Thursday, December 30, 2004

You know when you reach into the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn for weeks or months and find cash? Imagine if you reached into that pocket and pulled out $400+!

OK, here’s the deal. Once my bankroll at a given site gets above $200, I’ll pull $100 back into Neteller. Jeff (Donkeypuncher) suggested this as a hedge against both variance and the potential collapse of online poker. A few months ago, when Mrs. Commish was having conniptions over my online play, I cashed $1000 from Neteller to prove to her that I was profitable. A few weeks ago, I cashed another $300 because I thought the Neteller account was getting too high for a non-interest bearing cash account, and left a couple of hundred behind for bonus whoring opportunities. Well, after reading about the various bonus games at Party Poker (step tournaments, bbj, etc.), I decided to re-up there with what was left of my Empire cash (>$100). So I cashed all but $11 out of Empire (one last SnG), and bought back into Party for a piddly $100.

But when I checked my Neteller account for the first time in a few weeks, I had over $600! I guess I’ve been cashing down at Pacific and Empire and forgetting about it. Sheesh, talk about found money!

Oh, and I’m gonna be stuck in Maui next week for my company’s sales meeting, so my online poker play may be curtailed. Anyone know of any casinos in Maui?

Monday, December 27, 2004

Lost in some of the recent hoo-hah surrounding Bay Area baseball (Hudson, Mulder traded, BALCO, etc.) was the activity of the San Francisco Giants in the free agent market. By signing Moises Alou, Omar Vizquel, and Mike Matheny to an already aging and creaking roster, the Giants have announced in big, bold letters “2005 or bust!”. Their opening day lineup reads like an All-Star team… from 1996.

Ray Durham, 2B
Omar Vizquel, SS
Barry Bonds, LF
Moises Alou, RF
JT Snow, 1B
Marquis Grissom, CF
Edgardo Alfonzo, 3B
Mike Matheny, C

Only the pitching staff has any contributors under the age of thirty. Jason Schmidt will anchor the roster and be a Cy Young candidate. He will be followed by youngsters Noah Lowry, Jerome Williams, and Jesse Foppert, with Brett Tomko providing some “variance” and Kirk Rueter providing some mediocre consistency. Armando Benitez is the new closer, an improvement over the Herges/Hermanson fiasco last year.

The Dodgers will be worse this year, losing Beltre and Finley. The Dbacks will be, well, the Dbacks. The Rockies will be just as bad, meaning the Padres are the only team with the potential to threaten the Giants in the NL West. With St. Louis and Atlanta also looking stronger, the biggest battle in the NL may be for the Wildcard. Sad though, since it’s only December. Place your parlays now so you can collect in October, 2005.

Family poker has changed. Spent most of Sunday at my sister’s house. My brother-in-law got a new poker set for Xmas. You know, the nice sturdy chips in the chrome case with two sets of cards, dealer chip, and five dice. Anyway, he’s on the Hold ‘Em bandwagon full force and despite being a pretty shitty player, suggested a family Hold ‘Em Tournament. In order to get to eight players, buy-in was limited to $5, winner take all. This was the lineup:

Me – 41 years old, tight-mostly passive
Brother-in-law – 43 years old, loose-passive
Sister – 43 years old, loose-passive, but the worst poker face in the world
Brother of Brother-in-law – 45 years old, loose-passive
Nephew of Brother-in-law – 16 years old, doesn’t know the rank of the hands
My nephew – 15 years old, loose-aggressive, actually pretty decent
My niece – 12 years old, loose-passive, confuses flushes with straights
My son, Trevor – 11 years old, tight-mostly passive. After all, who taught him?

Of course, I anticipated that I would steamroll the table, since I was clearly the most experienced tournament player and came in second in a WPBT sanctioned event. Of course, the last three players were the three YOUNGEST. Trevor finished in second and was pissed off that he didn’t win (I love that boy!) despite being down 7-1 in the final head-to-head. I won the honor of being last adult in the tournament, a dubious honor at best. In early play, six players saw almost every flop with me and Trevor being the most frequent folders. Honestly, I wanted to play, but the steady stream of 62o and 83o discouraged me from contributing to the community pots, especially with middle pairs winning more than their share, and kickers playing in most pots.

I got the Hiltons once, but the flop of AKx with three callers ahead of me pushed me out. I got AKs twice but saw flops of suited rags and brick turns that I knew made someone two pair and killed my pot odds of drawing to my high cards. I was crippled when I flopped two pair (A2) while my nephew turned a set after calling my raise with middle pair. I ended up all-in later with pocket 3’s only to run into my nephew’s pocket 4’s. Trevor busted out my niece in third with T8s after flopping two pair, and making her pay for her flush draw which hit, but also hit his full boat. I was as proud as a Little League dad when his son hits a homer when he played that one.

Basically, we were just playing for fun, although I learned my nephew knows how to play with a big stack, bullying his way through some pots very very effectively. It also pointed out some flaws in my game, since I learned that tight play is only rewarded by OCCASIONALLY getting strong hands that get a piece of the flop. Conversely, loose play can be rewarded by hitting some lucky flops/turns, resulting in some monster pots. I guess that’s what you guys call “variance”. VIAB. I’m one of those that believes if the quality of hands is relatively even, I will profit. If I’m on the low end of the normal curve, my tight style isn’t rewarded enough to compensate for the occasional suckouts. Last night, I was way way to the left of the normal curve. Put it this way, even when I folded, I never had a hand that would’ve won. Think about that. In a home game, the flop, turn, and river are fixed, they will not change no matter what the players do. For all my preflop folds, NONE of them would have hit a good hand on the flop. None. That’s how bad it was. I be back online tonight to wash the foul taste of variance out of my mouth. Hopefully, the smooth taste of victory will satisfy my palate.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I recently rediscovered the joys of Pacific Poker. I had about $50 hanging around in there last week. I already mentioned playing two “fast” $20 SnGs. Now, I’m on a bit of a run there.

Five tournaments, four cashes, $105.60 in buy-ins, $252.00 in prize money.

Ummm, me likey the games there. Back up to about $200.

And I’m learning. First hand of a 20-seater. I pick up JJ in MP and raise the 20 blind to 75, to get a gauge of the table power. Two folds, one caller, and the SB raises to 150. I call this, and the cold caller suddenly rises to life with an all-in for 800 total. The SB calls immediately and I LAY IT DOWN! This is a big step for me! Turns out I was 100% correct; the cold caller had AQ and the SB had QQ and the board spiked the case queen. I actually read the hands exactly right! I knew one guy probably had AQ/AK and the other one probably had AA/KK/QQ, and I had virtually no chance. I ended up cashing for +$32.

I’m actually pushing close to $2K in winnings for the year. Sure, it’s small potatoes to most of you, but it’s still pretty cool considering I’ve read exactly ZERO poker books, don’t use Poker Tracker, and spend a whopping 1-2 hours each night playing. A nice little hobby. A nice little profitable hobby.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Going into the penultimate week of the regular season, it seemed a good time to check back on some of my predictions for the NFL season. The NFC was previewed way back in July, and the AFC preview came a week later. That’s my excuse for the incorrect predictions, the correct predictions are entirely due to my expertise and breadth of football knowledge.

Predicted NFC Playoff Teams – Division winners – Seattle, Philly, Carolina, Green Bay
Wildcards – Atlanta, Detroit (Lambs might make it if they hide Martz’ headset for the last game)

Aside from Detroit, this lineup looks right, albeit with Atlanta winning the division and Carolina getting a Wildcard. The other likely Wildcard is Minnesota, who I pegged for a .500 record, which is about right. I just didn’t think that would be Wildcard worthy. For some side predictions, I predicted Minnesota would lead the league in combined points (correct so far) and give up just as many points as they scored (Pythagorean theorem) to get to their .500 record, I predicted Tampa Bay had “the look of a 7-9 team that will fire the coach to compensate for some bad offseason moves”, Atlanta could win the South if Michael Vick learns to slide at the end of his runs, Mike Martz’s ineptitude would keep the Rams from the playoffs, and that the NFC East would have three teams around 7-9 (three teams currently at 5-9). I almost nailed the rushing title , predicting Shaun Alexander and Clinton Portis would be 1-2 in the NFC (currently 1-3).

The only big miss was the 49ers, who I knew would suck but thought would scrape up 5-7 games. Near misses include the Lions, who I predicted would contend for the Wildcard (they still might, but it would require some pretty farfetched scenarios), and the Bears, who I predicted would be 4-12, but might actually be in the Wildcard hunt with a 5-9 record.

Division winners: New England, Indy, Baltimore, Kansas City
Wildcards: Jets, Denver (and a sleeper pick for Jax IF Fred Taylor plays all 16)

Let’s see, if you substitute Pittsburgh for Baltimore, and San Diego for Kansas City, I’d have it nailed. Um, in my defense, NOBODY predicted Pittsburgh and San Diego would be a combined 24-4 this year. I had the Pats winning 12-14 games (correct), Jets taking the Wildcard, Wannstedt getting fired midseason, Indy winning their division easily with Jax as the sleeper coming up with the Titans heading down, Dick Vermeil would cry, and Carson Palmer would lead the lead in picks (which he was until missing last week while Jake Plummer spit the bit). In close calls, I had the Raidahs at 5-11 (5-9 now), six teams would be 8-8 (seven teams are within two games with two to go), and Buffalo with 6-8 wins (8 right now).

Lots of big whiffs in the AFC. I said Pittsburgh and San Diego would suck (umm, WRONG), Cleveland would be close to .500, Miami would win 6-8 games, and Denver wouldn’t find a 1200-yd rusher (seriously, had you even HEARD of Reuben Droughns?). Anyway, still more hits than misses, and my New England/Philly prediction is still looking strong.

Speaking of Philly, I feel bad for the fans, but TO is getting some major karmic payback for completely fucking over two franchises during the offseason. He wanted to be the Savior, the Deliverer, the Messiah for the Iggles. It would be delicious if Philly makes it to the Super Bowl without him, proving that he wasn’t the “missing piece of the puzzle” after all. Karma is a bitch sometimes.

Quick poker news, if anyone read this far… With my last remaining bucks in Pacific, I started playing these “fast” six-seaters for $20+2. Opening stack is 800, blinds go up every six hands, and they usually take about half an hour. I had < $50 and planned to play two of these. Of course, I took down a second place on Sunday, and won last night for a neat $76 profit for an hour’s time. The play at these things is horrific. It’s almost like these guys are all drunk cowboys, and don’t want to invest time in their gam-bool-ing, so they just go all-in on their first Ace.

Honestly though, I should have won last night. My first three hands were AKs, AKo, and QQ. I busted THREE people during the first three hands. The first AK was a suck-back. I raised to 5xBB since I was pretty sure I’d get some callers and wanted to get them mentally invested in the pot. I got two callers and the Flop was A77. UTG bet 50 into me (making me think he had a weak ace), and I kicked to 200. He raised all-in, and I thought I smelled another AK and called. Of course, he had called my preflop raise with 87, and I was way behind until I sucked out one of the remaining aces for my ace-high boat. I consider this a suck-back since he probably shouldn’t have called my preflop raise, considering I had position on him. The flop happened to hit him between the eyes, and he played postflop well to suck me in.

Next hand I see another AK and raise it to 3xBB, just for variety. I get two more callers. Flop is QJx and I float another 3xBB bet, just to impress them with my constant pressure. They both call again, and I know nobody has a strong Q. Turn is a K and they check to my 5xBB bet. Only one caller sees the river, which is a brick. I throw another 5xBB out there, and he calls it. Pacific mucked his cards after my AK shows, so I take down pot #2. Third hand is QQ. I’m shocked. But I recover enough to raise again to 4xBB. Sometimes I vary my raises just to see if they notice (which is why I like to watch chat). After one call, the BB goes all-in with the shortstack. I kick that just enough to put the other shortstack all-in, and he obligingly calls. Pacific upchucks the cards, brick brick brick brick ACE. Arrrrgh! But after my QQ is flipped, their cards are mucked, meaning they went all-in either on low pairs which didn’t make a set, or on Kx or Qx, perhaps because they thought I was just being a bully.

One of the survivors commented that he had never seen a three-hand sequence like that. I responded that I had probably used up my allotment of premium hands right there. And I was right, because I was cold-decked until the very last hand. I had stolen some pots with my enormous chip lead (3400-800-600 is pretty enormous) until I got head-to-head, not surprisingly against the commenter. By then it was 3600-1200 and I continued to chip away into him. He played pretty well, raising frequently and at the right times until I picked up KK in BB. He raised into me and I pushed him all-in. The river was an ace again, but my cowboys held up for the easiest $84 I’ve ever won.

One lesson from all this. Pay attention to the chat window. You’ll see who is paying attention to the cards and bet/raise size. Sometimes these are crappy players who are trying to impress others with their card sense (“I think he has aces”), but sometimes you can tell if someone says something perceptive or insightful that they’re really paying attention. Of course, you can use this against them by changing your patterns later in the game, and raising on scare boards with nothing. If you’ve established that you raise X amount on top ten hands, he might put you on a better hand. Or you can trap with a strong hand. Be more careful when someone is saying stupid things. It could be a decent player who is trying to convey fishiness (“What’s the best hand in Omaha?” or “I just noticed this is Omaha, how do you play?”). You can fake stupidity, but you can’t fake intelligence.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I gotta keep some focus. I bubbled out of a $10 SnG last night because I wasn’t paying full attention to everyone’s chip stacks when we got down to four players. With blinds at 150/300, I had around 1200 chips and the player to my left had 450. By simply folding or checking down my blinds, he would have been put all-in on a random hand. Instead, I made an ill-advised push with a double nut draw (A2s in hand with a flop of two low, suited cards) that came up snake eyes. So, some schmuck is buying Christmas gifts with what-should-have-been my $20. I’ll consider that my charitable donation for the year…

Speaking of charitable donations, the A’s strengthened the rotations of two National League contenders over the weekend by unloading two of their three aces for prospects and unproven young veterans. Most of the East Bay is in an uproar over the perceived “white flag” for the next year or two, but I can see some reasoning behind the trades beyond the surface financial considerations.

One, both pitchers were hurt last year, and we don’t know the extent of their injuries. Oakland (read: cheap-ass owner Schott) probably didn’t want to pay the multi-million dollar salaries to guys who may only pitch twenty games a year. Their peak trade value was NOW, and they are both question marks in the mind of Billy Beane (Hudson – back problems, Mulder – head problems).

Two, they deepened their staffs. The biggest problem for the A’s last year was a lack of middle relief and reliable set-up/closers… in other words, the whole frickin’ bullpen. Doesn’t do you much good to have your starter go seven strong innings and then upchuck the game in the eighth or ninth. Maybe Haren and/or Meyer post 4.00-4.50 ERAs as starters next year. That would be one more run during their 7-8 inning stint than you might expect from Hudson or Mulder, but now the bullpen is much better, giving the team just as good a chance to win, considering just how execrable the bullpen was last year.

Three, they added some position players that add depth as well. Charles Thomas was a regular on Web Gems during August/September, and supposedly Daric Barton is the next Mike Piazza behind the plate, well, at least as a hitter. So each ace was dealt for a starter, a reliever, and a position player, with Barton the only one who won’t be on the major league roster in March. They save $8-10M this year. They cut their losses from Hudson’s imminent departure. They send both players to the National League, cutting the Yankees and Red Sox off at the pass. I’d say the short term doomsayers aren’t looking at the big picture, because the A’s will be competitive this year, and possibly stronger next year while the Yankees/Red Sox will decline due to the age of their starting pitching and position players.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sigh. Three more SnGs, three more cashes. Two thirds and a second. No firsts. But a hearty $37 profit on a $33 investment and three hours time. Is that good? I think so.

I know many of you are dealing with hundred dollar swings from night to night, but frankly, I have no desire to dive into that deeper part of the poker pool. I’m quite content to eke out a meager profit for 1-2 hours of time per night. I can watch television, talk to my wife and kids, check my WhatIfSports teams, and still make money.

Dugglebogey mentions here that online poker players should aspire to higher and higher levels to increase our individual expertise and profit potential. I disagree. The Peter Principle (for those who are younger than 30) asserts that:

In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.

I think that applies to online poker as well. Online poker is inherently hierarchical: With the higher limits comes the assumption of higher abilities. As each of us conquers a given level, there is the desire to ascend to the higher level and, by inference, a higher ability. Eventually, we will attempt to ascend to a level which is beyond our abilities, and we will LOSE money. However, online poker isn’t like the job market, where the experience becomes a marketable commodity. Even if I fail miserably at a job, I can apply somewhere else and claim “Managed twenty employees” on my resume and possibly get some other schmuck to give me another chance to manage. Putting “Played 5,000 hands at $10/20” on our resume doesn’t mean someone else will give us our $1000 bankroll to try again.

One of the benefits to “settling” into a specific game and/or limit is that others will adhere to the Peter Principle by rote. The better players will move up to a higher limit and the lesser players will move up to replace them. The profitability of a given level might actually increase over time because of this dynamic. Think about it. I’ve been steadily profitable at $11 SnGs recently. Others that are profitable might seek to bump up to the $22 or $33 games, while successful $6 players might be considering a move to the $11 tables. Who would you rather play?

My goal is to have fun. I have more fun when I’m profitable. But whether your goal is profitability or fun, you’re better off finding a game you can beat at stakes you can handle and staying there. If not, you’re just setting yourself up for a fall.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Props to those of you who have written up the Vegas WPBT stop. It sounds like it was a blast. Congrats to Felicia for outlasting such a prestigious field of bloggers and REAL poker players. Of course, your path was made easier by my absence…

Back to the grind. My quasi-streak of O8 cashes ended at nine over the weekend with a horrendous seventh place finish. I was crippled when a nut low hand and nut flush draw (after the turn) was counterfeited on the river, allowing the other guy to scoop with a wheel. Nice of him to hit a three-outer. Oh well.

Popped a second place last night despite not paying full attention. One guy, jamieiv, was pulling out the “I don’t know how to play this, it’s my first time” card, even though I’m pretty sure I had seen him around Empire/Party. He kept typing in newbie questions like “What’s a good hand?” and “How many cards do I use from my hand?” I don’t think anyone was buying it, because most of us have seen this ploy more times than we can count. Plus, he spent most of the time as chip leader. He actually pulled off a couple of nice slowplays, including a check-raise with quads, and ended up beating me head-to-head after starting with a 3-1 lead.

Question – Do you play any different if you know the person claims he is a newbie?

I don’t think I do, although just the thought of it might make me reconsider a check-raise if I don’t think the person is likely to try and steal. It might come down to whether you peg the newbie as a calling-station or a maniac, meaning that the fact that they’re a newbie means less than the table image they’ve EARNED. After all, when you’re playing online with a bunch of strangers, you must begin with a blank slate on all of them, and fill that slate with your impressions of their play on the fly.

The recent run of cashes at Empire have rebuilt the bankroll to $130+ even after pulling some back. Sigh. Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in! I’m right around the one-year mark since I deposited my first $80 into UB. Truth be told, the extent of my investment is that $80 and my first $100 at Party Ever since then, I’ve been playing with house money, by pulling money in Neteller and distributing it from there. I’m up around $1500 overall for the year, depending on how you count re-invested capital, meaning I’m doing OK, though I ain’t making flight arrangements for the WSOP just yet.

Donkeypuncher (Jeff) has been contemplating using some poker winnings to try one of the lower buy-in WSOP events. But then, he’s a young DINK and can afford to take a lark once in while, and I’m an old married fart with kids, which restricts my disposable income. Is anyone else out there thinking about being “dead money” next year? Maybe we should plan a $50 buy-in tournament JUST FOR BLOGGERS with first place being plane fare and an entry into the WSOP... That way, we can live vicariously through one player (rather than simply against the Crew and Hellmuth).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Nine cashes in a row. This one was a startling comeback from a near flatline.

100/200 TourneyOmahaHiLoGameTable (Limit) (Tournament 7760267) - Thu Dec 09 00:23:44 EST 2004
Table Table 13387 (Real Money) -- Seat 2 is the button
Total number of players : 8
Seat 1: jschlesi (750)
Seat 2: win9752 (502)
Seat 3: ToddCommishE (129)
Seat 4: MoneyJack (1072)
Seat 5: kreek (108)
Seat 7: tmontana2 (2215)
Seat 8: prainey (2756)
Seat 10: lckmybrwneye (468)
ToddCommishE posts small blind (50)
MoneyJack posts big blind (100)

And making it back to cash a mere 17 minutes later:

300/600 TourneyOmahaHiLoGameTable (Limit) (Tournament 7760267) - Thu Dec 09 00:40:07 EST 2004
Table Table 13387 (Real Money) -- Seat 8 is the button
Total number of players : 3
Seat 3: ToddCommishE (1422)
Seat 7: tmontana2 (4666)
Seat 8: prainey (1912)

There were two main reasons I didn’t get second place.

  • One, tmontana2 allowed prainey to hang around by raising twice during hands where he was all-in, forcing me to fold, and splitting the pot when merely checking would have eliminated prainey. This egregious breach of cooperative play late in a tournament is explained by Mean Gene right here.
  • Two, I mis-clicked. First time it's ever happened in a genuinely critical situation. I had a crap hand in BB but was allowed to see the flop free. The flop was no help and I was planning to check with a gutshot possibility. Well, I didn’t do it quite fast enough, and by the time I clicked, it had changed to [CALL 600] and I had effectively pissed away half my chips.

Oh well, I'm gonna be stuck in an Orange County hotel room tomorrow, so I won't be able to go for my tenth straight cash. The company frowns on downloading poker client software onto our work laptops, so I won't be playing again until either very very late on Friday or on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Not that anyone cares, but I’m up to eight straight cashes. I popped my head into the blogger $25NL game just long enough to say “Howdy” and debate whether to join amidst all of the suspiciously cheerful invitations. I saw enough wild play to convince me that my money was better spent in the O8 SnGs. I believe my departing quote to the collected rabble was “I’m off to fall short in a $10 O8 SnG.”

So I went. And promptly cashed. Same old, same old. I rarely played during the first few circuits, except on blinds. In fact, I only raised three times during the entire SnG, probably a personal record for passive play.

69 hands saw 63 flops led to 54 turns finished by 49 rivers. Out of those 49 rivers, I showed down nine times (4-4-1). I actually took down nine pots without ever showing, winning many of them by semi-bluffing into scare boards (flopped pair, three high cards, three flushes) while shorthanded. Most people have some insight as to the opening hands to play, but that’s as far as their analysis takes them. Once it gets shorthanded, they might loosen their preflop hand requirements, but don’t understand how to bet later rounds with fewer players and higher BBs.

I think my strongest part of the game is when it’s around 4-7 players. In early play, the fish are schooling and you gotta wait for the nuts to hit-and-run. Suckouts are the rule, not the exception, with nine or ten players. Remember, 36-40 cards have been dealt and most combinations of the nuts will be out there somewhere. If you don’t have them, someone else does. And by the time you get to the final two or three, the blinds are usually 10% of your stack, and post-turn betting is almost a forced all-in. This means you gotta either hit some nice draws or hope your opponent gets horrible starting cards and gets blinded down.

So, Todd’s quick and probably WRONG theory of O8 SnG play:
Early (8-10 players) – (a) Fold until you get a premium hand, and (b) Wait for the nuts, then bet the hell out of them. Straights are NO good with three of a suit or a pair on the board.
Middle (4-7 players) – (a) Add in some hands that have scoop potential with decent draws to the nuts (maybe A3xx double sooted), and (b) Wait for the nuts, then bet the hell out of them, and (c) If the turn is checked with a low board and you have A3 or A4 (with a 2 or a 3 on board), bet the hell out of it.
Late (2-3 players) – Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I ain’t winning these, so stop reading right here. My expertise lies in getting you to the money, not the mountaintop.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

This morning during my commute, I was listening to the (formerly Tony Bruno) Morning Extravaganza on the radio. Tony Bruno hasn’t been on for about six months, and I have NFI what happened to him. I don’t know if he pissed off people at FoxSports or what. I just know that it’s Van Earl Wright (formerly of CNN sports) and Andrew Siciliano now. Anyway, Kevin Nealon (formerly of SNL) was on, pimping the newest Poker offering from the GameShow Network, Poker Royale. It looks like this is the cluster fuck that was described by Felicia in her weeklong series that began here.

Nealon, who you might remember as the man who almost killed Weekend Update when Dennis Miller left, was bland and lifeless. The hosts had to practically use the Jaws of Life to get answers out of him, he sounded so UN-enthusiastic. He admitted to knowing little about poker (gee, what a great selection to host a poker show!). And I’m not sure if he was just tired from making the radio talk show circuit, or if he was genuinely indifferent towards the show. After reading Felicia’s reports of widespread incompetence, it seems likely that Nealon was also disgusted with the GSN and was making these rounds merely to fulfill his contractual obligations. Anyway, it’s on tonight, so if you’re tired of watching Frosty or Rudolph or the Grinch, and you want to see a poorly run poker tournament with an ignorant, apathetic, boring host, you can tune in.

Right now, I’m on a nice little run at the Empire O8 $10 SnGs, cashing in seven straight (one first, four seconds, and two thirds). Strictly play by the numbers for me. Sure, it’s not exactly thrilling poker, but it doesn’t require 100% attention to cash in these, enabling me to intermingle tucking the kids in bed, getting and giving bedtime hugs and kisses, and Christmas shopping on Amazon. I did have one hand that made me cackle out loud, leading my wife to ask me if I was looking at porn. I tried to explain to her that I slowplayed a flopped boat and trapped a turned Broadway, but all I got was a blank stare. Oh well. No telling how well I would’ve done if I had stared at the screen and took my copious notes, but I’ll take my modest profit.

Oh, quick question for my four or five readers. I know a lot of you have wireless in your homes. I’m gonna buy a laptop for the family and go wireless in the house. I worked for Compaq years ago, and my sister works for HP, so I can get a discount on a CompaqHP system (with a free all-in-one printer/scanner/barista/masseuse thingamajig). However, the wireless part has me stumped. I’ve seen reviews for dozens of routers/print servers, but none seem to agree. Linksys, Belkin, Dlink, and NetGear seem to be the big names. Any feedback?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Last night, another 2nd in a $10 08 SnG. Yeah, I know. That makes four in a row. Still, I’ll take $19 profit for an hour of time all day long…

I had to break the stats into two separate chunks since the head-to-head lasted an amazing 46 hands! What makes it funny is that it took only 46 hands to eliminate the other eight players!

First 46 hands (going from ten players to two players)
46 flops
42 turns
38 rivers (82% of hands go to the river)

This continues the 90%/90% “rule” that seems to be in effect in these games.

Last 46 hands (H2H, just the two of us)
38 flops
33 turns
28 rivers (61% of hands go to the river)

Strange, eh? You’d think you’d be more willing to see cards with only two people playing, but the onerous blinds (we ended up with 300/600 blinds with only 8000 chips in play) made it tough to play with borderline hands since chasing one hand would probably sink your ship right there.

I’m disgusted. And embarrassed.

I’ve been one of Barry Bonds’ staunchest defenders.

Now it looks like :
a. He’s a lying cheat who knowingly used steroids to bulk up
b. He’s a brainless patsy who trusted a dirtbag with his career and physical well-being
c. He’s a devious jerk who knows the phrases “plausible deniability” and “don’t ask, don’t tell”
d. All of the above
e. He’s being set up as the fall guy and there is a .000000001 chance he’s really clean

While his (curiously leaked) grand jury testimony appears to be the “smoking gun”, it still falls short of Giambi’s outright admission. Gary Sheffield’s interview with ESPN sounded almost identical to what Bonds said last year behind closed doors, leading me to believe that they are either telling the truth (they used steroids, but didn’t know it at the time) or that the responses are part of a scripted Plan B (“The player will disavow any knowledge of their actions”)

Clearly, Bonds’ records should be under scrutiny and/or disdain, just as McGwire’s and Sosa’s records should. The question is whether they should be “asterisked” or deleted altogether, should the allegations be proven. I’m one of the “Steroids don’t help you hit the ball” crowd, although I firmly believe that the McGwires and Bonds of the world surpass the Sosas and Albert Belles since the latter pair used illegal bats rather than juiced bodies.

But suppose, just suppose, that Sheffield and Bonds are telling the truth? Does that mitigate their guilt or just make them look stupid? I mean, the last fifty years are filled with cautionary tales about athletes and celebrities being lied to, misled, and cheated out of millions of dollars. We’re told that “They want to focus on their craft/sport/field, so they have to trust others”. To me, that’s a cop-out. Your body is your responsibility, your money and your future is your responsibility, your family and your legacy is your responsibility. People nowadays are too willing to give up self-responsibility.

Still, it remains to be seen whether some of the “leaked” testimony is just a Memogate waiting to happen. Did anyone else notice that these “leaks” come on the two days before the Victor Conte interview on 20/20? Gee, what a coincidence! The leaks are clearly timed to help publicize Conte’s “exclusive”, pointing the finger directly at Conte’s team as the source. I won’t watch the interview. I have neither the time or inclination to sit through a full hour of an interview when I can wait for the post-game analysis and get the juicy (no pun intended) bits in five minutes.

Marion Jones will be thrown under the bus, probably right alongside Tim Montgomery. It remains to be seen whether ANY of the interview will be about Bonds, Giambi, or Sheffield. There is still the remote possibility that Conte lied to Anderson and Anderson passed the lie to Bonds and the other ballplayers. Remote. At best. Until tonight, when I watch SportsCenter through my fingers, I’ll hope that Barry Bonds is proven to be just plain stupid.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Here’s an interesting exercise (or not, depending on your perspective). I placed 2nd in a $10 O8 SnG last night, and didn’t feel like I even played.

67 total hands
63 flops
59 turns
55 rivers

8 hands that I took to showdown (lost 3 including the last one, won 5)
22 hands where I put money in, but didn’t stay for the showdown (lost 17, won 5)
37 hands I didn’t even play

– 8/67 hands go to showdown? This seems really low for O8

– 22/67 folded before showdown. Obviously, most of these were blinds that were raised or small blinds that didn’t complete, but this seems too high.

– I had A2 four times. I had A3 three times.

– Can you say “calling stations”? Over 80% of hands see the river. Sheesh.

You know, on second thought, this isn’t interesting. Sorry. Nothing to see here. Move along.


I know I said it wasn’t interesting, but I wanted to check out the numbers for another O8 SnG (another 2nd place, this one on Sunday). I was surprised at similarity of the results.

48 total hands
48 flops (!)
44 turns
43 rivers (!) – Now we’re up to almost 90% of hands going to the river.

OK, just one more. This one is from last week (yet another 2nd, I think I need to improve my H2H play).

82 total hands (I guess this one lasted longer)
58 flops (!) – Aha, this one was tighter, explaining the extra hands played
51 turns
51 rivers (!)

EUREKA! Two very clear conclusions can be made here based on this massive sample size (three whole tourneys!). Remember this is O8 on Empire/Party. Your results may vary.

1. Just about everyone who sees the flop, sees the turn.
2. Just about everyone who sees the turn, sees the river.

So if you have your hand made on the flop, DON’T SLOWPLAY. Apparently, these people are in for the entire ride. Raise, raise, raise. If you're on a draw, you can limp in knowing that your pot odds are good. If you make your hand on the turn, raise, raise, raise. They'll call. Trust me.