Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Crowd Draw

Last night I played a gazillion (200 or so) hands of PLO and got nowhere, losing about half a buy-in. This evening was different. In 100 hands I won about 1 1/2 buy-ins. It makes a difference when the dealer is kind and/or the board makes it very clear that, given one’s opponents, you need to “get it in there.”

Early on in my PLO adventures (What, three months ago?) I learned very quickly that pocket Aces were for shit, and a set of Aces may not fair much better. Sure, you can raise it up big from late position preflop, but down here in the micros, one always should be prepared for 75% of the limpers to come in with anything. I began to notice a trend: I was getting beaten by hands that also had an Ace in them (thereby eliminated one of my outs) and by spreads. The latter appeared to be the most effective of the two.

This evening I played at two tables simultaneously. They were an exercise in contrasts. One was tight as all get-out, and the other was loose. The tight table I can barely remember playing a hand, yet I do know that when I raised Aces, I received a modicum of respect on the flop and managed to make a small profit in the fifty or so hands played. In that room, I was more or less on autopilot, for my attention was on the other room.

The second room had a good mix of players. There were rocks, newbies, fairly skilled players and a nutcase LAG. Pots often became fairly large preflop, requiring a certain flexibility in the range of hands one should play. However, to get to this point, I chose to watch what others were playing and then determine how I would compensate.

I had notes on the LAG two to my right. He would raise about half of the hands he entered, and position did not matter. If his cards were double-suited, he popped it. Another player, immediately to my right, was a big fan of the min-raise. Often they would be heads up. In that I had relative position on both much of the time, I looked for a chance to use that to my advantage.

The min-raiser was first to act, andt put in a pot-sized bet, which I called with 9dTh8cJd. I have begun to experiment with different values of spreads, taking note that middle spreads can be very effective, and high middle spreads work quite well to cover two ranges of straight draws. If a Broadway comes, I’m safe, and if a lower straight comes, I’m golden. Two other players called: a calling station who had two-outed me earlier and a newbie who seemed to have something to prove. The LAG was playing a short stack; or rather, his stack had a certain dynamic quality to it. From the BB, he put in a pot-sized raise, which was about half of his stack. It would not be unusual for him to make such a move, for he had done this before, and when he busted out, he quickly bought back in for a small amount. However, it did cross my mind that he may have Aces. Then Mr. Min-raise, also on a short stack, went all in for about one third of the current pot. Well then, who had the Aces? I called, as did the LAG, whom had .30 remaining behind. The flop was 6sKhQd, which I found heartening. The LAG put his last bit in and I called with the open straight draw. The turn accommodated. LAG did indeed have Aces, and Min had Kings.

I must say that I find it curious that in other situations where I have an open-ended straight draw with out a flush draw as well, I am more cautious. If a hand is played out in it’s more typical fashion, meaning that there is not a preflop bet that screams big pairs, and a pot-sized bet is made by another player on the turn, I am gone. Such was the case on several occasions this evening, and whether the player had a sizable or negligible stack, it made little difference. It was either too risky of a call or not worth it. I suspect this has something to do with the EV of the hand, and in that I have not read any in-depth PLO literature and am still waiting on my Jeff Hwang book to arrive, I will add this to my multitude of existing questions about the game.

The newbie also learned about big pairs later as I flopped a boat, tens full, and he called all the way to the river, delivering his whole stack on the back of Kings. I love weekends!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mixing play and work

I’m working on rearranging my studio basement for a new project, and, not surprisingly, it is proving to be a daunting task. If you saw the space, you’d understand. It’s a bit of a cluttered mess and sorely in need of organizing. The plan is to work on it over the next couple days, but for now, I am pretty much just staring at the room, trying to visualize how best to go about the change to make the space more efficient.

Last night I worked (and stared) for a few hours, until poker called and I picked up. I decided to continue my foray into PLO and start out small with a $5.00 buy-in in a .01/.02 game. It didn’t take long for me to lose $2.00 when my tens full ran into quads. Queens full and quads were the only two hands that could beat me. I got off cheap.

When I first looked into this room, it was off the hook, Pots had been huge, upwards of $7 to $12, but it had calmed down and, after the maniac perp had left, become quite tight. People started to leave, so I started to search out a good .05/.10 game. I found one.

The guy to my left was raising or calling every pot… and hitting. I watched him triple up in a short period of time while I slogged along. It can be frustrating, you know? However, I stuck to my game and played a solid range of hands. I think I managed to make $3.00, which would have made me up for the night, so, out of position on the table boss, I decided to go back to working on my studio.

I had put together a new CD tower/shelf earlier in the evening, so I pulled my CDs off of the shelves they were on, arranged them into boxes labeled “Country”, “Classical”, “Rock” and “Jazz”. These are loose categories, as my musical tastes are all over the board and genres tend to overlap as well. This task completed, I once again heard the siren call.

The table captain now had five times his original buy-in, so I opted for another table. It went well.

*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $9.35 | Rake $0.45
Board [4d 4h 5h 4c 8c]
Seat 1: gellissystem folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: johan glans folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: dagster1209 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: ShichiFuku folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: bastinptc (button) showed [Ac Kc 8d 4s] and won ($8.90) with four of a kind,
Seat 6: marietta m (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: greghammer88 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 8: imlast2act mucked [6h 5c 8h 8s]
Seat 9: Jaahan folded before Flop (didn't bet)

This was a perfect storm, the kind of hand one prays for in all poker games, but one that occurs with some regularity in Omaha. One has to dodge a lot of bullets, Baby. I led the betting on this hand postflop, and was somewhat surprised that I was raised. When the 4 came on the turn, having established that this player was eager to take the lead, I did a little Hollywood and let the time run down a bit. As one can clearly see, all of the other player’s money was going to be in the middle on the river.

*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $1.85 | Rake $0.05
Board [8d 7c 8h Ts 9s]
Seat 1: gellissystem folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: johan glans folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: dagster1209 (button) folded on the Turn
Seat 4: ShichiFuku (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: bastinptc (big blind) showed [8s Js 7s 9h] and won ($1.80) with a full house,
Eights full of Nines
Seat 6: marietta m folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: greghammer88 folded on the River
Seat 8: imlast2act folded on the Turn
Seat 9: Jaahan mucked [7h 9d 6h Ad]

Feigning weakness helped on this hand, although I must say I wasn’t thrilled with either the turn or river. A pair of either card in the opponent’s hole spells doom. I find that I am quite content keeping the pot small on such hands, although this may be a leak. However, I had determined that this player had a fairly good grasp of the game, was a moderately cautious player himself, and if I did have the winning hand, I wasn’t going to get much more from him. (Plus, I had taken a sizable pot from him earlier with a stronger set of Aces, assuring both his caution, and to my mind, a desire to retrieve his losses. He would stay with me if the price was right.)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Kh 7h 9s 3h]
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $1.25 | Rake $0.05
Board [7c 7s 7d Ts 5h]
Seat 1: gellissystem folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: johan glans folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: dagster1209 (button) folded on the River
Seat 4: ShichiFuku (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: bastinptc (big blind) collected ($1.20)
Seat 6: marietta m folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: greghammer88 folded on the Flop
Seat 8: imlast2act folded on the Flop

Dagster1209 was a fairly active player, meaning that he limped a lot and called a lot of preflop raises and flop bets. I checked the flop and made a small stab on the turn, which he called. Although he tanked for a bit on the river, I could not get him to go any further. Quads twice in the same session… I’ll take it!

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Kd Kc 9d 2h]
*** FLOP *** [Ad 4h Kh]
dagster1209: bets $0.30
ShichiFuku: folds
bastinptc: raises $0.50 to $0.80
marietta m: calls $0.80
johan glans: folds
dagster1209: folds
*** TURN *** [Ad 4h Kh] [9s]
bastinptc: bets $1.90
marietta m: calls $1.90
*** RIVER *** [Ad 4h Kh 9s] [3d]
Aqwertz joins the table at seat #9
bastinptc: bets $3.60
marietta m: folds
Uncalled bet ($3.60) returned to bastinptc
bastinptc collected $5.90 from pot

Marietta was an interesting player. Quite the calling station, actually. Earlier in the session I had watched with jaw-dropping amazement as she got it all in 4-way preflop with 2h2sAcJc and took down a huge pot with trip Jacks. The most amusing thing about her was her listed location: Speculator.

*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $20.30 | Rake $1
Board [6c 4s Kh Ah Qh]
Seat 1: gellissystem folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: johan glans (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: dagster1209 (small blind) showed [Kc 9d Kd 4d] and lost with three of a kind,
Seat 4: ShichiFuku (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: bastinptc showed [Ad 8s As 2s] and won ($19.30) with three of a kind, Aces
Seat 6: marietta m folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: greghammer88 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: Aqwertz folded before Flop (didn't bet)

My own heart about fell out of my chest when I saw the Queent hit on the river. And in that this is Omaha, it would have to be the Royal Queen to-boot. I have really grown to dislike sets in this game. And with this hand, having tripled up, I quit for the night. I have sat too long in these games before, only to watch such hands as the last go down in smoke, and with it, all of my work.

I must admit that I get a little self-conscious posting wins and neglecting the sessions in which I lose. However, I must also say that there is a certain excitement about winning that I wish to share with someone else who might give a shit, namely a reader or two of this blog. I have been on the short end for long enough in this little obsession that is poker, and it is with some relief that I can say I have doubled my bankroll in the last month. If the trend continues, I will be back to my original investment in fairly short order.

Still, I feel an obligation to write about more than outcomes, for I know that a few of my readers are interested in discussing strategy. And, as those readers know, strategy is paramount to winning. I hope I am successful in this aspect of the blog as well.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good news

Oregon State University's Agriculture Department has an annual juried art exhibit, "Art about Agriculture." I submitted some recent photos and this one was accepted:

Some readers may recall a photo series I did last October during the grass field burning season here in Oregon's Willamette Valley. This one is from that group. The field in the foreground is one of the fields prior to burning. In fact, the grass seed has yet to be harvested. The black field in the distance is one that has been burned. The name of the photo is "Landscape Tilt 1" and is 11" x 25". One of the nice things about this show is that it travels to several locations throughout the state, giving many people an opportunity to see the work. And, the piece is for sale...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Off-Fencing Neighbors

Off-Fencing Neighbors

It is January 20 and the temperature outside is 35 degrees. We are watching the inauguration and my wife mutes the TV to ask, “Is that a lawnmower I hear?” She gets up from the couch and moves to the window. “It is! She’s mowing the lawn!” Our neighbor; our eccentric, neat-freak neighbor. She is taking a swing along the no-climb farm fencing that demarcates our two very different ideas about lawn care. She pauses to get off of her lawn tractor to pick up a few small limbs that have fallen from our Douglas Firs and throws them over onto our side. As in the autumn, when she blows the leaves that have fallen from our Big Leaf Maple back through the fence, we, and our native sword ferns are grateful for the future humus.

One really wouldn’t need to see a fence to know where one property ends and the other begins, as our yards could not be any different. We have visible weeds in the somewhat longish grass; they spray herbicide on their lawn, and during warmer weather, they mow twice a week. In fact, sometimes she mows in the morning, and when the husband comes home from work, he mows again. In the dryness of July, the dust flies. We say they are mowing their dirt. We have big, old, messy, trees that keep much of our yard and house in shade; their house sits out in what may be best compared to a five-acre golf course fairway with neatly manicured small bushes and trees. We have gopher and mole mounds dotting our property, some right up to the fence; their soil must be so compacted from the constant mowing that no rodent or even worm can make passage. Along the north side of their property another neighbor has a row of smaller firs, The canopy of these trees comes over onto their side of the fence, or would, if the woman did not get up on a ladder each year and trim them flush with the fence line.

It may not be surprising that we have never spoken to these neighbors in the five years we have lived here. Initially, we thought it was because we didn’t get off on the right foot. After we purchased the property, we assessed that several Maples in the yard were at the end of their life cycles, as there was significant evidence of disease. In that these trees were sixty-feet tall, they were a hazard and had to be removed. The tree removal company did the work while we returned to Chicago to finalize the move. Upon our return, the arborist related a phone call from the neighbor, complaining about the amount of leaves and small branches that had fallen onto their property. He said that she was livid, even though he had assured us that he had done his best to clean up after the work. We thought about going over to apologize for the inconvenience, but something about their landscaping, a meticulousness, told me it would be fruitless. We thought it better just to stay out of their way as best we could.

Believe me, if circumstances were different, I would go over and clean up the fallen limbs and leaves myself, but truth be told, I am afraid of stepping foot on their property. I worry that there may be a litigious side to their personalities. We took this into account when we had the old, decaying apple trees removed that threatened to fall in the next strong east wind and land on one of their outbuildings. The same arborist did the job, with one hitch: a big branch of one tree had to come down onto their property. In the process, part of the fence was crushed a bit. I was able to repair the fence quite easily, and once the limb was cut up and removed from their lawn, I personally went over the fence (feeling like a criminal all the while) and cleaned up everything except the wood chips that lay mixed into the grass. That evening I saw the husband raking the area with a vigorous disdain that suggested someone had defiled his yard with human excrement.

My wife shares my worry that at some point in the future we might have legal problems with these neighbors. And, since she likes to cover all of the bases in such matters, she thought it would be prudent to get a survey of our property. The surveyors marked the boundaries with four-foot wooden stakes that are spray-painted neon pink at the top. They can be seen from two-hundred yards away. The one stake that caught our attention was the one by the road between the two properties. As it turns out, our neighbor’s fence is a full six inches on our property! It is with glee that we leave that marker in place.

As I look out across our yard and make note of the tree limbs and downed trees that I have yet to remove after our last wind storm, I wonder what our neighbors must think of us. I suspect it is with more than a modicum of disdain. My attitude: those limbs aren’t going anywhere, and they’re certainly not doing any more harm than what has already been done; I’ll eventually get to them. The limbs would be long gone were they to be on our neighbor’s property, for they are, besides being a bit wacky, certainly industrious. I watch in awe as they set to cutting, splitting and stowing four cords of wood in one day’s time. They paint their house and outbuildings every year. The man is a master car-restorer and has a 1964 olive Chevy Nova that I covet. No, they cannot be all bad, for on more than one occasion, just as the sun is setting and their day in their yard is finished, I have seen them walk back to the house holding hands.


If you caught the inauguration last week, you may have heard Elizabeth Alexander's poem, "Praise Song for the Day." One of my favorite radio stations, WFMU, out of Jersey City, has been soliciting remixes of her piece. Some are mundane, some are quite good, much like lines of the poem itself.

This one is my favorite.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beating Up a Bully

A Super Nova at a $10NL table? That’s what/who I had to my left at Stars, five white stars on a red background under his nick, representing 100,000 VIP points in the last year. That’s one helluva lot of poker. He was a pro!

Okay, maybe he wasn’t a pro. But he did play a lot of poker…poker hands. And he was aggressive about it. If a hand was limped around to him, rest assured he bet the pot. If he had the Button, he raised. There certainly was no limping from the small blind when it was just the two of us. So, when I had pocket sevens, I raised it up 5 x BB. He then 4 bets me! I type, “Not worth it Mr. Muscles.”

Now I have to explain the comment. His avatar was a picture of a woman sitting on the lap of a Chippendale dancer. I kinda assumed the guy in the photo was the villain.

He was textbook, so, I backed off and waited.

PokerStars Game #24311613372: Hold'em No Limit ($0.05/$0.10) - 2009/01/26 20:15:25 ET
Table 'Murzim IV' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: esky skid ($10 in chips)
Seat 3: misterbigone ($5.90 in chips)
Seat 4: stoxpeon ($12.40 in chips)
Seat 6: bastinptc ($17.25 in chips)
Seat 7: JoeIngram1 ($11.25 in chips)
Seat 8: MarkSpakman ($2 in chips)
Seat 9: PapukGarojan ($2.20 in chips)
PapukGarojan: posts small blind $0.05
esky skid: posts big blind $0.10
mik4u1: sits out
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Td Ts]
misterbigone: calls $0.10
stoxpeon: calls $0.10
bastinptc: calls $0.10
JoeIngram1: raises $0.60 to $0.70
MarkSpakman: folds
PapukGarojan: folds
esky skid: folds
misterbigone: folds
stoxpeon: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.60
*** FLOP *** [4s 2s 7c]
bastinptc: checks
JoeIngram1 said, "musclesss"
JoeIngram1: bets $1.10
bastinptc: raises $1.10 to $2.20

I wanted to take control of the hand without over-commiting.

JoeIngram1: calls $1.10

And I did. With his flat call I have him on an AJs or some such hand. He may also have something like a pair of eights. He’s hoping to spike an Ace or set.

*** TURN *** [4s 2s 7c] [9c]
bastinptc: bets $4.10
JoeIngram1: calls $4.10

*** RIVER *** [4s 2s 7c 9c] [5d]

But he doesn’t.

scottcollins has returned
bastinptc: bets $5
JoeIngram1: folds
Uncalled bet ($5) returned to bastinptc
bastinptc collected $13.65 from pot

Players like this I don’t seem to have as much trouble with as I do the standard variety of calling stations who limp and call, hoping to hit the flop hard.

8 out of 17 times while in big blind (47%)
5 out of 16 times while in small blind (31%)
22 out of 105 times in other positions (20%)
a total of 35 out of 138 (25%)
Pots won at showdown - 6 of 10 (60%) Two of the remaining four were flopped second nut flushes. Ouchy.
Pots won without showdown - 8

Sunday, January 25, 2009


It can’t get much better than this:

PokerStars Game #24252313203: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2009/01/25 3:05:34 ET

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [7c 9c 8d 9h]
bastinptc: calls $0.02
Pal Pit 8: calls $0.02
Cocky88au: calls $0.02
sheavens: calls $0.02
Monterpol: calls $0.02
skinner1947: calls $0.02
Jscott367: folds
Santra: folds
ruffdeezy: checks
*** FLOP *** [8c 6c 2c]
ruffdeezy: checks
bastinptc: checks
Pal Pit 8: checks
Cocky88au: checks
sheavens: checks
Monterpol: checks
skinner1947: checks
*** TURN *** [8c 6c 2c] [5c]
ruffdeezy: bets $0.06
bastinptc: calls $0.06

With so many players yet to act, and another betting round yet to come, I didn’t want to lose anyone quite yet.

Pal Pit 8: folds
Cocky88au: calls $0.06
sheavens: calls $0.06

Good sign, two more callers.

Monterpol: folds
skinner1947: folds
*** RIVER *** [8c 6c 2c 5c] [Kd]
ruffdeezy: bets $0.20

OK, now, but still, if my hunch is right, this hand is far from over.

bastinptc: raises $0.20 to $0.40
Cocky88au: calls $0.40

Wow, who would’ve thunk?

sheavens: folds
ruffdeezy: raises $0.62 to $1.02

And this is what I hoped would happen. Could this guy have 34c? He’s not going away.

bastinptc: raises $0.62 to $1.64
Cocky88au: folds
ruffdeezy: raises $3.10 to $4.74 and is all-in
bastinptc: calls $3.10
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ruffdeezy: shows [4s Ac 4c 6s] (a flush, Ace high)
bastinptc: shows [7c 9c 8d 9h] (a straight flush, Five to Nine)
bastinptc collected $9.77 from pot

This kinda makes up for the times when my boat has been crushed by the one-outer straight flushes in the past. This stuff happens…with some regularity. It’s PLO. A few hands later, another player busts a boat with another straight flush. I type: “Generous dealer.” Then a few more hands later:

*** RIVER *** [8d Ac As Kd] [Jd]
ruffdeezy: checks
bastinptc: bets $0.08
sheavens: folds
Monterpol: folds
skinner1947: folds
Jscott367: calls $0.08
ruffdeezy: folds

*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $0.28 | Rake $0
Board [8d Ac As Kd Jd]
Seat 1: skinner1947 folded on the River
Seat 2: Jscott367 mucked [Td 4d 4h Qc]
Seat 3: Santra (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: ruffdeezy (small blind) folded on the River
Seat 5: bastinptc (big blind) showed [Ah 4c Kh Ad] and won ($0.28) with four of a
kind, Aces
Seat 7: ac chitown folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: sheavens folded on the River
Seat 9: Monterpol folded on the River

Not nearly as profitable, but I’ll take it.
I was playing two tables at the same time, and I must say they were an exercise in contrasts both in play and result. In fact, the other table was much softer. I had a calling station luckbox to my right who was consistently 3-outering me, so I took my profits from the successful table and gave my full attention to the softies. Unfortunately, I stayed pretty much card dead the rest of the session, and when I wasn’t I was still losing when a better boat hit on the river or the gutshot came through. I didn’t lose everything I had made at the other table, which I can attribute to caution and patience, but I could have. Eventually, the luckbox lost everything I had given him with his consistently bad play, and I left as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A new love

Over the last couple of months I have been playing a fair amount of Pot Limit Omaha, the game of action junkies. For some reason I find the game more “fulfilling” than NLHE. (The quotes represent the ambiguity I still have at this early stage of discovery, without an adequately clear “reason” for the preference.) Maybe it’s puppy love.

While I have yet to buy any books on the game, as it was with NLHE, experience remains a great teacher; plus when I run up against a problem I cannot immediately comprehend, such as how to get someone off of a draw with my pot-sized bets, I turn to my buddy, Stan, for understanding. The man may be a fucking sociopath when it comes to a friendly game of poker, but lord, he knows how to play.

“You have to have a redraw yourself.” So plainly stated, so obvious. So I adjust. If I flop top set, I’m not going to go crazy unless the board allows it.

Redraws: not something that are as readily available in NLHE, and a concept that becomes so crystal clear when my Aces get cracked by QJoff, which is what happened a couple nights ago in a $25NL game in which I should have cleaned up. Losing one and a half buy-ins is never fun.

So, I go back to PLO. Stan also says that PLO is where failed NLHE players go to donk off the remainder of their bankroll.

As my dedicated readers know, I’m not a man of means. I play penny stakes out of necessity, which comes with its own hazards, no? The “It’s only a dollar” attitude may prevail at these levels, yet, I have always been an idealist and therefore believe that as long as I play correctly, I shall overcome. Eventually, so the thinking goes, as my bankroll increases from effective play, I will be able to move up in levels. So far, the plan has not gone accordingly, primarily because of the variance in the NLHE games where I tend to play with up to 1/6 or 1/7 of my roll ($25NL). I would play more $10NL, where I fare better with less of my roll on the line, but I get impatient with the slow climb. Not that I go crazy and play more pots; instead, my attention wanders to distractions like email and such. Not so with PLO.

Until yesterday, I have limited my PLO play to the .01/.02 games. Initially, I played six-handed, and while steadily increasing my roll, I still found considerable variance in the wilder sessions. Again, Stan came through with some sage advice: play the 9-person tables, tighten up and know that the play is better. So, I moved, and my numbers got even better, taking down even larger pots.

Last night I found a wild full table. Pots were often over $5, huge for .01/.02. Of course, I was card dead and managed to take down just two, relatively small pots. Meanwhile, one player managed to walk away with the easy cash, and with the drunk donks gone, the table began to break. Yet, at this hour of the night, another table was not readily available. I considered moving up to .02/.05, but there were only 6-person tables. However, scrolling up, I saw that there were 9-person tables in .05/.10. Dare I move up so high? Even though I play $10NL without a second thought, I have been playing NLHE a helluva lot longer than PLO. I would have to be very careful.

My first hand I posted the blind and saw 2 pair, 89, on the flop. Connectors are great when they flop 2 pair on an otherwise uncoordinated board. They’re even better on a coordinated board when you have a straight draw to go with them. I check-raised the pot, and to my surprise, got two callers. The turn was a harmless 6 and I bet the pot with one caller. The river was a K, missed my redraw and checked, as did the caller. He had a been calling with gut shot that missed and won with a better two pair: 6s and Ks. I made a note. I should have rebought back to a full buy-in, for two hands later came this hand:

Total pot $19 Main pot $6.50. Side pot $11.60. | Rake $0.90
Board [9c Th 6c Ks 7d]
Seat 1: bastinptc showed [Js Qc Qh 7h] and won ($18.10) with a straight, Nine to King
Seat 2: Rexyyoda folded on the Flop
Seat 3: Havelhai folded on the Flop
Seat 4: DeepMunti (button) mucked [8c 7c Ah 6h]
Seat 7: mellodreams (small blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 8: speedy194 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 9: heeeeheeee mucked [9d 6s 9h 3h]

Deep Munti had taken the lead on this hand. Heeee called (heeee had been at the previous table as well, and was in fact the player who cleaned up on the donks), giving me strong odds to call the flop. When I hit the straight, I poured it on, and was unpleasantly surprised that both players were staying again with me. I knew that without a redraw, I was in trouble. I just didn’t know how much. When I saw the HH, I was amazed that I had managed to avoid the mines. The hand could have ended so much differently. But I’ll take it.

After that hand, heeee left and who should take his place but Stan! I just knew he was eyeing my stack, as I’m sure everyone left at the table was as well, and the play seemed to point toward that conclusion. Fortunately, I continued a little hot streak, which is nice to have happen when people are gunning for you, and called it a night with a 150% profit. In the course of the evening I had recovered all of that I lost playing NLHE the night before. As I was leaving, I wrote, “It’s all yours, Stan.” I’m certain he did well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tangential to what has preceded.

On Exhibitionism

Because relationships involve crossing a given or implied space toward an other, they are necessarily about action. It would therefore seem natural, given this spatial process, that words, integral to relationships, may also be the basis for sculptural inquiry.

Read reality. Not a command.

The problem foremost is moving from the world of words to the three-dimensional object that relays the concept. Theory floats about the ethereal world so as to not be identifiable as an object, let alone find a consensus of what it consists; yet it occasionally touches down as metaphor, leaving a trace (more metaphor), a remainder poetic or fictive, real and determined to this degree. The initial task then is to work the linguistic into a phenomena/object-oriented display that will find models for the words. Or shall we find that words are not better models left for themselves?

Open sphere of specific issues.

The examination of an attempt at such modeling is where we come to the work of two artists, O.F. Toinby and another listed simply as “The Kid”, who were uninvited participants on the back porch of the apartment below the recent independent show, “XOXOXO.”

The heretofore unknown sculptor, Toinby, presented four pieces designed to give us a careful, albeit diagrammatic rendering of prepositions: words which readily suggest spatial arrangements. Fittingly, he labeled this installation “by below.” All four sculpture combine pairs of an older variety of wood office chairs confined within open-slatted shipping crates. In short, the titles for these pieces are keyed from the various spatial relations that are set up by the proximity of the chairs to one another and the manner in which they are restricted by the crates.

In one piece, "in by in", Toinby has quite simply set two chairs side by side, inside a large crate. This piece, in light of the others, is a primer, simplistic but not altogether unnecessary. It establishes a premise. Another piece, "in on over under above", has the chairs nestled together seat-to-seat, head-to-toe and tightly packed in a crate set on four table legs. The chairs suggest embracing, perhaps lovemaking, elevated as if on a bed yet in a prison, unable to move, "laid up".

Love gone wrong? A relationship they cannot get out of?

A dynamic has been established that continues in "in by out", a piece in which the chairs are placed head-to-head so that their legs stick out opposite ends of a long narrow crate. The chairs seem to be trying to escape, perhaps at loggerheads. Here, violence continues to be inherent to confinement. Free will is constrained, hopes battened.

Literature is full of illusions to confinement: prison. Full. History's consistency.

In each of the three pieces above, we have the confined, the confinement but no confiner, less the chairs will themselves to be confined. The final piece, "in by out II", the most dramatic of the four, suggests and invites us to imagine the act of imprisonment. One chair is completely confined, the other is facing the other, confined only around its front legs. Either the confined chair is trying to bring or keep the other in, or else the crate has enticed another victim.

The company we keep.

Pain needing its voyeur is a rather romantic notion brought to Toinby's otherwise formal demonstration. What if we were to follow a logical conclusion to a fifth piece placing both chairs outside of a crate? We'll call it "around by" and open up the realm to make communication possible. The titles, as listed prepositions, make this clear and at the same time complex. These works are, after all, about relationships of space as much as they are about confinement. It is for this same reason we have two chairs instead of one in a relation with the container.

One may object to a simple reading of the chairs as representative of people. There is nothing inherently special about art with people as an object, even when that art has no figuration to suggest people. There is, however, something special about relationships and their situational multiplicity, making for an abundance of dynamic artistic possibilities that immediately move away from the cliché.

Left with this and in light of never actually meeting Toinby, it may be that this artist is to be credited with his use of prepositions in the titles: those words that position us in relation to others spatially, but also subtextually into a hierarchy. This deep of an understanding of relationships he may have, which in turn should encourage us to discover what issues or concepts are explored in and by the show with the hope that somehow the work speaks to our own relationships.

Follow me by me and get on with it.

The work of the other artist in the show, The Kid, is simply ambiguous, as is his name. Start with the centerpiece: a cheap black frame lying in the middle of the porch with typed paper in it. Because the text in this frame is so short but enigmatic, it can and perhaps should be transcribed into the scope of this review:


There is somewhere a fleeting pageless diagram of
relationships in a series: E & V, K & P (let them
think what they may), B & C (not to feel left out),
whoever I can stand the sight of this week
and all their little pushes and pulls, nips and
tucks, trips and tugs.

What sculptural implications are to be found? This piece has a conceptual feel, although the rest of the Kid's work does not. Yet, as the framed piece on the floor, three other pieces, two mounted and one on a pedestal, hover between enigma and statement, as cryptics (in)tend.

It seems that The Kid's text centerpiece is about individuals, paired into what are most likely couples. Of course, we have no idea who these people are and how they relate to each other. The artist evidently does, yet because of the highly enigmatic nature of his invitation, his work gets off to a weak start.


There is a small, vertical wall-mounted piece that consists of a rolled-out condom laying over, yet impaled by splinters in a nine-inch cylinder of rough-hewn pine. (The artist has resisted pulling the condom over the wood.) The tip of the condom has a face drawn on it. A small battery-operated fan is nailed to the base of the wood pointing up to the condom causing it to flap and quiver (the name of the piece is "To a Feather"). One could surmise that this piece concerns itself with The Act, or at least an act. "To a Feather" is frenetic. If the fan could, it would blow away the little condom doll, but the piece of wood won't let go.


Another work has a condom stretched over and secured to an old “peg leg” prosthetic. Next to this is a color photo of a man's bare legs up to the knee. The title is "Of Prosthetic." Phallic as hell, combined with the picture of the legs the piece suggests impotency. Yet, why a condom? One can, perhaps must, still fantasize. The `leg is gone but as any amputee will tell you, the phantom sensations from the missing appendage are real enough.

In his final piece, "In the Mood", an open-top box about the size of a vegetable crate sits on a plain white pedestal. Inside the box are eighteen-inch tall adult dolls, one male and one female, naked except for a hat and pair of shoes on the male. Around his neck is a small sign that reads, "I'm rubber, you're glue." The female has on what appears to be heavy face cream. She also has a sign around her neck: "Just because I love you."

They rhyme.

Beside the word and image pun, there is a discussion going on between these two dolls — most likely an argument. The male is cast in an immature light, the female in a somewhat reasonable yet pleading tone. Yet what has already passed may be that which is of most importance in that the female's phrase reads like a response to something else said. In short, we haven't been given much of a clue.

There is a feeling of alienation, of dismembered, disembodied or in some general way insufficient or compromised intimacy in all of The Kid's sculptures. With what work there is to contemplate, we must decide that the artist has sexual issues he wishes to address. With such an encompassing, emotionally loaded subject as sex, and the corresponding subjects of sexuality, intimacy and love, the interpretations here can be numerous; although, we may be certain that The Kid sees things in a decidedly negative light.

Finally, taking the study of the above described works and the ensuing assumptions about content another step, I must step back, careful not to confine my inquiries lest they become concrete slabs too close to the East River. Meaning cannot be directed as though words are cadavers to be autopsied or done away with, particularly without the advantage of speaking to the artists. Nevertheless, if we are to create new bodies of work, even texts in relation to or to replace other kinds of work, we must attempt to experience the kind of work an artists does, and thereby lives; for to put forth criticism, if to lay bare the methodological construct, is to expose one’s own conflicted or violent past.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Life’s too short

“bastin, you want your cheeseburger?” Trish asked me no sooner than I had walked in the door of the bar where the pub tourney takes place. Yes, after a two-week hiatus, I had returned to play some poker and also see if there was any fallout from having my blog discovered by one of the players.

“No thanks, Trish. I’m trying to eat healthier and I’m afraid your delicious burgers are no longer on the menu.” Nor are French fries. Sigh. So I ordered a Pepsi and signed up for the game. Not many players. I said hello from a distance to Skunk who was playing pool. I thought that perhaps he said my name with a tone. I could have been mistaken, yet I was looking for evidence. Barbie was bending someone’s ear at the bar. I went over to put a fiver in a video lottery machine to kill some time before the game. Doug was playing a penny slot.

“Hey Doug.”

“Hey bastin, how ya doin’?”

“I’ve been a little under the weather.”

“I took first place Sunday at Rumors.” Rumors is another bar in town that runs a tourney. I’ve played there a few times. The play is worse and the number of obnoxious players is greater.

“Great.” Yeah, I’ve been under the weather. Thanks for your concern.

The $5 disappeared within two minutes, long enough for Doug to tell me about how he won. “Look, I hit the bonus again.” I walked over to the sign-up sheet, crossed off my name and called my Dear Wife from my rig to tell her I was coming home.

No Comment

PokerStars Game #24117712311: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2009/01/21 2:00:23 ET
Table 'Hesperia II' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Dealt to bastinptc [Tc Js Td Jd]
IgnorantLuck said, "he really does have no clue, I think he's a drunk and plays his buddiies and thinks he knows something."
Kiilavei: calls $0.02
rodrigueztor: calls $0.02
Santra: folds
babs14: calls $0.02
CWinDC78: calls $0.02
mooksolo: calls $0.02
bastinptc: calls $0.01
IgnorantLuck: checks
*** FLOP *** [Qd 4c 9h]
bastinptc: checks
Santra said, "aye"
IgnorantLuck: checks
Kiilavei: checks
rodrigueztor: checks
babs14 said, "no clue but have your monyt Re Tard Americans"
babs14: checks
CWinDC78: checks
mooksolo: bets $0.14
bastinptc: calls $0.14
IgnorantLuck: folds
Kiilavei: calls $0.14
Santra said, "yeah you are up a whole 75 cents. well done fish!"
babs14 said, "keep whinning donkey Girl"
rodrigueztor: calls $0.14
babs14: folds
CWinDC78: folds
*** TURN *** [Qd 4c 9h] [8c]
bastinptc: checks
Kiilavei: checks
rodrigueztor: checks
IgnorantLuck said, "I'm up about $5 since my other table has done well"
IgnorantLuck said, "can't make chit here"
mooksolo: bets $0.70
babs14 said, "suppose you are both short little dink Girls too?"
bastinptc: raises $2.10 to $2.80
Kiilavei: folds
Santra said, "then again 74 cents buys a lot in that $hit hole where u live"
rodrigueztor: folds
babs14 said, "lol"
mooksolo: raises $2.10 to $4.90
bastinptc: calls $1.86 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($0.24) returned to mooksolo
*** RIVER *** [Qd 4c 9h 8c] [8h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Tc Js Td Jd] (a straight, Eight to Queen)
mooksolo: mucks hand
IgnorantLuck said, "he's just a hater type, I hate haters :-)"
bastinptc collected $9.52 from pot

PokerStars Game #24117826700: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2009/01/21 2:08:27 ET
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [9h 9c Qd Ts]
babs14: calls $0.02
babs14 said, "you suck guys off for a living?"
mooksolo: calls $0.02
bastinptc: calls $0.02
IgnorantLuck: calls $0.02
Helga Kummer: calls $0.02
rodrigueztor: calls $0.01
babs14 said, "yellow bellied American Cowards"
Santra said, "no but seems you are married to a guy. that is a guy on your lap in picture no?"
IgnorantLuck said, "His wife is thinking of other guys I'm sure she feels so stuck."
Santra: checks
*** FLOP *** [Tc Jc 3d]
rodrigueztor: checks
Santra: checks
babs14 said, "real brave you F cowards"
babs14 said, "kill any kids for oil today?"
babs14: checks
mooksolo: checks
bastinptc: checks
Santra said, "that is not only his wife luck, it is also his sister"
IgnorantLuck: bets $0.08
Helga Kummer: folds
rodrigueztor: calls $0.08
Santra: folds
babs14 said, "attack women, real American of you both"
Santra said, "im not so sure that is a women"
babs14: calls $0.08
mooksolo: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.08
*** TURN *** [Tc Jc 3d] [8d]
rodrigueztor: checks
Santra said, "i think its a guy in drag"
babs14 said, "cowards"
babs14: checks
bastinptc: checks
IgnorantLuck said, "they always hate #1"
IgnorantLuck: bets $0.46
rodrigueztor: folds
rodrigueztor leaves the table
babs14 said, "does your boyfriend knoe you are gay?"
IgnorantLuck said, "LOl that made sense"
Joshua75 joins the table at seat #4
babs14: folds
Santra said, "he will fold"
bastinptc: raises $1.38 to $1.84
IgnorantLuck said, "ignorant drunk"
babs14 said, "lol"
IgnorantLuck: calls $1.38
*** RIVER *** [Tc Jc 3d 8d] [6h]
bastinptc: bets $3.10
IgnorantLuck: folds
Uncalled bet ($3.10) returned to bastinptc
babs14 said, "fold?"
bastinptc collected $3.94 from pot

Okay, I will comment. The first hand I thought I might be sorry about the 8 on the river. I have no idea what he actually had, except perhaps two pair. In the second, I was hoping he was happy to have his set, and, of course, distracted. I might have played the turn differently but don’t know if I would have gotten much more from him.

The chat deteriorated further. Auto-Moderator made an appearance, calmed things down. Time to go.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another little diddy: "Repent"

Naming a mystery as such defeats the purpose, don’t you think? You make a perfect specimen. Repent.

I know you can't face coming in every Monday night to this same bar. Nobody in their right mind, job or family, all alone in small numbers. Nobody talks. The music drones with the booze, drugs and a corner. Nobody music. A dark corner that eyes gradually adjust to. The same woman stands next to you. She reaches out and jabs your left arm quick like a sharp needle then painless. It's the same every Monday night you've come here. You come here every Monday night.

She runs to the empty dance floor, dances wild all over and over. Everyone watches then nobody then only walk-ins then nobody again.

You move to another available corner. The woman watches you. She never takes her eyes off. You watch her close enough to escape when she moves toward you. You move around so much that you dance. You are not dancing alone.

You were home after 3 A.M. You've been asleep five hours. Add your wife and three kids. Your left arm is bleeding. You must have rolled over on the cat. Unable to deal with more than one contrast at a time, start to forget everything: your dream and how your arm came to be that way. The blood is dry but without the usual red puffy periphery the cat gives you. If you had gotten it earlier, you didn't notice. The hint of a dream but not enough to recall. You leave for work. It doesn't occur to you that your job may not be there.

I am waiting for you at your office. You are getting on the elevator in the lobby. A young woman in very dark sunglasses stands uncomfortably close to you. She is smoking a cigarette. You cannot tolerate people who smoke. Smoking on an elevator? You get off on the fourteenth floor to walk up to your office on the eighteenth. As it is a shorter distance to travel, you grab the inside handrail, which makes your arm hurt. You move to the middle.

I am smoking the last cigarette of my pack when you walk in. Right behind you is the woman. She is from a messenger service. She has an envelope with your wallet, a pack of cigarettes and a note that I wrote. It says, "I found these in the back seat of my car. I see that you don't drive." You say, "I don't smoke." I leave, taking the cigarettes. It doesn't occur to you to wonder who I am until much later.

It is Monday. You're walking toward the bar. A fight across the street in a dark parking lot. Someone yelling for help. Perhaps a mugging. The yelling has stopped. You carry a pocket knife. A two-bladed Buck, long and sharp. You imagine what it would be like to use it on someone. Only in self-defense, of course, or coming to the aid of another. You imagine yourself compassionate.

Two kids with sunglasses run into you. Would have knocked you over had they not hit from both sides at the same time. You are dressed for a cooler night than it is. You take off your jacket, loosen your tie before you go in.

You walk over to the bar. Someone is standing in your corner. You don't really want to drink. You don't know what else to do. This woman for weeks.

Your left sleeve is wet. The bartender didn't seem to notice you are bleeding. You go to the john. Your shirt is not ripped. You roll up your sleeve. The wound is a deep puncture. You wash it off. The blood comes back just as fast as you get wipe it. The water makes it spread. You take some paper towels, put pressure on it.

You want to return to your corner of the bar. If someone is still standing there, you will wait until they leave.

Your arm feels numb. You are sleeping on it. The feeling comes back painful like needles but you doze off again.

I am waiting for you in your office. I offer you a cigarette. You decline. I ask you how your arm is.

I hand you your handkerchief. Your silk one. It is encrusted. I get up to leave and hand you the morning paper. I send the police to your office.

You swear you don't own silk.

Monday, January 19, 2009

When you know, you know

PokerStars Game #24075670815: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2009/01/19 19:52:48 ET
Table 'Medon IV' 6-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: vkak ($4.92 in chips)
Seat 2: jimliz ($1.95 in chips)
Seat 3: neophyzer ($6.03 in chips)
Seat 4: ZachFromNj ($2.48 in chips)
Seat 5: Mackengoy ($4.91 in chips)
Seat 6: bastinptc ($4.90 in chips)
Mackengoy: posts small blind $0.01
bastinptc: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Js Kd Ac As]
vkak: folds
jimliz: calls $0.02
neophyzer: raises $0.07 to $0.09
ZachFromNj: folds
Mackengoy: calls $0.08
bastinptc: calls $0.07
jimliz: folds
*** FLOP *** [9h 2c 6d]
Mackengoy: checks
bastinptc: bets $0.08
neophyzer: raises $0.45 to $0.53
Mackengoy: folds
bastinptc: raises $0.49 to $1.02
neophyzer: calls $0.49
*** TURN *** [9h 2c 6d] [7s]
bastinptc: bets $1.40
neophyzer: calls $1.40
*** RIVER *** [9h 2c 6d 7s] [7h]
bastinptc: bets $2.39 and is all-in
neophyzer: folds
Uncalled bet ($2.39) returned to bastinptc
bastinptc collected $4.88 from pot

He either has Aces as well, or Kings with accessories. By smooth calling preflop and re-raising on the flop, I take control with fairly good assurance that I have the best hand and slow him down. The board and my betting says I boated up.

A different approach to fiction

While some may find this piece a bit tedious, I think it is an absolute laugh riot. My perspective may be an indication of a need for more intensive and frequent sessions of psychoanalysis; the reader can form an opinion. A writer must find an authentic voice, and, and even though mine is admittedly a bit askew, it is steeped in precedence (You'll have to take my word for it. ), and is, if nothing else, a response to that more staid intellect.

King Pissy

If I had my choice, I'd be laying on a hillside, the sun warming my forehead and a slight cooling breeze upon my balls. It can be either appropriate season spring or fall, but it would probably be autumn, all because I would be thinking about where motivation fits with humility and futility, perhaps laying comfortably between the two, like that hillside, big and sloping and then there's me, any fire smothered in the damp grass I feel slowly wetting my clothes, so slowly it never feels cold. No further reduction needed.

See how this goes? For a short while there I could have written a short story. There'd be dialogue as when life becomes a pile of sacks and neatly stacked on the floor in lieu of paying bills. Bags of accumulation don't/Accumulation of bags doesn't mean anything without bags accumulating.

See how this goes? I encourage others all day to be a shadow box. Always interesting speculations, which is supposed to be stressed: the objects on the shelves or their shadows? Or the shadows thrown by the box? Just avoid using them in a motif. And I realize I have written this before and it just doesn't qualify for insight even though it begins to say a lot, as repetition goes.

A few years back I had the lead in this play about a writer who writes mundanely about the mundane. For years the main character had been able to convince himself that this was a virtuous pursuit because, discussions about skill forced aside, it nonetheless guaranteed a certain level of integrity and challenge. One day, and without any explanation within the body of the play itself, he decides that the most meaningful thing he can do is eat a paperback book, one page at a time in a single sitting. The glue has already been consumed by cockroaches, so the pages come out easily. To eat the book, the title of which the play’s author had no compulsion to divulge, takes up the last one and a half hours of the two hour play. Although I had practiced with little scraps of paper, opening night was the first time that I actually had to eat a whole book. Halfway through I could not eat another bite, and to save myself further discomfort I took it upon myself to improvise by wondering aloud about the toxicity of the ink, knowing that even woodworms avoid type when boring through old books, and further speculated about poisoining oneself, even if unintentionally, let alone taking the bother to eat a book, was sufficiently mundane. For this departure from the script, I was dismissed. The playwright took my place for the remainder of a roundly-panned three-day run. He did not make it through a complete volume either, vomiting on night two, nearly asphixiating himself closing night.

I remained constipated for three days, understandably more miserable than when at the end of the play I (he), my character comes to terms with his lack of talent. On the fourth day the book passed without an audience, yet with incidence as it was the consistency and texture of adobe dried in the hot sun. At that moment, or rather within that hour or so, I determined I would take up sculpting.

This scatalogically fortuitous (self-determining) change in modes of expression, reminds me of when cultural life in the most undeserving city, Attica, began to blossom by following the credo of the Athenian tyrant and despot, Pisistratus (or Peisistratus) (546-527 B.C.). For such a young fellow, Pisistratus had some interesting things to say:

1. Distinguish between hatred of people and the need
to be alone. The former as attitude with cause, the
latter with little effect.

2. Beware the enthusiastic member of one’s audience at the amphitheater, flailing a spastic command of three seats.

3. She is well-dressed and waiting. Wait to see if who
she is meeting shows. If that person does not, approach
only when it is clear she is about to depart.

4. Always money.

The scholar and poet Alfonzo Rem touches on Pisistratus in his book, "Thermos: Temperaments of the Early Alchemists" (Southern Illinois University Press, 1972). It seems much of contemporary philosophical thought can be traced back as a reaction to or an elaboration of this dicta.

Apparently, Pisistratus suffered from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, among a variety of other ills (he also suffered from kidney stones), and before Pissy (a nickname given him by citizens in bad standing with their ruler), there was no knowledge of gold therapy for rheumatoid conditions. Pissy’s discovery came about quite by accident, yet was based on the symbolic notion that gold was power, demanding that he be administered a teaspoon of gold with his first meal each day to dominate over and therefore stay his symptoms. Quite to his delight, the gold gave relief to his aching joints.

So that none of his passed precious metal go wasted, he had a slave do nothing else but separate the gold from feces each day. Understandably, not wanting to re-ingest this gold, Pisistratus relegated it back to use in financial transactions. When word of this procedure was eventually leaked, merchants became reluctant to do business with their government. When torture failed to remedy his growing financial problems, P hired magicians to concoct a substitute for the gold with which he could medicate himself. They were, of course, unable to do so and Pisistratus eventually found himself with a sagging economy and a wealth of gold deemed worthless, even to himself, unless he could bring himself to continue his gold therapy. For the remainder of his short life, he lived with indescribable pain. He died of a bowel obstruction (unrelated to his ingestion of gold), in effect choking on his own shit.

According to Rem, this story is what inspired Shakespeare to write Timon of Athens. Though there is no mention of the P's condition or attitudes in the play, Timon's gregarious, overextended and over-expended hospitality eventually was his undoing. In Act IV, Scene III, Timon sits outside of the cave he has banished himself to, and while digging through the dirt, he finds gold. This, too, he gives away after remarking that he cannot eat it. This was P's over-consumption stood on its head.

It is thought by Rem, privy (while on a Fulbright) to texts Shakespeare is thought to have used in preparation of the play, that the cave stood in as an oblique reference to Pisistratus' anus, and speculates that Timon may have early on been a slave forced to sift his master's fecal matter, all the while wisely putting some aside for himself. Further evidence of Timon's familiarity with P's afflictions may be drawn from the ease at which Timon flings curses, several hoping for disease, upon the citizens of Athens.

Although Rem does not recall any such inferences in the texts he read or in Shakespeare's play regarding homosexuality, he further speculates about Timon’s sexual habits by admitting that in the back of his mind he has always wondered if Timon might be gay or (Rem does not suggest there is a connection between the two) bisexual or of a nature to prefer the company of animals. Rem suggests, based on Pisistratus' first of four dicta that Timon may have been a bit dandyish but further evidence can not be found in either the play or his research. Rem’s speculation comes more from the indication that the companions Timon kept were entirely ingratiating and their own intentions no more than opportunistic.

Rem also notes that Timon, while still in residence at his house, received gifts of live animals; and while in a rage he states that he would prefer to kiss a dog rather than Phrynia, a woman Alcibades (a traitorous general and politician of the next generation of politicians) brought with him to the cave. Even though Timon spurns the female, Rem cautions against reading Timon as a misogynist, for in Scene III of Act IV, he declares himself "misanthropos", thereby including both genders as targets for his contempt. However, this still leaves the door open concerning desires aroused by a canine.

As to the second rule, at least in the play, Athens was in civil war over the man, Timon. Number three could be read as chauvinistic but can be expanded to advise opportunistic bases for cautious observation of events (at which Timon failed). Four is self-evident and ironic for both father and son.

As to how Pisistratus' world-view becomes the genesis of modern philosophy, Rem explains that several alchemists, while in the employment of Pisastratus wrote tracts correlating the state of a healthy economy and physical body. Over the next several centuries came further analyses of the relationship between social and physiological systems. Furthermore, taken by the irony of Pisistratus' political power and physical ailments, these same alchemists wrote farces which were staged soon after Pissy’s demise, and these too brought forth considerable stylistic developments for the theatre, and from which Shakespeare would benefit.

While Rem’s reading is speculative, it does encourage a closer inspection of Shakespeare’s Timon to determine if there is any support to be given Rem’s positions. I would encourage someone else to follow up on this suggestion, as I have neither the scholarly aptitude, time or interest. I am content to let the thesis remain based on the anecdotal.

In 1972 I happened upon an off-off Broadway production of "Timon of Athens." At the time the play had a certain resonance in the anti-war/anti-government community. In Act V, Scene I, a poet and a painter come to Timon. Timon refers to the poet specifically and calls on him as an alchemist, to "Make gold of this!" at which point Timon throws dog feces at the two artists. The actors playing the artists retrieved the fecal matter, and while the one playing the artist made a small head that resembled Richard Nixon in profile, the poet recited a verse in which he rhymed “piles of shit,” “thousands of deaths,” and the “offensive on Tet.” The crowd went wild. Up until that point in the play, the audience had remained unengaged. Afterwards, and for the rest of the final act, the energy level in the audience and on stage noticeably changed. The critics who bothered to review the play said nothing adverse about the performance and made sure to include the poem in their description, insuring a month-long run for a packed theatre.

And this is how we return to the mundane as a subject for artmaking. It perpetuates itself with encouragement from the audience. Perhaps it is more convenient to exclaim that all that is left is shit, and if that is what we have to work with, then so be it. Regardless, the need to create has the stronger precedence, just as it is maintained that the best art is made from adversity. The shit may be of our own making, or the by-product of those living in our proximity. Shit is criticality, the aftermath of a system fed that which sustains it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday Night’s All Right for a Fight, Oh Yeah!

I had been sweating my buddy, Herb, in a 4500-person tourney, in which he finished 8th (great job!), and in turn got the hankering to try a little ring play before dinner. Scanning for an active 25NL room, I found one running at 44%. Actually, there were several running anywhere from 40% to 50% participation in a hand. Saturday evening, a few beers and some poker. Sure, why not? Oops, I forgot the beer. Good. Let’s play.

Right away I knew the villain was a special kinda guy, playing 80% or better, limping on occasion, otherwise raising anywhere from 8 to 20 x BB. He was getting some action, but usually he’d get folds no later than after the flop. I prayed for a hand.

>PokerStars Game #24008509739: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) -
>2009/01/17 20:35:22 ET
>Table 'Gudy' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
>Seat 1: diebels59 ($21.15 in chips)
>Seat 2: bastinptc ($24.10 in chips)
>Seat 3: royman0785 ($25 in chips)
>Seat 4: aintitkewl ($25 in chips)
>Seat 6: oll220 ($25 in chips)
>Seat 7: OutLaw200287 ($30.90 in chips)
>Seat 8: royloyo ($4.55 in chips)
>Seat 9: KONAN V11 ($26.50 in chips)
>aintitkewl: posts small blind $0.10
>oll220: posts big blind $0.25
>*** HOLE CARDS ***
>Dealt to bastinptc [Kd Ad]
>OutLaw200287: raises $4.75 to $5
>royloyo: calls $4.55 and is all-in

With this all-in, I knew I was calling.

>KONAN V11: folds
>diebels59: folds
>bastinptc: calls $5
>royman0785: folds
>NickDog22 joins the table at seat #5
>aintitkewl: folds
>oll220: folds
>*** FLOP *** [7d Qs Kc]
>OutLaw200287: bets $20

And with this flop, I knew I was all-in.

>bastinptc: calls $19.10 and is all-in
>Uncalled bet ($0.90) returned to OutLaw200287
>*** TURN *** [7d Qs Kc] [6c]
>NickDog22 leaves the table
>*** RIVER *** [7d Qs Kc 6c] [3c]
>*** SHOW DOWN ***
>OutLaw200287: shows [Th Ah] (high card Ace)
>bastinptc: shows [Kd Ad] (a pair of Kings)
>bastinptc collected $37.20 from side pot
>royloyo: shows [4c 7c] (a flush, King high)
>royloyo collected $13.30 from main pot

47c? Pretty funny. Of course, I wouldn’t think so if the guy hadn’t been playing short. Yet, it just verified that I was indeed at the table I needed to be at.

This is the very next hand:

>PokerStars Game #24008535712: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) -
>2009/01/17 20:36:14 ET
>Table 'Gudy' 9-max Seat #4 is the button
>Seat 1: diebels59 ($21.15 in chips)
>Seat 2: bastinptc ($37.20 in chips)
>Seat 3: royman0785 ($25 in chips)
>Seat 4: aintitkewl ($25 in chips)
>Seat 6: oll220 ($24.75 in chips)
>Seat 7: OutLaw200287 ($6.80 in chips)
>Seat 8: royloyo ($13.30 in chips)
>Seat 9: KONAN V11 ($26.50 in chips)
>oll220: posts small blind $0.10
>OutLaw200287: posts big blind $0.25
>*** HOLE CARDS ***
>Dealt to bastinptc [Tc Th]
>royloyo: folds
>royloyo is sitting out
>royloyo leaves the table --- Of course he does!
>KONAN V11: folds
>diebels59: folds
>OutLaw200287 said, "nh"

I’m far enough back in the field that I don’t want to go crazy with these tens, plus I have a feeling…

>bastinptc: calls $0.25
>royman0785: folds
>aintitkewl: folds
>oll220: folds
>bastinptc said, "thx"
>OutLaw200287: raises $6.55 to $6.80 and is all-in
Yep, just as I thought, and just what I wanted. I could go heads up with pocket tens, especially given his range.

>Emmess23 joins the table at seat #8
>bastinptc: calls $6.55
>*** FLOP *** [8h 7s 9s]
>*** TURN *** [8h 7s 9s] [Ad]
>*** RIVER *** [8h 7s 9s Ad] [Ac]
>*** SHOW DOWN ***
>OutLaw200287: shows [4c 4h] (two pair, Aces and Fours)
>bastinptc: shows [Tc Th] (two pair, Aces and Tens)
>bastinptc collected $13.05 from pot
>OutLaw200287 leaves the table

I didn’t stick around much longer myself. By now, I was talking to Herb about his tourney and had Poker Academy open. Then I remembered that I needed my hand history, so I found another loose Stars game, sat down, requested my HH, won $3 and I was gone in 3 hands. I played a little PA, and went upstairs to make dinner. While dinner was in the oven, I opened up another Stars room, won $5. I couldn’t wait to get back to the tables later when people would really be hammered. My bankroll was starting to emerge from the danger of too few buy-ins for a decent game, and I wanted to get at it while I seemed to be on a roll. (Instead, we watched several episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” from season 2.5. I still prefer holding DW’s hand over playing AA.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Slow Words in a Small World

Ready for another one? It's a bit longer than the last. In this one, my two worlds collide.

First let me say I'm grateful to ye, son. What ye call a transcription, eh?
Drawn to me like I's a viper: the snake don't have to move, save sway.

No, I don't know where I stand, this world of knotted words. Me nephew says it's an "erratic formal process" that I have to take another's word for; 'ceptin' in me own case, grace afforded like a coin stuck up me nose from God knows where and the change comin' from every orifice that the dear Lord give me, 'ceptin' me mouth. I seen it so in the mirror on numerous occasions, includin' t'night.

No, there ain't a story comin' atcha yet, for it ain't right. I'm tellin' ye I don't know until time when it's time. The way it's supposed to be, humility bein' what it is an' all.

I could tell ye stories: me own and ones I heard, but I'm not as much interested in much more than I wish to remember but cain't, that and forgittin’s close kin, what ain't come to me yet. Mind you, not to be confused with me neighbor, Mr. Ain't Happenin’ T’all. (There's a fella. To be sure.) So what the hell!

When I's a lad, me and a buddy found a Ball jar, the lid holdin' back a black fluid an' somethin' of a bird's beak 'n' feathers'd smudged up against the glass when you shook it. Found it out back his neighbor's yard, we did. Cracked the lid a tad and the innards stank like a man lettin' go enough stomach blood to patch a two-lane come summer.

Now, where's the story in that? Nowheres 'cept in your questions! Always a good start for a teller. The rest is figurin' out how an onion gets all them layers. You know: which way's it get bigger? In or out?

Well, I'm out and I guess that makes ye in, don't it? 'S a joke, lad. Learnt a few tricks there from me nephew. Had 'im here just the once, on his way through to lord knows where. Stayed a month. Slept a lot at first. Said 'is dreams was most important time of day, workin' through some mighty fierce last few years. Aye, the pressures of wakin'.

He's a smart one, tho'. Hard worker too, when he's awoke. Split wood all day, givin' me his views on all sorts of stuff; but mostly on the way his world works.

Speakin' of such, did ye ever wonder about that poet, Wordsworth? I figure a name like that and him bein’ a poet, it’s got to be a stage name, 'ceptin' I know'd a guy last name of Scandal and seemed he done everything he could to make it so.

Anyways, about me nephew, I'd be list'nin' while he'd be choppin'. He'd take a breather now and then and out'd come somethin' like "Willingness to give everything you've got to a relationship, whether it be casual conversation or something akin to the intimacy in a solid marriage, is inseparably linked to our ability to contribute to the improvement of people and their lives.” Darned if I know right off what he’s sayin’ so I’d ask him to repeat hisself. That’s how I come to remember, just in case you’re wondering how deep a contrivance I’s gonna weave for ya.

Then he'd commence to choppin' again. Put up a log. Whomp! And as he's reachin' for another, out'd come, "If such improvement requires great complexity of thought, I am willing to put forth the effort." Whack!

An’ then some more: "I am unwilling to invest much in ideas that seem to do nothing but intensify the confusion, just as I am unwilling to invest in ideas that smugly claim to provide easy answers to every question." Whack!

"Both extremes are destructive, for the fanatics do evil, while the
confused allow it to continue." Whack!

"The path of wisdom must enable both thought and action." Whack!

"We cease to think when we refuse to do so under the constraint of language. I think Derrida said that." Whack!

On it'd go. And I gotta tell ya, at first I had absolutely no idea what he's talkin' about. ‘Cept it sounded so good. I'd figured I might ask him to talk it out for me later, but then come the accident.

A log split funny. Took a hard curve and the ax ended up in his left foot. Split his boot and the foot clean through, next to the big toe, right on up to his ankle, it did. Put him in the truck with his foot on ice in a five gallon bucket and run him up the hospital. Bucket was purt'near full of blood by the time we got there. I give the doctors some of me own blood at the hospital just in case. But they sewed his foot up good as new. Never hit a bone. Kept 'him about a week after that.

When I went in to fetch him, somethin'd come over him. He’s different. ('Spectin' that wa'n't ye? Well, I wadn't.) Didn’t notice right away. Come upon it later, sittin' around the house, talkin'.

It come to me when I figured to ask him about all that talkin' 'fore the accident. I'd tell him what he'd said, like, "Willingness to give everything you've got to a relationship, whether it be casual conversation or something akin to the intimacy in a solid marriage, is inseparably linked to our ability to contribute to the improvement of people and their lives."

And he finished it, but don’t ask me how I come to remember all this. He said, "Remember, dear Uncle, that I also said, 'If such improvement requires great complexity of thought, I am willing to put forth the effort.' Well, I read all that somewhere, and thought about it some more. Who says I've got to make people improved? And with that, what responsibility do I have to a conversation unless there is a reciprocity, an equitabilty that automatically renders a hierarchy, implied or overlooked, moot?

"Not that I can't see giving a homeless person a few bucks or helping a family fix their car so they can get to and from a pathetically paid job. No sir; example is how we improve each other's live. Not looking down on another. By putting a conjunction between people and their lives, a subtle distinction is made that should not be there. Words might make someone feel better but I'm not counting on an upgrade of the human race as I escalate my own standards. For if I involve myself in complex thoughts, then I'd better figure out a way to neutralize the game of catch-up. There's a world of difference between wanting to improve someone else's lot in life and wanting to improve someone, though I have surely been guilty of the latter — oftentimes, I'm sure, without even knowing it."

Well, I’s already in deep and mightily confused, so I goes ahead and asks him, "What about: 'I am unwilling to invest much in ideas that seem to do nothing but intensify the confusion, just as I am unwilling to invest in ideas that smugly claim to provide easy answers to every question.'?"

"Read that, too. How'd you come to remember all of that stuff? Must be in the genes, eh?

"I've got to admit, I'm mostly confused. But the way I figure it, you've got to start from somewhere. I store up confusion like pennies in a Ball jar. I'll fill a jar till there's a mound above the mouth, about to overflow, and then I'll find a quarter in a coat I wore last winter to top it off. Now I've got buying power! Somehow these two things go together, occur because of one another: an intentional act, the submission to the jar, and an act long forgotten that comes back to help in some small but efficient way. Makes it easier, less embarrassing to take the jar into the bank to get some solid dollars. The need for certitude starts at the CertiSaver because no matter how hard I try to pin down an idea, it changes; slips away on more thought."

That's how I come to remember that jar me and me friend found and I says, "Seems to me the feller ye got that stuff from'd be mighty sorry to hear you’re not so sure as ye once was."

"And he would be glad to hear me recite him, rote? The same guy also said, 'The path of wisdom must enable both thought and action.' Note he said 'of wisdom,' not 'to wisdom. There's the difference. I am cynical to the point of faith, dear uncle."

So I asks 'im next, "Was it that Derrida fellow said all that?"

"No. It was one of his acolytes. Derrida might have said, 'We cease to think when we refuse to do so under the constraint of language (semi-colon); even we are coming to doubt if this limitation is indeed a limitation.' Funny, that semicolon; but important.

"What makes language a limitation? Its inability and concurrent desire to achieve a tangible cessation, like Truth (capital ‘t’). What makes us begin to doubt that there is limitation to language? Wanting to have the last word on death.

"Prayer is a response to doubt, dear uncle; conceit is not."

I told the boy that's the first thing he'd said that I out an' out understood. I know'd from experience that's there's plenty of things no matter how much thinkin' upon, there's no figurin' out 'til somethin' smacks me upside the head ... out the blue. All I had to do with it was bein' there with all me questions at-the-ready, the gun loaded and laid up in the corner by the door.

Sure there's those that'd say it was all them questions that let me see what it was I needed to see, and I's got t'agree there; but it wa'n't the questions that made that Thankgivin' goose fly right over me head with all that big empty sky. Get me meaning?

Seems to me there's a point a trail of questions just gotta stop, even so's some new ones can take they’s place, and maybe later the answers'd all pile up again in the shape of new questions. Maybe not. Don't know 'til then; but that not knowin', if ye think on it a bit, might be the way all it keeps goin'.

Me nephew then tells me that I'd pretty much covered it all right there. And as by now he's gettin' around good on the crutches, the next day he leaves. Got a postcard from Seattle, Japan, and the other day one from New York City. I’ll show 'em to ye.

Like I said, I remember all of this. I ain't got no excitin' stories just now. Important to let ye know. Know ye'd like ye a good one folks'll read.

OK, OK, something about poker

I had been at this table for nearly 100 hands. I have a pretty good read on the players, and some of them have been playing way too many hands and betting second best hands, although that is not always clear. One player is seeing 74% of the flops and complaining that he has only won two hands. But, aside from short-stacked Hugo, I am by and large the most conservative player at the table. I am playing a trap game because of all of the calling stations. (Actually, Truko87 is playing a fairly conservative game and has the number of the calling stations as well. I am staying out of his way, and he is reciprocating.)

The villain in this hand is a relative newcomer to the table, and according to the rankings, a newbie. (Why small-rolled players insist on trying the bigger tables is beyond me, except that they may not take the game-learning software very seriously.)

Poker Academy Online #40,258,904
No Limit Texas Holdem ($0.5/$1 NL)
Table Emerald
January 17, 2009

1} ubu roi $120.00 3h 3s
3) Kaschmir $21.13 ?? ??
5) emptytofull * $94.00 ?? ??
7) matth63 $96.95 7c 4d
8) Hugo X $15.57 ?? ??
10) Truk087 $149.92 ?? ??

matth63 posts small blind $0.50
Hugo X posts big blind $1
Truk087 folds
ubu roi calls $1
Kaschmir calls $1
emptytofull calls $1
matth63 calls $0.50
Hugo X checks

FLOP: 5c 2s 6h
matth63 checks
Hugo X checks
ubu roi checks
Kaschmir checks
emptytofull checks

TURN: 5c 2s 6h 3c
matth63 checks
Hugo X checks

Not the best flop for my set. I need to see where I am in the hand and do so in a manner that leaves little room for doubt. By no means does this mean that I'm automatically letting my hand go if someone pushes back.

ubu roi bets $5
Kaschmir folds
emptytofull folds
matth63 raises $7.50

A check-raise. Unfortunately, on PA this could mean anything from a flush draw to a made straight. This is often the challenge at this site and is why it is essential to study other players' tendencies, take note of their stats, etc. The "trend", however, is to overbet a flush draw up front. The check-raise is most likely meant to discourage the flush draw, and therefore I figure he has the straight. I also cannot rule out a bigger set that was checked around on the flop. (Think it odd that I pay as much attention to a play money site players? As I've said in the past, I suffer no illusions that I am still a relative newbie myself. This is my public school, as it were, and I don't see the play at the $200NL being any different.)

There is $17.50 in the pot. If I'm looking at a set of fives or sixes, I'm dead to anything except a 3. But I'm pretty certain I'm looking at a made straight. I have a set, dammit! I have 10 outs, about 2.5 to 1 as it stands, and, given his aggression, if I hit, I stand to win (bigger set = lose) considerably more. After all, I assume I am dealing with a relative newbie at a loose table and Level One thinking predominates.

Hugo X folds
ubu roi calls $7.50

RIVER: 5c 2s 6h 3c 5d
matth63 bets $16
ubu roi raises $31
matth63 raises $36.45 (all-in)
ubu roi calls $36.45
matth63 shows 7c 4d
ubu roi shows 3h 3s

ubu roi wins $193.90 with a Full House, Threes over Fives
$3 raked.

I wonder if he would have gone the distance with a wheel or 6-high straight.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stories that tell stories

Quite a few years ago I went on a writing jag and kicked out several short stories that followed a theme, most of which have never seen more than the pages of a Word file. Well, I'm dusting them off. And guess what. I'm subjecting you to a few of them.

The first one, "For Now, the Tourist", has in fact been published. Where, I cannot remember. I hope you find it, and the ones that may occasionally follow, entertaining.

For Now, The Tourist

"A man who cannot model a perfect statue may yet erect a lamppost and place thereon a light which shall save many a wayfarer from stumbling."

Rev. E.P. Roe, 1876

"A broken shoelace cannot heal."

Alfonzo Rem, 1976

The people of the small Italian village grew more concerned with each new day's discovery of hundreds of fish heads floating along the lake shore. All kinds of fish: pike, sunfish, catfish, carp and the other indigenous and introduced. Many had guts still trailing behind, the way a professional cleaner, paid by the fish cleaves the head from the meat quickly with little more regard for the fish's nervous system. Who or what was leaving such waste? Not that the heads could not have been used by the more enterprising: perhaps in soup for the beneficiaries of the Casa del Mutilato or by poor villagers, if indeed there were any poor villagers to be found in this popular tourist area.

Then it was discovered from a tourist's dream that two of the hotel's maids had been using fish bones to reconstruct the bodies of worn out Barbie dolls. They claimed the bones used were from the hotel's trash, picking them out on Friday nights, and that they would never have need for the great number available from the large fish kills. They were almost believed until a search of the hotel gardener's shed turned up the variety of large, hand-casting fish nets that had been used in the Mediterranean and Mideast since biblical times. This was certainly not what you'd call a fishing village. The lake was big, but not that big. Also, upon a bit more investigation it was found the two women had already asked the government for a small business loan to start an academy centered around their special reconstructive craft.

It was the talk of the village the next market day, a Wednesday. The men grouped in threes, fours and fives in the piazza, the women in transient-twos in front of the vendors' pop-open, product-laden trailers. The discussion was of the law and whether it was clear any infractions, if there were any at all, merited incarceration, except perhaps for illegal dumping; and it was pointed out that dumping would have had to take place somewhere else than the place where the fish were retrieved for it to be accurately called dumping. And although all seemed to agree it was a great waste of fish, no one, it seems, ever thought to ask what the maids had done with the meat, where they had acquired the Barbies, if they were not their own, or what role the tourist had beyond his dream. If anyone did in fact address these issues, they did not endure to another ear. There was also some concern about the number of fish actually left in the lake.

I had been having gory dreams almost from my first night away from home. A maniacal and murderous hillbilly, missing teeth in his narrow, pointed jaw, chased and finally caught me about my sixth night, both of us doing the other in: him, taking me by surprise, slitting my throat with a long serrated knife; I, before dying, pumped three rounds from a .38 caliber in his torso.

The fish dream followed the next evening. I did not think much of it except as perhaps another installment in the blood and guts scenarios of the preceding nights. Not that it wasn't remarkable, because I did share it with the patroness of the hotel, quite casually, for speaking little Italian and phobic of large bodies of water, I had no idea what was going on at the lake. She quickly excused herself and the authorities fingered the maids shortly thereafter. This was four vacation days out of Florence.

I had been looking forward to this holiday. I had never been to Europe before. And as an awe-junkie, artist and recent inductee to the mysterious joy in the Holy Spirit, I was looking forward to seeing all of the religious art I could get my eyes in front of. I was not disappointed. I was dazzled, and later confused.

In one of the Florentine chapels, there is a painting of what I take to be two saints with a large fish they had pulled in. I stood in front of it, crying; for what reason, I did not particularly know. An impression from a New Testament story that somehow brought validation to the story; brought it to life for me. But enough to make me shed tears? How could a five hundred year old painting bring something into focus? What more did it offer than a two thousand year old story? It is only now that I make a connection between the painting and the incident in the small village.

Only one other painting in Florence had the same effect on me. It was a Madonna and Child, one of the thousands of Madonna and Child, Virgin and Child, Mary and Child paintings in the world, except this Madonna was actually playing with the child on her lap. There was love, joy and gaiety: no staid piety, no concern for the serious nature of future events.

As it was now common knowledge in the village, upon her return, the hotel patroness did not hesitate to share with me the whole story of one of the maids, a life-long resident and daughter of an earlier mayor. She claimed to have had a vision of the Virgin when she was eleven years old. It was said to have happened in the olive grove between the lake and the old castle ruins. The girl was sitting on a concrete bench, sketching one of the more ancient but still fruitful trees. Intent on her drawing, she suddenly caught a peripheral glimpse of a figure standing next to her. She started, but the radiant woman, dressed in what appeared to be rags, comforted her, saying only, "Dear child." The woman then turned away, walked down into the grove towards the lake and quickly disappeared into the squat, scraggly trees.

At first, the girl told no one of this first encounter, and remained quiet until after the fourth encounter at age sixteen. It happened in the lavatory at the seafood restaurant where she waitressed. Although this was not her only vision and despite numerous drawings from previous visions in which Mary had graciously sat as a model, no one in the village believed the Holy Virgin had need of facilities (nor should the Holy Mother sit) and therefore discounted the girl's whole story. The Church also thought it wise to ignore the whole thing; and since the girl made no protest whatsoever, after a lengthy and sometime heated, and certainly factional debate about tourism possibilities (my host was most sympathetic to the then young girl), the whole episode eventually faded from the public arena.

And even though now, years later without incident, the tale re-emerged and did nothing but help secure the notion that the one maid must certainly have a feeble mind. She was allowed to continue working at the hotel but was roundly discouraged from her doll craft.

The other maid, recently from Florence, was summarily fired. She was on the same train I rode back to Florence. I did not see her get off, but perhaps I missed her or she may have gone on. As a tourist, I was pretty much left alone for the rest of my stay, although there were a few times while back in Florence that I thought I was being followed. Yet, by and large, my remaining holiday was quite wonderful, dreamless.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Unadulterated whine

I sweated Stan last night in two of his MTTs at Stars. Close to the money, he went for the gusto and went busto. Happens. We’re on Skype and he asks me if I want to play some heads up at Poker Academy. He needs the practice for the Aussie Millions ME in four days. It was late, I was tired and I had already done 100 hands of HU earlier in the evening, so I declined.

“Ah, c’mon. We’ll do it for play money no PAX.”

I have about 40K PAX and Stan has about 10K more than that, so neither one of is hurting. It was past my bedtime, yet for Stan, an Aussie, he was just hitting his stride. I stalled, and then I got to thinking: Stan is primarily a cash player where Heads Up play is what one hopes for in a hand, and while that may happen in a tourney, it is less likely a cash scenario. He needs the practice, and who am I to turn down a fellow PAer who could very well do well in a few days and make us all proud. I acquiesced.

Stan and I have played HU before, and for PAX… a lot of PAX. We’ve had hands that had pots as large as 6K, more PAX than 95% of the members of Poker Academy have ever had for their bankroll. One memorable hand in a $5/10 game found me with Queens in the hole on the BB. Stan raised on the button and I came over the top. He called. The flop came with two 2s. He held 25off. It stung bad. A little while later he took down my AA with J8 and a straight.

So, yes, I have another reason to avoid playing HU with Stan. He’s a friggin’ luckbox.

Poker Academy Online #50,402,614, T#356
No Limit Texas Holdem ($15/$30 NL)
Table Pyrite
January 15, 2009 - 00:33:28 (PST)

1} ubu roi $1,670 Jd Ac
6) -stanlev- * $1,330 ?? ??

-stanlev- posts small blind $15
ubu roi posts big blind $30
-stanlev- calls $15
ubu roi bets $60
-stanlev- raises $180
ubu roi calls $180

FLOP: 8h 6s 5s
ubu roi checks
-stanlev- bets $90
ubu roi raises $90
-stanlev- raises $880 (all-in)
ubu roi folds

-stanlev- wins $900 uncontested

The next hand:

Poker Academy Online #50,402,615, T#356
No Limit Texas Holdem ($15/$30 NL)
Table Pyrite
January 15, 2009 - 00:33:53 (PST)

1} ubu roi * $1,220 4d 2c
6) -stanlev- $1,780 As 6h

ubu roi posts small blind $15
-stanlev- posts big blind $30
ubu roi calls $15
-stanlev- checks

FLOP: 6d 3s 4s
-stanlev- bets $60
ubu roi calls $60

TURN: 6d 3s 4s Jc
-stanlev- checks
ubu roi checks

RIVER: 6d 3s 4s Jc Jd
-stanlev- bets $90
ubu roi calls $90
-stanlev- shows As 6h
ubu roi mucks

-stanlev- wins $360 with Two Pair, Jacks and Sixes

And thirteen hands later:

Poker Academy Online #50,402,628, T#356
No Limit Texas Holdem ($25/$50 NL)
Table Pyrite
January 15, 2009 - 00:37:25 (PST)

1} ubu roi $975 9s Jd
6) -stanlev- * $2,025 Jc Ah

-stanlev- posts small blind $25
ubu roi posts big blind $50
-stanlev- calls $25
ubu roi checks

FLOP: Ts Kd Qc
ubu roi checks
-stanlev- checks

TURN: Ts Kd Qc 4d
ubu roi bets $100
-stanlev- calls $100

RIVER: Ts Kd Qc 4d 8h
ubu roi bets $300
-stanlev- raises $475

Only one hand beats me. It’s HU, for crissake.

ubu roi raises $50 (all-in)
-stanlev- calls $50
ubu roi shows 9s Jd
-stanlev- shows Jc Ah

-stanlev- wins $1,950 with an Ace High Straight

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Going Soft

When the Dear Wife and I moved to the Great Northwest from Gritty Chicago, one of the first things we noticed was the dialect, particularly with men. There was a noticeably gentler tenor to the voice, even a slight lisp, which made us wonder if even men with children, men who hunted elk, who worked on our cars, great numbers of men, were in fact gay. That was the first week. After that, we got used to the speech patterns. Still, if any of these men went to Chicago and spoke in the manner they do, everyone, gay and straight alike, would assume them to be gay. I can hear the stereotypically Bears fan now: “Yeah, Brokeback Mountain!” Like they ever saw the film…

We made the adjustment from Chicago to Podunk with minimal effort, perhaps because DW and I have a gentler, more laid back side to us. And even though both of us had lived in the city for upwards of twenty years, we had spent a great deal of our youths in the country, so in a way, it was like moving back home. I’m putting a positive spin on it.

In fact, much of the city stuck with us. DW knows how to give melting attitude to someone’s unwarranted rudeness. I’m considerably quieter in my disdain, more erudite in my critical analysis, more alien in my evaluations, and therefore more circumspect as to what I divulge. To mask my own particular aesthete effete, I use words like “shit” and “fuck” to level criticisms while effectively and purposefully avoiding cogent content for my rationale. In other words, I try to fit in.

See? I still have a sense of humor about it all. Too droll? Tough shit.

Come to think of it, I did the same when we lived in Chicago, or at least of version of the dumbing down, even in arenas such as the art world where such affects weren’t needed. Of course, so many others in the art community were affected, that I liked to antagonize with a protracted coarseness, which did nothing for my popularity in those circles. I wasn’t an asshole about it; I just resisted the pretense.

My art from this period reflects that perspective. While others were trying to cram Derrida and Foucault into art models (critical thought can be influential but is better served analyzing sources of inspiration than being the locus of inspiration), I was exploring craft, nature and family influences in fine art making. Perhaps my inspiration was reactionary, yet at least it had a soul.

Nevertheless, steeped as I was in the dialogue, and although critical of over-intellectualization, a move to an area where figurative, landscape and pure abstract painting reigned supreme, rubbed me the wrong way. No grit. These people painted because they loved to paint and loved their subject matter, whether it be friends, mountains, flowers or just light and paint. As the years have passed, I have found that there are some art students in Portland experimenting with what might be considered neo-conceptual ideas (quickly going out of fashion elsewhere), and a few other more established artists doing some interesting work with narratives, but they aren’t part of the local art market. These latter artists seemed to look to Seattle, Chicago, LA or NY for an audience.

An audience…

When we moved to this area, out in the country to farm, an hour and a half to the nearest sizable cultural center, I knew that I was consciously eschewing any notion of an audience. In fact, I wanted to make art in isolation, without the benefit of peers. The dialogue would be with the voices in my head. Any “networking” would be with my subject matter. Well, guess what; I’m doing landscapes.

The change didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I would say that a fair amount of my work to-date has been about the stressful relationship I have with the Nature that surrounds me, especially in my video work (pieces too long to put up with other work I have on YouTube). It might also be argued that the photos I am taking of country scenery are not fine art at all. In fact, I would be one of those people who would argue that point. Pretty pictures may be no more than a talent for recognizing and capturing — replicating — the actuality that precedes one’s gaze and technical skill. Still, I am moved to take the photo.

Why am I reluctant to call these images art? Because if I cannot infuse them with any more meaning than to express awe, if the narrative is wholly internal, more like a prayer than a manifesto, then they are at best inspired icons. Perhaps it’s just a personal preference, an apologia for particular subjective criteria. Yet, this does not mean that the photos cannot be shared and enjoyed. I am surrounded by Nature’s beauty, and that is the sole point of many of these photos.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Omahart loose players

(a long one)

I went to Stars the night before last and was sidetracked briefly from playing when I found my “buddy”, the sociopath Stan, playing a couple micro tourneys. I watched him for a while, and when Stan was knocked out of one and started to climb in the other, I made my way over to Omaha. Stan is playing in the ME of the Aussies Millions this month, and as a member of the Poker Academy family, I wish him good luck. As the sometimes spoiler in my Omaha games, he can go to hell.

There were just a few rooms of short-handed games going, and it was apparent that the one I had walked into was already a wild game with a lot of preflop raises and re-raises. A good time to sit back and wait for the right opportunity. It only took a few hands until I chose to limp on the button with a fairly good hand.

Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2009/01/11 23:07:53 ET
Table 'Rezia II' 6-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: refreese ($10.79 in chips)
Seat 2: VoJoRo ($0.87 in chips)
Seat 3: ryder6s ($2.87 in chips)
Seat 5: ap77MN ($1.42 in chips)
Seat 6: bastinptc ($4.97 in chips)
refreese: posts small blind $0.01
VoJoRo: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Ks Ts Qc Kc]
ryder6s: calls $0.02
ap77MN: calls $0.02
bastinptc: calls $0.02

I prefer to limp/call with such a hand, even in position, primarily because I consider myself new to this game and have not acquired enough tactical knowledge, even in these micros, to really outplay anyone more experienced. Instead, I rely on post flop reads of betting and board possibilities/probabilities to inform my next moves.

refreese: calls $0.01
VoJoRo: checks
*** FLOP *** [Jc 4h Ac]
punicher62 leaves the table
refreese: bets $0.10
VoJoRo: calls $0.10
ryder6s: folds
ap77MN: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.10

So many possibilities with that flop. 11 solid outs. Perhaps with such a flop I should be raising it up, but as my friend Akileos says, I do tend to prefer the sure thing.
*** TURN *** [Jc 4h Ac] [Kh]
refreese: bets $0.10
VoJoRo: calls $0.10

With a set (full house draw), the nut (royal) flush draw, and the made Broadway, I figured I could turn up the heat for some value in case I hit one of the two former hands.

bastinptc: raises $0.70 to $0.80
juvenilew joins the table at seat #4
refreese: calls $0.70
VoJoRo: calls $0.65 and is all-in
*** RIVER *** [Jc 4h Ac Kh] [5c]
refreese: checks
bastinptc: bets $1.08
refreese: folds
Uncalled bet ($1.08) returned to bastinptc
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Ks Ts Qc Kc] (a flush, Ace high)
bastinptc collected $0.10 from side pot
VoJoRo: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $2.55 from main pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $2.75 Main pot $2.55. Side pot $0.10. | Rake $0.10
Board [Jc 4h Ac Kh 5c]
Seat 1: refreese (small blind) folded on the River
Seat 2: VoJoRo (big blind) mucked [3c 2h 5s Th] – Short-stacked crying call.
Seat 3: ryder6s folded on the Flop
Seat 5: ap77MN folded on the Flop
Seat 6: bastinptc (button) showed [Ks Ts Qc Kc] and won ($2.65) with a flush, Ace high

As one might surmise from the stacks for the previous hand, the table was refreese’s up to this point. In fact, when I first came in the room, I had caught the last of his tirade against another player. I didn’t know which one; yet, as the game progressed, I could tell that the rest of the table was pretty soft, and he was hitting some cards. And if it had been his room, I had just thrown down a gauntlet. So be it…for naught, as he soon left.

It wasn’t now my table, that’s for certain. I was chased down, even with pot-sized bets, or missed my draws, and was again down to about even. It was a bit frustrating, to be sure, but I was determined to remain patient and wait for the few and far between but so readily recognizable perfect hands. In the meantime, we had acquired a new table captain, rounder3030.

Table 'Galene II' 6-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: rounder3030 ($6.06 in chips)
Seat 2: mizmarlboro ($2.34 in chips)
Seat 3: teoas ($3.65 in chips)
Seat 4: 88cattledog ($2.83 in chips)
Seat 5: bastinptc ($4.96 in chips)
Seat 6: KGB JAY ($3.68 in chips)
bastinptc: posts small blind $0.01
KGB JAY: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Kh As Jd Jc]
rounder3030: calls $0.02
mizmarlboro: folds
teoas: calls $0.02
88cattledog: calls $0.02
bastinptc: calls $0.01
KGB JAY: checks
*** FLOP *** [Ts 2h Qd]

Another flop with potential, albeit less that the previous one outlined. I have a gutshot, but it’s one of those beautiful Omaha gut Broadways that merely requires any paint to fill. Still, out of position as I am,

bastinptc: checks
KGB JAY: bets $0.10
rounder3030: calls $0.10
teoas: folds
88cattledog: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.10
*** TURN *** [Ts 2h Qd] [7d]
bastinptc: checks
KGB JAY: bets $0.40
rounder3030: calls $0.40
bastinptc: calls $0.40

It is rounder3030 whose calls are keeping me in the hand. Someone has a set or two pair.

*** RIVER *** [Ts 2h Qd 7d] [Js]

My hand is made. I may split the pot with another AK, yet I’m going to let the betting momentum of the other two players help me out here.

bastinptc: checks
KGB JAY: bets $1.55
rounder3030: calls $1.55
bastinptc: raises $2.89 to $4.44 and is all-in
KGB JAY: calls $1.61 and is all-in
rounder3030: folds

Maybe it was set vs set or vs two pair. I was a bit surprised that rounder folded, but then again, my check-raise said “the nuts”.

Uncalled bet ($1.28) returned to bastinptc
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Kh As Jd Jc] (a straight, Ten to Ace)
KGB JAY: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $9.02 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $9.47 | Rake $0.45
Board [Ts 2h Qd 7d Js]
Seat 1: rounder3030 folded on the River
Seat 2: mizmarlboro folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: teoas folded on the Flop
Seat 4: 88cattledog (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: bastinptc (small blind) showed [Kh As Jd Jc] and won ($9.02) with a straight,
Ten to Ace
Seat 6: KGB JAY (big blind) mucked [Qh 3h Td 8s]

rounder3030 said, "call for a gut shot.....NICE"
bastinptc said, "Look again, Chief"
rounder3030 said, "your right... sorry"
rounder3030 said, "just used to being done like that on this site"
bastinptc said, "then you should be happy"

I was happy that several of the bad players had stuck around during this session, rebuying, or if getting lucky, not getting lucky to a greater degree. I have a hard time figuring out how players can get all of their money into the middle with a draw or something short of the immortal nuts in this game, but as I pointed out to rounder, I am happy they are here.

There was still money to be made at this table, even if for the next 25 hands or so I was bouncing around within a 40-cent range (a bit frustrating), and even if Stan had found his way to the room. (Stan, shouldn’t you be concentrating on your tourney strategy instead of bothering me in my game? The sociopath that he is, he doesn’t see it that way: More fun to bug bastin than to win my tourney, but all that much better if I can do both. Which he may have, I don’t know.) Truth be told about Stan, he’s a damn good poker player with about 40 years of experience on me, and he shares his knowledge, so playing with him, albeit frustrating, can be illuminating as well. Right now I was letting the mounting frustration of not being able to finish off a couple more donks without the competition was getting to me.

PokerStars Game #23822117616: Omaha Pot Limit ($0.01/$0.02) - 2009/01/12 4:48:48 ET
Table 'Galene II' 6-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: Sakarr ($3.01 in chips)
Seat 2: mizmarlboro ($2.77 in chips)
Seat 3: XstanlevX ($2.82 in chips)
Seat 4: ebbelibelab ($1.76 in chips)
Seat 5: bastinptc ($10.47 in chips)
Seat 6: thizzelleW ($2.77 in chips)
ebbelibelab: posts small blind $0.01
bastinptc: posts big blind $0.02
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [7s 8s 6h Ks]
thizzelleW: folds
Sakarr: calls $0.02
mizmarlboro: calls $0.02
XstanlevX: calls $0.02
ebbelibelab: calls $0.01
bastinptc: checks
*** FLOP *** [9s 6c Ts]
ebbelibelab: bets $0.08
bastinptc: calls $0.08
Sakarr: calls $0.08
mizmarlboro: folds
XstanlevX: folds
*** TURN *** [9s 6c Ts] [5c]
ebbelibelab: bets $0.10
bastinptc: raises $0.22 to $0.32
Sakarr: folds
ebbelibelab: calls $0.22
*** RIVER *** [9s 6c Ts 5c] [Th]
ebbelibelab: bets $0.50
bastinptc: folds
Uncalled bet ($0.50) returned to ebbelibelab
ebbelibelab collected $0.98 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $0.98 | Rake $0
Board [9s 6c Ts 5c Th]
Seat 1: Sakarr folded on the Turn
Seat 2: mizmarlboro folded on the Flop
Seat 3: XstanlevX (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 4: ebbelibelab (small blind) collected ($0.98)
Seat 5: bastinptc (big blind) folded on the River
Seat 6: thizzelleW folded before Flop (didn't bet)

I felt the ten one the river sealed the deal, that my beautiful nut straight had been crushed by a rivered boat or even quads. I was pissed. The little speech I had given to rounder3030 several hands prior had been forgotten and something snapped. My chest started to tighten with the fight or flight adrenaline rush of combat. I broke out in a sweat. It was a feeling I had experienced before and I knew I had to call it a night. One hand too late.

What happened next is another story.