Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I’ve been a bad boy.

Even though I wrote that I wouldn’t, I played PLO yesterday. And, with mixed results. Ooooo, there’s that bad word, “results.” One hand stands out, partly because of how it occurred, but mostly because of what followed.

I was the BB with suited Kings and the inklings of a Broadway draw. A player in early position raised it up with two callers before me. I flopped a set with two baby cards on the board. I bet the pot and was called by the initial raiser. The turn put another small card on the board, which could have made a middle straight, yet it also gave me a flush draw, so I wasn’t worried about it and bet the pot again. The EP raised me all-in. I called and EP hit his third Ace on the river. Surprise, surprise, a two-outer again.

Generally, when this happens I keep mum, but this time I couldn’t help myself.

“You’ve got to be sh itting me.”

“You should learn how to fold.”

“I had you.”

“I represented the straight.”

“Rep shmep.”

“If you get this upset, maybe Omaha isn’t the game for you.”

“Thanks for the advice. I’m comfortable with my play.”

“Well then, good luck at the tables.”

So, what to make of this exchange? First of all, I shouldn’t have written anything, especially since it tips the table to my mindset. Of course, the flip side of it is that his response clues me into how he approaches the game.

I should learn how to fold? There is some truth to this (I make waaay too many crying calls), but not in this situation. So, why would one write this? To my mind, it represents an attitude that relies too much on aggression. I already had a read on this guy as aggressive beyond reason as I had seen him overplay two hands, one to his disadvantage, and another in which he again benefited from a bit of luck on the river. He was working a very thin edge and suffering the variance of such play. It was to my advantage that I called his turn raise. He further confirmed my read when he tried to justify the bluff.

I knew that he was bluffing. Mind you, As5sAc6c is a possible holding when 7,8 and 4 are on the board. But the real issue at hand is what criteria one needs to get all of the money in the middle. A good draw? A made yet vulnerable hand? A risk factor that necessarily indicates a disregard for one buy-in? Perhaps I do take it all a bit too seriously. My Dear Friend, Akileos pulls no punches when he points out that I have bankroll issues, that even though I have considerably more in my account than when I started, I’m still playing with the mindset of a guy who is one the verge of going broke.

I should point out that this exchange took place at a $25 table. As has become my regular practice, I often will be sitting at a $10 table as well. Yesterday was no exception. It is my way of minimizing risk to my roll. The competition at the $25 tables is considerably tougher (although not always), so there is naturally a greater chance that I will lose. I think it is a fair assessment that I often am able to do quite well at the $10 tables, so they act as a safety net. In fact, just after I had lost the one buy-in outlined above, I more than tripled up at the $10 table, nearly erasing the loss.

In my correspondence with Dear Friend Forrest Gump, he has observed that his attitude about stacking off in a $10 room after making the right call, and doing so in a $25 room is considerably different. It is the same for me as well. In a $10 room, I say to myself that I will surely retrieve the loss in short order. In the $25 room, that recovery is a little more difficult as the hands in which all of the money is in the middle are few and far between. There are just far fewer newbies and reckless players, and even the LAGs know when to get out of a hand.

So, once again I am at a crossroads, a very familiar intersection at which I struggle with whether to continue playing in the $25 rooms. Clearly, I am not going to stop playing PLO; yet, there is also the issue of room availability. Sometimes there are no $10 rooms open. Perhaps the answer lies in a different game, and not just as a change of scenery. I am clearly more adept at NLHE than Omaha, even in a tourney structure. But even that’s not the real issue, for when I consider playing $25NL, my concerns once again return to the fact that it is a whole $25. (Oh my!) I’m looking to hang onto what I have won to date, which should not be my primary concern. Therefore, I need to play at a $10 level — and there are plenty of 10NL rooms available — just because I will not worry, which makes me a better player than I would be at $25 anything.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Remember Art?

I now see the world is imperfect.

I am somewhat uncomfortable with flying.

A day of rest. (That is, of planting the rest of the tomato seeds.)

Today is another one of those Northwest spring days: sun, sleet, rain, and rainbows. The temperature is a bit on the cool side, 48°F, and with the intermittent sun, the greenhouse temperature is hovering at about 70°F. This is fine during the day, but it is not warm enough to maintain a decent temperature at night. If the greenhouse gets too cool, the seeds will not germinate, and instead rot in the damp soil. Therefore, I have to heat the greenhouse with a small space heater.

Sometimes when ordering seeds, our eyes are bigger than our planting areas. Consequently, we have a file box packed with seeds that will never see soil. After a couple years, the seed DNA breaks down and they will no longer germinate. However, some seeds hold up better than others, and tomatoes are one such seed.

I thought I had planted all of the tomatoes I should a few days ago, until the DW expressed a desire to have some Pineapple tomatoes again this year. I had to agree, as they are a mighty tasty heirloom. I hadn’t ordered any Pineapple this year, yet I knew we had a large amount of leftover seeds from last year, so I went rummaging for them. And, of course, I found many more varieties that called to me. Even if we don’t sell them, we’ll at least have a wide variety of types to choose from to plant in our own garden.

All of these seeds come from Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest, as do the pictures and plant descriptions.
Pineapple. An heirloom garden favorite that grows to 2 lbs. This bi-colored, slightly flattened, yellow beefsteak has a red blushing and streaks on the outside. It's yellow interior contains few seeds and a red star-burst in the center. Taste is wonderfully mild with tropical fruity-sweet flavors. (The picture doesn't do justice to these tomatoes, as there is generally a bit more red in the shin and flesh of the fruit. They really are beautiful.)
Dagma's Perfection
Dagma’s Perfection. A vigorous and abundant producer of medium-sized (3”, 12 oz.), slightly flattened, pale-yellow fruits with delicate, light red striping. Deliciously flavorful with overtones of tropical fruit and subtle hints of lime. Firm, juicy and elegant in the mouth, and jewel-like in appearance.
Super Snow White Tomato
Super Snow White Cherry. Very sweet, 2 oz., ivory-colored tomatoes, larger than Snow White, but similar in taste. They ripen to reach almost the size of ping pong balls. These tomatoes are perfect for cutting in half to expose the beautiful interior and serving in salads.
Grandma Mary
Grandma Mary. Roma Type. An extremely productive variety producing 1 1/2 oz., 3-inch long red fruit. (I had to plant these for no other reason than Mary is my Dear Mother’s name.)
Black Cherry Tomato
Black Cherry. The only truly black cherry tomato. Our TomatoFest organic tomato seeds produce large, sprawling, indeterminate, regular-leaf, vigorous tomato plants that yield abundant crops in huge clusters of 1", round, deep purple, mahogany-brown cherry tomatoes. Fruits are irresistibly delicious with sweet, rich, complex, full tomato flavors that burst in your mouth, characteristic of the best flavorful black tomatoes.
Green Grape
Green Grape. This old-fashioned bush tomato is an heirloom originally developed by the Tater Mater Seed Co. from crossing the Yellow Pear with Evergreen. The distinctive, 1”, yellowish green fruits are borne in clusters of 6-12 that resemble large muscat grapes. Fruit has a translucent pale-green on the inside. This variety has become popular in restaurants and markets because of their unique attractiveness and great flavor.

All of the seeds were planted in open trays, and like the other tomatoes, will be transplanted into gallon cans when they have three sets of leaves. In that there about 50 seeds per tray, I know that I am going to have more tomatoes than I know what to do with, so tomorrow I will make some phone calls to see if I can find another buyer.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Hero

The week in poker

Just because I have been posting here for several days about farm activities does not mean that I have not been playing poker. The truth of the matter is that I have been tempted many times to rail about the one and two-outers that I have endured time and again, once three times within a span of ten hands. I would have written that I was done with PLO for a while and bemoaned the fact that my bankroll had suffered a hit to the tune of about 15%. Instead, I played on, recovered most of it, and lost another 15%. I’ve been drawn out on so many times this week that I’m beginning to think “rigged.” So, I know that it’s time to step back. Just say no to PLO. At least until I’ve reread Hwang. I must have missed something the first time.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Assorted Pics

One reason not to be in a hurry. I followed this spray rig into town today.

DW found this piece of lumber yesterday inside the base of one of our filbert trees. Even though I have trimmed that tree a couple times, I had not noticed it before in the five years we have been here. The painted side was facing down, otherwise there would not be any paint. Odd, and not only the spelling.

The flowering plum trees along our driveway are getting ready to bloom. I'll post another shot when they are full.

Damn the zucchini; full seed ahead!

Today, I was greeted at the Post Office with one small and one very large package of seed packets. All seeds are accounted for aside from our herb seed order. The damn hippies are the last to get it together. (I should know.)

So, without further ado, today’s plantings:

In the comments from yesterday’s post, joxum asked about other peppers we are planting. I replied with two more varieties, which was an incomplete list. Today I received packets of Purple Beauty Peppers, a pack of Cayenne, two packs of Early Jalapeño, and two of Cal Wonders.

As their name indicates, the Purple beauty Peppers are indeed purple. They are a rather popular variety in this area because they are a color other than green, and ripen at a fairly rapid rate, which is helpful in this mild climate. Other colored sweet peppers, such as yellow, orange and red, take a long time to turn color (they start out green), and often the first frost has hit before one can harvest much of a crop. One might as well just grow cal Wonders, the supermarket variety of green pepper. Numbers: Purple Beauties, 2 trays of 6-packs; Cayenne, 1 tray of 6-packs; Jalepeño, 2 trays of 6-packs; and Cal Wonders, 2 trays of 6-packs. All of these plants will be transferred into 4-inch pots for sale purposes.

I also planted some tomatoes: Cherokee Purple, Sun Gold Cherry and Roma. The Cherokee Purples are an heirloom tomato, big, juicy and flavorful. In fact, they are so big and juicy that they sometimes collapse under their own weight. And, as their name indicates, they are purple in color with green crowns. They also ripen a bit earlier than other heirlooms, which again, is a plus in this region. Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are quite simply the best-tasting cherry every hybridized. And Romas… well, what would Italian cooking be without Roma tomatoes? Numbers: Cherokee Purple, 1 tray open-seeded; Sun Gold, 2 trays open-seeded; and Roma, 1 tray open-seeded. This represents about 100 plants. By open-seeded, I mean that I spread the seeds out onto a 10” x 20” x 2” tray full of soil and covered them. When the plants get about 7” tall and with three sets of leaves on them, I will transplant them by burying the plant up to its uppermost set of leaves into gallon cans for sale. The bottom sets of leaves will change into roots, making for a healthier, larger transplant into gardens.

I also planted 2 6-pack trays of tomatillos, a cousin to the tomato. No self-respecting salsa recipe should be without them.

Finally, I put up 5 trays of 6-packs of Dark Purple Opal Basil. The seeds are pretty dang small, so some of the cells are going to have more than one plants growing, yet these plants will also be transplanted into 4” pots at a later date, again, for sale purposes.

Out of the 12 bags of soil I started with, I have 4 and one-half left. While I probably still have about 90 trays of 6-packs full of dirt and ready to go, with all of the transplanting I will be doing in a few weeks, I can tell that I am going to have to buy considerably more soil. I will most likely try to supplement the soil in the larger pots with our compost, yet I’d guess I’m looking at another $100 in soil, which I’m not too crazy about. It’s going to eat into our ROI. I’d better get to the poker tables for some pay dirt!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More seeds

We received a small order of seeds today from Seeds of Change, a company that specializes in organic, heirloom seeds. I will write about the different plants, at least the more interesting ones, as I plant them. Yet, out of the packs we received today, I planted two, an Italian eggplant called Rosa Bianca, and a sweet pepper that is known as Jimmy Nardelo. Both are heirloom plants.
Item Photo
Rosa Bianca

Next to the Kamo eggplants I started yesterday, the Rosa Bianca is our second favorite, and it is the first variety we planted when we started this adventure. I was looking for an eggplant that wasn't big, airy and purple like what one usually finds in grocery stores, and I found this little beauty. Perhaps not surprisingly, Rosa Biancas are also a more compact fruit like the Kamo, albeit slightly larget and more oblong. They fry up real nice. I planted 72 seeds.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the Jimmy Nardelo sweet pepper:
Item Photo

These skinny little numbers (7" to 9" long) are delightful, and I hope that I can convince plant buyers that they should have several of these plants in their garden. Our restaurant clients bought the peppers from us ten or fifteen pounds at a time. They are versatile, have few seeds and grill up real nice. I planted 98 seeds.

One of the advantages of the particular plant sale we are growing for is that our client will want us on the premises during the sale. They should be forewarned that I have over twenty years of advertising experience. Come in for three plants, leave with seven, and feel good about it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First seeds

I imagined (hoped) that I would be greeted today at the Post Office with several packages from various seed companies. There was one: a small order of Kamo eggplant and Sweet Mama Kabocha winter squash seeds. At least I had something to work with.

Sweet Mama Kabocha photo courtesy of Kitazawa Seed Co.

It is still too early to start the Kabochas. They, like other squash (and cucumbers) grow at a fast rate, which makes for plant sprawl in a limited space. The plants also intertwine and they are easily damaged when trying to separate them. I will wait a couple weeks to start the squash, as they transplant well even as a small plant. With that said, I am excited to have this variety of squash. If you haven't eaten Kabocha squash (a Japanese variety), make sure you find some next autumn. They have a delightfully nutty taste and a very creamy texture, which makes for an outstanding squash soup.

The planting schedule for the eggplant is entirely another matter . Folks like to buy these plants with some size to them. The seed needed to get into soil two weeks ago, so I filled sixty-four 4-inch pots and one tray of 6-packs (36 cells) with soil mix, placed the seeds and put them out in the greenhouse. Despite it being a rainy day, the greenhouse thermometer read 76°F, which is perfect for germination.

Kamo Eggplant photo courtesy of Kitazawa Seed Co.,
the folks who sent us the seeds for both the squash and eggplant.

The Kamo is probably the best eggplant we have ever grown and eaten. It is a Japanese variety, and grows to about the size of a softball (4 inches diameter) and, because of its dense meat, holds up well when cooked.

When we were growing for market, both of these plants were some of our best sellers. Our grocer client for whom we are growing these starts, is looking forward to having them as a choice this year. We will be sure to have both in our home garden as well.

The sun just broke through the clouds. Grow plants, grow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

That's right. It's a Barn Owl! DW was out tending to the ducks this morning and called me to tell me about her exciting sighting. As I written in the past, we knew that an owl had been using the lean-to behind the barn, yet we had not seen it, until today. Now, if it will only set up house in the owl box in that same lean-to.

Built to specifications.

In other farm news, I tried out yesterday's idea for rearranging the shelves in the greenhouse. This is how I left them yesterday...

...and this is how they look now. I rotated the table to be in the center of the room. The table will hold larger plants like tomatoes and eggplant. There is another row of shelves behind those o the left. Hopefully this arrangement will allow more sunlight to reach the lower shelves. Regardless, I will have to keep an eye out for shady areas.

OK, now for a high level of self-disclosure. I am one of those guys who never put tools back where they belong. I know, I know. Consequently, I have a hard time finding, oh, let's say my bolt cutters, when I need them. In this picture, the bolt cutters happen to be in the bottom of the wagon, along with myriad other tools and supplies from a project I did last summer. That's right, last summer.

Now I know where every tool is. The only question remaining is how long the room will look this neat. Oh, and in case one is inclined to enlarge this picture for a closer look and wonders why I have an IV stand in my barn, it's for my Dremel. The round items currently hanging on it are fly traps for our fruit trees.

So, all-in-all, a good day. And now it's time to play some poker!

A Tale of Two Pocket Pairs

In Omaha, Aces are just another pocket pair. It’s the best pair, yet without something to back them up, a draw, they kinda suck. Therefore, I try to play them very carefully, although not always. It is when the latter occurs, trouble comes a-knockin’.

I hadn’t been at the table but a couple hands. I knew a few of the players, some tight ABC players, an aggressive guy who only comes in preflop with six-guns a-blazin, and a lucktard LAG who will call down to the river with any 2-outer. The aggro is the one who leads out, the tard calls:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.25 BB (9 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
UTG ($12.55)
UTG+1 ($30.05)
MP1 ($34.75)
MP2 ($10)
MP3 ($3.05)
CO ($26.55)
Hero (Button) ($23.40)
SB ($15.55)
BB ($15.20)

Preflop: Hero is Button with A, Q, A, 8

1 fold, UTG+1 bets $0.85, MP1 calls $0.85, 1 fold, MP3 raises to $3.05 (All-In), 1 fold, Hero calls $3.05, 1 fold, BB calls $2.80, UTG+1 raises to $16.20, 1 fold, Hero calls $13.15, BB calls $12.15 (All-In)

I'm rather encouraged by MP3's all-in. I want to get money into this pot but I'd also like to see a flop at a price where I am not pot committed. UTG+1 isn't going to let that happen. I really don't have much of a choice but to call. I was a bit surprised to see the BB go all-in, and now I knew I had to dodge a lot of bullets.

Flop: ($51.60) 9, 3, 10 (4 players, 2 all-in)

UTG+1 bets $13.85 (All-In), Hero calls $7.20 (All-In)

I'm pot committed. No spades, but a gutshot. Whoopee!

Turn: ($66) 9 (4 players, 4 all-in)

River: ($66) 7 (4 players, 4 all-in)

Neither the turn or river are making me feel any better. A mid-sized wrap with spades has me screwed, if someone were to come into such a big pot with such a hand.

Total pot: $66 | Rake: $3


Hero had A, Q, A, 8 (two pair, Aces and nines).

BB mucked 6, Q, 10, 5 (two pair, tens and nines).

UTG+1 had K, K, Q, J (two pair, Kings and nines).

MP3 mucked K, 3, 6, K (two pair, Kings and nines).

Outcome: Hero won $63

I was playing simultaneously on a $10 table and had position on a LAG who had been hitting more than his fair share of hands. I remained patient and played only premium hands, to no avail. Finally, I had a hand I could work with:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (9 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
MP1 ($47.50)
Hero (MP2) ($12.60)
MP3 ($6)
CO ($8.55)
Button ($5.40)
SB ($8.80)
BB ($6.45)
UTG ($2.40)
UTG+1 ($9.45)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with 4, A, J, A

2 folds, MP1 calls $0.10, Hero bets $0.55, 5 folds, MP1 calls $0.45

I'll take it heads up...

Flop: ($1.35) 9, 9, 3 (2 players)

MP1 checks, Hero bets $1.30, MP1 calls $1.30

A rather safe flop with the potential of a nut flush.

Turn: ($3.95) 8 (2 players)

MP1 checks, Hero bets $3.80, MP1 raises to $15.20, Hero calls $6.95 (All-In)

I suppose I could have folded at this point; instead, I was banking on this guy doing what he had done hand-after-hand all night, which was show aggression and avoid the showdown. He had done it so many times...

River: ($25.45) J (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $25.45 | Rake: $1.25


MP1 had 5, 8, 8, 4 (full house, eights over nines).

Hero mucked 4, A, J, A (flush, Ace high).

Outcome: MP1 won $24.20

At least it was a dime table.