Monday, August 31, 2009

One half of today's harvest

I was a bit off on my estimate. Three bushels of All Blue and one of Russet. That makes five bushels of potatoes in total, approximately 200 pounds, if memory serves, from 20 pounds of seed potatoes. Works for me.

End of summer


Might as well be, anyway. Rain is in the forecast for Friday, perhaps the next day of rest, and for several days thereafter. So soon and there is much left undone.


Just last week the apples were not quite ready. Yesterday it was nearly too late. The yellow jackets had tunneled into the biggest and best. I picked all and saved half. A similar fate for the late blackberries. Enough for a few mornings on my frosted mini-wheats. The pears and plums are in a race, the percentages in the hornets’ favor.


An earwig hitched a ride back to the house. They do bite.


Prospects always get me in trouble, grace then a notion dampened. Motivation suffers.


Still, three bushels of potatoes is not an unreasonable expectation for a day like this. The blade is set to demound, readied earlier this morn amidst Legions fighting the effects of coffee. They can claim a small victory for I remembered and then forgot to close off the neighbor’s llamas from the adjacent paddock.


One more cup and both I and the tractor should be sufficiently fueled.


DW will cull tomatoes. Blossom end rot has always been a problem with our soil. “Maybe we’ll get an Indian Summer.”


Perhaps.


As big as the beets have grown, they have not become woody. The cabbage is of size and the brussels sprouts waiting for cooler weather. Despite my initial proclamation, the summer squash continue to produce; and it did not escape me that the cucumber beetles went elsewhere.


Okay.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Uphill ahead

Tiring of the .01/.02 slog, and the pain of three buy-ins lost the last time there, I've moved up to my old haunting grounds, the .05/.10 PLO game. A lot of old and new avatars. The villain in this hand has had my attention the last couple days as he is aggressive, yet doesn't seem to be winning.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (9 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

CO ($9.30)
Button ($10)
SB ($10)
Hero (BB) ($10)
UTG ($29.25)
UTG+1 ($4.85)
MP1 ($6.10)
MP2 ($20.90)
MP3 ($12.25)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 5, Q, Q, 6

2 folds, MP1 calls $0.10, 1 fold, MP3 calls $0.10, CO calls $0.10, 1 fold, SB calls $0.05, Hero checks

Facing a raise from the field, I would likely fold this hand. Lately I have been experimenting with defending my blinds but that hasn't been working out too well. The only way I might play a hand like this is if it is double suited. Yet, I get to see a free flop, so...

Flop: ($0.50) Q, 10, 5 (5 players)

SB checks, Hero bets $0.50, 1 fold, MP3 calls $0.50, CO raises to $2.50, 1 fold, Hero calls $2, 1 fold

This betting sequence I find extremely interesting. There is no hand that the CO can have that is better than mine, so the only thing I can assume is that he has one helluva draw. I'm not quite ready to put it all in yet. If the turn brings a club or a Broadway card, I'm gone.

Turn: ($6) 4 (2 players)

Hero bets $5.70, CO raises to $6.70 (All-In), Hero calls $1

What in God's name could he have that is so appealing and he is obviously behind? The last buck is easy. If he hits, so be it at this point.

River: ($19.40) 4 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $19.40 | Rake: $0.95

This is a 60/40 hand in my favor on the flop. With my set on the flop it becomes 67/33. One of the difficult aspects of PLO is getting people off of draws heads up when they typically maintain 2:1 odds. I am a 4:1 favorite on the turn, which makes absolute sense. The river is just sick. (See below.)

Results below:

Hero had 5, Q, Q, 6 (full house, Queens over fours).

CO had 10, 10, A, 4 (full house, tens over fours).

Outcome: Hero won $18.45

Sacrifice

The things I'll do for art... The title of this is "Never been much of a cheerleader." And, this photo may not make the final cut for the title. I'm rather fond of this one:
And by "fond" I mean that which makes me squirm the most.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stuck in my head

Too late. Too soon.


I have a choice tonight, either to play poker or do something else. It is a type of decision that is not uncommon for me as my day comes to a close. R had a home game tonight, yet there were so few attendees for the tournament portion of the evening that I believe the late cash game has been cancelled, for I have not received a return call saying otherwise. I will miss playing with friends, having a good laugh and perhaps relieving some of them from their paychecks. Instead, if playing poker with friends was something I still cared to do, I could go to Poker Academy where I would be sure to find a few regulars to sit and joke with, and perhaps donk off some of my hard-earned fake money to someone chasing a flush despite pot odds against such endeavors coming to fruition. I could, except that the virtual world of Poker Academy strikes a little too much of a real-world chord of sorrow for me this day.


Yesterday, as I was preparing to pack up for our little trip into the big city, I received an email from a longtime PA friend that one of our numbers had passed. Ben Kramer, one of us old-timers had died on the 16th from a heart attack. He was 48 years old.


If I had only chatted and played with Ben online, remaining a virtual entity, my reaction might have been different than the tears I now tried hard to hold back.


It was Christmas 2005. DW had given me a present of two different poker softwares. She gave me two because she could not determine which one I would like or need more. I read the boxes before opening either, and when I learned that one had an online component in which I could play against other software users, the choice was easy. I already had one software in which I just played against the programming and it had lost its appeal rather quickly, as I could readily beat it. This new software also had programming against which I could play, yet to actually play against humans…!!!! I went missing for several days thereafter.


Humans were a different story altogether. They were much more difficult, unpredictable, not as bluffable (a flaw in programming). It was as if I had never played a flop before in my life. What was I doing wrong? Nothing, really. I was learning. And other humans were telling me what I was doing wrong. Not only was I learning; I was being taught.


Not every lesson came with kind, patient words. Like every corner of life there are the mouth-breathing types at PA as well; yet, the core group of players (there seemed to be less than 150 of us in total back then) were pleasant folks, and several of them knew what they were doing. Ben was in that latter group.

Every day after an admittedly too-lengthy of a session, I would tell DW of interesting hands and people. While caring less for the replaying of hands, she was more intrigued by the autobiographies I gleaned from casual chats. She was interested but incredulous. “How do you know they are whom they say they are?” I didn’t. In fact, although the stories and the language used seemed to coincide in my deconstruction, I too must admit some early reticence.


Still, I played on and on, against many of the same people every day. It soon became apparent that others were truly pleased to see me at the tables, and I was equally pleased to see them, so much so that I developed a little entrance speech. I would sit down and exclaim “Hello dear friends.” I had become part of a community, a small, but growing, tight-knit group of people.


Within a month of my arrival at PA there was talk of a meet-up in Las Vegas. Several PA players began coordinating a trip on the PA Forum. Ben was the ring leader. I told DW of these plans, and she remained suspicious of what would come of virtual acquaintances meeting in person. Again, I was as well, yet I mentioned the trip for a reason. I secretly wanted to go and find out, to put faces to nicknames like CaptnBen, Terra, Uncle Trick, JobE, Seahurst, and several others, for the group of attendees grew to about twenty. Safety in numbers, right? But it was not to be.


People returned from the trip and posted their tales on the Forum. People had so much fun that plans began almost immediately to make this an annual event. And the person who would be in charge was Ben.

Ben lived in Chicago, not too far from my old stomping grounds. In October 2006 I had an opportunity to return to the Windy City and met up with Ben. He took me sailing on Lake Michigan (Ben was a champion sailor), and we went to dinner. We hit it off. I even tried to do the Yenta thing with him, fixing him up with women I knew and liked. I wouldn’t do that for a shmuck, to be sure.


In November of that same year I had a chance to go to Las Vegas and met two more PA members, Uncle Trick and eptigs, both who lived there. Two more great guys. One thing was for certain: I would be at the next Poker Academy Rendezvous.


As the time neared, it became apparent that the second annual event would be truly something to behold. Ben had arranged for tutorials in which a PA developer would explain some of the more advanced features of the software; he had reserved part of the Orleans Poker Room (where we stayed) for a private PA tourney; and he set up another tutorial in which players would help each other discover their tells. We all received t-shirts that proclaimed, “I’m not afraid bots!” Indeed, we were a force to be reckoned with.


We played a lot of poker in those five days. I rarely left the tables, and often at the same table one could find Ben. Ben had been coming to Las Vegas for over twenty years and knew the casinos well. His favorite room was the Tropicana, a small room to be sure, yet a consistently profitable venue for our man. One night toward the end of the trip, Ben offered to take me to the Trop and few other places. In that I was a babe in the woods, I accepted his offer.


The Trop had one table of Limit going, so we went over to the Excalibur. It was there I saw Ben in all of his glory. No sooner had we sat down at the table, Ben knew almost everyone’s story. He was the friendly table captain. Even the young studs who thought they played better than they actually did were eating out of his hand. He hadn’t needed to read a pro’s book to know how to do this. It came naturally. Ben and I both walked away from that game up quite a bit.


Ben did such an outstanding and impressive job that year that as a group that we decided he should organize the next year’s event as well, only this time he should get paid. Everyone gladly sent him $60 a head to work his magic. And work it, he did. More tournaments, more tutorials, and more hijinks. And most importantly, he was always there with a friendly word, a funny story or advocacy with the poker room. Friendly clout.


This spring we didn’t have a reunion. There was talk, but with the economy the way it is, many of the regular attendees had to tighten the belt for a while. Maybe in the fall, we suggested. But that didn’t happen either. The fact that PA itself was waning didn’t help matters. There were fewer and fewer players online, and most of the old-timers had either lost interest in the software or moved on to FTP, Stars, Titan, Cake, etc. Maybe it was a natural evolution for so many of us who, once having learned the game to a certain degree of proficiency, needed to try out our new chops elsewhere.


One was accustomed to not seeing Ben at the tables during the summer, for that is, after all, sailing season. Yet, come November he would show up and we would reconnect. Ben had many nicknames, and depending on the bankroll for a particular nick, one could find him playing in all but the biggest games. (As a very social entity, he spread himself thin.) If I saw him enter the lobby, I would seek him out, for the table he chose to play at would sure to be fun. But Ben didn’t show up last November. I wrote a post in the Forum asking if anyone had seen him. Nothing.


Last February Ben finally played a game. We chatted a bit and he promised to call me in a few days to catch up. He didn’t. And to my discredit, I did not call him either.


And now he’s dead.


I read of Ben’s passing while I was talking to my Dear Mother on the phone. She was updating me on the status of family members and her flowers. It is a conversation we have on a weekly basis. I do a lot of listening, and that is okay. But now I did not hear anything as I was trying hard to hold back the tears. When we finally hung up, I went upstairs to tell DW the news. And then I cried.


DW suggested I call Ben’s home and leave a message. I only had his cell number, yet I knew I could not leave a message on it in the state I was in, so she did it for me. And I did what I knew I could: I wrote an email to the PA reunion google group.


There is now talk of a memorial reunion.


It won’t be good enough.


Friday, August 28, 2009

24 hours

The guy is a dear high school friend of mine, T. Doyle Leverett. He was in Portland with the national tour of "Fiddler on the Roof," The Topol farewell tour. We stayed at the same hotel so we could maximize our time together.
Sunrise from our hotel window. That is Mt. Hood in the background. We had been asleep for a few hours (big fun, much booze and lively chat) and briefly woke up . I grabbed my camera.
Breakfast.
Breakfast menu and stuff for sale. Voodoo Doughnut undies...not edible.
Self-explanatory.
Again, self-explanatory. The only other site-seeing we did was here.
Until next time, my friend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Road trip

Portland to see a high school buddy in a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" and a trip up the Columbia Gorge. There will be photos. And commentary.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I blame Hwang

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (6 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
Button ($9.70)
Hero (SB) ($10.20)
BB ($8.20)
UTG ($4.80)
MP ($7.90)
CO ($22.25)

Preflop: Hero is SB with 9, A, 10, Q

UTG calls $0.10, 1 fold, CO bets $0.30, 1 fold, Hero calls $0.25, 1 fold, UTG calls $0.20

Flop: ($1) A, 5, J (3 players)

Hero checks, UTG checks, CO bets $0.60, Hero calls $0.60, UTG calls $0.60

Turn: ($2.80) 4 (3 players)

Hero checks, UTG checks, CO bets $2.70, Hero calls $2.70, UTG raises to $3.90 (All-In), CO calls $1.20, Hero calls $1.20

River: ($14.50) 8 (3 players, 1 all-in)

Hero checks, CO bets $8.30, Hero folds

Total pot: $14.50 | Rake: $0.70

Results:

UTG had 9, J, 4, Q (two pair, Jacks and fours).

CO had Q, A, J, A (three of a kind, Aces).

Outcome: CO won $13.80

What kept me in the hand until the river? I had a read on the CO. He was playing a wide range of hands and was getting lucky. I was patient and looking for hands that might play well post-flop. I was definitely a dog to the Aces preflop, a little more than 2:1, with the UTG not too far behind. That's how we roll in PLO. UTG, however, was drawing dead on the flop, and I had inched closer with the flush draw and gutshot Broadway. In doing the calculations I was somewhat surprised to see that the turn did not improve my percentages. UTG apparently thought his crappy two pair were good and jammed what he had left, which didn't really change my mind as I was now drawing to the nut flush as well.

Someone must have folded a fistful of diamonds. And where the hell were all of the Kings? And I'm sorry CK, but my experience with your precious crubs runs contrary to yours. It's nice when it works out but it can't every time, can it? And I don't really blame Hwang. Sometimes one just bricks with 20-plus outs.

A hundred hands later I was the victim of a hit and run runner-runner. Moral victory: another 50 hands later I was even.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Well wishes

The good neighbor to the east called last week to inquire about our well. Did we have water? For he did not, 100 hundred yards away. I offered sympathy and our shower facilities and he declined the latter as his place of employment offered such amenities.

I am told the aquifer out here on “The Ridge” is a hit-and-miss proposition, pockets of water in the cracked basalt that lies beneath us. DW and I seem to be fortunate, as we reside on the homestead section of the land that was subdivided into many small parcels back in the mid-70s. We have a well that is capable of producing fifty-five gallons a minute, enough for us to use 3-inch irrigation on about 1/2 acre, and not run dry.

So, our neighbor called the well-drilling company of choice for these parts. They came out with their rig and set to work going deeper down at his well site. They were at it for a couple days and then left, only to return two days later and set up the rig further back on his property. DW inquired by email and he responded:

Yes, the drill rig had to come back and try a different spot. My original well did not meet code, so a new one had to be dug. The first hole went down 240', hit clay, so according to the drill master, no use going any deeper. Would just end up with a deeper dry hole. They now have gone back near Hildebrand's, went down 260 feet and have a whopping 2 gallons/minute. At least that will be enough to operate my house. Will have to put in a cistern or some kind of holding tank if I want to irrigate to maintain a Home & Garden style yard!! Ha!

Our dear neighbor is screwed. It is a good thing that he lives alone. A family of four requires 3 gallons a minute, which will make it difficult for him should he want to sell his place at some point.

His email also told of others in the area with similar problems, so said the Drill Master, many who live a short distance from us. As it is, our main well has had to be dropped down a bit in the past, and I would imagine that it will have to be dropped again at some point, for as big as our aquifer seems to be, I know from the occasional sulfur smell and air bubbles that we share it with someone up the road who is stirring it up by doing some major irrigation.

It wasn’t always like this. Fifty years ago there were considerably fewer people living out this way. Fewer people, fewer wells and less drain on the aquifer. This was sheep and wheat country. Neither needs a lot of water, or rather not as much as corn and beans and people. Now, any suggestion of new construction out this way causes alarm.
The picture is of a hand-dug well in our side yard. There’s an inscription scraped into the concrete on the rim: “Hand dug by Elmer Philipi July 1966. It still has water in it. There is a pipe that goes down into the water and then leads over to a shed behind our garage. I imagine there was a pump and maybe a filtration system in that shed at some point. I have no other information about it.

Our neighbor is to have a temporary line from his new well to the house by this weekend. I should probably invite him over for a beer and an ear.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What would you do?

Full Tilt Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.02 BB (9 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Hero (MP3) ($2.40)
CO ($2)
Button ($1.07)
SB ($0.56)
BB ($0.61)
UTG ($2.29)
UTG+1 ($4.10)
MP1 ($4.21)
MP2 ($1.20)


Preflop: Hero is MP3 with 7, 8, Q, J

UTG calls $0.02, UTG+1 calls $0.02, MP1 calls $0.02, MP2 calls $0.02, Hero calls $0.02, CO checks, Button calls $0.02, SB bets $0.08, BB calls $0.06, 1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.06, MP1 calls $0.06, MP2 calls $0.06, Hero calls $0.06, CO calls $0.06, Button calls $0.06

Flop: ($0.66) 8, 6, 8 (8 players)

SB checks, BB checks, UTG+1 bets $0.66, 2 folds, Hero calls $0.66, 4 folds

Turn: ($1.98) 8 (2 players)

UTG+1 bets $1.98, Hero calls $1.66 (All-In)

River: ($5.30) A (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $5.30 | Rake: $0.35

Results:

UTG+1 had 3, 5, 6, 6 (full house, eights over sixes).

Hero had 7, 8, Q, J (four of a kind, eights).

Outcome: Hero won $4.95

The initial raiser in this hand was in a mild tilt from a hand with me earlier when she limped early with unsuited Aces and hit trip threes. I had Queens full. She had been bumping up pots ever since, and by the time the betting above got to me, I was priced in and wishing for a 9-10 flop.

It's 56%/44% preflop between the two of us; 42%/58% on the flop, and I knew he either had an 8 or pocket sixes. Of course, the turn clinched it, and his response was "Nice one-outer," to which I advised him to "Look again."

We now had two steamers at the table, but I had chores to do and left shortly.

I don't get too excited about trips in NLHE, and just a little more frisky in Omaha. So, one might ask, why did I call his pot bet on the flop knowing that he either had a made hand or possibly a better eight? Only because I had nine cards to make a boat, or a better boat. To my mind, I still had a great drawing hand, and as long as an A or K didn't come along with my card, I would see it to the end.

Now, when the eight fell, wouldn't you think the other player would have taken notice? He now had eights full. If I have sevens in the hole, he's dead. To my mind, one protects the flopped underfull and prepare to muck thereafter.