Gonna be a big ol’ shindig…

An olympic torch, up close and personal

So next week begins the biggest thing to ever hit Vancouver, the 2010 Winter Olympics.  The excitement in the air is palpable, and the city has done their best to make us beautiful to the world’s visitors.  I hadn’t left the North Shore for several days before this past monday, and the atmosphere downtown was astounding.  Everyone is excited about this, and everything is in place to make it a spectacular event.   Everywhere one looks one sees olympic jackets from various countries.  Of all the ones I’ve seen I like Russia’s logo the best, although the colors don’t do much for me.  There are literally thousands of people walking around in blue jackets; I believe these are the volunteers and VanOC staff.  I kinda dig those jackets, and the only reason I didn’t volunteer was because I had assumed I’d be back working by now, and who knew what my availability/schedule would be.  Little did I know I’d be still looking, slowly going batshit…but that’s another story.

A couple of volunteers I snuck a pic of while walking...hope vanoc doesnt sue...

It’s unfortunate that I’m not in a position to fully sample what’s going on in town right now, but I am able to see a few things; there are a certain amount of free happenings going on.  The other night I walked past the olympic clock and there is a little display there by Omega, the official time keeper of the Olympics.  They were giving out hats, so naturally I got one of those…told the girl I’d prefer a watch…  They also have a bobsled set up there and people were lining up to sit in it and have their picture taken in it.  Along Granville Mall they have some wierd  little doohickeys set up, kinda looks like a Japanese game show.  Not sure what it signified but people loved it.  They also have some art objects there on display; not like paintings and but sculptures and light sculptures etc.  It’s not a huge display but it was interesting.  I must say I’ve never seen Granville street so clean from Georgia to Nelson.  There are other places as well, I just haven’t been to them yet, so I can’t really speak about them.  One thing that is cool is the English Bay light show.  It goes every night when it’s dark, and it raised a real shitstorm when it was announced, cuz people were all concerned it was going to shine lights into their west end apartments.  It does not, but from where I sit on the north shore it appears to be pretty cool.  Of course, I have a weakness for lightshows, so…

Ruth showing her spirit and bobsledding skills.

There are also rumors of these huge A list parties going on.  I guess it’s pretty safe to assume that I won’t be invited to a plethora of these, so I won’t have to shave those days.  One rumor I head has Prince hosting a party, other rumors have other huge names performing or hosting.  Man it would be cool to get an invite to some of those, but alas, I’m just a dude.  I probably don’t own a nice enough pair of shoes.  Although, I do own a pretty spectacular collection of Fluevogs.  But I digress.  There are a boatload of other musical events going on as well, several of them at no cost but the time it takes one to get there.  The Fox has a listing of some of the various things to do here.  It’s exciting indeed.

I have tickets to only to events.  When the lottery was on for residents to purchase tix, I put in for a whole bunch, but only got two events.  Both of which are Men’s Hockey, but neither of which are medal rounds.  That’s ok, I can watch the medal games on TV.  One of the games I have is quarter final and one of them is semi final.  I believe that the only team I can be partly sure of seeing, is that if the americans make it that far (which they will), we should see them.  I hope its against a good team, not South Doucheovia or something.  Regardless, I’m very excited about going to these games.  I almost sold the tickets a while back, money situation being what it is, but I just cannot bring myself to totally exclude myself from such a once in a lifetime event.  I was within spitting distance of an Olympics (Calgary in 1988 was only an hour or so drive) once before, and didn’t take part in any way so I’m not going to miss this one.

I took all these pics with my iphone. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to get a good night pic of the clock because of the glare, but I tried. 😉

The other side of the clock...also with lotsa bad glare effects

It’s not all good though.  One thing that really bugs me about this olympics is the fact that you cannot buy anything or get money from an ATM at an event with anything but a Visa or Visa debit.  Now, I understand, Visa paid a bazillion and three dollars to sponsor this event, but I think it’s counterproductive to not allow any other kind of purchase.  Case in point: the Bay has the Olympic store inside it, seeing as the Bay made all of the official clothing for this Olympics.  I had thought that I would buy myself a nice hoodie or something olympic-y even though I can’t really afford a purchase right now, just because as i mentioned earlier this is a once in a lifetime event.   The plan was use the Bay card for a small purchase of some kind.  No, no such luck.  You can’t use your bay card here in the bay during olympics, at least not for Olympic wear.  You wanna use your debit card? Sorry, only cash or Visa debit.  Nothing else.  This really irks me.  Can you imagine if you were a visitor from some far away country who for whatever reason just doesn’t carry a Visa card? You get here and find that you can’t spend any money unless you’re willing to carry cash around.  I call bullshit on that.

All in all though, that’s my only beef with the Vancouver games so far.  All the hippies whine about exclusionism and cost, but from what I see other than method of payment, there is plenty of party even for those without money to spend.  I’m one of those, and I don’t feel excluded at all.  Torch relays, party places, free stages, all of these things are open to me if I choose to attend them.  Heck the only reason I even have the hockey tickets is because I bought them a year and a half ago when I had some money and credit card space.  It’s going to be an awesome event, and I’m really looking forward to the excitement of the next couple of weeks!

One of the people running the fitness program I'm attending is a torch bearer, and let us all take a pic with it. Don't know why i never applied to be a torch bearer, slim as the odds would be to get it...i look good with that torch!

Dodging Raindrops and Staying Disciplined

I need your discipline

I need your help

I need your discipline

You know once I start I cannot stop

Discipline, NIN

After a few months of yoyo stacks I decided it was time to start taking bankroll management a bit more serious a while back.  People always talk about how serious bankroll management is, and yet nobody ever pays attention to it, really.   People consistently play outside their rolls and watch their stacks shrink to almost nothing, build back up, shrink back to nothing, rinse, repeat.  It’s a bit of human nature to want to play where the biggest rewards are offered, but it’s also a bit gambly.  Which is really somewhat contrary to the true poker mindset.  The difference between poker players and gamblers is that poker players can always tighten up their play and turn around their stats.  If they have the discipline.

And that’s the rub right there.  For the most part, I’m very undisciplined in my poker.  It’s what keeps me from being a truly good player with big winning stats.  I can’t even count the times I’ve gotten frustrated and given up my discipline, only to watch my money disappear.  Sometimes it’s quickly, others it takes a few hands.  Once in a while you even get lucky, and if you’re smart enough to realize that you’re only still playing because of luck, you can turn that around.  This is not an uncommon trait in poker, particularly in low limits.  If you’re playing buy-ins under 5$ I can guarantee you there’s at least one player at your table with the mindset “it’s only 5$ so I may as well play loose”.  There’s also at least one player who knows a bit about pot odds but still can’t resist the urge to call an unpriced flush draw, particularly if he’s got the draw to the nut.  Of course there are all the players who don’t even have a clue too.  And there are probably one or two solid players there as well.  And you, where ever you happen to fit in there.

So in the interests of actually growing and improving my bankroll and game, I have made a conscious effort to play within my roll.  There are different schools of thought on what that means, but for me it’s 100 buy ins.  Since I started this on one of my shrunken roll phases, that means I’ve been playing 1$ buy ins max.  Until I get to 200$, I’m going to stay here.  I recently downloaded a tracking sheet some guy did, it’s basically an excel spreadsheet he’s put a bunch of factors into, and I’ve been tracking my play.  I’m mostly playing single table sit n go’s at 1$ each on Absolute/UB.  I usually play at most 3 at a time, although i’ve gone as high as 4 and sometimes just play 1.  Obviously, I’m not going to get rich quick at these frequencies, but another part of playing within your roll and with discipline means knowing your limitations.  I carefully track my percentage of hands played, not because it affects the results so much as because it allows me to get a reading on if I’m playing too loose.  I’ve noticed that when I have a winning session, I’m usually in the 13-18% flops seen range.  Now, as soon as I go up beyond 4 tables (and often even at 4 tables) my percentage of played hands starts to shoot up.  I find myself sitting at 20-25% very quickly.  I’m not sure why this is, but I’m guessing it has to do with concentrating more on acting on time than on staying disciplined.  So I stay within that 4 table max rule, and as I said, I usually don’t do more than three.

The thing about sit n goes that makes them easy to beat is that they are a different game than a tournament or a cash game.  You don’t win a sitngo by playing creative poker, you win it by playing solid disciplined poker theory.  When a sit n go starts I’ll often not even see a flop until two or 3 people are gone, unless I get a monster.  Colin Moshman’s book has some excellent strategic thoughts on sit n goes, and I do recommend it for anyone who might actually want to play sng’s for profit.  In an sng, playing risky poker will seldom get you a win, and most people just plain don’t understand this.  They play it like they see on tv, calling raises with suited connectors or small pairs, overplaying big hands etc.  This makes for easy pickings if you stay within your set rules.

This also makes for high variance, which I call ‘dodging raindrops’.  In a 1$ 9 player sitngo there are lots of reaaaaalllly bad players.  Every flop, you see 3 limpers pre.  Often you’ll see someone win with a hand like 39 because “it was suited” or “it’s my favorite hand” or “it’s only a dollar”.  So you have to be very careful to avoid these donkeys, or they can end your tournament quickly.  People will always call with a K10 or a K9 if it’s suited, and 9j, q10 and ANY ace are liable to call your preflop raises.  Any pair as well.  So you have to be very careful when you see a flop.  These are all raindrops you have to dodge.  If you raise preflop with ak and get a couple callers, if an ace comes down it’s going to be hard to know where you stand.  Early in a sit n go I seldom raise with ak out of position.  Later I can play it more normally, but with 8 or 9 players and blinds at 10-20 or 15-30, you HAVE to hit in order to be comfortable post flop.  In alot of cases you aren’t going to outplay anyone, because they aren’t actually playing poker, they’re playing bingo.  You could hit two pair and have a gutshot str draw call you all the way down.  Or someone may have a pocket underpair and they call you down as well, hoping to hit their two outter to stack you.

Of course, you want these calls every single time, because they do pay in the long haul you if you price them out.  My strategy (when I’m disciplined enough to stay on it) is control the pot but make the odds wrong for a draw.  They will likely call, so putting it all in isn’t always the best way to take it down right there, and now you’ve put your tournament in the hands of luck.  And we all know what a fickle bitch she is… My tendency when I flop a big hand depends alot on position.  If I’m early, I’ll usually bet about half the pot if there are draws out there, which should price them out.  It doesn’t matter, they’ll call, but they’re calling bad and if I’m actually sticking to the plan I can fold when the draw hits.   I have no problem having only 10 or 12 big blinds in one of these, it’s easy to rebuild if you stay solid.    If I’m late position I obviously have alot more information.  If someone min bets, this is like a neon sign that they’re on a draw or have bottom pair.  I always think when I see that minbet “nothing says donk on a flush draw like a post flop minbet”.  Usually if the min-bettor is early, everyone in the pot will call.  So if I’ve hit some hand I throw a pot sized raise in right there.  9 times out of 10 everyone folds.  If someone reraises they probably have a set or two pair, so I can decide if I want to gamble or not and that depends alot on what the pot odds are vs. my remaining stack.  Occasionally someone calls.  I can usually get two free cards after that raise, so I need to decide if I think they have a hand or if they’re drawing.  If they’re drawing, I need to bet the turn, if they have a hand I need to check it down cuz there’s no way they’ll be folding now with a big hand.  Sometimes I’ll take a check call stance.

If I’m dealt a huge hand here’s where the dodging raindrops really comes into play.  A top 8 hand early in a SNG is just plain scary.  If you bet pot size preflop, everyone calls.  On AP/UB the sng’s start with 5-10 blinds, so a pot size bet is 35 or 45 chips.  This takes nobody out of the play.  Now you have absolutely no clue where your going to stand.  If you overbet you’ll get no action, and I seriously believe that smooth calling to be trappy is just asking to get beat on a low buy in sng.  So you have to be prepared to throw it away if anyone’s interested.  Here’s the real difficult thing tho…suppose you have pocket kings or aces…and the flop comes 10 8 3 rainbow.  Someone at the table is interested in the pot (before you they bet you raised they called or after you you bet they call/reraise).  Now…do they have 2 pr, a set, a draw or a hand like a10/a8?  It’s a big decision how to play at this point, and if it’s early of course you have no prior knowlege of how they play.  I generally take a ‘pot control’ stance and try and not let it get out of hand.  Of course if I flop a set, there’s a draw, and someones interested I will try and get all the chips in right there.  It may be bad poker over all, but I really am loathe to give someone a draw in a 1$ sng, especially if the flop gave me the temporary nuts.

Anyways, staying disciplined and dodging raindrops.  That’s what i’ve been doing in online poker while on the job hunt.  So far I’ve managed to increase my roll by 6x what I started with, but that’s not huge.  I’ve just got to keep with it and stay solid.

Stay Tuned…

For the rebirth of the rant trap… drafts being compiled… 😉

“I’m down here in Sin City kicking the Devil in the junk for y’all”…

I’m goin’ in to Sin City
I’m gonna win in Sin City
Where the lights are bright
Do the town tonight
I’m gonna win in Sin City

AC-DC – Sin City

…so said Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival Friday night (the quote in the title, not the song lyric).  I thought it was a pretty funny line.   Ruth bought us tickets to Puscifer’s first ever live show at the Pearl in the Palms hotel in Las Vegas on Friday night, and Uncle Scratch was the opening act.  Uncle Scratch is Maynard Keenan on drums and some guy I couldn’t identify on guitar, although I’m near positive it may have been Adam Jones, or at least someone who studied the crap out of Adam Jones’ tone and style. It’s not that it sounded like tool guitar, just…kinda felt like it.  Thing is this guy had short hair and last pics I saw of Adam Jones he had long hair.  I guess there are scissors in the world tho…  Turns out Maynard’s a hell of a drummer…who knew?  He played a home built kit consisting of some cardboard barrels and a metal basket and some other detritus, and he played the shit out of it.  The whole premise of uncle scratch is humour to piss off hardcore Christians…they come out pretending to be street corner preachers and play it up the whole set.  It was funny too, watching Maynard play drums in a wig and polyester suit while laying back on an easy chair with his left foot up on the bass drum, a megaphone mic taped to a harmonica holder around his neck.  I did think the set may have been a song or two too long, but loved it just the same.

Puscifer itself was an amazing show.  The stage had two drum kits on either side, bass player and guitarist outside of those, and between them to 42″ tv screens at head level.  In front of that was a set up of sofa’s and a coffee table.  The show was unlike any rock concert i’ve seen; it was more like a Vegas cabaret which is, I guess, fitting in the Pearl theatre.  It started off with a video of Maynard dressed up as a soldier, complete with fake mustache and wig, telling people what was to come.  This character was Major Douche (I don’t make these things up, people), and shows up in various promo videos for the band.  After the short video the show started with a little skit that was satirizing Christian tv shows, with a nun and a sexually suspect man with ken doll hair hosting a variety show for teens.  They introduce a guest who’s a famous TV preacher and of course it’s Maynard with a comb over and a paunch and a pair of purple sweats with “Jesus” embroidered on the ass.  Check out this link for some pics.

When the music began it was awesome… Various random people would come and sit on the sofa’s while the band was playing, and Maynard and a lady singer stood behind the tv screens singing.  The main drummer and the bass player were unbelievably solid, and it all made sense when he introduced the band and it turned out they were brothers.  The two singers behind the screens had cameras on their faces, so u saw their faces while they sang, and that was very cool.  Throughout the show the second drummer would come out and with both drummers going it was incredibly intense.  For the second last song of the night, Milla Jovovich came out and sang awesomely.  I gotta say I didn’t recognize her at all, and I actually thought it was a drag queen for a while…lol (sorry Milla, it’s not that u look like a man just that yer damn tall!).  They finished the set with Queen B and the adoration in the room was evident.  Maynard is an artistic genius and a business genius as well, and his fans are rabid for his product.

Ahhh Vegas…it’s sensory overload and dark and light and sound and money and sex and degenerate gambling and everything else you can think of.  I love it, I could live there if I was off the strip, and yet…it’s good to be home.  I stood in the shower last night and it felt like I was washing Vegas off of myself; 5 days of smoke and slot noise and the bad odor of degenerate gambling addiction and impending financial doom from alot of the players.  We were lucky enough to get a good package deal at Trump Towers, and it sure was nice to be in a smoke free hotel with no casino; it was like an oasis away from all the craziness.  Trump is probably feeling the pinch of the depression more than most of the strip majors as he’s got no casino and is a block off the strip, so if you’re planning a trip there check out the offers.  The room was fantastic; the bathroom was as big as my living room, and we had a full kitchen with dishwasher, stove, microwave and fridge.  We went and bought some groceries at Von’s on the Tuesday which saved us some money and allowed us to eat a bit healthier than we otherwise might have.

Monday was Ruth’s birthday, so we went to Chinois in Ceasar’s palace, which is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at.  It’s a Wolfgang Puck joint, and serves Asian fusion food.  We ate there last august when we went, and loved it so much we went back this trip.  The food and service were both awesome as expected.  It was really the only real nice meal we went out to, although on Friday we ate at a japanese place in the Palms that was ok, though not nearly as good.  Other than that it was poker poker poker.  I felt I played extremely well all week, and made some massively profitable reads.  I’m good at reading bluffs it turns out, who knew?  All these people would try and bluff, but they make it obvious enough that it’s easy to call.  The best read was when this kid pushed all in on the river with a mixed board and me holding A9 suited…I had an ace, and his bluff was so obvious to me I insta-called, felting him and giving me a huge stack.  People at the table were all “ooo good call” and I was like “u kidding me? it was obvious…this kid needs to learn how to bluff without putting a big billboard above his head”.  I got alot of respect after that, which allowed me to make a few of my own bluffs.   🙂

On Tuesday afternoon a twitter friend of mine (@pokervixen) came by the venetian and we went for lunch.  Lori is a transplanted Canadian, and it was nice to meet someone i’ve played with online and chatted with occasionally.  She wouldn’t let me or Ruth buy lunch tho, so I owe her one.   Afterwards she sat at a limit game while I stayed at my 1-2 NL table and Ruth continued in the deep stack tourney she was playing.  Out of three tourney’s she played, Ruth was able to cash in one of them and did ok at the cash games too.  She had some bad luck on her third tourney (pocket aces vs pocket kings and the kings hit a four card flush!!!), but all in all seemed to be happy with her play.  Throughout the week we spent a ton of time in the Venetian poker room, and I’ve got to give big props to the room manager; it was incredibly well run and they treated the players exceptionally well.  Not only that, the seats were damn comfy!  The Venetian definitely ‘gets’ poker and poker players, and I look forward to my next visit to their fabulous room.

I met alot of people there, played with some of the same people for a few days, and alot of people were really good folks.  Some of the tourists and some of the local Vegas grinders were dicks, but most of them were really nice people and we had some fun at the tables, with alot of mutual respect and honorable play.  There were alot of nice visitors as well, and there seemed to always be a good conversation at the table.  Of course there were a bunch of people who seemed to want to give me money as well, which is always nice.  There were two vegas pros I ran into everyday; this young kid who was a nice guy and real solid player, just starting out and building his roll in the small limits but cocky as all get out, and this older guy who looked like Mike Rutherford.  I quite enjoyed playing and chatting with both of them, and they really made playing there challenging and fun.  I think the kid is gonna be a real good player but he’s probably going to take some knocks for his cockiness.  It wasn’t offensive tho…just entertaining.   I also seemed to end up playing with a lot of people I play with regularly at home; during the deep stack tourneys at Venetian alot of people from the River Rock like to go down, and I seemed to run into all of them.  Nothing like travelling several hundred miles to play with the same people u play with at home.

Saturday was our leaving day, and also the one year anniversary of my life changing surgery.  It was a good feeling to know that 1 year ago i was lying on a hospital bed with my chest ripped open, 30 pounds heavier and one foot in the grave, and to see the changes i’ve made in the meantime.  The year since the surgery has been all about the poker, and it seems that my game has jumped a couple levels in that time, thanks to 2 months off to study up and thanks to learning alot from Ruth.  I was a bit wistful to be leaving the city, but we did manage to get a good 6 hours of play in before heading to the airport.  I left about 1 PM and went back to Trump to grab the luggage while Ruth kept playing for a bit.  I accidentally thru the hotel’s hair dryer into ruth’s suitcase thinking it was hers, so I’ll have to send that back to them…whoops.  We rushed to the airport and had a nice flight back home.  All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable trip, and I can’t wait to do it again.  Next time I’m gonna try and meet up with some more of my vegas twitter friends, and maybe see if I can challenge @lizlieu to a heads up match bahahaha.  Erm…maybe not, I’d be schooled and just be giving her money; I’ll just have to wait til I meet her at the final table of the Vancouver WPT event in May I guess.   😉

And Im gonna win it too!


I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This PokerStars tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold’em event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 328090

Feels like…the metaphoric rolling over of seasons?

Still dont know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets and
Every time I thought Id got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But Ive never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
Im much too fast to take that test
(turn and face the strain)
Dont want to be a richer man
(turn and face the strain)

Changes, David Bowie, Hunky Dory, 1971

I dunno why but I woke up this morning with the strongest feeling that today is either a beginning or an end of some phase of my life.  I don’t know if this is a good change or a bad change, but somehow, something in the cosmos is changing for me today.  I woke up early, got to work early, and plan to leave early to go watch Ruth win the 1000 dollar buy-in NL tourney at the river rock this afternoon.  Well, she won’t win it today, she’ll just make the money today and win it tomorrow.  I have a vested interest in it; I won the seat in a satellite and gave it to her so I wouldn’t have to take a day off work.  Of course, when she wins big she’ll return the favour and buy us both into the 2700$ main event.  I hope.

But that’s not the great change, I’m pretty sure of it.  As I said, it feels like an era is going to end, and I don’t think her winning a tournament will end any era’s…it will just give us a cushion.  So I don’t think it’s that.  I can take stock a bit in some of the changes i’ve made in my life the last couple years, and wonder if it has anything to do with that, but I don’t see how.  See these changes have been made, over time, and it’s still a work in progress.  I quit smoking, I changed my diet, I’ve relaxed my attitude about things, I live on cash, not credit.  I still need to get more disciplined, more fire, and more clean, but as I said it’s a work in progress.  And these are gradual changes (with the exception of the smoking, which by nature was an abrubt change), so they don’t necessarily mark ‘the end of an era’.

I was speaking with a co-worker this morning about poker a bit, and the real key differences between a top pro and a good player who isn’t a noted pro.  I believe it comes down to two things, really.  See, poker is a pretty straight forward game, all in all…general poker theory is general poker theory, and once you learn it and internalize it, it really doesn’t change much.  Don’t get me wrong, u still need to constantly study the game and increase your knowlege of said theory (i own plenty of well known poker books and am always looking for more), but overall it’s a fairly firm set of rules.  Yes, some people have a little better reading skills than others, but all in all at senior levels all the players can read people like books.  But what makes a Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreneau different is more than just theory and root skill.

These guys, first of all, have a strong ability to stay emotionless in the game.  Focus is so necessary in poker, and the ability to not dwell on a bad hand or a bad beat is of utmost importance to being a winning player.  This is hard for most people, myself included.  I have my methods of controlling it; I often take a little walkafter a bad play, even if I didn’t lose on it.  But I’m weak with this, and it’s a huge leak in my game.  I feel like I get better with this every time I play, and felt like I crossed a chasm one night recently when I ran incredibly bad card wise but still felt that I didn’t tilt.  I have a long ways to go, personally.

The other thing the elite have is they all seem to have a burning desire to win.  The competitive spirit is sooo important at high levels of any field (sports, games, work…whatever) and the cream of the crop always have that extra bit of fight in them, that never say die attitude.  This is possibly a hard thing to learn, I don’t know.  I’ve never had this…I didn’t do sports much as a kid, and when we played family games I was more into having fun than destroying the competition.  So I struggle with this, with occasional “Eureka!” moments that always turn out well.  The satellite I won to get the ticket into the tournament, I had that attitude.  But it’s rare for me.  I would think that a guy like Phil Ivey always goes into every single hand knowing he’s going to win, and with a hunger to beat his opponent or opponents.  This is important cuz it gives you an added boost of confidence that’s required.

But I don’t know if that’s the big imminent change or not.  Maybe this isn’t even something that directly affects me; maybe it’s a change in something in society or something.  I dunno.  Or maybe I just woke up differently today and it’s all just a desire for change that I’m not making myself.  Ahh who knows… as the song says, time may change me, but I can’t trace time.

Things this week

I embrace my desire to, feel the rhythm, to feel connected
enough to step aside and weep like a widow, to feel inspired, to fathom the power, to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain, to swing on the spiral, to swing on the spiral, to
swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human

Lateralus, Tool, Lateralus

I was thinking a bit about some of the things i’ve seen this week that made me smile, that inspired me, that made me feel all warm and fuzzy, and that just made me sit back and think on the wonder of it all.  There’s no particular reason for something to grab one’s attention, sometimes, it just happens.  Our mindset determines whether we notice the good or the bad, and how we react to it.  So here’s some things I saw/did/experienced since last Friday that made me happy for various reasons, in mostly chronological order.  Maybe i’ll try to do this on a regular basis.

  1. Quad kings. Twice.  Looking down at pocket kings preflop feels good.  Seeing another on the flop feels better.  And turning the fourth?  That’s the best, cuz at that point even if u lose you win (if there’s a badbeat jackpot).  Twice last Saturday I got to experience this, and one of those time actually paid me out pretty good.  Sometimes poker doesn’t require any skill 😉
  2. Outplaying the best player on the table. Related to the above one, it’s not all about turning quads…sometimes u actually need to outplay an opponent.  It always feels good when you do it against someone you respect as a better player than yourself.  I got to do that a couple times Saturday. Nothing like seeing a top shelf player lay down his/her set face up to your stone cold bluff on the river… 😀
  3. 145 BPM for 20, 168 peak. For anyone who doesn’t know, I had open heart surgery in February of this year.  As I recover the little victories mean a lot.  At my workout tuesday I kept my heart rate at 145 for 20 minutes straight (probably longer but I wasn’t watching closely past the treadmill).  I had a good, if short, workout then ran back to work.  On the run back when I came up the steps to the office my heart rate monitor was pinging 168 and recovery took about 30 seconds down to 130, 3 minutes back to 80.  Now, if you’re an athlete these are very unremarkable numbers.  Possibly not even very good.  If you had your chest ripped open and 5 arteries bypassed 7 months ago, they’re a bit more meaningful.
  4. Obama’s victory speech. I turned away from the hockey game to watch history being made.  I think back on the defining moments in my life, and this ranks up there as one of the biggest.  It’s like the shroud of fear, intolerance, stupidity and sadness that have been shrouding us since 9-11 looked to be lifting after all these years.  He achieved Martin Luther King’s dream, and in the process has given half a world hope thats been sorely lacking for a long time.  His speech was nothing short of inspirational and as I sat there on my sofa holding hands with my sweetie, I reflected a bit on the time ahead and the directions things can move in.  I felt real optimistic about the world’s future for possibly the first time since the towers fell.  I can only hope that his leadership and policy will make the changes that he indicates, and my feeling is that he will do his best to do so.  I have grave fear that some crazy redneck will do the unthinkable which will send the US into absolute chaos and race riots and destroy any hope of fixing things that he brings us, but I refuse to dwell on it and trust in his security team to keep the world safe.
  5. The waiter at the Thai restaurant. On Wednesday Ruth and I decided to grab some Thai for dinner.  I love thai, and don’t eat it nearly as much as I’d like.  So we decided to go to a place that’s near my apartment….except when we got there, it was nothing but a big hole in the ground.  We drove on a bit and saw the new location, but it wasn’t open yet so we couldn’t go there.  Drove up Lonsdale and saw a little hole in the wall place that had a number of people inside eating.  Since a populated dining room is a good indicator we decided to check it out.  We were greeted by a tired looking lady wearing sweats and a dirty tee shirt, which concerned me a bit, but whatever.  Our waiter came to take our order…he was 10!  No lie…just a  little kid, obviously helping out the folks who were frazzled for some reason or another.  He very proficiently took our order, brought us our pops and even our meals…which were very good.  After eating when he came to ask if we wanted dessert I told him the meals were very good, to which he replied “my dad made it”.  Priceless!  That one experience made my whole day, and we’ll be back there for take out.  Child labour laws FTW…he was helping out and seemed to enjoy it.
  6. Two wins and two shut outs for Luongo. Two wins and two shut outs for Luongo.  It does bear repeating.
  7. Kasia’s excitement. 5 more sleeps!  Both Ruth and I SOOOO wish we could go, but financial responsibilities prevailed.
  8. People who grin at their iPods. I took the bus in today instead of driving or the seabus.  It started out bad with this cranky bitch of a lady being rude to people; maybe she had a bad sleep I guess.  Anyways, there was this young girl sitting there listening to her headphones and just grinning and laughing away.  She was obviously listening to a comedy show or something, but it made me grin myself watching this person thoroughly enjoy their rainy morning busride.  It was infectious, and I wish more people could start their days with a grin instead of a snarl.  I’ve been known to be one of the worst offenders!

So yeah…some things that made me smile, inspired me, boosted confidence, or just plain worked this week.  Feel free to comment on your own warm fuzzies (and beating @street3 in the #tpt doesn’t count, plasm… 😛  ).

An Open Letter to America

Transmission, third World War, third round
A decade of the weapon of sound above ground
No Shelter if you’re looking for shade
I lick shots at the brutal charade
As the polls close like a casket, on truth devoured
A silent play on the shadow of power
A spectacle monopolized
The cameras eyes on choice disguised
Was it cast for the mass who burn and toil
Or for the vultures who thirst for blood and oil?
Yes, a spectacle monopolized!
They hold the reins, stole your eyes!
All the Fist-a-gons, the bullets, and bombs
Who stuff the banks
Who staff the party ranks
More for Gore or the son of a drug lord
None of the above. FUCK IT, cut the cord!

Rage Against the Machine, Guerrilla Radio, Battle of Los Angeles, 1999

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  It truly is.  It’s funny, I’m sitting watching my twitter and there are a billion comments on the election.  Every one of them from a fellow Canadian.  My American follows are talking about poker and work and honey dipping.  But not the election.  Which may seem odd to you.  But not to anyone outside of America.

You see, what happens today in your home country has the whole world on edge more than any election in your history.  How you vote today doesn’t just affect your taxes and your abortion laws and your nephew coming home from Iraq (all of which are utterly important things of course); it affects the whole world.  The past 8 years have created this.  You put a self minded semi competent administration in control of the biggest single economy and biggest single war machine in human history.  And they broke it.  They lied to the world.  The buried their head in the sand about impending economic chaos.  They could have bettered the world but in their thirst for riches did the opposite.  I’m not saying I could have done better, but then, 280 million people didn’t put their trust in me to do so.

The world today is on the brink of a massive revolution the likes of which no one alive can probably say they’ve ever seen.  The US’s credit based economic foundations that have thrived for 60 years are collapsing.  This alone is magnificently frightening to the world; never mind the little bit of a war for oil and God that’s going on 4500 miles away.  Since world war 2 the US has thrived on a consumerist economic model that relied on credit; soft money, if you will.  I don’t condemn it, heck I’m part of it; we all are.  But, the soft money outgrew the hard money and became a snowball of credit notes and IOU.  Well, the snowball got too big, and now it’s rolling down a slope picking up speed.  This is concerning for everyone.  We are teetering on the brink of economic changes so profound and it scares the living shit out of everyone.  Even tho we know it will all be fine eventually, it’s the getting to ‘fine’ that scares the world.  And you, of course.  Will the free enterprise system be alive when this is done?  Will it be different, the same, completely new?  No one knows.

So now you have the ability to affect change a bit.  The policies and strategies voiced by your potential leaders are important, not just to you but to the whole western world.  How we get through the next few years will depend a lot on what steps the American leadership takes to fix things; it’s not just a question of giving poorly managed companies a few hundred billion dollars to keep them afloat, it’s a question of creating a culture of ownership and responsibility at the top of these.  Didn’t one company take their bailout money and throw a multimillion dollar party for themselves?  This CANNOT HAPPEN America…you know it as well as I do.

And of course it’s not just about finances, it’s about foreign policy and the threat of retribution/action/war as well.  Your last administration broke international law to stage a fake war and basically invade a country that was innocent of the charges against it (tho definitely not completely innocent) for access to oil.  The foreign policy has created in your nation a culture of fear of the unknown and a nation of hate.  It’s not completely dissimilar to another nation a few decades back, only it’s obviously less extreme.  The Bush administration did a hell of a job in creating hate and disdain for hundreds of millions of people due to the actions of a few thousand extremists.  It’s like starting a holy war against Christians because of the words of some white power crazies.

By now most of you in the East have probably already done your polling and probably even a good portion of you in the west too.  If you haven’t voted, please do so.  And please please please think beyond just your taxes and your stand on gay marriage or whatever, because there are so many more things at stake here.  I feel like I’ve been watching the decline and fall of the American empire of late, and the choices made today can either slow that slide or accelerate it.  I’m not suggesting who you vote for, although I have my personal opinions, just that you do it and do it with conscious thought not just raw emotion.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life; and today is an opportunity to do some good.

12 Rules of Low Limit

Obey, obey, you must obey
Who wants to play this game?

Obey, Rotten Sound

Ah this two posts a month thing has to stop…  It’s just that there hasn’t been much to blog about.  Sure, some triflings, minor events such as a little vote we had here or a similar but obviously less exciting and important one to the south of us.  There’s a little bit of concern about the markets, but isn’t there always?  And of course, nothing shows Vancouver’s cultural offerings like a whiney french canadian chick.  But none of these things are really newsworthy.

So after much pondering I’ve decided it’s time for another poker post.  I’ve been thinking of late about some hard and fast rules in low limit poker.  These are like laws of nature, completely accurate and inflexible, as with most poker things.  Some are kind of half in jest, some are dead serious, but all have truth to them.  So without further ado, Twitchy’s Poker Rules.

  1. AQ is a useless beeyotch of a hand.  Unless u flop QQ with it, you have no idea where u stand and you’re just hoping that no one has two pair or big slick.  You either control the betting from the flop and semi bluff it, or you need to be prepared to drop it like a hot potato.  That’s AQ.  Beat by both AK and J10.  Which brings us to (the closely related) rule number two.
  2. If you have AQ or AJ, raised preflop and were called and flop two pairs, you WILL lose to a set of 4s.  There is no way around this, so just fold those hands preflop and save us all the trouble of making insincere sad faces for you when the donkey who calls with any pair under any raise rakes in all the chips.
  3. You don’t play JJ, you ride it.  This is hard and fast.  If you have JJ, the hand will play itself; you’ll either flop the nuts, or you won’t.  If it’s questionable, you will meekly call any bets and roll the dice at the end.  This is the nature of JJ, and we all just learn to live with it.  It’s not a bad thing, it just is.  If you miss the flop, your odds are probably better if the flop looks like k58 than if it’s 5710.
  4. Bad players will raise every time they’re on the button, regardless of their hands.  This is both good and bad for you if you have a clue.  It’s good cuz you can reraise them and they fold most every time.  It’s bad because if you happen to catch a medium hand (say 99 or 1010 or AJ) on the button their skewed logic will tell them that you are raising cuz yer on the button, and will hence call with any connector or any ace and out draw you.  It’s a law of nature.
  5. Slow playing Kings or Aces is only smart if you have the confidence to throw them away.  Speaks for itself.
  6. If the board is any of the following and you hold top pair top kicker or an over pair, fold your hand to any bet or call:  89j 810j 7810 9q8 k9x q9x etc etc.  If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about low limit poker, it’s that any middle connectors are played to death.  9j, 9q, 9k, 10j, 10q…any flop that makes these hands is dangerous.  Be prepared to run away.  I don’t know why these marginal hands are soooo overplayed, but they are.
  7. The bigger the number of preflop callers before you, the smaller your cards should be to call.  AK, AQ, QK and J10 in front of you probably makes your 67 the strongest hand. Obviously if bets are ‘all-in’ sized this goes out the window, cuz someone probably has the big pair.
  8. Beginners will reraise all in if they have a flush draw.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the nut flush or 23 suited…if they have the draw they push all in.   This is so easily exploitable, if you can take the swings of losing the big stack 3 out of 7 times.  Make your own decisions.
  9. There will always be at least one person at your table who will call bottom pair right to the river if he/she has an ace attached to it.  This person will make the same play with A2 if the board has an ace.  Regardless of how you bet.
  10. 98% of the time, bluffing on the internet is about as wise as telling a prospective employer about your criminal record for fraud.
  11. If the flop has three of a suit and you have two of em and the nut card is missing, somebody on the table has it, and will call u to the end.  They may even call all in right now.  Be prepared.
  12. The moron that pushes all in every second hand will beat you every time, even if you are 300 light years ahead after the flop.  He’ll lose to everyone else who calls him, but he will beat you every time.

So there you have it.  Obey these rules and enjoy some success.  It’s on the internet so it must be true.

Front row at the Canucks game

Sure, it’s only pre-season, but damn!  Front row tickets to any game is a good day.  Plus, the Canucks are undefeated this preseason so far.  Some might say this is the best we’ll see them play.  Not me of course.

So my buddy Gerry called me up the other day saying he had some tickets to the game and no one to go with.  His partner Angie just isn’t a hockey fan…which is a good thing for me 🙂 . So I met him out front the stadium last night and away we went.  He started with “I think the seats are pretty shitty, but they were free…” and then he gave me the ticket…row one!  We were right along the half boards on the away team (San Jose) side.  I’ve seen alot of hockey games in my time, including a couple seasons when I had seasons tickets in the reds from my work, but this is the first time i’ve ever been on the boards like this.  It was pretty awesome.  The Sedins were playing last night too, so I thought we might see some of that legendary cycling along the half boards from as close as one ever gets to see it; alas, it wasn’t to be, not much anyways.

But still…front row!  Anytime there was a hit along the boards it was pretty cool.  Apart from the loogans behind us being assmonkeys (why do they let leaf’s fans into games in other stadiums anyways?) (Just kidding leaf’s fans) (Sorta…), it was a pretty fun evening.  Heck we didn’t even buy any beers!  There were a couple of little fights, including one in the first right in front of us when Rypien schooled…um…i think it was marleau.  Whoever it was he was twice Rypiens size and got his ass proverbially kicked.  There was joy in the stands.  The only unfortunate part in the game is that we did see Grier take a puck in the mouth right in front of us, that was pretty ugly.  Then on the commercial break he came skating out looking for his tooth.  Of course the loogans were being jerks during that.  A puck in the mouth is never a pretty site.

Anyways, thanks Gerry for the tix, and here’s some pics I took with my iPhone:

And of course the games first star:

Captain Lou! (Not Albano) Luongo to wear (or not) the C!

Little Stampede/WWF Wrestling reference from a long time ago there…

The start of the hockey season always makes me happy.  After 3-4 months of boring crap like baseball or mildly interesting but not so compelling (to me) soccer, hockey is back.  Yay!  I love a good hockey game.  I even love a bad hockey game if there’s a good breakaway or something.  So I waited all summer for this year’s pre-season to start.

In July I got very concerned about my home team, the Canucks.  They got rid of a very good GM and replaced him with an unknown entity.  Who promptly did…almost nothing that got the fans excited in a good way.  Well, he did let the captain go (probably a good thing, much as I’m a fan of Naslund) and Morrison go (probably a bad thing; he’s an explosion of points waiting to happen).  He brought in an aging Czech and an overweight Maple Leaf (yeah there’s a winning pedigree…snicker).  Darcy Hordichuk came to kick some bootay in the boxing ring.  But overall, it seemed like more of the same for us sad ‘nucks fans.  After last year’s injury addled tilt at the end of the season, there wasn’t much hope.  The Sedins were ineffective, and we all but forgot about Salo’s big shot and Bieksa’s heart.  The only bright spot at the end of the season was the exciting and under-rated combo of Kesler and Burroughs (who became my two favorite Canucks not named Linden or Mitchell, by the way) who, lets face it, will never be the West Coast Express or the GKM line from the 80’s Oilers.   I was getting prepared to dust off my old Oilers jersey, cuz even tho i’m still a ‘nucks fan the Oilers look like a cinderella team waiting to explode this year, and before the pre-season start the Canucks looked like the 2003 Minnesota Mild.

So we entered the pre-season with us fans all going “well…we still have Luongo and Mitchell at least…so we won’t lose games 8-1…”.   No Captain, no second line, no scorers.  But wait a second…the pre-season we look pretty good so far.  Wellwood’s lost 10 pounds in 10 days and looks like a possibility as a happy surprise on offense.  If he makes the cut… Demitra is a play maker.  Salo is back with a vengeance, and Bieksa seems excited.  The youngsters are all awesome looking.  Hodgson, Edler, Hannsen…all superstars in waiting…and Mason Raymond is going to be awesome if he stays healthy…so fast.  Plus we have about 10 million dollars of cap space to spend, which is nice.  I personally hope that Sundin does NOT come here, cuz his little prima donna soap opera has just pissed me (and I would think a good portion of the free world) off.  I say best case for the Canucks is to wait a year and get Gaborik.   But que sera, as they say.

The big news today, tho, is that the Canucks announced Roberto Luongo to be the new captain!  Screw the rules, and who cares if he can’t legally wear the C today, he’s the leader.  The ‘A’s go to Ohlund, Mitchell and Kesler, and I personally can’t think of anyone better.  I actually thought one of the first two of those would get the C.   This is not a completely unprecedented move, as a goalie as captain occured in the NHL not too long ago…1947.

There are logistical issues from a rules perspective with a goalie being captain; can he skate out to the timekeepers box every time there’s a penalty?  Probably not.  So the assistants will shoulder that responsibility.  But anyone who’s watched Luongo or seen him in an interview knows: from the team leadership perspective, he is and has been the obvious choice for 2 years.  He displays a legendary work ethic and leadership skills, and deserves the title even if it is only off the ice.  And he cut his hair so he no longer looks like a lugan from 1988 driving to an AC-DC concert in his gremlin.  So congrats to him and the three A’s, and let’s see a surprisingly good year from the ‘nucks!  We can go deep this year, I feel it.  I say that every year, mind you…

Ahh, scalpers…u make entertainment non-entertaining

“First ten rows, class room seats
Dirty movies, twenty bucks a piece
You won’t regret it, Led Zeppelin IV
Another no show, the Gremlin roars
Don’t fear the reaper, lincoln surrenders
Jefferson, my little brother

Earth wind fire

Another f@#$in’ scalper, you owe me for this one
Another f@#$in’ scalper, you owe me for this one”

“Damone”, 16 , Zoloft Smile

Rant of the day…

I hate scalpers.  I mean, not personally, I’m sure some of them are very nice individuals.  But to them I say… “Thanks for ruining the live entertainment industry, asshat!”  It’s ridiculous that today the only way to buy a ticket for anything is to stand at the ready at your computer the second they go on sale and then click the crap out of it and hope to get through, or pay extra to buy from a bottom feeding scalper prick.  This is ridiculous.  Ticketmaster mutilated the live show by using a monopoly to raise ticket prices, and then scalpers put the nail in the coffin by making sure they get the lions share of tickets.   Why is this not regulated better?  I mean, I’m sure the people who make the laws just get free tickets to things and never have to worry about it, but for the rest of us drones the system is broken.

When I was a kid, I remember that scalping tickets was illegal in Alberta.  I don’t know if it still is, but it damn well should be.  It was also much more difficult back then.  You had to go in person to buy your tickets and if there was a limit it was impossible to set up software to buy up hundreds at a time.  This was good.  Us normal folks waited in line like everyone else, and generally you could get a ticket.  And then the internet and telephone ordering helped the scumsuckers destroy it all.  I’m not talking about the person who bought 3 tickets and then their friend cancelled so they have an extra seat to sell on Craigslist, that’s not what bugs me.  What bugs me are companies who have teams who’s job it is to just buy up every ticket they can the instant they go on sale, then put on a mark up and re-sell it to poor saps like me who do horrible things like work.

Metallica is coming to town in December, and I wouldn’t mind going.  Except…the show sold out in like 23 minutes.  I don’t know the exact stats, but I’m guessing 85% plus of those tickets are now at the scalper shops.  So I can go pay an extra 10-50 dollar premium to buy my seats, or I can win them on the radio, or I can just not go.  I’m probably gonna go with option 3, just out of spite.  It’s not the money, I can afford it.  It’s the fact that if I want to see a band that I dig, I have to piss away extra money needlessly because I don’t have a ticket buying script on my computer.

The worst thing about all this is that Ticketmaster supports this BS.  Why should they care, they get paid anyways, right?  Utter crap.  TM did their uber best to control the industry already, and now they’re supporting the losers that make the already over-service-charged tix even more expensive.   It’s a stupid, low integrity, monopolistic, BS way to do things in my mind.

I would LOVE to see legislation put in place to disallow this.  Make it illegal and put these scums out of business; I (and I assume most anyone who couldn’t get tickets to a show on day one of ticket sales cuz they were already sold out), would vote for the guy who promised me this one thing!  Sure, the so called ‘business people’ who own these exploitive companies would whine, but too bad.  You’ve been taking advantage of the public long enough, now go and earn a legitimate living like the rest of us.

This really bugs me and has for a long time.  I don’t know if there is an easy solution for us in the general public; you can’t blame the bands or the promoters so much because there are limited methods of getting tickets out to the public, and they can’t just tell ticketmaster to stuff it.  Pearl Jam tried in the 90’s, and although they won the moral victory, in the end ticketmaster still has the rights to sell their tickets.   Beating scalpers would offer a certain amount of satisfaction to some, but I personally am far too opposed to violence to go that route.  Plus I’m a bit of a wimp, but that’s another story. Legislation won’t happen; this is just too small an issue for most people to worry about, what with gas prices and taxes and education and other trivial things on peoples minds…

Am I the only one so bugged by this?  Anyone have comments or thoughts?

“Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated…”

OMG it’s been along time since I last wrote here!  Someone asked me the other day why I haven’t posted in so long, and my response was “dunno…just haven’t felt the muse, I guess”.  Weak-sauce!  So…time to post.  Although…I can’t say as I have a whole lot to say.  Not much is sticking in my craw at this moment…

So what’s been happening in twitchville?  Let’s see.

  • Heart recovery is going fine…I’m finished grampa gym now and back at full steam in most things.  I still have a ceiling on my heart rate due to some of the drugs I’m on, but whatever.  Weight is down, eating is better, fruit and veggies are yummy sometimes.  Need more excercise tho… Much as I made fun of Grampa Gym, it was valuable for my physical well being.  Grampa gym is the heart recovery program at St. Paul’s hospital.  Twice a week I went for 4 months, doing 30 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of weight training, with some stretchy stretchy in between.  There was a dietician and a nurse on hand too to speak of certain things and educate us.  I called it grampa gym because I was the youngest participant by a good 20 years.  It was a lot of fun tho, and there were some cool people there, both as trainers/staff and patients.  By the end i was able to keep a 15 minute run on the treadmill.  I try and use the facilities in the office here when I can, but only seem to get there once a week.  Not cuz I’m too busy, but cuz I’m too lazy.
  • I’ve become a whore to Steve Jobs.  I bought not only an iPhone, but an iMac as well.  I drank the kool aid, and yeah, I’m a happier person for it.  Stuff it Windows.  On a related note,
  • I’m one of the 37 people who digs the Microsoft ads with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, and gets them too.  The blog-o-sphere is a-buzz with people getting their panties in a twist over these, and trying to compare them to the “i’m a mac, I’m a PC” ads (which are also really good), which is wrong because they aren’t doing the same thing.  I mean, I guess they are both about corporate identity as opposed to product specific, but no, they aren’t the same thing.  Check them out and tell me your thoughts.  Good on Bill for not taking himself too seriously.  And this is the closest Jerry Seinfeld gets to being funny.
  • Music music music.  I purchased Scars on Broadway (meh…ok, but lame lyrics), the new Slipknot (Excellent as always), the new Metallica (holy crap…it’s like Master of Puppets era Metallica again!  That’s a GOOD thing!), Badmotorfinger and others.  I also went to see George Michael live (!!!!Seriously!) and it was pretty cool.  Obviously if you know me, you know I’m not a fan, but I’ve always been able to respect George Michaels singing ability and musicality.  His songs tended to fall into two categories live: soulfoul and dance-y.  I dug most of the soulful stuff.  It was Ruth’s thing, and at the end of it all I’m glad I went.
  • I’ve lifted my poker game to a new level.  Ruth helped me discover a couple of key elements to my game that had been missing, and it’s turning me into a winning player.  Obviously I’ve got way more left to develop than has been developed, but overall I think I’m a respectably good player now.  I’ve found that I play best with a fairly aggressive style, but must do it with patience to be successful.  This is not rocket science.   But I’m learning.  I already had some root skills and base abilities, but I could never really put it all together properly.  Plus I’m learning to back my emotions out of the game, and that helps substantially.  I’m frequently able to have massively profitable nights if I’m on my game, and tend to minimize my bad nights.  Unless I tilt out, which has been known to happen…
  • Ruth and I went to Las Vegas for a week, where we played several overnight poker sessions, ate some awesome meals and bought some fancy things.  I love Vegas, and I hope we’ll be going back again soon.  We stayed at Treasure Island, and got a super good price on a package from Allegiant Air.  It meant we had to fly out of Bellingham instead of Vancouver, but that was worth it.  I recommend Allegiant if you want a really good trip package…they don’t go everywhere tho.
  • I joined 2007 and signed up to twitter.  Look me up, twitchy67.

Uhhh I’m sure more things have happened, but that’s what I can think of and jot down right now.  Am I gonna be back to regular writing?  Dunno…gonna try tho.

‘If you haven’t picked out the worst player on the table within 5 minutes, it’s you’

Poker, of course, is a game of patience and psychology. Over the years my biggest weaknesses at the table have been twofold: playing too impatiently and when i’m up, thinking i’m untouchable. The first one was easy to fix…just be patient. I credit Ruth with bringing patience into my game. She can play for 14 hours straight without too much problem, whereas I had always played for like 4 hours, and hence too fast. Of late tho I’ve attempted to play more her style, which is to wait before getting too aggressive, and then be aggressive with a reason. It’s been working out.

I group poker players into 5 groups at the table 4 of which are easy to beat over the long term. Often you can tell what type of player they are just by their look; the dress, race, age group. This is obviously unsafe generalization, and I don’t hold 100% store to the looks, I wait until they play. These groups are of varying degrees of difficulty to play against, and with a bit of patience coupled with aggression all can be dominated. Although the one group makes it a challenge.

Group 1 are the gamblers. Typically they are middle aged asian men, but not all middle aged asian men sit here and not all the gamblers are that demographic. The gamblers will play any two suited cards, and most connected cards. They are dangerous, because they love the rush and will often call down a dominated hand and occassionally suck out. I generally won’t go up against one unless it’s a freeroll for me if I lose, or unless i’m quite shortstacked.. If we’re even stacked or he has me covered but it’s alot of chips, I’ll bet but I won’t force this guy to make a decision. Because if I force him to make a decision he’s liable to make the wrong one and one time out of 3 it will pay off for him. IF I have the chip strength I will make him pay big for his draw, but I won’t risk all my chips to do so. According to the books, this is probably the wrong way to play; always make a draw-er pay for his draw. But, the thing that the books never take into consideration is that we readers of these books are not playing 20 thousand dollar buy in games against other mostly solid players, we’re playing against mostly donkeys and luck is a much bigger factor at 1-2 no limit than it is at 300 600 no limit. Anyways, the gamblers. They have huge swings at the table, going from several hundred dollars up to several hundred dollars down in no time at all. These guys by nature are very dangerous to your variance, but they will pay you off alot if you know the odds of your made hand vs. their draw, and if you know that you’re up against one. Just tread cautiously, and don’t give them a free card, but also don’t give them all of your chips. Never try to bluff this guy; he will call with any pair or any draw.

Second is what I call the “Fishman wannabe”. Generally these are young men, often dressed the part with the ‘full tilt’ hat and the headphones. These guys are the easiest at the table, because they are obvious and readable. I call them Fishman wannabes because they all think that Scott Fishman style of over-aggressive play is smart. They don’t seem to realize that 1: in real life, Fishman is busted right now, and 2: he’s probably WAY smarter than they are. It’s easy to be super aggressive at the table and raise everything, but the problem is that anyone with an eyeball and a brain is just going to sit back and take your chips by letting you bet into their good hands. Most of the fishman wannabes get married to a hand, or don’t know when to stop. If I’m up against one I’ll let them bet for me and build my pot. IT works most of the time. Occasionally they’ll suck out, and if a draw shows up on the board and u have a set you need to force the action by raising or check raising them hard, but they aren’t as chase-y as the gamblers. Sit back, be patient, and use this guy to double you up or take him out when your hand hits. The fishman wannabe is fairly easy to bluff out if a scare card comes up, but make sure your read is right first. Also being young and cocky, don’t do it too much or they’ll call u just out of spite.

Next is the rock. Generally older caucasian men or ladies, but again not always. This guy never makes much money unless u do something stupid like bet your nut flush without noticing a pair on board, only to give him a ton of money for his full house (a mistake I’ve actually made!!). He only bets the nuts and only plays the second nuts. This guy is so easy to read, but he never seems to lose money, thanks to the gamblers and the fishman wannabe’s. If you want to bluff this person, pick your spot very very carefully.

Then we have the tourists. These guys are great, for profit. They maybe watched some poker on TV or maybe have played on the net for play money, but have no clue. Even better when they’re drunk! It’s not that they’re especially bad at poker, but they are extremely passive. This makes them easy to push around; they’re calling stations when they’re drawing or have a pair, and easily pushed out when they have nothing. The biggest risk with these guys is that they tend to attract more callers when they’re in a hand, so you have to watch for everyone else. Occasionally they get a hand too, so one can never be too sure of being ahead.

These first four tend to make up at least 5 seats on a 1-2 no limit table, sometimes more, sometimes a bit less, but most of the table. Most of the time these players will be who I make the most money off of. They are also the the players who will win huge pots off of me by sucking out; if I lost my whole stack it’s for one of two reasons: I made a dumb mistake (common; it happens more than I’d like to admit…) or I ran into one of these and they sucked out with a miracle river or something (more common).

For me there’s also one more commonly seen type of player at the hold em table. The good player. The good player is outnumbered by the other 4 types most of the time, but is still a concern. The good player will be aggressive when he needs to, passive when he needs to, and won’t let you get away with mistakes or loose plays. I find that good players make me play better, as I pay much more attention to them and am much more careful around them. Even though they often out-skill me, I lose much less to them than I do to the donks because I’m so careful around them. The good player can be taken off of a hand much easier than a bad player can as well, so bluffing these guys can work if you’re willing to push in a lot of chips for it. Occasionally a good player will take a bunch of my chips cuz I misread them or something, but generally I’m so careful around them I don’t lose much at all. Perhaps I should use that carefulness on the donks too, and maybe I could reduce my swings by a long ways…hmmm…

There are certainly other types of players, but these are the 5 i notice the most often, and within a few hands I try and figure out who at my table is which one of these. Sometimes I have to alter my opinions as a session goes on (people get drunker and stupider, or they lose some chips and get smarter, or perhaps even play a shifting style), there’s nothing wrong with doing so. At the end of it all knowing how a person plays and what kind of player they are makes a huge difference in how much you can win from or lose to an individual in any given hand. When concentration slips and I stop paying attention, that’s invariably when I lose a ton of chips to any one player.

Responsible Bar Management?

“Party down, party down
Drinkin til you cant even see
in your car with your buddies
And wrap it around a tree”

Drinking and Driving, Black Flag, InMyHead, 1985

Vancouver’s Red Room apparently WANTS you to drink and drive…Well, I’m sure they don’t, but I was just reading Duane’s post about his evening attending some New Music West gigs, and was astounded to see that a bar would not allow someone a glass of water when they weren’t drinking. This is absolutely assinine, and they should lose their liquor license for that. I’m sorry, but in today’s world any “drinking establishment” that doesn’t respect the designated driver is as guilty of drunk driving as the drunk drivers. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and is so irresponsible!

So if you don’t click the link and read Duane’s blog, basically his buddy was told he couldn’t have a glass of water without paying. Not even tap water. Now, sure it’s the bar’s right to set their prices, and things are tough all over, but if you need to SELL tap water to make your bar profitable, you’re stupid as a sack of hammers. A liquor license is pretty much permission to print money! Now maybe they have their reasons for doing this. Maybe they figure if they piss off all the DD’s they’ll go elsewhere and they can keep the quality drinkers in their establishment. Maybe the cabal of 3 that owns every liquor license in vancouver doesn’t let anyone give away water.

Anyways, all sarcasm aside it seems like a real dumb rule to me; it’s not so much the amount one would pay for the water, it’s the principle of having to that gets my underoos in a bunch. Stupidest policy ever. Kind of bums me out because it is a cool room and occasionally gets cool bands.

Today is…

“I read the news today, oh boy . . .
About a lucky man who made the grade…”

A Day in the Life (The Beatles)

Not that I should have to tell anyone…

And isn’t this two beatles references back 2 back? whoa…

Today is the middle of week 2 of tracking expenses. When I looked at week one, there was around 60 bux I could trim; money I had no real need to spend. Now, 60 dollars isn’t a huge amount, but it does add up to 240 dollars a month… That’s 240 more dollars against my debt or towards a…something nice, I dunno what. So my challenge this week has been to trim that. I started with the easy ones…I don’t need to buy a paper every day, which is a habit I’ve had for sometime. I also don’t need to purchase a can of pop everyday, which for whatever reason I’ve been doing since I got back to work. So that’s 15 dollars of savings. Of course, I blew it all the other day by driving into work cuz I was running a bit late and paying 16 dollars in parking. But I’m tracking that too.

Instead of buying my lunch 3 or 4 days a week and bringing it occasionally, I’m going to flip that around. I purchased my lunch yesterday (under $5, mind you), which means I only get one more of those this week. Maybe I can go without any and make that 16 dollars in parking back. If I can save 2 lunches a week, at an average of 6 dollars a day I’m up over 25 dollars saved. Halfway there. Now where is the rest going to come from? Well…stupid useless spending. I spent 21 dollars last week on stuff I labelled as “stuff”. This includes things like an afternoon snack or something. I’ve nipped that one by bringing two apples to work everyday. So kill that and i’m up to 48 dollars. The last 12 is the hard one. I buy one 2 dollar coffee a day. That’s ten bux a week. I don’t know if I could miss my daily coffee, but maybe I could make my own; I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home.

Ah well, it’s a tiny little thing, but it’s a start. The key for me is to stay the course and keep my discipline on these simple things. That’s going to be the biggest thing in succeeding and plugging this financial mismanagement leak I have. I’m looking forward to seeing what my monthly budget looks like when this is all done; I’ve put in all my credit payments, car payments, monthly bills and week one expenditures. My biggest concern is that at the end of the month I’m running in a deficit state…that would be bad bad bad. But it may actually be where I am.

Today is also 3 months to the day since my surgery. I feel great and look great, and still have those same damn 15 pounds to lose to meet my goal weight. That’s ok; i was finally able to convince my trainer to up my target heart rate to a point where I can lose weight, so maybe it will start going down again. I’ve been diligent about my eating, allowing myself once a week to eat not so good stuff. I haven’t had a single hamburger since my surgery, and I LOVE hamburgers (as anyone who’s gone for lunch with me knows). I know, the hamburger isn’t as bad as the fries, but we take our victories where we can. Sometimes my arm itches where the cut was, and sometimes my chest wound stings a bit, but all in all everything’s been groovy. I feel like a kid again, seriously, all these changes and new motivations. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this focussed. The surgery I had 3 months ago is what’s giving me the energy to do it, the catalyst to get started was external and much more recent.

Today is a fine day. Now I need to go find a particular book and use up my entertainment budget for the week. 😉