of ideology markers. The “Free Tibet” sticker indicates that I am indeed a hippy leftist who would like to see a country liberated from oppressive pseudo-far-lefties. The “Think” sticker merely encourages intellectual rigor, and believe me, I realize that posting such a message means that I had better damn well follow suit. However, I am aware that others may find it an affront. And for those people, I have the fishing decal. I hope that they come away confused: a guy with a ponytail down to the middle of his back likes to fish? Hopefully this returns their minds to the “Think” sticker and activates a recess. Hey, it’s my fantasy.

Overall, I’d say that my stickers are not flip-worthy. I do not see myself as a necessarily confrontational or vociferous ideologue. But who am I to say?

The Dear Wife’s car is another matter. The “Fuck Yeah” t-shirt she bought me is a strong clue. (Oh, I wore it, so maybe I am confrontational, if a bit passive-aggressive.) Her rear windows have, over the course of the last couple of years, carried various proclamations: “The nation stands with Cindy” ( Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and a vocal opponent to the war); a sticker and an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper that refer to national health care; and the capper, “Fight terrorism. Impeach Bush and Cheney.”

I am somewhat surprised that the car has not been keyed, yet relieved that there has been no physical response whatsoever to her pronouncements. That does not mean that there has been no response. One summer day during the Cindy Sheehan controversy, the DW was sitting in traffic and a man and woman pulled up alongside. The guy, from the driver’s seat, started screaming at my wife, “NO WE DON’T! NO WE DON’T!” Other words trailed away as the light changed and she let him move ahead of her in traffic.

On occasion I have had to use DW’s car for errands. One memorable moment was again at a stoplight. A huge diesel 350 pulled up behind me. Inside that truck sat two equally big men. In the rearview mirror I saw the one in the passenger seat point at our car and say something as both shook their heads. My literary mind had me forced over to the side of the road and dealt with. Fortunately, I only have an active imagination.

As I had today in my rig, I might have experienced a moment of confusion when seeing these two burley guys reacting to my rear window, had I not previously experienced hostility while driving her car. I was on I-5 driving north to Portland when I noticed a small red truck behind me. The driver was flipping me off with both hands, repeatedly and continued to do so for at least a mile. Again, I wondered if I had been vehicularly negligent or impolite. I am a very good driver, defensive and considerate. Yet, I could have lapsed. Then it occurred to me: the “Fight terrorism” sticker. After another mile or so, the guy sped past, right hand a-flailing its middle finger. I gladly gave him some distance for the remainder of my trip.

I refer to my rig as the Hippy Truck and her vehicle as the Lefty Car. When I go to the feed store, I usually take my truck, and I tell the young man who goes out to the warehouse to fetch the 100 or 150 pounds of organic layer pellets to “put it in the back of the hippy rig out there.” He always chuckles. This week my rig has been in the shop (another story), and we needed animal feed, so I took DW’s ride. The young man wasn’t around, so the woman who co-owns the store went out to the warehouse. I met her outside and said, “Normally I tell your worker to put it in the hippy rig; but today I have the Lefty Car.” She chuckled.

We’ve done business with these people for years. Both she and her husband will kick the dirt and chat a while, and today was no different. Even though I’ve seen the back end of their rig with a fish and a “W” sticker on it, and there is religious music playing over loudspeakers in the store, I began to tell the tales of reactions to DW’s stickers. When I asked if she could believe such strong sentiments, she responded, “The same thing has happened to me. I’ve been flipped off and yelled at as well.”

We then talked about divisiveness and how it is tearing our country apart. We agreed with each other.

Thinking like a NL player in PLO

This table is a bit nuts. Whole stacks are flying, sometimes preflop. I ask myself: How in God’s name can people put their whole stack in prefop in this crazy game? I ask myself this question because I am often amazed at what hands people are willing to call with. Of course, then luck plays into it and makes me want to join in the fun. Preflop? Hell no, even though if I had on a couple occasions, my stack would have greatly benefited.

PokerStars Game #22199286803: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2008/11/20 4:23:02 ET
Table 'Patientia' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: TianChai ($13.19 in chips)
Seat 2: turtlestar ($14.52 in chips)
Seat 3: confid ($5.81 in chips)
Seat 4: zojl ($5 in chips)
Seat 6: bastinptc ($4.68 in chips)
confid: posts small blind $0.01
zojl: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [7s 2s As 4c]
bastinptc: calls $0.02
TianChai: folds
turtlestar: raises $0.07 to $0.09
confid: calls $0.08
zojl: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.07
*** FLOP *** [6c 3s 5s]
confid: checks
bastinptc: checks
turtlestar: bets $0.22
confid: calls $0.22
bastinptc: raises $0.95 to $1.17
turtlestar: raises $2.85 to $4.02
confid: folds
bastinptc: raises $0.57 to $4.59 and is all-in
turtlestar: calls $0.57
dina81 is disconnected
*** TURN *** [6c 3s 5s] [9d]
*** RIVER *** [6c 3s 5s 9d] [Jc]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [7s 2s As 4c] (a straight, Three to Seven)
turtlestar: shows [7h 4s 8c 9h] (a straight, Five to Nine)
turtlestar collected $9.24 from pot

As one can see, Turtle will raise preflop with anything. I knew that already, as he raised preflop quite often. I am sure there is some rationale for it, either narrowing the field, building a manageable preflop pot only to see how hard the flop hits one’s hand and then go from there, or because one has a very good hand (whatever that is). His loose raises merited the occasional loose call, or so I thought.

I was happy with the flop, and while the 7-high straight on the turn was nice, I had that very lovely flush draw. There were a couple hands in this session where I was freerolling to the river that had ended up splits. I wonder if I could have put this guy on the nut straight had I thought about the hand a bit longer. Probably not, for I have yet to adjust to the fact that there are twice as many hole cards to work with, or if I had, was my straight and FD enough to merit my call? Would they even be enough to make the call in NL?

I bought back in:

PokerStars Game #22199412472: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2008/11/20 4:35:40 ET
Table 'Patientia' 6-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: TianChai ($12.64 in chips)
Seat 2: turtlestar ($18.52 in chips)
Seat 3: confid ($6 in chips)
Seat 6: bastinptc ($5.35 in chips)
TianChai: posts small blind $0.01
turtlestar: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Ac 4s 3s Ah]
confid: calls $0.02
bastinptc: raises $0.04 to $0.06
TianChai: calls $0.05
turtlestar: folds
confid: calls $0.04
*** FLOP *** [5d 2d 6s]
TianChai: bets $0.20
confid: calls $0.20
bastinptc: raises $0.80 to $1
TianChai: raises $2.40 to $3.40
benny1617 joins the table at seat #5
confid: raises $2.54 to $5.94 and is all-in

bastinptc said, "watch her catch"

I was referring to TianChai’s tendency to get it all in the middle early with a variety of big pocket pairs, big suited, etc. I was preparing myself for the worse case scenario (and tilting a bit). Before I called, I had determined that she might also have the same straight that I held.

bastinptc: calls $4.29 and is all-in
TianChai: calls $2.54
*** TURN *** [5d 2d 6s] [Qc]
*** RIVER *** [5d 2d 6s Qc] [8s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
TianChai: shows [6d 4d Kd 3c] (a straight, Deuce to Six)
confid: mucks hand
TianChai collected $1.25 from side pot
bastinptc: shows [Ac 4s 3s Ah] (a straight, Deuce to Six)
TianChai collected $7.64 from main pot
bastinptc collected $7.63 from main pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $17.37 Main pot $15.27. Side pot $1.25. | Rake $0.85
Board [5d 2d 6s Qc 8s]
Seat 1: TianChai (small blind) showed [6d 4d Kd 3c] and won ($8.89) with a straight,
Deuce to Six
Seat 2: turtlestar (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: confid mucked [8h Jh 7h Tc]
Seat 6: bastinptc (button) showed [Ac 4s 3s Ah] and won ($7.63) with a straight, Deuce
to Six

First, she called my preflop raise with crap and now she was freerolling. Yet, what I find even more disturbing about this hand was confid’s raise all-in. While it made my call an absolute must, the willingness to pt it all in on merely a draw, even if it is to nut straight, makes my call in the previous hand look like a pro move.

I find PLO very compelling. However, I don’t know that my paltry roll can handle the swings that will occur during the learning process. I have software with the game on it and I think a few thousand hands there, plus doing some reading that I never seem to get around to, might be in the cards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking a closer look

With a transition from NL to PLO I feel almost like I’m starting over again. I was doing well at the PLO table, holding my own, making a little cash, but nothing spectacular. Then I started getting slaughtered by draws and boats on the river. Initially, I thought I was getting sucked out on by calling stations, which may be partly the case; yet on closer inspection of the hands, I now see the warning signs of such draws and, believing that nobody in their right mind would call continuing pot-sized bets (Hell, I've done it myself, so who am I to criticize?), I just plain missed them. I’m not going to go into detail right now because I want to try something first. I suspect I need to be more aggressive preflop, meaning forgo the trapping strategy that I have been using to gently enter this arena.

OK. An update:

I went back to PLO this early evening, bought in for $5. And then this: (Note that I did not raise preflop.)
PokerStars Game #22194724160:  Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02)
Table 'Skiff III' 6-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: bastinptc ($14.76 in chips)

See? I was doing quite well!

Seat 3: AerialSharon ($3.34 in chips)
Seat 4: Nikkisyxxx ($5.15 in chips)
Seat 6: QuadsofAces ($9.10 in chips)
bastinptc: posts small blind $0.01
AerialSharon: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Jc Ac 9c Js]
Nikkisyxxx: calls $0.02
max-dna-max leaves the table
QuadsofAces: raises $0.04 to $0.06
Nikkisyxxx said, "whats wrong quads ..."
bastinptc: calls $0.05
AerialSharon: folds
Nikkisyxxx: calls $0.04
*** FLOP *** [Jd 5h 6s]
bastinptc: bets $0.20
Nikkisyxxx: folds
QuadsofAces: raises $0.60 to $0.80
bastinptc: raises $1.80 to $2.60
QuadsofAces: calls $1.80
*** TURN *** [Jd 5h 6s] [Ah]
bastinptc: bets $3.12
QuadsofAces: calls $3.12
*** RIVER *** [Jd 5h 6s Ah] [4s]
bastinptc: bets $8.22
QuadsofAces: calls $3.32 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($4.90) returned to bastinptc
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Jc Ac 9c Js] (three of a kind, Jacks)
QuadsofAces: shows [2h 8h 7s 4d] (a straight, Four to
Eight)
QuadsofAces collected $17.43 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $18.28 | Rake $0.85
Board [Jd 5h 6s Ah 4s]
Seat 1: bastinptc (small blind) showed [Jc Ac 9c Js]
and lost with three of a kind,
Jacks
Seat 3: AerialSharon (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: Nikkisyxxx folded on the Flop
Seat 6: QuadsofAces (button) showed [2h 8h 7s 4d]
and won ($17.43) with a straight,
Four to Eight

This guy was playing a high variance game, bluffing
with air on the river, etc. He had already given me
about $5.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It’s Tuesday night, poker fans!

Time for another installment of Pub Tourney Mayhem!

Aw, it’s not that bad. I had Mom on my right again, so my right thigh got a lot of action. And May was on my left. Long time readers will remember that May’s full name is May Very-Likely-Call-Any-Raise. She took down a short stacked all-in with 72 off tonight. Late in the blinds, right before the add-on, I had A8off in the SB. May and I were the only two players. The flop came 776, check, check. Turn was an A and I put her all in. She has 79.
Now, before you say “should have raised preflop, bastin,” I have to refer you back to her name. She would have called. She loves to call. And she gets lucky a lot.

May is not well liked because of this tendency to call. I may be an exception. She’s OK, and I know she likes me. Both she and Mom were picking my brain all night, asking me poker questions, both showing me their hands, wanting me to comment on whether or not they should have called instead of folding, call or raise. I had plenty of time to oblige as I was pretty much card dead all night. I can remember all of the hands I played, all seven of them.

The clincher was when I was in the BB with only a small blind’s worth of chips behind. I had AA and threw in my last chip against KJ. 9 through K took it down and I called the Dear Wife to say I was headed home.

Speaking of DW, she bought me a t-shirt online and it arrived today. I wore it tonight.


It was well-received, as I found out a couple weeks ago, and much to my surprise, the majority of these freerollers voted for Obama. (I know I’m setting myself up here.) I may wear it again Friday night at the home game, even though I know it will not be appreciated there. Anything to get a psychological advantage at the table.

OK, I’ll change to a more neutral topic… I planted two 50-foot rows of honkin’ big garlic cloves today.

I also dug up the first bunch of Jerusalem Artichokes. I got this haul from a mere 18 square inches of ground. The whole patch is about 12 square feet. This variety is red, as opposed to the usual white, and we think they are more flavorful. I took the picture right after washing them on my handmade washing table (the construction of which I am mighty proud).

I had promised Barbie at the pub tourney that I would give her some, so I took about 4 pounds of them to her, and waited to do so until she was engaged in a conversation. Read between the lines.

(I figured out how to link in my blog tonight. Hurray for me!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Farmer’s Mantra

I have been threatening for a couple days now to start processing our dried and cured garlic. I harvested it several months ago, put it in the barn and forgot about it. Well, it wasn’t exactly forgotten. I just knew there wasn’t any rush to putting it away for the winter.

Last fall we planted four, forty-foot rows of a garlic variety know to us as Mexican Roja. We acquired it from our dear friends at Persephone, a rather successful organic farm about twenty miles to our south. (Don’t bother looking for a website. Persephone didn’t have a computer until this last year, and I doubt very much that they have email.) It was the second year in a row we had planted this type. The harvests couldn’t be more different.

Two years ago we bartered for ten pounds of “seed” garlic (garlic cloves are planted to produce new plants and the segmented root bulb), for which Persephone received five pounds of ground cherries (an old-timer fruit of sorts, a relative to the tomato and tomatillo, and has an familiar yet indescribable flavor). We broke up the bulbs and planted only the largest cloves. Small cloves are eaten; big cloves are planted and produce big plants.

And big plants they were. The bulbs were huge, flavorful and with just a hint of heat. We sold the bulk of the harvest to a local organic grocer.

One day, my dear wife was making a delivery of herbs, veggies and garlic to that store. The produce manager introduced DW to another grower, in fact the primary garlic grower for the region. When she discovered that the Mexican Roja was ours, she got down on her knees and did the hands-over-head-hail-Great-One-wave toward the DW.

We sold out of our Roja that first year, as our clients could not get enough of it. The stuff flew off of the shelf and we made a pretty penny. Our only regret was that we wished we had grown more…much more, as we had none left for ourselves or for planting the next year. As for the first problem, it wasn’t really an issue because we had planted an equal amount of California White, a more standard variety of garlic, not dissimilar to what one generally finds in a grocery store. At the time, we weren’t overly concerned about not having kept back some seed, for we knew where we could get more.

Except we didn’t call Persephone in time to place an order. All they could offer us was the cloves left over, the ones that get eaten, and even then, the pickings were mighty slim. Yet, so happy with the variety of garlic itself, we took what we could get and bartered with Jerusalem artichokes. I planted everything they gave us, every little sliver, and waited.

The garlic plants this year were an odd lot. Some grew scapes (flower heads), which none had the year before. Some grew auxiliary cloves on the stem, which effectively made the cloves below-ground small. Despite these irregularities, we managed about one half of a bushel of garlic, none of which will be sold. Some will be gifted, much will be eaten by us, and the biggest cloves will be planted tomorrow. Next year…

That is the farmer’s mantra: Next year.

This is a respectable sized garlic bulb. Note the purple skin. Once this is peeled away, lower skins are white, and the clove itself has a slight yellow cast.

A clove suitable for planting. Yeah, that's a quarter. Next year's bulbs should be 50% larger than the one in the first picture.

The bounty. I'm guessing about 25 pounds from 4 pounds of seed.

Son, ya bother me

I just pulled up the Hand History and haven’t looked at this hand yet. RH5252 was an aggressive maniac, playing all hands, rarely limping, instead opting to raise 75% of the hands he was in, and taking down 50% or more of them with pure aggression. It was difficult to get a read on him; yet Raipe44 had just gone to battle with him and nearly doubled up with a mere pair of Kings (two pair, actually, yet my readers know how I feel about calling a pair on the board one’s own…not the same as having two pair in one’s hand. I had seen one other showdown in which RH had raised it up with something like 4567 rainbow. Yes, he caught his straight.

Anyway, after taking me off of pairs without improving and middling 2 pairs, I had had enough. I rarely raised pre-flop, but he wasn’t paying any attention. Let’s walk through this hand, shall we, to see if it was a purely knee jerk reaction on my part. (2 to 1 it was.)

PokerStars Game #22113286081: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2008/11/17 3:14:14 ET
Table 'Magdalena V' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: pokerchris80 ($3.67 in chips)
Seat 2: bastinptc ($3.08 in chips)
Seat 3: SSTANN6869 ($4.13 in chips)
Seat 4: RH5252 ($2.13 in chips)
Seat 5: JEUX D PLAGE ($2.08 in chips)
Seat 6: Raipe44 ($9.21 in chips)
SSTANN6869: posts small blind $0.01
RH5252: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Ad 4h As Js]

I was pretty happy to see the Aces, one being suited with marginally decent kicker.

JEUX D PLAGE: calls $0.02
Raipe44: calls $0.02
pokerchris80: folds

With two limpers behind, I’m going to pop it a bit.

bastinptc: raises $0.08 to $0.10
SSTANN6869: folds
RH5252: calls $0.08

I figured he would. Perhaps I should have bet the pot. Yeah, right.

JEUX D PLAGE: calls $0.08

This guy’s a wild card as this he’s only been at the table for two or three hands. RH is giving him some odds to call.

Raipe44: calls $0.08

This guy had a sizable stack when I first sat down at this table, lost 40% of it, and then recovered through RH to more than when I first arrived. He has odds and a stack, so why not… Way to narrow the field, bastin.

*** FLOP *** [6d 3s 5s]

RH5252: checks

JEUX D PLAGE: bets $0.12
Raipe44: folds

Less than 1/3 the pot…

bastinptc: calls $0.12

There is now $.62 in the pot

RH5252: raises $0.34 to $0.46

What to do, what to do? $1.08

JEUX D PLAGE: calls $0.34

$1.42. I’m getting 3 to 1.

bastinptc: calls $0.34

$1.76

*** TURN *** [6d 3s 5s] [Qh]

I am quite certain this card has not helped anyone.

RH5252: bets $1.57 and is all-in

$3.33

JEUX D PLAGE: calls $1.52 and is all-in

$4.85

3 to 1 again. But I really need 4 to 1 to make this call. At least for the flush. What else can help me? Another 5? Doubtful. Another Ace? Maybe. Do I get extra points for having the nut flush draw? Someone flopped the straight with two piece of shit low cards, dammit. And I have a good idea of who it is. Friggin’ dupes! Half of my stack is already in the pot!

Bastinptc (closes eyes and holds breath): calls $1.57

*** RIVER *** [6d 3s 5s Qh] [4s]

*** SHOW DOWN ***
RH5252: shows [Ah 4d 7d Ts] (a straight, Three to Seven) Of course.
bastinptc: shows [Ad 4h As Js] (a flush, Ace high)
bastinptc collected $0.10 from side pot
JEUX D PLAGE: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $6.05 from main pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $6.45 Main pot $6.05. Side pot $0.10. | Rake $0.30
Board [6d 3s 5s Qh 4s]
Seat 1: pokerchris80 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: bastinptc (button) showed [Ad 4h As Js] and won ($6.15) with a flush, Ace high
Seat 3: SSTANN6869 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: RH5252 (big blind) showed [Ah 4d 7d Ts] and lost with a straight, Three to
Seven
Seat 5: JEUX D PLAGE mucked [Qs 3d 9s 9h] Dodged a small bullet here. 3s would have done me in.

Seat 6: Raipe44 folded on the Flop

So, yeah, I got lucky. My place in the betting order kept me in. Still, some justice prevailed. I have to think that playing premium cards is a better starting place than calling a raise with a marginal hand and then getting lucky.

Or am I rationalizing? Was I pot committed on the turn? I have what, about 200 hands of Omaha under my belt so far? I am slightly unclear as to the merit of my call in a PL game. There were no implied odds, I know that much, so, given that, I guess I have to say, yep, dumb luck saved my reactionary ass.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three questions and an observation

We all know superstition plays no part in poker, right?

What's your favorite cooler hand?

You don't have one?

It's hard not to hope.

Poker Update

Been playing some of the $1.10 Double or Nothing SnGs and winning at about a 30% ROI (nothing really to brag about), holding my own (up) in the micro PLO games, writing posts complaining about QQ not holding up on the Poker Academy Forum (http://forums.poker-academy.com/viewtopic.php?t=10101), and then there was this hand:

PokerStars Game #22082494214: Hold'em No Limit ($0.05/$0.10) Table 'Noviomagum' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 2: RooDooDoo ($5.55 in chips)
Seat 3: PEELII ($5.70 in chips)
Seat 4: BalloonFight ($10.50 in chips)
Seat 5: mjranew ($20.50 in chips)
Seat 6: Vovchik_89 ($2 in chips)
Seat 7: froglegs88 ($10.20 in chips)
Seat 8: Globus19 ($17.75 in chips)
Seat 9: bastinptc ($9.70 in chips)
bastinptc: posts small blind $0.05
RooDooDoo: posts big blind $0.10
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Kd Kc]
PEELII: folds
BalloonFight: folds
Jonnywest leaves the table
mjranew: folds
Vovchik_89: folds
froglegs88: raises $0.30 to $0.40
Globus19: folds
bastinptc: raises $1.60 to $2
RooDooDoo: folds
froglegs88: raises $8.20 to $10.20 and is all-in
bastinptc: calls $7.70 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($0.50) returned to froglegs88
*** FLOP *** [5h 6d Ks]
*** TURN *** [5h 6d Ks] [Kh]
*** RIVER *** [5h 6d Ks Kh] [Qc]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Kd Kc] (four of a kind, Kings)
froglegs88: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $18.55 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $19.50 | Rake $0.95
Board [5h 6d Ks Kh Qc]
Seat 2: RooDooDoo (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: PEELII folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: BalloonFight folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: mjranew folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Vovchik_89 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: froglegs88 mucked [As Ad]
Seat 8: Globus19 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: bastinptc (small blind) showed [Kd Kc] and won ($18.55) with four of a kind,
Kings

I’ll try to keep in mind that I can indeed sometimes get lucky.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Field Report

It was a gorgeous day, clear skies and a mild 55 degrees. I could hear helicopters in the distance to the north. Time to try out the new camera and see if I could capture some good, representative shots of the Christmas tree harvest.

I am not certain of the statistics, yet Oregon, in particular our area, has to be one of the largest producers of Christmas trees. Once one gets out of the valley into the foothills, the agriculture moves from grass seed and nurseries to rows upon rows, thousands of acres of little, conical Douglas and Balsam Firs. Many of the trees get shipped south to California and Arizona, and a surprisingly substantial shipment goes to Japan.

Because there are such large expanses of ground covered with these trees, harvesters hike into an area with chainsaws, and after cutting down the trees, pile them into a bundle that is roped up, ready to be picked up by helicopter. The helicopter shuttles small bundles of trees a third of a mile or so back to the wrapping and stacking area. The trees are then transported out in large trucks.

I knew which way to head today as I have driven by the largest tree farms many times in pursuit of other photography projects, the most recent being the burning of the grass fields. Sure enough, I soon saw a helicopter with its cargo. I pulled off the main highway onto a gravel road and up a dirt drive. As I parked, a guy started walking toward me. Not sure how I’d be received with my request to photograph the job, I put on a smile and called out, “Howdy!”

The guy was outfitted in an old tattered Carharrt jacket and ball cap, and tall Muck boots. “How ya doin’?”

“Fine, fine. Would you mind if I took some photos of the harvest if I stay out of your way?”

“Yeah, sure. Just stand over there,” pointing to the far side of the drive. “I thought maybe you were a buyer comin’ to see about getting’ some trees.”

“Nah. How is business this year?” This is the second phase of a rural converstion. One has to spend some time talking about life as a farmer, hands shoved down in one’s pockets while kicking some gravel or chewing on a blade of grass. I love it, as it creates an immediate bond and establishes a level of comfort among strangers.

“Horrible. The market for trees this year is way down.”

“I hear ya. It’s bad for everyone. We’ve been growing vegetables for market and have had to give it up. Just no money in it. Can’t afford to feed livestock either with the price of grain these days.”

“Yep, I don’t know how we’re going to make it.” Pointing to the trees, he concludes, These ain’t vegetables but we’re gonna end up eatin’ ‘em.”

I took my photos and accustomed myself to the new camera. Digital is a completely new experience for me, and unsure of the results, I took a few more shots with my analog Olympus. I said thanks and goodbye and walked back to the car. As I was getting settled, I looked up to see the guy walking toward me, stopping in front of his truck. He made a motion that suggested he was about to take a leak. Indeed, as I came face-to-head with his member. Talk about a comfort level. I busied myself some more, resisting the urge to take one final photo, and drove away without a final wave.


The trees being delivered to the processing site.

The processing of the trees. The trees are fed through the piece of red equipment trunk first, and are compressed and wrapped in a fine plastic mesh, ready to ship.

Note the single tree in the distance in the above two photos. This is where the trees are being cut down. (20 X optical zoom in full effect here.)

On my way back home I passed this field. It is the beginning stage of a vineyard. Wine is becoming a big commodity in Oregon, and a lot of fields that were once grass or Christmas trees and now vineyards.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An early Christmas

Now I just need world peace and it'll all be good.

9051045 Front Detail

The Canon Powershot 10.0 Megapixel. I'm stoked. Prepare yourselves to be inundated.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Expect rain.

But not today. The sun is peaking out now and then, and the dew will burn off right before sunset. Just because it is not raining doesn’t mean that it is not wet. We’ll need three or four days of “dry” weather before the moss slows its growth.

Days without rain also means that I can get outside and get some work done on the farm. There’s garlic that needs planting. The little dry creeks that run through our property are once again flowing, so I have to clear a path to the seasonal pond we have for the ducks.

As autumn progresses and winter lingers, I suspect I will be writing a lot about the rain. It is never far from my mind… our minds, even on days like today. We could still get a shower or two.

By April we will be thoroughly convinced that the rains will never stop. Come May, we will begin to slowly shed that belief. And in the meantime, if we are paying attention, or rather, have the proper attitude, the weather itself will tell us that the rain is not all-encompassing. Many evenings, just as the sun is about to set, the western sky will clear and we will have five minutes to enjoy a glorious sunset, purple and red clouds, maybe even a rainbow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let’s get physical

Skunk is staring me down… I think. He’s giving me the eye, perhaps. One eye is pointed my way, the other at the blank TV screen behind me. The game is five-handed, he’s short (10M is short for Skunk) and is first to act. He has just had to re-buy after being one of the big stacks at the table just a short time before. He jams. I have AQo and call. The button calls and is all in. Skunk has QKo, the Button has J6o, the flop comes with a Qd and two other diamonds. Turn and river are diamonds. No one has a diamond and we chop.

Dave has big calluses on all of the first knuckles on his hands. I can only imagine.

Still five-handed. I limp UTG with J Qh. One other limper and the BB. Flop is AKJ rainbow. BB bets, I raise, he calls. Turn is a 10. He has Q6 off. I flip him off.

The young blonde calling station dumps 2/3 of her huge stack into mine. Thank you.

I have the chip lead, for a while, anyway.

I go absolutely fucking card dead. The woman to my right keeps giving my thigh short rubs of comfort. The touches are of the motherly type. Her husband is sitting to her right. Lovely people.

Mom takes me out in fifth place out of a field of 24.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I’ll take it

First there was this session of 10NL:

During current Hold'em session you were dealt 258 hands and saw flop: 20 out of 34 times while in big blind (58%)
14 out of 34 times while in small blind (41%)
30 out of 190 times in other positions (15%)
a total of 64 out of 258 (24%)
Pots won at showdown - 2 of 7 (28%)
Pots won without showdown – 12

A win rate like this is more like a bleed rate. Pairs went nowhere, suited connectors, suited Ace, nothing, and when I caught a draw, it either did not hit or I was priced out. I wrapped it up not too long afterwards.

Or rather, I took a break, went to see what was happening at Poker Academy, settled into a loose cheapy as “ubu roi” and came back to Stars for a single table grind.

PokerStars Game #21941242620: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25)
Table 'Riviera V' 9-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 2: bastinptc ($26.70 in chips)
Seat 3: Sampayka ($4.65 in chips)
Seat 4: ARAZ76 ($26.40 in chips)
Seat 5: ands1 ($29 in chips)
Seat 6: PilsBier ($25 in chips)
Seat 7: horob ($15.80 in chips)
Seat 8: FEARisPOWER ($26.15 in chips)
horob: posts small blind $0.10
FEARisPOWER: posts big blind $0.25
floggi1: sits out
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [8d 8c]
bastinptc: calls $0.25
craig719 has returned
Sampayka: raises $0.75 to $1
ARAZ76: folds
ands1: folds
PilsBier: calls $1
horob: folds
FEARisPOWER: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.75

I started my chant. I had seen soooo many pocket pairs tonight.

*** FLOP *** [4h 8s 7s] … looking to check-raise
bastinptc: checks
Sampayka: checks
PilsBier: checks

Well, that didn’t work

*** TURN *** [4h 8s 7s] [6h]

and now I’ve got myself into a fine pickle with a straight and two flush draws out there.

bastinptc: bets $3.75
Sampayka: calls $3.65 and is all-in
PilsBier: raises $7.75 to $11.50

Well, shit. I couldn’t rule out pocket 5s, 56 or 9 10 suited. And with the short time to act, I was stymied by such a coordinated board. In hindsight, of course, PilsBier wouldn’t be reraising with merely a flush draw unless he was a maniac, which is not the read I had. Pair the board, please.

bastinptc: calls $7.75

*** RIVER *** [4h 8s 7s 6h] [3h]
bastinptc: checks
PilsBier: checks

Clearly, he was just as worried as I. Still, I wasn’t sure if this was the right move, erring on the side of caution instead of a small value bet that could possibly backfire. I wonder what I would have done if he had bet the river.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [8d 8c] (three of a kind, Eights)
PilsBier: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $14.95 from side pot
Sampayka: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $13.60 from main pot

*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $30 Main pot $13.60. Side pot $14.95. | Rake $1.45
Board [4h 8s 7s 6h 3h]
Seat 2: bastinptc showed [8d 8c] and won ($28.55) with three of a kind, Eights
Seat 3: Sampayka mucked [Ah Ac]
Seat 4: ARAZ76 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: ands1 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: PilsBier (button) mucked [7c 7d]
Seat 7: horob (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 8: FEARisPOWER (big blind) folded before Flop

Monday, November 10, 2008

Little Pariah

The problem with this game is that I came here to ask lots of questions but poker makes you silent.

Poker is a school of silence.


This photo revealed your passion for poker.

Duchamp Chess Nude by InteriorBasement.

Yes.

It made it public.

What does poker mean to you? It is a constant in your life.

It’s a constant… It’s a logical, or, if you prefer, a Cartesian constant.

But isn’t the love of poker also a love of mathematics in a certain way?

Of course, I was always interested in mathematics but not in a serious way. I have no natural talent for mathematics, but the little that’s involved in poker has always interested me and I mastered that aspect quite easily. It’s logic and mechanics rather than mathematics. Mechanics in the sense that the cards are dealt, interact, destroy each other. They’re in constant motion and that’s what intrigues me. Cards placed in a passive position have no visual or aesthetic appeal. It’s the possible combinations that can be played with your hand that make it more or less beautiful. The cards are the block alphabet which shapes thought, although making a visual design on the table, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem… I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not poker players, all poker players are artists.

Do you see a symbolism in poker?

No.

So it’s pure pleasure. It relates to nothing else…

No. It does tend to act like a drug. Drugs are not symbolic but the addiction is similar. If you start playing poker when you’re young, you’ll grow old and die playing poker. It’s a passion that’s not easily…

You’ll take it to the grave.

Yes, absolutely. And that, no doubt, makes you waste a fantastic amount of time. That happened to me and probably helped me do what I wanted. Photograph as little as possible and not repeat my photographs. It works out well… Poker fills your time when you don’t photograph.

So what’s next? Play the game? But which one? Save? Put things away for a rainy day? But what for? I am still a victim of poker. It has all the beauty of art -- and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Poker is much purer than art in its social position.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A reflective pause

Thinking I’d get out and find some carpets of fallen foliage to explore, I loaded my photo gear into the truck and headed down to the river. I found myself following a truckload of harvested Christmas trees and immediately decided that I should change subject matters for the day. The tree harvest is a pretty interesting process involving lots of workers scurrying around cutting trees, others wrapping the trees in mesh for shipping, and in some instances, helicopters shuttling the trees from the field to awaiting trucks. I would need to get some gas if I was going to drive around and find an active harvest site. Yet, no sooner had I driven into town, the rain started. They’d still be working in the fields, but I wasn’t too excited about getting my old Canon A-1 wet. I headed back home.

And back down into the basement to figure out how to make the rest of my day productive.

One sure way to avoid making such a decision is to go online. I started to cruise poker blogs and came to Pauly’s Tao of Poker. (See my sidebar.) He’s live-blogging from the WSOP ME final table. A small circle began to take shape in my mind.

I followed along last summer as Pauly gave us a rundown of the action that led up to this day. I enjoyed his writing style, and refreshed his page many more times than he had entries each day. His was also the first “professional” poker blog that I had ever read.

Pauly has a sidebar that lists about 60 other poker blogs. In between his updates I clicked on several and read. If Pauly mentioned another blogger in his WSOP updates, I hit the link. I started to recognize that there was a rather small group of “intimates” bloggers that clearly knew each other, hung out together, and went back several years. Some, while still blogging, covered poker for Poker News, Poker Stars, Full Tilt, etc., yet their blogs no longer had much poker content. They were writers first, apparently, poker players second, or third, or fourth. Some of my clicking led to blogs that hadn’t been updated in two years.

So, I’m reading Pauly’s accounting of the final table and I realize that I have no clue about the players except for what he has written. I haven’t watched any of the ESPN coverage. I’ve read about what it was like to cover the event, and about the shenanigans and intrigues in and around the event, but that’s not quite the same. I don’t watch poker on TV much anymore. I used to, quite a bit five or so years ago, just like every other schmoe who had an inkling of an idea of how to play what he was watching (I had played poker in the Navy, 25+ years earlier, but had long since forgotten if a flush beat a straight) but knew it was exciting. And I watched a lot of it, hooked into a spectator sport more like NASCAR for the thinking person.

I downloaded the last episode that led up to the 2008 final table and was reminded why I have tuned out. I am all too familiar with the excitement and heartbreak. Eventually sucked in by the edited presentations, I have been experiencing the roller coaster firsthand for close to three years now. I have no need to watch others go through it.

But watch it, I did. More out of dedication to Pauly’s writing than to the event itself. He doesn’t know it, but I owe him. I started this blog on July 14, the 7th day of the ME.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Country

Do me a favor. Load up this video and listen as you read:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc-V8_ZkHzw&feature=related

I thought the blonde at the game last night might have been the kids’ mom. Hubby and wifey want to play some poker and, unable to find a babysitter, bring the kiddies along. She busted out pretty quickly and came over to our table to say goodnight. She smelled of hard liquor.

R says, “You could play the cash game with us.”

“How mch?” She’s trashed.

“20 or 40, it’s up to you.”

“No thank you! I’m going. Thanks for the game R!”

R says, “Take a right out of the driveway so you don’t get lost.” A right hand turn out of the drive takes one down to the dead end of R’s road. I found his statement curious, but figuring it might be an inside joke or the like, I chose to keep my mouth shout.

T was at the game last night. I checked past posts and see that I haven’t played with/written about him since August 16. He’s a big, burley, Harley riding hot head who whined last time about playing .50/1.00 so we played .25/.50. He was to my left, which was of no concern because he’s such a tight wad that when he bets, one can safely fold all but the best hands and nut draws. When the young kid busted out and his dad took second in the tourney, and goodnights were said, we moved the cash game to the other table for better lighting. T wanted everyone to know that he still had the button, and we took a break.

I went outside to relieve myself: one of the advantages of being a male out in the country. T followed me out and headed over to his truck, opened the driver’s side door, turned on the engine, and either turned on the radio… or was he talking? Then I heard a woman’s voice. There definitely was a conversation, and thought I could see a woman’s hair in front of the passenger’s seat. What the hell?

A couple minutes later, T turned off the engine and I heard the last bit of the conversation. She said, “No, you go on back inside and have a good time. I’m fine right here.” He shut the cab door and walked back up to the house without a word to the observer.

Over the next hour, T throws back two beers, eventually loses the last of his chips and leaves. As he drove off I couldn’t stand it any longer and said, “There was a woman waiting out in his truck this whole time.”

R said, “Yeah, that was V.” The blonde. Apparently she and T are an item. She tends bar at one of the bigger pub tourney spots in the city 15 miles to our west. Again, it seemed like I was in the minority to think it odd for her to be sitting out in the cab of a truck at one o’clock in the morning waiting for her boyfriend to finish his game of poker.

Still, maybe I wasn’t as alone as I thought, for soon the conversation turned to compulsive gambling.

Last night was one helluva good night. I have two good stories and I came home a big winner. $70 in and more than double that coming home. The clincher was a hand of Pineapple straddled, min-raised, family-potted and bet again with numerous folks still in for my baby flush to take down.

We wrapped it up fairly early. B and J, a lovely couple and good players (J won the tourney), had a funeral to attend today, and R, who had to take his girlfriend to the airport in 2.5 hours, was, as usual, falling asleep at the table. As B and J got up to leave, I said I was packing it in as well. P asks, ”Are we quitting?” Down about $50, apparently he still had plenty of gamble left in him.

Spinning Mark 10:13-14

Yep. Home game at R’s tonight. I had talked to R earlier in the day and he assured me that there would be 11 or 12 players for the tourney, so I figured there would be plenty of players for the cash game afterwards. (My regular readers may remember that I prefer to play only the cash game inasmuch as in the dozen or so times I have played the tourney, I have never monied, while the cash game is typically a +EV evening.)

I counted the cash in my pocket, figured that I’d drop nearly a sawbuck on provisions, and would have one standard buy-in, $50, left over. It’s a .50/1.00 game. And then I thought again. I know that P likes to come to the table with $100, Ralph plays loose, as does F and M. I stopped at an ATM for another $100, just in case.

The ride over to R’s house takes about 20 minutes. For the most part, it’s a ride through the country on back roads. A relatively warm night, I had the window down and blues on the radio. Rounding the final few curves in the road, I was feeling right comfortable with the familiar, like the paltry few horses in my four-banger rig knew the way.

I recognized several of the cars and trucks. R’s Irish Setter, Sally, greeted me as I pulled in the driveway. She’s a sweet dog, and I assume she remembers me each time as she never barks and is ready with her head for a scratch. I could see through a window that the tourney was still in full swing. Sally made it clear that she wanted to go into the house post haste, so in we went, and there, sitting at the kitchen table was a sight I had never seen at R’s: a forlorn young boy who looked to be about ten years old.

“Hi.” I said.

“Hi.” He didn’t look at me, preferring to keep his eyes fixed on an unopened can of Doctor P.

“Hi bastin!” Ah, the gang was all here. I went in to say hello, see who would be the first to give me shit and then I would seek out our gracious host. There were a few people I didn’t recognize: a guy with a sizable stack, a blonde woman and a kid who looked to be about… hell, I didn’t know… 14? 18? He looked up at me.

I had to ask. “Are you old enough to be playing poker?”

“Yes,” he said with a tinge of defensiveness.

Mr. Big Stack says, “Tell him how long you’ve been playing.”

“Eight years.”

Okay then. I’ll be in the other room. There’s a youngin’ that needs entertained and since I now had a topic, I need to start composing my next blog entry.

I asked the kid in the kitchenwhat his name was. Man, he was miserable. After all, who the fuck brings their kids to a poker game, let alone a tourney that can go on for hours? The kid had my heart from the get-go.

As I made a pot of coffee, I tried to think if I had anything in my rig that I could pull to entertain this kid. Something to read? What, I was going to read this kid a bedtime story? No, and I drew a blank anyway. I said, “Why don’t we see what kind of trouble we can get into.”

As I walked over to the table, I caught sight of Ralph. “Are you out?”

“Yeah.”

Then I asked the kid, “Do you know how to play poker?”

He lit up. “Yeah.”

“Well then, let’s get a game going.” Ralph obliged, counted out some short stacks for us, and away we went, play money poker.

No sooner had we sat down, R was out for the third bi-weekly game in a row, having what must be the worst run in the history of his home game. And shortly thereafter, my new friend’s brother joined us and asked, “When is the cash game?”

I answered, “When we have four players.”

His response: “We have four now.”

“Then when there are five players.”

The play money game went on a bit longer, and the kid must have asked two more times about the cash game. The blinds in the tourney were going up and folks started getting knocked out. The young stud busted out of the play money, so I gave him my stack and said “Play my stack.” so I could go outside and call my Dear Wife to say, “You won’t believe this.”

She couldn’t,

When I saw numerous people milling about and it was clear that I could no longer hold out playing cash with this kid, I went back inside. The kid was to my immediate right and he had about $40 in front of him. Thanks Dad.

It didn’t take long. I was allowed to see a flop in the BB with 35s. The kid had limped as well. 3c6c3d. The kid bet $5 and I double it. To my surprise the kid doubles my bet. Shit. I tanked, for whatever reason, I’m not quite clear. Well, of course, everyone knows why. I wasn’t about to let some adolescent get the best of me. Finally, it dawns on me to see if I could get a tell on the kid. “Do you have a 3?” He wouldn’t look at me. He just stared off into space. No hard swallow, nothing. No read, shitty kicker, a possible limp with pocket sixes, I let it go.

The kid asks, “Could you beat two pair/” and then smiles in a way that tells it all. I may not be able to read an adult’s bullshit all of the time, yet this cliché of poker was a sure thing. The kid had sixes in the hole.

“Can’t bullshit an old man.”

Language, bastin, language! Fuck it. The kid wants to play poker with us. If I slip, so be it. Still, being the all-around nice guy that I am, I curtailed, hoping that his Dad, now heads up in the tourney, would take it down or lose so we could bid all of his clan adieu. Yet, everyone else seemed to share my initial sentiment, caring not a lick about the lad’s tender years, and he got an earful anyway. He got schooled. In spades. Literally.

The kid loved to lead out with $5 on the flop. This worked a couple times, yet he seemed unaware that when someone called, another $5 bet on the turn was not a hindrance. Ralph caught his gut on the river and took pity on the kid. Still, there goes a bit of his stack. P is on his right and he tries the same thing after P checks. P calls the flop and turn bets and then leads out big on the river. The kid tanks and eventually folds. P shows the bluff with AKs. The clock starts to tick on this kid’s tender constitution.

I limp UTG+1 with red pocket 2s. Ralph in the CO raises to $6. R, on the button calls, P in the SB calls, the kid in the BB calls, so I figure I have to call. As R burns and grabs the next 3 cards, I see a 2c plus 8s9s. P checks and the kid throws in his last $20. I go all-in for $48 and say to the kid, “I’m giving you protection.”

Ralph thinks. Ralph is not only loose, he also figures odds. I learned this about him the first time I played with him. If he has any sort of odds, he’s in there. “I think I have to call here.” He does so.

Great. The turn is a J and the river is a 6. No spades but coordinated enough to feel my heart sink. The kid turns over a red J and 7, and who cares what Ralph had (I can’t recall). I take down a huge pot, and most importantly, yes, I’ll admit it, I felt the kid. Jamming with a gutshot…maybe my trip 3s earlier were good. Oh well. Thanks Dad.

Just about at the same time, Dad takes second, payouts and goodnights are exchanged, and two kids sulk out the door.

Eventually, I broach the subject. “R, are minors going to be playing in the future?”

“Well, this was first in two years, but the kid was 16. If his dad wants to stake him, I don’t see a problem.”

“No, he was 13. And in fact, he said that tomorrow was his birthday and he would be 14.”

The sole woman at the table agreed with me, while all of the guys, except her hubby, said that at least the guy was spending time with his kids.

“He was? No, he was playing poker. Not the same as spending time with his kids.” Who knows if these guys I play with have kids, and if they do, what kind of relationship they have with them. Yeah, the kids tonight “know” how to play poker, but still…go see a movie and get a pizza.

My word count is at 1500+ right now, and believe it or not, I have another story from tonight’s game. But it’s after 4 o’clock in the morning and I have to get some sleep because my dear wife and I have a date tomorrow evening and I want to be well-rested. As a matter of fact, we are going to see a flick and get pizza.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Lord, this poor child

As is my daily habit, I cruise Craig's List looking for relevant part time gigs.

Tutor Neeeded For my Son ($50)hr




HELLO
I'M CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR A GOOD TUTOR TO TAKE MY SON IN ANY OF THE LISTED BELOW SUBJECTS...
+MATHS
+ENGLISH
+FRENCH
+SPANISH
+GERMAN
+ITALIA
+HINDU
+CHINESE
+COMPUTER SCIENCE
+PHYSICS
+CHEMISTRY
+BILOLOGY
+ARTS
+SINGING
+DANCING
+BIBLE STUDY
+TAE KWON DO
+MORALS
+PHILOSOPHY
+HISTORY
+MARKETING
SO APPLY NOW IF YOU CAN TUTOR ANY OF THE ABOVE SUBJECTS AND THIS IS MY EMAIL....xxxxxxx@yahoo.com
THANKS


Addendum: Evidently this is a lark or scam as it seems to be posted all over Craig's list. Still...




Interlude before tonight’s home game


I’m waiting for something to happen, inspiration, to have a good run, a time when I don’t flop two pair against a set. It’s tough to overcome such a mindset, the grind for naught. Perhaps I should go burn a brush pile; it is too late in the day to start such a venture. Instead I will close my eyes and listen to music.


The photo was taken from my room at the Red Rock in Summerlin, Nevada a couple years ago. It's title is "LV".

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Early observation

I'd say right off the bat that Omaha suits my temperament: patience and paranoia. Two qualities that serve each other quite well. After my straight and K high flush went down to a boat and nut flush, I think I get it.

PokerStars Game #21801235744: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02)
Table 'Clarissa' 9-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: HelloLinz ($7.36 in chips)
Seat 2: Copper1696 ($1.79 in chips)
Seat 3: RSXAirman1 ($1.50 in chips)
Seat 4: A~Believe~A ($1.15 in chips)
Seat 5: jackdewipper ($3.94 in chips)
Seat 6: jein9119 ($3.25 in chips)
Seat 7: bastinptc ($3.62 in chips)
Seat 8: GUST1931956 ($2.97 in chips)
jackdewipper: posts small blind $0.01
jein9119: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Ts Ks Ad 5s]
bastinptc: calls $0.02
GUST1931956: folds
HelloLinz: folds
Copper1696: calls $0.02
RSXAirman1: calls $0.02
A~Believe~A: calls $0.02
jackdewipper: calls $0.01
jein9119: checks
*** FLOP *** [9c As Jh]
jackdewipper: checks
jein9119: checks
bastinptc: checks
Copper1696: checks
RSXAirman1: checks
A~Believe~A: checks
*** TURN *** [9c As Jh] [7s]
jackdewipper: checks
jein9119: bets $0.02
bastinptc: calls $0.02
Copper1696: calls $0.02
RSXAirman1: calls $0.02
A~Believe~A: calls $0.02
jackdewipper: calls $0.02
*** RIVER *** [9c As Jh 7s] [9h]
jackdewipper: checks
jein9119: checks
bastinptc: checks
Copper1696: checks
RSXAirman1: checks
A~Believe~A: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
jackdewipper: shows [7d Tc 4c Jd] (two pair, Jacks and Nines)
jein9119: mucks hand
bastinptc: shows [Ts Ks Ad 5s] (two pair, Aces and Nines)
Copper1696: mucks hand
RSXAirman1: mucks hand
A~Believe~A: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $0.24 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $0.24 | Rake $0
Board [9c As Jh 7s 9h]
Seat 1: HelloLinz folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Copper1696 mucked [3h Kc Kh Qd]
Seat 3: RSXAirman1 mucked [Qs 8h 2s 5c]
Seat 4: A~Believe~A (button) mucked [Js 2d 6c 6d]
Seat 5: jackdewipper (small blind) showed [7d Tc 4c Jd] and lost with two pair, Jacks and Nines
Seat 6: jein9119 (big blind) mucked [3s Qc 8s 6s]
Seat 7: bastinptc showed [Ts Ks Ad 5s] and won ($0.24) with two pair, Aces and Nines
Seat 8: GUST1931956 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

LOL

I'm kidding.

Intriguing game.

PokerStars Game #21801270582: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02)
Table 'Clarissa' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: HelloLinz ($7.36 in chips)
Seat 2: Copper1696 ($1.57 in chips)
Seat 3: RSXAirman1 ($2.39 in chips)
Seat 4: A~Believe~A ($1.31 in chips)
Seat 5: jackdewipper ($3.86 in chips)
Seat 6: jein9119 ($3.17 in chips)
Seat 7: bastinptc ($3.90 in chips)
Seat 8: GUST1931956 ($1.99 in chips)
Seat 9: noahdog73 ($1.21 in chips)
noahdog73: posts small blind $0.01
HelloLinz: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Jh 6c 6d 9s]
Copper1696: calls $0.02
RSXAirman1: calls $0.02
A~Believe~A: calls $0.02
jackdewipper: calls $0.02
jein9119: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.02
GUST1931956: calls $0.02
noahdog73: calls $0.01
HelloLinz: checks
*** FLOP *** [Qd Qs 3d]
noahdog73: checks
HelloLinz: checks
Copper1696: checks
RSXAirman1: checks
A~Believe~A: checks
jackdewipper: checks
bastinptc: checks
GUST1931956: checks
*** TURN *** [Qd Qs 3d] [6s]
noahdog73: checks
HelloLinz: checks
Copper1696: checks
RSXAirman1: checks
A~Believe~A: bets $0.08
jackdewipper: calls $0.08
bastinptc: raises $0.12 to $0.20
GUST1931956: folds
noahdog73: folds
HelloLinz: folds
Copper1696: calls $0.20
RSXAirman1: folds
A~Believe~A: calls $0.12
jackdewipper: calls $0.12
*** RIVER *** [Qd Qs 3d 6s] [2d]
Copper1696: checks
A~Believe~A: bets $0.04
jackdewipper: calls $0.04
bastinptc: raises $0.16 to $0.20
Copper1696: calls $0.20
A~Believe~A: calls $0.16
jackdewipper: calls $0.16
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Jh 6c 6d 9s] (a full house, Sixes full of Queens)
Copper1696: mucks hand
A~Believe~A: shows [3s Qh Jc 7c] (a full house, Queens full of Threes)
jackdewipper: mucks hand
A~Believe~A collected $1.71 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $1.76 | Rake $0.05
Board [Qd Qs 3d 6s 2d]
Seat 1: HelloLinz (big blind) folded on the Turn
Seat 2: Copper1696 mucked [Ah 4s 5c As]
Seat 3: RSXAirman1 folded on the Turn
Seat 4: A~Believe~A showed [3s Qh Jc 7c] and won ($1.71) with a full house, Queens full of Threes
Seat 5: jackdewipper mucked [3c Ts 3h Th]
Seat 6: jein9119 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: bastinptc showed [Jh 6c 6d 9s] and lost with a full house, Sixes full of Queens
Seat 8: GUST1931956 (button) folded on the Turn
Seat 9: noahdog73 (small blind) folded on the Turn

Now, that's more like it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Can’t have everything

That morning cup of coffee, after noon.

I stayed up late last night. Real late. I was entranced by the election results and I was working my way through 3 straight days of poker losses.

Where shall I begin?

Those little Stars $1.10 double or nothing SnGs: 2 wins/4losses. Flop trips with better kicker, opponent hits kicker. AJ vs A6, 6 comes on flop. And on and on. Sit down at 10NL. Table is tight except for one player I have in my sites. Draws out on me twice. I hate when sets go down in flames.

Sets... more of a rarity than usual. Just not coming. Same with draws. Odds are there. Cards are not. And when the 11 outer does hit, it’s second best. Oops. More pairs. No sets. I’m getting twitchy.

Yesterday, Poker Academy and Pub Tourney are disasters. Play some more 10NL at Stars while watching my PA buy-in fade away into a second. Been grinding for what seems like hours on Stars with nothing to show for it. A new cowboy (his avatar) sets down to my right. I get J 10c on the button after the cowboy has just posted. I raise, he’s the only caller, I C-bet with air, he calls, I give up. Cowboy proceeds to push the table around. He’s on the button and raises to $1 after two limpers. I have 3s in the SB and call. Flop is J2J, he bets and I raise. He calls. Turn is my 3. All in. Yeah, he had a hand. Queens. I double up and pack it in.

Went upstairs to catch the early numbers on Wall Street and to see which way the wind was blowing for the financial pundits on CNBC. Fell asleep on the couch, and dreamed about Doug.

Doug runs the Tuesday Night Pub Tourney. He gets $20 a week to do so from the bar owner. That money goes into the video slots three cents a spin. I have wanted to write about Doug for quite some time, yet I have never been quite sure how to proceed, and I am not sure I can do him an injustice without some of the mess splashing back on me.

Don’t get me wrong. Doug is a nice guy. He’s a harmless, gentle soul who will call a 5 X BB with a naked Ace against my Queens.

Before I even bet, Doug has his little pudgies on his stack. He’s just itching to play. I have to make the bet sizable because I have two limpers behind me.

“500.”

“Call.” The limpers fold.

I tell LeRoy, the electrician and the button to my left, “Doug has a naked Ace.” The flop brings that Ace. Doug, in the BB, checks. I C-bet and he calls. “Yep, he has an Ace.” I am content to check it down and Doug show A6c.

“Shit, Doug. How much should I bet? Would you call and $600 bet? An $800?

“Maybe. A6c is a good hand.”

“Well, keep playing that way. I’m coming after you. You’re going to be gone in, oh, let’s see, six hands.” You might think that I’m tilting at this point, and you’d be correct. You might also be asking why I would get so upset. One simple reason that you might anticipate: this wouldn’t be the first time Doug has gotten lucky on me. In fact, just a few weeks before I remember my Aces going down to his K5o when he hit a 5 on the flop and a K on the turn.

“I’m coming after you, Doug.”

But, of course, I go card dead. Meanwhile, Doug limps with 69o and gets a flush. “It was cheap.”

A few hands later, blinds now at $200, Leroy bets $1000 from the button and Doug calls. Leroy gets two pair with his AK, Doug hits a flush with the 8d that accompanied his Ac.

Meanwhile, I’m blinding out. With an M of 6, I jam on the button with J 10o, hoping to just take the blinds, but get called by AA and AKo. My rebuy fared just as badly.

I was home in time to hear Obama’s speech in Grant Park.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Maybe, just maybe

I sat down this morning with a cup of coffee, checked email and saw there were a couple more comments to yesterday’s blog entry. After reading the dozen or so blogs I start my day with, checking the Poker Academy forum, looking at the stock market, catching up on the latest election coverage, tracking my blog’s readers on Site Meter and getting a second cup of coffee, I started to respond to the comments I had received.

My dear Sis had directed me to look at the 2+2 Forum and their discussion on the Donkey Test. I did so, and also read what was said about the test at the Noted Poker Authority. She also suggested that I read the “extensive” forums on that site. I then intended to respond, and even wrote the thing, yet I got distracted by a few things, thought I’d posted the comment and somehow lost it to the ether. Just as well, because my response, a bit on the pithy side, was incomplete.

Basically, I wrote to convey that even though the test may not be inclusive or lack significant insight to all on which poker play “depends”, I felt the conclusion was fairly accurate. On both forums I had read, others had made similar assessments, and in addition, someone on NPA wrote that the person who created the test was some online wiz. Yet, what I had really keyed on was that word, “extensive.” I thought to myself, “Yeah, like I have the time. I already …

We interrupt this meditation on poker with a message from the second floor of the house. The roof is leaking. I repeat, the roof is leaking.

Great. We had a new roof put on three years ago. We’ve had some problems around the dormers in past rainy seasons, and it looks like we’re going to again this year. Tomorrow morning (it is now dark) I will have to go up on the roof and stare at the area of the leak until I am absolutely certain that I don’t have a clue about where the actual leak starts. Then I will call the contractor, and he’ll get out here in a week or so and we’ll be changing pans of water and going up into the attic to see if we can find other leaks…

After we get that task out of the way, I’ll go out and put the ducks out for the day in a new paddock that I spent part of today readying for them to spend winter. Then I’ll run errands, and if the weather is not too bad, I’ll finish the birds’ new shelter. And all the while I’ll be thinking about poker.

Not. I’ll be thinking about writing.

My blog is about more than just poker because my life has more to it than poker, and I want to try and write every day. Therefore, I write about a leaky roof and think that if I try a bit harder, spend more time with what I write, that I may be able to riff on the leaks and draw parallels to leaks in my poker game. But then I would have to come up with some sample hands, and in that none immediately come to mind, I’d have to go looking through hand histories, or even go play a couple hundred hands or however many it takes to get a good example and then spend another hour writing about it, when it’s just much, much easier to take the more expeditious short cut that I just have.

If I combine my play time, my current reading time and writing time, poker already takes up about eight hours of my day. Every day. Something has got to give if I am to add more reading time. That’s not going to happen, unless, of course, I cut back on my play and substitute a chapter or two from Harrington or from several other books I have bought but have yet to crack. I could then write book reviews. I’m sure my current readers would find that compelling reading.

I had a specific goal when I started this blog. I hoped that once I got enough poker-related posts under my belt and developed a readership, I might then be able to pitch my services to the multitude of poker-newsy sites and periodicals, and hope-of-all-hopes, get paid to write about poker. Not necessarily about poker strategy; more like the softer side of poker, color commentary and the emotional aspects of the game. Something like that. Hell, I’d even be content to blog live during a big tourney. Based on what I read by those who have such assignments, I have a feeling that I may be a few years late to that party. It may not happen. Yet, this does not mean that I will stop writing the blog because I haven’t seen a pay-off (let alone more than 12 regular readers) in the four months I have been at it. I am once again enjoying the practice of writing on a daily basis, and here is where it currently and primarily manifests.

That’s all well and good, but there’s a lingering issue. Right now I need to get paid. Thank God for the one client I have, as he’s keeping us in COSTCO provisions, and me in cheap scotch. Still, it’s not enough, and to be quite honest, it’s not always the kind of writing I want to be doing. However, if I can get more of it, I’ll take it, even if it means cutting back on my poker-related avocation. (There’s that word again from the subtitle of this blog. Remember, I write about questionable avocations.) Yes, something has got to give.

I just heard my dear wife come down to the first floor, so I went upstairs to get an update on the leakage. She said she noticed that it intensified with a heavier rain. I’m going to take comfort in that for the time being, for maybe, just maybe, I can isolate the source, and I can hope the rain lessens through the night. We also talked about a good time for dinner, taking into consideration what both of us are doing now and what we want to get done tonight. I’m cooking (in about a half hour). I mentioned that I was writing a post, told her what was about and the issues I was trying to figure out as I wrote, ending with the quandary I have just presented:

“Something has got to give.”

“How so?”

“I play poker, I read about poker and I write about poker, and I was hoping that by now I’d have some other opportunities to write about poker and get paid to do so. But the blog doesn’t seem to be going viral like I hoped it would.”

“How about contacting some of the poker news sites and referring them to your blog?”

“I was just writing about that. That market seems to be at full capacity, and I guess I still have some doubts about whether or not my writing is good enough.”

“Honey, you’ve written some wonderful pieces, don’t you think?”

“Sure, and others have said so, despite my meager (but loyal, thank you) audience.”

“Who has time to read all of the blogs on a topic of choice? Pitch the writing, not the readership.”

See, this is just another reason she is a Dear Wife.

So, I’ll add another activity to my already-crowded day.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Slow down, you move too fast.

I became involved in a lobby chat at Poker Academy the other day. A fairly new player (to the site, apparently not so new to poker — playing for 2 or 3 years, like I have) was having problems in the lower buy-in rooms, and particularly in the freerolls (no surprise). I was counseling patience and to think of poker as a pursuit, not one session’s result. The advice was appreciated.

Advice is easy.

The player then asked me if I had ever taken the test at Donkeytest.com. I said that I hadn’t, but I would find the time to take it. He then asked me if I could email him my results, and if I did email him, he might have some other questions for me.

Why me? Most of my blog readers know me from Poker Academy. Admittedly, I have a reputation at that site as one of the more successful players. I was the #1 ranked player for a fairly long time, and am now, I believe, still #4. I have cut back on my play there as bastin as I have 100 buy-ins for the top cash game provided (400NL), and have taken on two other nicks in order to practice bankroll management. One of those nicks is now in the top 100 players, and all three nicks are at all-time personal bests in terms of rolls. Pretty good, huh? So yeah, I have a solid rep with some chops to back it up. I know that I’m not as good as some other players, and I’m more than okay with that, as I believe, I’m respected, maybe even feared (as far as play money is concerned). Yet I’m also known as an affable guy who, when he can, will advise newcomers who seem to be sincere in wanting to improve their game. It is, after all, an Academy.

I took the test. “Average player. Likely to gradually lose in raked games but winner in home games.” Was I devastated? No. Was I embarrassed? A bit. More confused than anything else. Not by the results, for the assessment seemed accurate, but by what seems to be the perennial conflict for me: If I do so well at PA, how is it that I in fact lose gradually in raked games (and, yes, I do consistently win at the home game)? The test site offers an extensive analysis of one’s game based on the test for $9.95. Perhaps I should take the test again and purchase the analysis. I can drop $200 bucks with pocket Aces to Q8o in a flash, so comparatively, it might be a good investment.

Did you catch the humor there? Of course you did.

I emailed the PA player, informing him of my test results, and suggested that he might want to look elsewhere for poker advice. I haven’t heard back from him yet, and I suspect that he also did better than me on the test.

Now, of course I may be giving unmerited authority to the test results, even though the synopsis appears accurate. What is apparent, if not only because it should be a constant pursuit, is that I must take a closer look at my game. For instance, I know, even without the advantage of analytical software, that I am losing large amounts with big pocket pairs. Can’t, won’t lay them down. That is the most glaring error. I am aggressive post-flop regardless of when the betting patterns suggest that I slow down. On the bright side, in that I have recognized these tendencies, I have taken steps to diminish the negative results. Not everyone is calling with a gutshot to the river. As I also suggested to that new player, the absolute nuts just don’t happen that often.

When people compliment me on my success at PA, I typically respond that my game is merely adequate. Granted, compared to the purely recreational player, I am damn good; yet, compared to the old farts who inhabit the local casino and have been playing for forty years, or to the 24-tablers online, I am a novice. It’s been less than three years and 200K hands. A drop in the bucket. I have read very few poker books, which, I know, also puts me at a disadvantage, the School of Hard Knocks notwithstanding. I am, at best, a B- student.

So, where does that leave me?

“Patience, Grasshopper.”

Yes, I’m probably getting ahead of myself, and here’s how: The success at Poker Academy is a bit of an anomaly, and not an accurate determinant of skill. The bulk of the players are in fact recreational, content to kill some time with a game they enjoy. In the casinos, and at online money sites, the vast majority of players have skills equal to or better than mine. Therefore, there are no laurels upon which to rest, as if there ever should be.

I’m getting a little redundant here, so it’s probably a good time to let this go, resolve to finally get around to reading Harrington, stick to the 10NL, which I can beat readily, build that bankroll back up so I can continue to regale you with the occasional poker-related tale, and not be so results oriented. You got to make the money last.

Thank you for this indulgence.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Poker Content

I was all pumped up to go to R’s house for an all-nighter Halloween cash game. I called to verify and R said he couldn’t get any interest, so no game. He and his girlfriend were going to a party at a bar. Priorities, people!

There was always Stars, where the doors are always open.

I warmed up with the $1.10 SnG Double or Nothing Turbos. Six wins and two losses, both of which I basically blinded out, card dead. Turned a straight flush once but couldn’t get any value from it. These games are so fucking easy, a sure-thing mini-grind, yet not everyone seems to get that. There was a sitter who was slowly blinding/anteing out, and with the next blinds due to hit him, he would be gone, leaving everyone in the money. Tell me why someone would go big or go home at that moment. For the glory? So short-sighted. When I get a semblance of a bankroll again, I will move up a level and see if the play is just as bad.

Since these SnGs are turbos, I can only handle so many in a row two-tabling. I have a delicate constitution and apparently some undiagnosed cognitive disorder that combine together to make me a little shell-shocked in short order. I move to cash.

I find a couple 10NL tables, double up on one in short order, but since everyone is playing short anyway, I close it out and concentrate on another with full buy-ins, a couple bigger stacks and a fair amount of action. Within an orbit or two, I have figured out who to mark and who to avoid and I’m up a couple bucks. A seat opens up on my left and my friend Stan, from Poker Academy, sits down.

Stan is the second highest ranked player on that site. He’s a solid, knowledgeable and wily player. I’m happy to see him yet not so happy he is on my left. And although we are friends, he will take immense joy in stacking me if he gets the chance. I immediately take a break to get a cocktail.

Shortly after my return, another PAer, Gus (aka Scott), comes into the room and sits two to the left of Stan. The table does not know what it is in for. To make a long story short, all three of us play a patient game (I’m playing an insanely low 6%), Gus has a hard time getting anything going, and Stan and I double up. I’m on my second scotch and, after adding 30% to my meager roll, know it’s time to call it a night.

Stan lives in Australia, so he’s not ready to stop, and he suggests we go play some HORSE. I’m not quite there yet, having never played Razz and only mildly proficient at Omaha and Stud. The smallest game is .10/.20, and in light of my limited skills, this puts it out of my bankroll range. Then Stan suggests we go play some Badugi on the Play Money side of Stars.

Stan has been telling me about this game for months. I have yet to play, but I’m game. After all, it’s play money (Not to be confused with PAX at Poker Academy, a virtual cash, of sorts, with no real value per se. Yet, I hold it dear because time does equal money.), so my roll is safe.

In short, Badugi is triple-draw, played with four cards down. The goal is to get the best low hand with no pairs and with all four suits. Pairs and suited cards cancel each other out. The nuts is A234 with four suits. I have heard people talk about how frustrating Razz can be. Badugi takes the cake, hands down. If I had Ac5d3h5s and discarded a 5, I’d draw the 5h or Kd. I was up and down, bitching and moaning the whole way. Gus wasn’t having much luck either, yet Stan the Man was cleaning up. No surprise there. Eventually, however, I started to get the hang of the game, hit a run of hands, doubled up and bid adieu. It was late.

I imagine I will play Badugi again. But more importantly, as more and more of my PA friends move to Omaha, Razz, Stud and HORSE, I will make it my goal to work on these games for a while, and then, when my skill level and bankroll are ready, enter those arenas.