Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bessie May

I just uploaded a couple more videos to YouTube. Search bastinptc.

This one I thought I'd share just with my friends. It's my own Dear Grandma several years ago. She's with her Maker now. She's happy; I'm happy.

It pays to be nice

So, after writing my last entry I wandered over to PA to see what was happening and say hello to the stalwarts I knew would be there. The games at night tend to get a little punch-drunky these days and the short-handed one I sat in on was no exception. I didn't stick around long, opting to go to what we affectionately refer to as "The Dark Side," which is cash sites, and play some micro PLO.

I like to run my mouse over the nicks of players and see where they live. I have had some good conversations with a few folks from around Oregon and my old stomping grounds, Chicago. Tonight, the player to my left, an aggressive fellow, was evidently from southern Oregon. I wrote in the chat box that I lived by Salem. No response.

Maybe he had his chat turned off. Maybe he didn't feel like chatting with a complete stranger. Both are completely understandable. But had he talked to me, maybe we could have been friends. Maybe a lot of things.
PokerStars Game #23426971148:  Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02)
Table 'Lycomedes IV' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: bastinptc ($5.09 in chips)
Seat 2: Dragonfire23 ($4.79 in chips)
Seat 3: coxswain777 ($2.01 in chips)
Seat 4: dbwyatt ($3.56 in chips)
Seat 5: hansafan77 ($2.97 in chips)
Seat 6: ahed ($4.91 in chips)
coxswain777: posts small blind $0.01
dbwyatt: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Qd Kd As 8d]
hansafan77: folds
ahed: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.02
Dragonfire23: calls $0.02
coxswain777: calls $0.01
dbwyatt: checks
*** FLOP *** [8h Ac Ad]
coxswain777: checks
dbwyatt: checks
bastinptc: bets $0.06
Dragonfire23: raises $0.20 to $0.26
coxswain777: folds
dbwyatt: folds
bastinptc: raises $0.60 to $0.86
Dragonfire23: raises $1.80 to $2.66
bastinptc: raises $2.41 to $5.07 and is all-in
Dragonfire23: calls $2.11 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($0.30) returned to bastinptc

I knew he either had pocket 8s or A8, as I did. The next card, however, sealed the deal.

*** TURN *** [8h Ac Ad] [Ks]
*** RIVER *** [8h Ac Ad Ks] [3s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Qd Kd As 8d] (a full house, Aces full of Kings)
Dragonfire23: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $9.17 from pot
Dragonfire23 leaves the table
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $9.62 | Rake $0.45
Board [8h Ac Ad Ks 3s]
Seat 1: bastinptc showed [Qd Kd As 8d] and won ($9.17) with a full house, Aces full of
Seat 2: Dragonfire23 (button) mucked [8c Ah 4s 2d]
Seat 3: coxswain777 (small blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 4: dbwyatt (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: hansafan77 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: ahed folded before Flop (didn't bet)

bastinptc said, "maybe he should have talked to me ;-)"

Don't worry. I will return to my usual mealy-mouthed self soon enough.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I wore my “Dead Guy” ball cap to the weekly pub tourney tonight. After a two-week absence, I was itching to play and looking to aggressively go at the game. Well, within reason. It is, after all a pub tourney, a freeroll, an all-in fest, a bunch of piss-poor poker players jamming with paint and naked Aces in the first two levels. Well, not all are lousy players, yet none are what would pass for above average. And I’ll throw myself into that group in that after two years in this particular game, for even though I know exactly how each of the eighteen people play and what their bet sizes in relation to hand ranges mean, I have only won a handful of times. I am not pulling the trigger like I should. My hat pumps me up a bit, or so I have been told. “Oh, bastin’s wearing his Dead Guy hat! Look out!” I was unusually boisterous one night 6 months ago and I happened to be wearing the hat, and the rep stuck, so I try not to disappoint.

I also warm up pre-game with a little loose play at Poker Academy. And in that several of the players read this blog, I let them know what I have planned for the night. Tonight, as I said my good-byes to my PA friends, I remarked that I hadn’t bathed for a couple days in order to blend in at the pub.

Oh, I know. It’s not very nice of me to say such things. And in actuality, only a few of the players have questionable hygiene. And again, some of my city slicker friends may think I have no room to talk as us country folks don’t go running to the shower every time we break a sweat. So color this kettle.

“Where have you been, bastin? You haven’t been here for two weeks.” It’s nice to be missed, but tonight I’m playing the curmudgeon (Poker Grump’s got nuthin’ on me when I put my mood to it.)

“Are we taking attendance now?” Bah humbug!

The guy to my left hasn’t been to a dentist in his adult life. What few teeth he has left are half-gone and brown. Really brown. I have Skunk on my right and he’s in some sort of low-affect stupor that I believe he believes is a way to disguise his hand strength and superior skills. Another player came to the table doing what I would determine to be the Thorazine shuffle. (I’ve worked in psychiatric hospitals, so I know it when I see it.) He repeats the same phrases over and over. “River boat Dan. River boat Dan. Wait! We’re not on the river yet!” He is referring to a kid at the table who took a hand on said street.

Dan is grilling me about hand strategies. It’s nice to be deferred to but I’m trying to play poker here! I throw him a bone with a pitch for PA, Sklansky’s T&P and the Two Plus Two site.

Blinds finally get to craps range and there are five of us left. I’m down to 4M and jam UTG with A3 off. Dan, a shorter stack than me, calls, and after some deliberation and squirming, so does the BB chip leader. Dan has AJ off and the BB has A8 off. The first card off is a 3. Sweet. The river is an 8. The BB tries to fist bump me. I HATE THE FIST BUMP. I flip him off and exclaim, “The winner doesn’t fist bump the loser! That’s worse that slow-rolling!” The table erupts into laughter.

Like any of them even know what slow-rolling means…

There, I feel much better.

Some of the above is fictionalized for effect. I did in fact say “Good game” as I put on my jacket, and then patted the BB on the shoulder.

“Night kids!”

“Night bastin.”

“See you next week!” (You can count on it.)

Hat trick

New Year

All within a week. Sheesh.
Wake me up right before Valentine's Day, OK?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Site Unseen

While in Chicago last week, we evidently missed the worst weather the Northwest has had in 30 years. As I’ve previously written, some evidence was still about upon our return. Even though it was dark when we pulled into the driveway, we could see by headlights that we had lost a couple big branches off of our two filbert (hazelnut to non-Oregonians) trees.

We would have to wait until the next day to see other damage we had: we lost the rest of the Photinia I had tried to save earlier this year. It snapped seven feet up like a sailboat’s mast in big seas, another twenty feet of tree making an isosceles triangle with the ground. We also noticed that a branch had broken away some sixty feet up into our noble fir. In that the branch was not on the ground, we searched the canopy and found what we were looking for: the widow maker. Another big storm will bring it down. The thirty-mile an hour winds today did not accomplish the task.

The photo is of one of the filberts. The wind broke it at its weakest point, at an old woodpecker nest. The nest was exposed at the break, yet as one can tell by the number of fungi on the branch, the damage was inevitable. We had no idea that nest had been there, and from the looks of it, it had been vacated many years ago. Spiders had hung their round egg sacks from the ceiling. Fungi shelved the walls. The moss that had been used for bedding had decayed to black.

How strange to just now see it, especially after I had spent so much time thinning out the tree earlier this year. I shouldn’t really be surprised. We have an abundance of nature’s beasts about us, some more obvious than others, like the California Quail we flushed from a wood pile yesterday not 100 feet from our house. We have seen them around the farm for two years, yet we had no idea where they actually lived. I have a potentially great photo of them on film, which I will get processed tomorrow.

I knew immediately that I wanted to photograph the nest. Getting a good shot was another story (I still think I could do better). The weather wouldn’t cooperate, and each time I downloaded pictures, either the lighting was inadequate or water was on the lens. Yet, each time I went out to try a shot, I’d see some other aspect of the scene I had missed the times before

Today the sun finally showed itself for about a half hour at just about 12:30. The angle of light was nearly perfect (it would have been better a half hour earlier).

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain again. The next clear day I will try to get a better photo and then bring out the chainsaw.

…The Cookie Crumbles

I have mentioned in earlier posts that, based on a tip from Yakshi, King of the Deuce, I have been playing some of the Double or Nothing Sit ‘n Gos at Stars. Survive to five players and you double your buy-in (minus the rake, of course). Initially, I was playing the $1.10 games, and since I was killing them, I decided to move up a level to the $5.20 games. Stars offers a turbo and non-turbo ($.20 more rake) variety, and I choose to play turbo with the thinking that the fast pace will make some players act out of desperation once blinds get astronomical.

I never get in a hurry with these tourneys because it is so easy to get into the money, or so I think. I try to limit my choices to either fold or try to double-up. So far, the skill level between the two levels of buy-ins doesn’t seem to differ much, even though my $5.20 sampling has me breaking even so far; but my sample is still very small.

My strategy may be flawed, and I can make such a statement because my tourney experience is so limited. However, what experience I do have suggests that I usually have little problem making it halfway through a tournament, regardless of size, so these tourneys do seem to be a good fit.

Last night’s tourneys were no different in results: lose one; win one. Yet, the first one took me into some interesting territory.

We were in Level II of play, which means we had played 3 hands so far (joke). Actually, it was more like 15 hands. I was UTG with KK and raised it to 4 X BB. I had one caller and the BB jammed. I had him covered, barely, and called. He had AK and you know the rest. It left me with $90 with the blinds on my heels.

Another level passed and I had folded naked Aces twice. Just didn’t feel right to push against the other stacks, especially since the guy who caught his Ace was to my right and the chip leader was on my left. With $50 left and the blinds of 50/100 two seats away, I had my hand, AcJc. My $50 went in with 6 players in the pot. *** RIVER *** [9s 3h Ah As] [9d]. One player had pocket Kings. With $350, I now had a little more breathing room, but still the blinds and antes would chew me up in no time.

I shit when the next hand came: AKoff. I jammed and had one caller with Ac10c. I caught a K on the river with no club drama and now had $920. A little more air in the lungs.

However, turbo tourneys wait for no one. We were down to seven players (I’m slightly amazed I made it this far). The blinds went up next hand, I got stuck paying the $75/$150, plus the antes, and I was looking at 655 in chips. Now was the time to play the A5off UTG+1. Having shown down with quality hands up to this point, I got a free ride and took the blinds and antes. I now had $970.

Drain and repeat. I’m down to 645 in chips at 100/200/20 with AK again. Everyone folds and I live to see another round with $1065. Drain and repeat. I get outkicked in the BB against another shortie and I’m down to 623 in chips. Next hand the same player jams and I have JJ in the SB. He has A 10off. You know the rest.

Am I disappointed? Hell no! I played chip-and-a-chair as best as I could. Some may think that I misplayed the first and last hands outlined, meaning that I should have been concerned with survival in each, and if so, I’d like to hear from you.

Something very odd

The formatting has changed for most of the blogs I follow. The look a lot like text files with a call to subscribe at the top of the page. There is no comment section. My page looks fine, and others, like Pauly's are unaffected. Am I missing something here.

Another odd thing last night: I was tracking hits on sitemeter and noticed that someone had entered my blog through my dashboard! WTF? Any insights? I guess an email to support is in order.

Addendum: Well, now it seems fine (20 minutes later), although I do note that some more recent posts from Mean Gene are missing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Food for thought

I have been doing some research and found this site. The author, Dr. T., is a pharmacist and bills himself as "The leading authority on nutraceuticals and mental performance." He apparently writes for "Bluff" magazine as well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yet is halfway between and & but

Our friend, Sunil, is visiting for a couple days. We met through Poker Academy, and since he moved from LA to Portland several months ago, we have seen him quite a bit. At the moment he is playing 25NL on Stars and just lost a buy-in to a bigger set held by a player he had profiled as a calling station. It happens. Shake it off and retrench.

As I write the above, I experience a tightness in my chest that happens when a similar situation occurs to me.

Over the last couple days, Sunil has presented hands to me and asked how I would play them. He has a good grasp of the game, I enjoy the discussions and am somewhat flattered that he would ask me for advice.

Within those last two paragraphs sits the paradox, the struggle I have with poker. I am disheartened/intrigued by the variance/complexity. I persevere, even learn, as the pain lingers, win a few, lose a few more than win, and each loss chips away at more than my bankroll.

On my way to get a cup of coffee, I check in with Sunil. “I’ve lost two more buy-ins. A full house against quads on the river and AK against A 10 with a 10 on the river.” He quits to take a shower. “Washing me down. Washing me down. Take me to the river!”

Sunil is fiddling with his camera. It quit working while hiking yesterday. It fires up but won’t take a picture. There is moisture in the battery compartment, probably from having it in the heat of the car, then moving into the wet, cold air in the forest. I think of this as a metaphor for poker, yet I also see it as a more concrete problem than getting coolered or misreading a hand, and take comfort in the mystery of getting the camera to work again.

Why, one may ask, do I differentiate between the learning process of overcoming the strategic and emotional leaks in a game, and troubleshooting the camera? Isn’t much of life exactly the same? No, it is something more problematic, and it has to do with the relentlessly competitive nature of a voluntary exercise that has contained within its very nature a large element of chance. I remind my readers that I have farmed and tried to make a mark in the art world. I know about fickle. Having a passion is not the same as having a temperament. Therefore, at least in my case, I must search for a way to mediate disappointment, and I find limiting exposure to be effective.

When farming went south two seasons ago (weather), we chose to grow just enough produce for friends and ourselves. When it was clear that, despite a good reputation, I was not going to be the renowned artist or art professor, we chose to pack it in and farm (frying pan into the fire), and I would make art in relative isolation. I am now at a similar crossroads with poker. I love the game even though the game, or what the game requires for success, is elusive. A reassessment is necessary, and to do so, perhaps I must distance myself a bit, for a while.

Will I quit playing? I have not quit putting plants in the ground nor stopped making art, and may be realizing new avenues in making both of those endeavors more successful. With the recent economic downturn, more people will be looking to save money where they can. Growing a garden will save on food costs. I am positioned with equipment and knowledge to help people do just that. A five-year hiatus from the art world has actually made me more intriguing as a re-emerging artist by a couple driven and open-minded muckety-mucks. Unforeseen circumstances combined with previous decisions to step away have generated positive results. The same may happen with poker; so no, I will not stop playing. I will just play less, which will allow me to think more clearly about why and how I play. If anything, my poker writing will benefit, and that, dear friends, may be more of why I play poker than any other reason at the moment, so the process has already begun.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Christmas, Part two

My oldest nephew. I was seeing what my new camera could do. There's quite a few of these.

Dear Mother

Another nephew


There she is again.

My Dear Mother shows no favoritism.


My inspiration

My indigestion


Runny nose

Our Family Christmas, Part one

There are five of us kids so I have a fair number of nieces and nephews. It was a rather remarkable Christmas in that I was able to see them all.

Brother Mike: three daughters. Some of the smartest people you’d ever want to meet. Straight As. Tight knit. Lovely voices that spontaneously harmonize a song, riffing off of a single word. Will talk trash about anybody with the slightest provocation. Love their uncle even though he can be a bit harsh himself and may seem distant at times, and seek him out at family gigs. They miss and grieve the loss of their father in very different but equally profound ways.

Sister Cindy: A daughter and son from her womb, a considerably younger adopted Chinese daughter, and now a Chinese boy on the docket. (My Dear Mother worries that the new addition will be too much for my 50 year old sibling.) The oldest girl and her younger brother are quiet kids. The girl watches others or reads; the boy fiddles with a toy he has brought in his pocket, or waits until his mother is not watching in order to nab a piece of candy. The littlest is the family doll, all amazed by her petite frame and coal black hair. She pretends to be shy much longer than most children.

Sister Kim: Two older teenage sons and a younger girl. The boys play poker and ask their uncle about Las Vegas and strategy. The girl has said seventeen words to her uncle in as many years. They are very close to each other and share quirky body movements. The oldest is a bit of a loner, the middle one a straight-A jock and the youngest a magazined beauty.

Sister Chris: Two daughters and a son. Preacher’s kids. But still devout. Go figure. Smart too. Motivated. The girls want to know what makes their heretic uncle and his jewish DW tick. The boy takes after his father, aloof but maybe not as self-amazed. The oldest girl knows how to appeal to men and has out-matured her mother. The middle one must see angels. They all have healthy appetites.

As I watched these kids, I saw how close they were to their brothers or sisters, rarely away from each other’s side, often lounging upon one another as they read or took naps. I did not recall doing the same with my siblings, at least not with my sisters.

I have wanted to write about my brother, Mike, for some time. When he was killed 4 years and 11 months ago, the family was ripped asunder. Many of us, myself included, have had a very difficult time dealing with his death, which must happen when someone bigger than life dies. I say I have wanted to write about him, but to merely describe him, his interests, his love for his family, seem so inadequate. Let me just say this: he was a used car salesman and owned his lot. There was a 3 1/2 hour receiving line at his wake and standing room only in a church that sat 500 for his funeral. His clients came to pay their respects; his fishing buddies were his pallbearers; and the District Attorney personally prosecuted the case against the drunk who hit him while speeding down a snow-covered country road and eating fried chicken gizzards.

The guy never stopped, hid his truck after washing away almost, but not quite all of the DNA evidence, and gave himself up two days later at his father’s insistence, quite sober. Neither the guys he had been drinking with for seven hours, nor the bartenders who had served him would confirm that they had seen him drinking, so he is already out of prison. My brother was helping a friend of his middle daughter pull his car out of a ditch.

I spoke at his funeral. As I walked to the front of the church, I stopped to kiss each of his daughters and his wife on their foreheads. I introduced myself and gave a little half-wave to those in attendance. I didn’t speak long for fear of crying. I told a joke about his passion for fishing and moved on to the impact he had on our lives… everyone in that church. I gave the mourners instructions: At the count of three, I wanted everyone to yell “Thanks Mike!” so loud that the lights would rattle. The lights rattled.

Later someone told me my affect was just like my brother’s. No surprise there. He and I were inseparable as young kids. We spent entire summers together on our grandparent’s farm and were often our only playmates. This Christmas I saw the same closeness in my siblings’ children, and I missed my brother that much more.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


The trip started off just as I expected, delayed due to weather. It wasn’t too bad, just a little over an hour, which got me into Chicago a little past nine at night. I called my Dear Wife as soon as we landed. I was to take the subway downtown after I picked up my luggage and meet at the hotel. We met in the baggage claim area. Surprise! See, DW through and through. We cabbed it downtown and caught up over Guiness and appetizers at an Irish pub.

Saturday we had a rental and DW, my son, daughter and daughter-in-law headed to my sister’s house in the burbs for our family Christmas celebration. The weather held and we had a great time eating too much and making fun of the gifts my Dear Mother gave to everyone. Sunday it was back to the airport to drop off my daughter. Albany’s airport was closed and all flights were cancelled. Fortunately she could stay at a great aunt’s house overnight and catch another flight Monday, her birthday. She was given the last seat on the last available flight and her seat was in First Class. Happy Birthday, Dear Daughter! Our visit was way too short.

We had debated staying in Chicago one more day, renting a room near the airport and seeing my DD to the plane, yet we had DM with us and yet another sister and her family were due to arrive at DM’s house from Pennsylvania, plus my brother’s daughters, my Dear Nieces, were coming to visit as well. (You will get to know some of these people a bit better as I catch up with my writing over the next several days.) We wanted to get downstate as soon as possible as it was below zero with 30 and 40 mph winds and drifting snow. It was 200 miles of white-knuckled driving, hopped up on some of the worse coffee I have ever had in my life.

This morning we checked our flight status when we woke up. On schedule. An hour later at the airport, we saw that our flight was delayed by two hours. We would miss our connection in Chicago and there were no seats available on later flights. We knew this was a possibility and kept repeating that we would just “go with the flow.” An hour later our plane was in the terminal, we were on board and would have 1/2 hour to make our flight back to Portland. The flight to Portland was delayed by another 1/2 hour. Both we and our luggage made it.

Our cats have been at a boarder this week. The plan was to get into Portland by 2:30, get to our car and beat feet to pick them up before 5:00 when the proprietor had to go to church services. We arrived at our car at 4:15, so we knew we wouldn’t make it in time. Plus, the car had an 1/4-inch of ice on it. Seems that Portland had one of the worse storms in thirty years earlier this week. I chipped it off with a credit card, backed over a two-foot drift of snow and set out for the hour and a half drive home, which took three hours. The roads still had ice on them, in some places four inches thick with ruts for tires to follow. Big fun.

We’re home. We opened our presents to each other, cleaned house in preparation for a friend’s visit tomorrow, listened to Handel’s “Messiah” and DW is tucked in for the night. I have a scotch at my side, a Macallan’s Cask Strength that my (dear) brother-in-law gave me for Christmas. And since it is now Christmas Day, it seems only appropriate to toast my Dear Loved Ones and Friends. Endurance, Understanding, Peace and Joy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Notes toward something of more substance

Just about ready to leave Chicago. I've been more than ready for a day or so, but it's not really been all that bad. Spent some time in the old 'hood, and felt a bit of comfort that much of what was there when I lived there has remained, even though gentrification has made some inroads and some young hipster entrepreneurs have opened some shops.

I woke up early this morning, or rather, I woke up a number of times during the night, seeing how the hotel is right next to a busy fire station, and decided to stay up, get an early breakfast and snap a couple pics of the city at the crack of dawn. The continental breakfast wasn't set up yet, however, I had seen a roach coach from the window of our room. I headed toward it. The guy operating it was asleep in the front, keeping warm and waiting for the occasional customer. I poured myself a cup of coffee and went to pay for it. I was able to pull out my broken Spanish with a $20 bill he couldn't break. He was going to let me slide, which was nice of him, yet I went back over to the hotel to get cambio.

I wanted to get a photo of the culprits who woke me throughout the night, and I didn't have to wait long. The ambulance pulled out of the engine house fairly quiet, only the rattle of its diesel engine making noise, then wailing and horns commenced, like some mighty wave burstng forth through a narrow crevice in rocks (hey, it's the best image I cold pull out in my sleep-deprived state). I am no longer accustomed to these sounds. When we lived here, I barely noticed any emergency vehicle sirens coming my way. Now... Anywho, when I get a broadband connection and if I have any pics worth showing, I'll post a few.

Went back inside for breakfast. One of the attendants said good morning and something clicked in her dialect, but nothing solid. A family came in for breakfast, and she and the adults started speaking Spanish. It was a Puerto Rican dialect. I was back in the 'hood. In fact, they were talking about the 'hood, Humbolt Park, considered the primary Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago, and the annual festival that takes place there each summer. Lots of memories, good and bad, which may or may not make it their way to these or other pages someday. After the family left, she and I talked a bit, although there were constraints to the conversation. She was polite, and deflecting. As we were talking, the other woman who worked in the breakfast area joined the conversation as she had lived in Humbolt for a time as well. As I was leaving, I overheard them talking about the gentrification of the neighborhood. I had been one of those interlopers.

Today it's a trip to the burbs for an early Christmas. Much of my side of the family will be there, aside from a few notable MIAs. Prolly some NLHE tonight. Lots of food, for which we have been in training the last couple days, then off to my Dear Mother's for a few days.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chicago Public Schools are open

Of course, the weather has turned for the worse. Lots of snow and sleet. Downstate, the town were I spent my formative years has 3/4" of ice on the trees, ground and power lines. The DW is looking over my shoulder, reading what I have written so far, and we have the local news on the TV. Ah, the Chicago dialect. I'm starting to get a bit edgy, holed up in this motel room. Now the DW is asking me to remove reference to her from this post. No way. I'm edgy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


City of Broad Shoulders, City that Works, something like that... City that has changed a lot in five years. Saw people today while gallery hopping: one who I knew who didn't remember much; one who I knew of who wanted to know more; one who I knew not but knew me on sight; and a dear professor who taught painting at my alma. She has since moved on, bless her heart.

Saw some art. I have been gone but I have not missed much. I almost took some pics.

Yeah, it's cold.

Seeing friends, eating ribs and hitting an old watering hole tonight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Perfect, right?

light4u: raises 275 to 425 and is all-in
turmoil1020: folds
bastinptc: raises 125 to 550 and is all-in
mR_pokeR576: folds
byork15: folds
hawfinch: folds
Uncalled bet (125) returned to bastinptc
*** FLOP *** [7h 4c 7c]
*** TURN *** [7h 4c 7c] [3h]
*** RIVER *** [7h 4c 7c 3h] [2s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
light4u: shows [7d As] (three of a kind, Sevens)
bastinptc: shows [Ks Kh] (two pair, Kings and Sevens)

Addendum: This was from the first of four Stars Double or Nothing SnGs. Hey, shit happens, right?
Went on to money in the three others I played, all fairly short-stacked.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It was so cold today that two duck eggs were affixed to the birds’ watering station. I had to pry them off, and, of course, they broke.

I have been holed up in the basement for the better part of three days. It is the warmest place in the house. I go upstairs to feed the cats and myself, potty, tend the wood stove and sleep. The cold is gaining on the stove’s ability to keep the place tolerable, so the electric furnace has been called to duty. I cannot imagine a worse form of heat than forced air, expensive and inefficient.

Seeing how I was spending my days in the dungeon, I played a fair amount of poker, both at PA and Stars. I can’t say I had a very good time, especially when Sis showed up to play penny PLO and managed to outdraw me several times. Sometimes losing $5.00 feels like dropping $5K, and that was certainly the case last night.

I am going away tomorrow for a week, hooking up with the Dear Wife, my son and his wife, and my daughter in Chicago. Then onto my Dear Mom’s for a few days downstate. No poker, except for a scheduled game with a couple nephews and their dad. I need a break anyway.

In fact, I am thinking about curtailing for a bit, or at least limiting my play to a few hours a week instead of several hours every evening. I don’t really have the time to explain, or even well-thought-out reasons why, plus I have a lot to do before I leave, but I will say that it is not because of one night's bad run, and leave it by saying that I’m beginning to miss the pre-poker me. By stating it now, I am more or less promising myself that I will be working it out while away and write about what I determine from the navel-gazing.

Word is that the weather in the Midwest is worse than out here. Even though my mother doesn’t have a basement for me to retire to, DW has her ‘puter with her, and I’m taking my camera, so you might be hearing from me over the next week. If not, please come back after Christmas.

May yours be merry.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Waiting It Out

Every year about this time we get one helluva storm. It is here.

The prognosticators have been prepping us for days, keeping their viewer ratings up with promises of a foot or more of snow, followed by an arctic blast that would be felt all of the way to Southern California. The snow was just a smattering, just enough to build “leavesmen” stuck together with a melting slush. Slush that by tomorrow morning will be solid ice.

The cold is not the worst of it. The wind is reaching speeds that will take down the shallow-rooted Douglas Firs, or at least shear some tops off. It is dark outside right now. The wind is rattling our windows, making the cats especially jumpy. Schools and businesses have already told students and employees to stay home tomorrow. First morning light should be interesting.

Our power has gone out twice this evening, just long enough for me to utter, “Oh shit,” and then the lights come back on. Those same big firs take out power lines with regularity. They also can take apart a house. I am thinking of the three 90-feet tall ones just to the southwest of our house.

We are on the tail end of the power lines for our area. We cannot be re-routed Anything that knocks out power between here and the source, knocks us out for sure and for good until the whole system is working again. I have a flashlight within reach, the generator is full of gas with an extra five-gallons of gas next to it. Extension cords are rolled and ready. If we make it through the next 24 hours, we’ll be golden.

Two years ago, our Christmas plans were cancelled because of this same type of storm. As now, the Dear Wife was already in Chicago visiting friends while I tended to the farm for a few extra days. A huge branch broke off of our Big Leaf Maple, providing us with about a half-cord of firewood. One of our smaller firs took out a neighbor’s fence, right at the corner post. The power was out for five days. Our generator kept the freezers, fridges and fan on the wood stove going. We also found out that the battery backup for the sump pump in the basement was dead.

Fun times.

Update: Woke to a bit of a breeze, sunshine and electricity. Some places seem to be more effected than us. Aside from it being colder than what we're used to, everything is fine.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Men and Film

Before the Dear Wife left on her trip, we received the movie, “Bourne Ultimatum” in the mail. With her blessings, I watched it alone tonight. It was your standard contemporary hyper action flick with spills and chills that would leave a mere mortal in a body cast or bag. Yet, because we want to root for the hero instead of sending get well or sympathy cards, we suspend disbelief and run with it.

Perhaps what I found more interesting than the movie was the choice of trailers that preceded it: “American Pie: Beta House” and “Bring It On: In It to Win It,” both out on DVD, or if one prefers six times the resolution of standard DVD (that’s the claim, and I believe it), HD/DVD. Two T&A films hawked with the action flick…I can see it, and the image I call up in my mind, a quart of cola, a big bag of some corn-based snack food, a roll of paper towels… you get the idea.

Speaking of films, or rather, videos, I took the leap today and uploaded some of my work onto YouTube. I just checked to see if any of the seven pieces were available, and so far there is one. I’d link it, yet it might be better just to search for bastinptc and see what comes up. Very few of these pieces have been seen by the public, perhaps for good reason, but more so because I just haven’t taken the time to get them out there. Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s time.

If you like the videos, do me a favor and tell others. Thanks.

Oh, and if anyone can give this luddite very specific instructions on how to load YouTube vids into my blog, I would be eternally grateful.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Alone again, naturally

As I write this, there is a group of poker bloggers having a rip-roaring time in Las Vegas. From what I have gleaned, they are veteran bloggers, which means they have been at it for more than 3 years, some for 5. While some have pretty much quit writing about poker unless hired to do so, and others in attendance may not have written much about poker at all, when social circles collide, I’m certain a love for the written word provides the glue to keep it all together, and you just have to wrap your arms around each other in a group hug.

And some of these people can turn a phrase, let me tell you! I’d mention names, but I’m sure I’d leave some notables out as I don’t read them all. Lord knows I don’t have the time.

Time. Right now it’s late, or early, depending on how one wants to look at it. I’ve wrapped up a rather successful evening of poker. I’ve talked to the Dear Wife in Chicago twice, and I’m about ready to go to bed. The only thing keeping me up is music. I’m listening to WFMU out of Jersey City. The DJ has played Joy Division, Gang of Four, Shrimp Boat, Suicide, and a lot of other music I know well. I just got off of the phone with him. I was telling him about the time I saw Shrimp Boat at the Czar Bar in Chicago. Now, that was a band! And it was a sad day when they called it quits. He told me about a band called Evergreen, a spin-off. He drives from Philly once a week to do his show, and it was clear that he was excited by his work.

Life out here in the country is paced in such a manner that the conversation I just had constitutes excitement. Now he is playing some old-timey fiddle music, “Richmond Square” by The Highlanders. This is my world. Now, “Amazing Grace,” sung by the Liberty Baptist Church Choir. This is my world.

Ask the Dear Wife. She will confirm that I always listen to music. Ask my poker buddies who I Skype with as we play. Music bleeds though the headset’s mic. I often think in lyrics. It is an old habit, a passion, a comfort, a distraction. As a youngster I found myself in trouble more often than not; and punishment was typically being grounded to the house, or to my yard, and not just for a week or two. Bad grades meant six weeks until the next report card, shoplifting candy meant months, perhaps a whole summer. I listened to the radio to pass the time, to connect to something outside. I slept with the radio on, listening to the early days of FM radio, underground radio. The soundtrack for the counterculture sent me in a direction that would form the person I have become. DW and I first bonded over music, and when our passion’s flames were too hot for either of us to touch, music salved and brought us closer.

Yet, as it was in my youth, music primarily remains a solitary experience. I listen in the basement while reading, writing and playing poker. Three mostly solitary ventures. Mostly, but not entirely. Reading certainly has solitary aspects, communing with another writer, but only through their written words. Writing is less so, as much of it, as with this blog, becomes a correspondence of sorts, And, while most of my poker play is on the computer, as I mentioned above, I do occasionally chat with online buddies. And when I do venture forth, for instance to my home game, R has on an oldies station, and at the pub tourney I endure yet feed a jukebox with a meager selection of artists I enjoy.

I will listen to nearly any music genre, yet that does not mean I appreciate every composition, artist or group. Some music is painful to hear. I admit it: I dislike most pop music from the eighties onward, which seems to be a favorite for most of my pub opponents. Play Boston or Britney Spears or George Strait and I sink back into isolation right before your very eyes. It is then I long for my iPod.

Ah, my iPod. I don’t listen to it much. There’s no need, really, except when I mow, or play poker in a casino, when the hours of acres or orbits seem to drag. I dance and sing in both the tractor seat and casino chair; just a little movement, and enough of a whisper to carry a tune. I look to enjoy myself, and at the poker table, distract others.

I associate my iPod with my annual trip to Vegas. I go once a year with my own special group of online friends from Poker Academy. (We have a great time, although I suspect we don’t drink nearly as hard as the bloggers, as we are there primarily to play serious, serious poker.) Two years ago, DW put a special selection of LV, gambling and card-related tunes on the thing just for the trip, and it has not been deleted. I hope that I am able to go again this year, economy notwithstanding, and, as last year, when someone from the group asks me what I am listening to on my little white box that somehow holds so much music, in a gesture of supreme friendship and generosity, I will hand it over to them for a couple hours. bastin without his precious music!? I would become ungrounded were it not for the distant siren song of the chiming slots.

But that’s another story, and I need to sleep.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last minute

I can hear Dear Wife running around upstairs, her sturdy-but-comfortable clogs pounding the way. She is in the kitchen. Now, the living room, rounds the corner to the stairs, and takes them two at a time. Her luggage is in the guest bedroom. An hour from now I will be driving the Dear Wife to a shuttle that will take her away for many days. I will be left to my own devices, to care for the cats and birds, to terribly miss her. When this separation happens, as in the past, I usually pace around the house for a few hours, reorienting to the silence, avoiding its precipice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Missing something?

I wanted to share my Poker Academy stats, more to get some comparative feedback with other PAO players than to toot my tricycle horn. Granted, this is a small sampling and the information very basic. These numbers also only represent play since April 1, 2008. The "bastin" nick has approximately $40K total for about 140K hands, and was my primary nick for the first 2 years of play.

The stats below represent playing only $200NL and $400NL, and would be a lot worse were it not for today's $400NL game. Although I was down a full buy-in, I fought my way back to a $550 profit. Still, I have lost $1500 more over the last couple weeks, which seems to happen a lot when I reach new heights in PAX (the name for the PA currency) accumulation.

Ring Games: 210
Hands Played: 18589
$/Hand: $0.19
Small Bets/Hand: 0.05
Raked: $2,350.77
Net Won: $3,550.09

Now, let's compare my stats for the nick, "ubu roi".

The majority of games were $50NL and $100NL, with a couple mis-spent sessions in the upper rooms (an $800 downswing in just a few sessions), and a few sessions in lower rooms ($20NL) as well, and dates back to April 1. I have also been experiencing somewhat of a downturn for this nick, hovering at about $4K, but recently up to $4.3K, with about 28K hands played in total.
Ring Games: 244
Hands Played: 21867
$/Hand: $0.10
Small Bets/Hand: 0.19 What is this? I believe this may accurately summarize how my game stacks up against the better players at PAO. I perform considerably more efficiently with less in the lower rooms.
Raked: $1,537.82 The rake really starts to establish a frightening ratio to my profit when on a losing streak. Inescapable, it taunts and mocks me, even as I try to widen the gap between it and my winnings.
Net Won: $2,294.49

So, let's take this in another direction. We'll round off the number* of hands played since April to 40,000. In that time I have accumulated around $5,700 in PAX. If we follow a standard online hands/hour of about 50/hr, I have played for 800 hours in the last 7.5 months. And I have "made" about $7.125/hr. And, just because the tongue always goes to the sore tooth, if we add that which I have paid in rake, another $3,800, then my gross wages would equal about $9,500, or $11.87/hr. I did better than that working behind-the-counter sales at a print shop in 1987, plus that paid the bills!

To be a bit more thorough and break down bastin vs ubu, bastin played for about 370 hours and made about $9.60/hr after rake. Ubu played about 440 hours and made about $5.10/hr after rake. Even with the better efficiency of ubu's sb/hand, bastin did better overall, just by playing up.

There are several conclusions one can draw from this:

1) I should quit playing at Poker Academy so much!
2) Small stakes poker with a win rate like mine would be a crappy way to make ends meet.
3) Small stakes poker with a win rate like mine would still pay better than the farm did.
4) All of this is meaningless: it's fake money!
5) Don't quit my day job.

*Exactitude has never been my strong suit. In fact, I can't vouch for my math either.

158 posts/2,001 views


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

OK, I'll quit whining...for now

*** FLOP *** [Ac Qc Kc]
Seat 4: bastinptc showed [Td Js Tc Jc] and won ($0.43) with a Royal Flush

Loose, looser, loser

Playing NL at Poker Academy this last week has felt like playing Omaha, flopping the straight but losing to a better draw, or even having the second best flopped straight. I wasn’t playing anything too fancy, nor out of position, but I was playing 30%, That might have something to do with it… so I thought I’d head over to Stars to play some real Omaha, where 30% is considered tight.

Table 'Ceplecha' 6-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: Topi51 ($0.96 in chips)
Seat 2: CallMeLucid ($2.95 in chips)
Seat 3: kckcmartin ($3.31 in chips)
Seat 4: imike85 ($2.96 in chips)
Seat 5: bastinptc ($3.62 in chips)
Seat 6: mck777 ($1 in chips)
CallMeLucid: posts small blind $0.01
kckcmartin: posts big blind $0.02
mck777: posts small & big blinds $0.03
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [As 9d Qh Ad]
imike85: calls $0.02
bastinptc: calls $0.02
mck777: checks
Topi51: calls $0.02
CallMeLucid: raises $0.13 to $0.15

I’m not double-suited here, but hell, Aces in the hole? I’m calling.

kckcmartin: folds
imike85: calls $0.13
bastinptc: calls $0.13
mck777: folds
Topi51: calls $0.13
*** FLOP *** [Ts 6s 9c]
CallMeLucid: bets $0.65

What? A set of tens? I’m reading it as Ks or even the other two As in the hole.

imike85: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.65
Topi51: folds
*** TURN *** [Ts 6s 9c] [5d]
CallMeLucid: bets $1.90

Well, I’m about to find out.

bastinptc: raises $0.92 to $2.82 and is all-in
CallMeLucid: calls $0.25 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($0.67) returned to bastinptc
*** RIVER *** [Ts 6s 9c 5d] [2s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
CallMeLucid: shows [6h 6d 9s 9h] (three of a kind, Nines)
bastinptc: mucks hand
CallMeLucid collected $5.95 from pot

I’m so new to this game that I’m not sure what to think. As usual, I tend to hold my own for a while, and then I get blind-sided. Gotta stop that. Yes, I know that an unimproved pair of Aces is not a strong hand, yet give him credit for a set or straight with that raise from the SBI suppose for him it would be a matter of hitting the flop hard or getting out, and guess what? ? Two sets?! Holy crap! The bottom line, I suppose, is to pay attention to the betting and not the board.

The good news, at least partially, is that I reloaded and recouped half of my losses in the next twenty hands. I complimented Lucid on a good game and called it a night.

I have a notion... photograph all of the projects that have gone undone on the farm. This is a trip to the dump.

Eeenie Meenie Minie Mole

We have a pretty severe mole problem. In the past we've done battle with exploding gopher and vole populations. This year it's moles. The number of mounds in our yard is embarrassing. These piles of dirt become perfect little seed beds for weeds. I've initiated the annihilation.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Running Bad

Two pair with a flush draw to a flopped straight.
Set of 9s on the flop to a set of Aces on the turn.
Boat on turn to straight flush on the river.
And, of course, playing too many hands in between
thinking that I gotta get lucky sometime.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Time to take another look

I had a meeting with a young gallery director in Portland yesterday. An impressive young man who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the same time we lived there. His name rang a bell so I thought I’d connect with him to see what he was doing. It turns out he is doing a lot, has his fingers in many pots and has a very nice space to show art. I took him some duck eggs and garlic and left my portfolio at home.

Although we evidently knew some of the same people in Chicago, for he found my old email address in his database, we could not figure out who they were. The inquiry was further complicated by the fact that I have had little contact with the “art world” for the last five years. Names escape me. My dear wife and I had operated a small gallery for a couple years, I had done some guest critiques at SAIC and even taught a class there one semester. I drew almost a complete blank, and those names I could recall went nowhere.

I felt old, and worried that I might be coming across as a little senile. Names were on the tip of my tongue — names, once the pressure was off, I remembered once back in the car driving home, a little too late. I should have done a little homework before going. But then again, I am of the camp that if I don’t see a person with whom I have a short relationship with for another six months, I am under little obligation to remember his or her name. I said as much, and he agreed.

Now that we are not farming, there is no real need for a self-imposed isolation. While still “tied to the land” to some degree, we are able to get away for periods of time and day trips to the city. The young man told me of a great collaborative spirit that makes the Portland art scene happen in ways that were absent in Chicago. I imagine that he is the impetus behind much of it. I wish I had half of his energy and perhaps lived a bit closer.

Although I did not bring anything for him to see, we eventually did get around to discussing my art, or rather, my thoughts about art. I told him how I liken myself to Marcel Duchamp, who removed himself from the art world in order to concentrate on the game of chess. In my case, it was the land and farming, and now, poker that has captured my attention (and to some degree, my imagination). I used to be a rather prolific and prodigious art maker. Now I am content to concentrate on a mere few projects that sometimes take years to fully realize. At this point in the conversation I pulled my ponytail forward and said that my hair, too, was being grown out for a project.

I think he appreciated what I was conveying, for as we were wrapping it up (he was in the middle of installing a show), he asked if I would send him some of my video work. He is establishing a video exchange with a Berlin gallery, and even looking to establish an annex there next year. I told him I would. I have five years of work that only a couple people have seen, and maybe it’s time.

Can’t win ‘em all

And tonight was almost a foregone conclusion.

I’ve been nursing some sinus crap the last few days, headaches, cheek pain and the like. So, I was 50/50 on going to the Friday home game tonight.

Good news is that I didn’t take a lot of cash with me, content on playing with what I had, and if/when that was gone, so was I. Two flush draws that made it against my AJ two pair, and trip Ks, plus out-kicked trip 10s saw that more than 2/3 of my stack disappeared, and then a str8 and flush draw for myself went nowhere. Finally, all in with 7s in the hole and 6 callers sent me packing when R hit a set of 3s.

I have to give some thought to this home game play. You simply cannot push people off of their draws, Santa bet 2.5 times what was in the pot, a massive overbet, and Frank called with a pair and open-ended. Frank caught his flush against my two pair and there was no way I was going to overbet when it was clear that it wouldn’t matter. These guys are sitting at a .50/1.00 game with $300 in their pocket, ready to gamble. A couple players had more than 200 BB on the table. Pot odds mean little to them; implied odds in the extreme is gambling, no? They do, however, know how to bet for value on the river.

I’m not upset; just a tad unlucky tonight. All said and done, I’m way up on this particular venue.

OK, maybe a little down-hearted, so put a little salve on the wounds, a few more pics from sunny SoCal:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo of the day

I was driving up to Portland today and began to pass this truck when I realized what a great photo op it presented, so I slowed down and waited for the truck to pass me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Betting the farm

Tom, aka Santa, from R’s Friday home game, made a rare appearance at Tuesday’s pub tourney. He lives in the next town over, about 10 miles away. I had just loaded the jukebox with a sawbuck, ready to set a mood for the first hour or so of poker.

“Tom! What brings you here tonight?”

“Hey bastin! Long time no see!”

“Long time? Let’s see, when was the last time…. Oh, I remember! You came in early with a $3 raise and Becky called. You bet the pot on the flop, and she called again. Then you checked the turn and she said, ‘No checking,’ and bet half the pot. You went all in on the river with KQ, two pair, and she insta-called with her set of eights. Then Mike led out for $10 and you went all in for $30 with your Jacks. Mike had AK and rivered you.”

“That was just last week.”


“I guess I don’t remember you being there because you play so few hands.”

True, I guess.

“I lost over $200 that night.” Another good reason not to remember me, let alone much else.

Tom’s daughter lives just a few doors down from the pub and his wife and she were decorating the Christmas tree. Tom declared a dislike of such events and opted to walk down the street to the game. He was at my table.

“You don’t like decking the halls, Tom?

“Too noisy; besides, I’ve had my fill of Christmas trees. You don’t know anyone who is looking to buy 4,000, do you?

“You’ve got trees too, eh. I heard the market this year sucks.”

“Yes, it does. It’s glutted. They’re offering us $4.00 for an eight-year old tree. But, of course, that isn’t stopping them from charging $40 or $50 retail.”

When we first moved to this area, I was astonished by just how many Christmas tree farms there were. Thousands upon thousands of acres of green conicals ranging in size from 1.5 feet to 14 feet tall. I asked myself at the time how in the hell there could be a market for so many trees. Turns out, there isn’t. Mind you, there used to be, but that was eight years ago, before everyone and their mother thought they’d jump on the bandwagon. Tom is just one of many farmers who are now stuck with a nearly worthless inventory that won’t even make for good firewood. Christmas tree farms have For Sale signs in front, instead of the usual U-Cut signs out front.

And today, I saw a 50 acre field of trees being bulldozed. They’ll probably put in grapes, just like everyone else. Nine years from now, you’ll be able to get a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir for $3, down from $25.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Parting Shot

I took a walk.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Comments welcome

In the previous post I mentioned that I am looking to expand my game. There is an interesting discussion developing on the Poker Academy forum about a hand in which I was involved.

A Little Poker Music

I rarely play at FTP these days, primarily because I have so little in my account ($64 or so); yet, I have been visiting the site the last couple nights to watch some pros play and hopefully gain some insights into, among other strategies, a more aggressive game. However, last night there were no pros playing, and the capped 500NL game seemed quite passive, so I jumped into a game for which the lobby stats said was an active game. With nearly half of my FTP bankroll in play, I knew that I would have to play relatively tight, and take it down when I could. As it turned out, neither my cards nor the action allowed me to play as tight as I had planned, yet I was not disappointed. I will use my last hand (leaving on an up note) to highlight the vehicle for the 40% stats that lured me in the first place.

Full Tilt Poker Game #9277719310: Table Constantine - $0.10/$0.25 - No Limit Hold'em - 3:16:56 ET - 2008/12/02
Seat 1: jazzparker55 ($24.30)
Seat 2: Gerrard37 ($25.15)
Seat 3: bastinptc ($24.65)
Seat 4: Gresiuk ($20.05)
Seat 5: Hooverrrr ($24.65)
Seat 6: FoolTiltPoker ($26.35)
Seat 7: WielkieG ($9.75)
Seat 8: 1little2little ($5)
Seat 9: Jelionwyn ($6.40)
FoolTiltPoker posts the small blind of $0.10
WielkieG posts the big blind of $0.25
The button is in seat #5

It didn’t take me long to figure out the texture of this table. FoolTiltPoker, with his avatar of a ninja, knew what he was doing. He was also easy to read. A strong bet meant he had it, a c-bet meant he whiffed. Shortly before this hand, I had called his early position 2.5 x BB raise with 10Kd. The flop came with two diamonds. He led out with a half-pot bet and I doubled it, to which he folded.

Gerrard37 was new to the table yet looked to mix it up. And, aside from myself, jazzparker55 was the only other player involved in a fair number of hands. He was my target.

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Ac Qc]
Jelionwyn folds
jazzparker55 calls $0.25

Jazz had been making this move a lot. He was limping with about 80% of his hands, and I can’t remember seeing him raise preflop, unless he was heads up. If he limped and someone raised, he would call the raise about 75% of the time, and if he were heads up, he would reraise about 50% of the time. I anticipated either.

Gerrard37 folds
bastinptc raises to $1
Gresiuk folds
Hooverrrr folds
FoolTiltPoker folds
WielkieG folds
jazzparker55 raises to $1.75
bastinptc calls $0.75

He did not disappoint.

*** FLOP *** [9h Ad 7c]
jazzparker55 bets $3.25

As I wrote above, jazz limped into a lot of pots. Postflop, his standard move would be to bet the minimum, encouraging those on a draw to continue. If the river was dry, he would then bet about 2/3 of the pot to take it down. I had been involved in a few of these cat and mouse hands with him, figuring that if he was giving me excellent odds, then so be it. I figured him to be a calling station, which is both bad and good. Bad because when they hit two pair with crap, it makes it difficult to play a big PP, TPTK and the like. Good because they often do not know when they are beat. His bet and subsequent reraise told me that he had an A or a medium PP (I had seen him open large with 10s in the hole).

bastinptc raises to $6.50
jazzparker55 has 15 seconds left to act
jazzparker55 calls $3.25

I reraised here to determine where I was at in the hand. His call really didn’t give me any information. I suppose I could have raised more, eliminating a call altogether, yet I could not rule out pocket 7s or 9s and I am reluctant to get it all in with one pair.

*** TURN *** [9h Ad 7c] [Jc]

More of a pickle here for me. I have seen more than one bad player over-value AJ.

jazzparker55 checks

Ultimately, I chose this to be a good sign, plus I now had a nut flush draw. He had been leading out and had stopped. He whiffed; either that or he got lucky and was ready to reraise me all in. I was about to find out.

bastinptc has 15 seconds left to act
bastinptc bets $9.75
jazzparker55 folds
Uncalled bet of $9.75 returned to bastinptc
bastinptc mucks
bastinptc wins the pot ($16.05)

I suppose I could have stuck around for more of the action, for I assume the game would have continued in much the same manner. But then again, a room like this has a level of variance to it that my paltry roll cannot tolerate well. I had my fun, and now it was time to watch some “Adult Swim” on Cartoon Network. I typed “My work here is done.”

An era passed

“I’m not dead yet, Dear.”

For this one I have to pour a scotch first. Set the mood for myself. On the other hand, I’m not so certain that my little corner of the blogosphere is entirely appropriate for the topic below. Yet, I’ve pretty much established that I write about more than poker, as life tends to intercede and I react similarly, whether in poker or life, by wanting to write about it.

Dear Wife’s grandmother… what a character. I can describe her in four words: tough old Hollywood dame. Yet she’s much more colorful and deserves more, much more than I will deliver in a lengthier description.

Grand Mama was born and raised in Beverly Hills. She married a film industry exec, divorced, and married DW’s grandfather, so, she’s a step-grandmother. From what I gather, the two of them traveled and boozed up the world. She’s 84 years old, dyes her hair red, wears immaculate fashions from the 60s, subscribes to “W” and “Vanity Fair”, is involved in charities and a garden club, adheres to a vodka martini, lemon twist, cocktail hour that turns into an evening, and chain smokes Pall Mall straights with a cigarette holder. In her slow, raspy voice she proclaims, “It’s the filters that give you cancer, sweetie.”

She and DW were out to lunch one day and GM had to use the restroom. DW asked the waiter where the restroom was. The restaurant had a film theme and he replied that she should go through the door with a picture of Greta Garbo on it. “Honey, I knew Greta Garbo.”

She’s like that, and I love this woman for that quality. I can’t say everyone holds her so dear. For some reason, others can’t see the love that hides, rather unsuccessfully, behind her very hard exterior. I can see it in her eyes. They shine with it. We are having drinks and a smoke. I am sitting across the table from her. Other family members are there, chatting away while she and I are quietly listening. Our eyes meet, she smiles and says, “You hold your cigarette like a homosexual.” Then she throws me a kiss. I have come to the conclusion that this is how she flirts with me.

Or, perhaps I am a glutton for punishment. The trick is to give her a little shit right back, but in a manner where she maintains the upper hand. After all, she is the matriarch. A couple weeks ago, before our trip, I spoke with her on the phone and warned her about my hair. When I was growing my hair out and was starting to get some length to it, she asked, “Why do you want to look like Nick Nolte?’ And a little while later, “You do have gorgeous hair.”

Now it’s considerably longer. “You’re not going to cut it before I see you?”

“I will afterwards. I just want to irritate you a bit first. Then I will give it to Locks of Love.”

“Well, that’s very sweet of you, but what use will they have with all of that gray?”

She was at Thanksgiving dinner. DW went to fetch her. (DW loves her as much as I do, yet doesn’t catch near the amount of flack.) As anticipated, she despised my hair. “What exactly are you trying to prove with this current visaaaage, my Dear? You look like… well, you look like an old hippie. And that beard… My lord. Christmas has come early.”

After dinner, she wanted to leave, as her dog would have to go out. We both drove her home, and as usual, we sat and talked for a while. Eventually the conversation turned to her health. She tells us a story about going through menopause. The medication she had been taking for hot flashes had been discontinued, and she began to feel odd without the meds. Her doctor said that hse was going through withdrawls, and prescribed a substitute. She went into the bathroom to fetch the bottle. It was phenobarbitol. Downers. “But it didn’t do anything, so I quit taking it.”

Despite her spunk, she is frail. While she still drives, she has a difficult time with stairs. Last year, after a fall, the family was prompted to get her a Medic Alert system.

“It’s around here somewhere. I don’t use it.”

“What if you fall again?”

Again, with a smile, “Dear, when I go it will be with a bottle of vodka and a dry cleaning bag.”

Neither DW nor I quite knew how to respond, but she was looking for a reaction, so I gave her one. I stroked her face with the back of my fingers and replied, “You are an extraordinary woman. Take the phenobarb at the same time. Do a Marilyn.”

Over the last 15 years or so, DW’s younger brother (my poker buddy) has been GM’s primary overseer. When we had a moment alone, I began to tell him what she had said, but before I could get it all out, he repeated it verbatim. “She’s been saying that for years.”

Her life lost much of its purpose when her husband died. She talks about him quite a bit, and although he has been dead for many, many years, she still refers to herself as Mrs. F. R., even using his name for her mail delivery. Her dedication is not dead, and may in fact be her primary purpose to continue, that and giving family members grief. She will be with us for some time.

Land developers would not wish the same for her. Her house is one of the few older homes left on her street, and when it goes, two small, yet not insignificant parts of Hollywood history will have disappeared. Have a look for your self to see what is replacing those already gone. The movie set has moved off of the soundstage.

“Dear, they can have it. It’s all going to come sliding down the hill someday anyway.”

This is all new construction, done over the last four years or so.

Elegant, no?

The pylons in the wall are supposedly set 40 feet in the ground. Will they be enough when the Big One comes? Note that there is another residence on top of the hill.

This figurine is on Grand Mama's porch. It works for me.

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.


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


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


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.