Friday, October 28, 2005

NFL picks - Week Eight

OK, time to put my imaginary money where my real mouth is.  I’m giving you my five-star specials for free this week.  Just call 1-888-Commish for the picks.  That’s 1-888-Commish.  Operators are standing by.  I’ve never felt more strongly about my picks, and that’s why I’m giving away my five-star specials.  1-888-Commish.

Enough commercials.  I’ll see how well I can do with an imaginary $1000 bankroll, taking the point spreads from Yahoo.  $55 to win $50 unless otherwise noted.

Oakland (-1) at Tennessee – I have a big problem with one point spreads.  I mean, what’s the frickin’ point?  Either the team is better or it ain’t.  The Raiders are better.

New England (-9) over Buffalo – This one smells like a 20+ point spread.  If New England gets an early lead (and they will), they’ll pound the ball on the ground.  Buffalo has an atrocious run defense as well as a horrible passing offense, meaning that the deficit will balloon like Jason Giambi on the juice.  Bet two units ($110) on this one.

Pittsburgh (-10) over Baltimore – Take a practical approach here.  Figure Pittsburgh is good for at least 20 pts, possibly 27.  Now, how can Baltimore score 10 points?  Answer: They can’t.   And they might even run negative (give up more points on offense than they can score).

Washington at New York (over 42 total points) – Check the weather before betting this one.  If the temperature is above 50 degrees, no precipitation, and wind is less than 20mph, bet this one.  It could be a track meet.  Quick check of shows prediction of around 60 degrees.  

So, $275 bet this week.  We’ll see.

Are you talkin' to me?

Not the first time it’s happened, but for some reason, it seems to be lingering with me today.

Someone called me a “%^$&^$# donkey” last night.  

Now, it’s not lingering with me in a bust-out-crying kind of way, but more in a vindictive, gonna-bury-you-if-I-get-a-chance way.  See, I was shortstacked in the BB fairly late in one of my silly $25+2 SnGs with maybe 5xBB left, so maybe one or two circuits max.  I think there were five or six left, so we’re closing in on the money.  UTG raises 3xBB which was SOP for this group and the big stacked button kicks it up all-in.  I have 97s and figure that it’s a good chance to almost triple up with live cards, so I call all-in.  UTG folds, and I see that I’m up against pocket Kings.  Oops.  Flop is 77x for the miracle set, and the non-King turn and river slides me the pot.  

“What a donkey”, “Stupid ^&%$*%$ play”, “Idiot” are three of the choicer comments from the button.  Oh, what the hell, his PokerStars ID is Dad57.  No sense protecting the jackass.  I don’t feel particularly compelled to respond in the chat box, though I was pretty sure I was right in calling, given the odds I seemed to be getting.  Of course, that was assuming I was against overcards and not an overpair, but them’s the breaks.  Anyway, he ranted on and on.  I think he was trying to bait me into a debate.  Either that or he just thought that his opinion mattered to me…  

Later, when we were in all in the money (four left), I was still shortstacked compared to the blinds when I get K9s in the BB with 33% of my stack in the pot already.  A raise from Dad57 on the button, and the SB kicked all-in.  I’m figuring the button for a steal or an Ax and the SB for a small pair or big Ace.  Quickly computing the pot odds on my toes, I figured WTF and called.  Turns out I was almost right.  Dad57 had AQs, and the SB had QQ.  [NOTE: just checked the CardPlayer calculator, I was around 25% to win, so I was getting good odds on my call]  Anyway, the flop is KKx with two of his suit, setting off another stream of insults and cursing from Dad57.  Now this is the part that kills me…  When he rivers his flush (against 5-1 odds), he continues to berate me for my play.  This leads me to following conclusions:

1. He’s a dick
2. He knows very little about pot odds or tournament odds or WTF odds
3. He’s a dick
4. I must break him.

[Research note: he plays MTT on PokerStars, and has placed in three during the past ten months.  On a side note, pokerdb has me with a whopping ONE data point from PokerStars.  Apparently, this hack db only has MTT and not SnG results.  Cool.]

I really need to work on my anger issues.  Sorry to bore you with my vigilante plans.  Pay no attention.  Just step around the body when you come across it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sweet spot

Buy-in, Seats, and Structure.  The poker equivalent of location, location, location.

$15+1 or $25+2, one or two table, Turbo or regular blinds.  That’s where I’m building my strip mall.

Came in 2nd in a $25 single-table last night for a quick +$40.  Played it right, got him to put in all his money on a 3-outer which hit.  That crippled me, and when my KT lost to his 75, it was over.  The $50 delta between 1st and 2nd is pretty wide, so I’m not happy with the bad beat, but there’s only so much you can do at the table.

I think Iggy wrote about Jesus (Ferguson, not Christ) built a $25K bankroll from a $1 stake.  It’s really not that hard to do, given the micro-ante NL tables available.  I built a bankroll of a couple of hundred dollars from some pocket change at the $.01/.02 NL tables, built up to $5.50, and taken to a SnG.  And so on.  And so on.  Seriously, the next time you’re down to the sofa digging change level at a site, seek out the lowest NL table you can find, and play to double up (multiple times).  Take whatever funds you accumulate and hit the cheap SnG tables.  You’d be amazed how that throwaway money can become an honest-to-goodness poker stake in a few hours.  And if you lose it, it’s no big deal.  You probably have that much under your car seat.

Other Sports Stuff

The White Sox won.  BFD.  Just gives the lower rungs of the Windy City an excuse to riot.  Over/under on deaths is four.

Sony gave Michelle Wie a sponsor’s exemption to the PGA Sony Tournament next year.  Can you say “publicity stunt”?  She can’t even win on the LPGA tour, and they’re giving her an exemption into a men’s event?  I hope she shoots back to back 80’s and gets caught making another illegal drop.  Her hype machine has reached the ridiculous stage, especially for someone that (1) hasn’t won anything, and (2) cheats.  Let’s see her win an LPGA tournament before we anoint her.  

Quick hypothetical question:  Is she was white, would we be hearing all this hype?  I say no.  Corporate America (read: middle-aged fat white guys) has always been fascinated with Asian women.  Oooh, exotic, mysterious…  Right now, all Michelle Wie can do is drive a golf ball farther than other women.  Realistically then, she is an Asian Laura Davies minus the victories.  Yes, I know she’s 16, and everyone points to her potential.  But why hype potential?  Why not hype ACCOMPLISHMENTS?!  

This is what’s wrong with the media.  The media tries to pre-empt actual results (see 2000 Presidential election results) with predictions, and not wait to see how things really are.  Right now, Michelle Wie is the golf equivalent of Alex Smith.  Unlimited potential, minimal accomplishment.  Alex Smith is pilloried, Michelle Wie is praised.  Alex Smith is part of a terrible team and has little or no chance to win because of the crappy supporting cast, Michelle Wie is in a solo sport and still can’t win.  Let’s wait on both of them, shall we?

In the meantime, check this out and compare it to this.  On a purely aesthetic note, Paula Creamer is way cuter.  If you say otherwise, you’re probably one of those middle aged, white guys that are pre-disposed to Asian women.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm stunned

I’m stunned.

Sheryl Swoopes is gay.

Just think, a WNBA player, nay, the standard bearer for the entire league…  Gay.


End Sarcasm.

In a similar vein, I’m dumb.  Yup, dumb as a bag o’ hammers.  I was fattening up on PokerStars in various SnGs, 18-seaters primarily, between $25+2 and $15+1.  I had made a 400% profit (bought in for $150, cashed for $400, kept $400 in the account) in about a month.  

Then I got cute.  No, I didn’t try to bump up in buy-ins…  I’m not that dumb.  I started diving into BIGGER pools, trying the $10-30 MTT.  And losing.  And losing some more.  Oh, and losing a little more.

Stupid.  I’ve said many times that every profitable player has a sweet spot in the poker universe, a price or table or structure that works for maximum ROI.  Mine was clearly at the $15-25 Turbo SnGs.  And I drifted away for the (assumed) bigger paydays.  

Now I’m back to my sweet spot.  I pissed away about $200 in poker life lessons before returning, but I made it back nonetheless.  Yesterday, I announced my comeback with two second place finishes for a net +$105, getting back half of my tuition.

Note to self:  Listen to self.

NFL notes for the upcoming week:

  • Cards at Cowboys – Ah, nice to see that Drew Bledsoe woke up and is still the Drew we’ve come to know and love.  Unfortunately for all us Cowboy haters, the Cards are worse.  Cowboys 27, Cards 16

  • Browns at Texans – How bad must it be in Houston right now?  On the verge of getting swept by a team that hasn’t won the Series in 90 years, on the verge of becoming the Bucs of the 21st century, hurricanes, pestilence, Sheryl Swoopes’ announcement…  Here’s one for the Houston area, Texans 17, Browns 13.

  • Jags at Rams – Jamie Martin?  Please.  Jags 24, Rams 17.

  • Vikings at Panthers – Love…. Exciting and new…. Come aboard…  we’re expecting you.   The Love Boat soon will be taking another loss.  Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new crack whore…  Panthers 30, Vikings 13.

  • Skins at Giants – Raise your hand if you marked this game on the calendar as a game with major playoff implications.  Uh-huh, thought so.  If the weather is good, this one will go over 50 pts.  Last team with the ball wins 30-27.

  • Bears at Lions – Oh sure, you all laughed when I predicted the Lions would win the division.  Now, with Garcia running the offense… they still look shaky.  Anyway, a team can’t win consistently scoring only 10-13 pts every week.  Oh, both teams are like that?  Well, someone has to win.  Lions 16, Bears 13.

  • Packers at Bengals – Statement game from the Bungles.  Against a team that can’t defend the pass, Palmer will go for 300+ and 3 tds.  Favre may just throw 50+ times in this one trying to keep up.  Bengals 34, Packers 20

  • Raiders at Titans – Should be a lot like the Raiders vs the Bills last week except the Titans aren’t as good.  Can you name three people on the Titans other than Steve McNair?  Raiders 24, Titans 10

  • Dolphins at Saints – Oh, how nice.  This is like Hiroshima vs. Nagasaki.  (I’m Japanese, so I can say shit like that).  Where are they playing this one anyway?  Oh well, I’ll go TMQ generic and say Saints 20, Fins 17.

  • Chiefs at Bolts – It ought to be fun to watch the Chiefs try to do what the Iggles did last week to LT without the personnel.  LT left, LT right, LT in the endzone.  Priest left, Priest right, Priest stopped at the ten.  It’ll come down to finishing drives in the red zone.  The Chargers are the best in football at that.  Chargers 31, Chiefs 23

  • Iggles at Broncos – I keep waiting for Jake Plummer to start acting like Jake Plummer.  Maybe this is the week.  The Iggles seem to be in a run-and-shoot offense with two running backs, throwing on every down.  Perhaps the loss of Akers makes them feel that they need TDs every drive.  I honestly have no earthly clue how this one will turn out, so I’ll go with Iggles 24, Broncos 23.

  • Bucs at 49ers – The Rattay Bowl.  Honestly, does anyone think that Alex Smith will generate anything against the Buc D?  Bucs 27, 49ers 10.

  • Bills at Pats – Time for the Pats to reel off about nine wins in a row.  Starting with this one.  And it won’t even be close.  Pats 34, Bills 6

  • Ravens at Steelers – I’m probably the only guy around who thinks that the Raven defense is one of most overrated groups in NFL history (along with the 85 Bears and their ONE great season).  ONE year of domination doesn’t equal greatness.  Anyway, Big Ben will pick them apart.  Steelers 30, Ravens 13

Monday, October 24, 2005


My father was placed in a wall today.  Or rather, an urn carrying the “cremains” of my father was placed in a wall today.  

I’m angry.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m in the Anger stage of my grieving process, moving towards Depression and eventually Acceptance.  Actually, I might actually be straddling all three stages right now.  If you don’t want to hear about it, click the little box that says “Next Blog”.  This is my therapy, and you’re welcome to get up and leave.

I didn’t speak at the memorial service.  I could have.  And I probably should have.  All of the eulogizers (eulogists?) were eloquent and poignant and semi-composed.  I would have seemed a raving lunatic next to them, ranting and pounding the podium.  And I would have been venting my emotions and feelings to a bunch of people who barely knew me.  I just wasn’t comfortable with that scenario.

Some background: I am a training manager, and I’ve been speaking in front of groups, large and small, for much of the last fifteen years.  My style is more John Madden than college professor.  I pace when I speak, I use humor frequently and inappropriately for rhetorical impact, I pound on tables, throw pens, and stand on chairs.  More background: I’m Japanese-American and my family is really set on traditional Japanese stoicism.  So I really didn’t feel my normal speech pattern would be welcome at my dad’s funeral.  And I didn’t feel I could deliver a proper eulogy without it.   Nor would my dad want me to stand up there and be a talking head.  He deserved more.  So I sat.

Dad was one of those “cool dads” who swore and played cards and ball with my friends.  I was lucky.   He helped coach my baseball teams, we played in golf leagues together, we bowled in the same leagues, we played cards (poker and bridge) with my friends and a couple of other dads, we watched the Giants, 49ers, and Warriors together.  All of our time together centered around sports and games.  And we always had a good time.  He was younger than most of the other dads.  He was only 22 years old when I was born, so he was able to dominate me in most sports until I was in my 20’s.  

All my friends thought he was great, mainly because he would burp and fart and swear whenever they were around…  actually he did it whether they were there or not.  He was the kind of guy who would flirt with every waitress, secretary, stewardess, or checkout girl.  And he would double the flirting if the girl was homely, probably because they enjoyed it more.  Maybe he was doing it just to make their day, I never asked him.  He was loud and boisterous and politically incorrect to the nth degree.  But nobody ever seemed to take offense, maybe because none was intended.  He just WAS.  

He also yelled a lot.  At me, at my mom, at the dog.  My older sister seemed exempt from the yelling, which led to a lot of rebellion on my part, which led to more yelling.  He taught me to swear (which I’ve picked up expertly), to spit (ditto), to project my voice across three blocks, to grit my teeth when yelling at someone up close.  I was his greatest disappointment.  See, at a young age (five or six), I was tested out to be a genius.  I was skipped past first grade and was taking sixth grade math classes at age seven.  He equated that standardized test score with unlimited potential and expected me to rule the world by adulthood, forgetting about one big thing…  I didn’t want to.  This started a long dispute over my seeming lack of ambition and his expectations for me, which weren’t smoothed out until Trevor was born and my dad realized that I just wanted to be a dad.  Just.  Like.  Him.

I don’t even know if his mind was there at the end.  That’s one of the insidious things about dementia;  you never know if the person is still there.  His body failed, and we’ll never know whether his mind was still railing against his fading lungs, trying to speak, desperately trying to find a way to communicate with us.  Or if his mind had slowly faded days or weeks earlier, leaving behind a crumbling body for us to try and beat back into life.  I do know that the last word I heard him say was my daughter’s name.  It was his birthday, October 8th, and he was paralyzed from the Haldol and various other drugs and couldn’t even stand.  His eyes were unable to focus and I don’t know whether he heard us enter.  I leaned over him and told him “Trevor and Brianne are here to see you, Dad.”

He stirred slightly, still unable to move, and haltingly whispered “Bri… anne.”  That was the last thing I heard him say.  Someday, I’ll tell her that.  Right now, she’s only ten, and I don’t know if she’s ready to hear that.

My eyes are so filled with tears right now, I can barely see the screen.

He died a week later.


You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(70% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Blogger Tourney

OK, back at work, which means back to blogging…  Trying to maintain some sense of normalcy in some really crappy times.

Bombed out in the Blogger Championship.  Pumped up the chipstack early, getting as high as the top twenty.  Faded to around 50 by the first break.  Played pretty well, though I paid off some people on busted flush draws with good pot odds.  Since there were a lot of late arrivals and no-shows, a lot of the initial play was dictated by blind steals and positional play.  Once everyone figured out that dance (step on the guy to your left, kick the guy to your right), the second half hour was an exercise in quick counterpunches.  

After the break, it seemed like Poker Superstars II with all-ins galore.  The problem that this caused for me was that I was moved four times in ten hands, making it impossible to get a feel for a table or a gauge of the playing styles.  I ended up at a table with only five players and four no-shows.  I watched a couple of hands with apparent blind steals (raise 3xBB with the no-shows in the blinds and taking it down uncontested).  I got JJ on the button with two no-shows behind me.  The player in CO raised 3xBB, and I doubled it behind him.  He pushed and I called, anticipating a low pair or Ax.  I was right (kinda) because he showed AKo.  A little stronger than I thought, but I got my money in at the right time.  Unfortunately, the Ace on the flop squelched my hopes immediately and I got no help from the turn or river.  

I probably had enough chips (and enough no-shows) to build up my chipstack and stick around for a longer time, so I may have mismanaged my stack and my position, but I thought it was my best chance to take advantage of a big stack and double up.  After all, I was after the Xbox, not some PokerStars hat.  Anyway, thanks again to PokerStars for throwing such a wonderful freeroll for the bloggers!  Maybe now, the other poker sites will get a clue and start following suit.

NFL Notes

My god, the 49ers suck.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I briefly toyed with the idea of dangling a narrative hook here; just a little literary license to create the impression of writing skill. But I won’t.

My father died Saturday.

It’s Thursday now. A week ago, my mom called and told me that my dad had been taken to the hospital for unknown reasons. We had just gotten him placed at a locked facility for dementia patients, and his health had been steadily declining since the VA hospital (a whole other rant) loaded him up with Haldol and other drugs. In August, he walked into the VA as a slightly agitated dementia patient, but as ambulatory and as coherent as the average 85-year old (he was 63 at the time). After a few whacks of Olanzapine and Haldol, he became virtually catatonic, barely able to feed himself or walk.

If you get nothing else from reading any of this crap I spew here, listen to this. Don’t trust the VA with the health of anyone you care about. They churn people through the system, load them up with antipsychotics to make them palatable to nursing homes, and throw them out. One of the main side effects to Haldol is severe muscle stiffness, and by the time we got my dad to the nursing home, he was a physical wreck, barely able to walk or stand. When we saw him on his 64th birthday, he was unable to speak, walk, or even sit up in a chair. Of course, he developed pneumonia since he couldn’t walk enough to clear his lungs, and he eventually stopped eating.

So, the father I saw in the emergency room last week bore no resemblance to the father that played catch with me, taught me poker and bridge, and played with my children. He was a shell, barely breathing, with no idea I was even in the room. By the time he actually died on Saturday, it was almost a blessing. The dementia had been taking his mind and his memories, but he was still ALIVE. He recognized and loved his grandkids and could walk around and feed himself. He couldn’t finish a coherent sentence nor could he keep his temper when he got confused, but he was still ALIVE. The VA and their drug pushers managed to kill whatever time I thought I had left.

I’m angry. And sad.

No talk about lawsuits. I think he’s already been cremated. I made the arrangements for his urn and niche at the cemetery on Monday. My sister is making the arrangements for the memorial service on Saturday. My birthday was on Monday. Happy fucking birthday to me.

Kinda makes poker seem insignificant…

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Not sure how clearly this comes out, but Empire Poker is offering a 100% reload bonus.

Gee, I wonder why...

Cat's in the Cradle

Have I mentioned that PokerStars is the most spectacular poker site in the world?  Far better than those disloyal hacks at Party Poker or those bracelet hoarding scumbags at Full Tilt or those Hellmuthian whiners at Ultimate.  No sirree, for my money, PokerStars is da bomb!  

p.s. My t-shirt size is XL

Moving on…

It isn’t often that a father gets to show off in front of his 12-year old son, and actually see some admiration in his eyes.  Typically, you might get rolled eyes or an embarrassed shake of the head.  When I coached Little League, Trevor would be embarrassed that I would catch fly balls behind my back or snatch-catch pop-ups or bounce a baseball 100 times on a bat before cranking the ball over the fence.

Last night, he was genuinely impressed.  I let him sweat me during an 18-seater on that wonderful site PokerStars.  And I won.  Of course, he was offering suggestions the whole time, moaning in pain whenever I folded Ace-rag, wondering why I would raise with Kx on the button, high-fiving me when I rivered a boat against a made wheel.  I’ve mentioned before how helpful it is to have a sounding board during tournaments, someone to bounce thoughts and ideas off of while you’re contemplating a hand.  It forces you to rationalize your decisions and think them through.  All the better when that sounding board is somewhat fluent in poker lingo.

And it’s the best when it’s your son.  And he’s proud of his old man.  

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

PokerStars is the bestest online poker site ever!

PokerStars is super wonderful and extremely neat.  Can I have a t-shirt now?

Doinked a wonderful, neat PokerStars SnG last night.  If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would be railing against being cold-decked the day after a cash withdrawal.  But I’m not.

Another so-so week of NFL prognostication:

  • Saints at Packers being within a field goal.  Well, 17 field goals.

  • Iggles beating the Cowpies.  I don’t think anyone predicted a blowout for the ‘Boys, so I’ll cut myself some slack here.

  • Bengals staying perfect against the Jags.  Close but no Miami cigar.

  • Chargers over the Steelers on MNF.  If you offered to let the Steelers lose the game, but get to keep Big Ben healthy, they’d give up this game in a heartbeat.

  • Lions over the Ravens in a close game.  Well, if you consider 18 points close, I win this one.

  • 31-28 score for the Pats/Falcons.  Exactly right, if you ignore that team thing.

  • 37-33 score for the Rams/Hawks.  Actual was 37-31, again ignoring the team thang

  • 44 total points for Panthers/Cards.  Bingo.  I predict 27-17, reality is 24-20.

  • Some other close calls: I predict 17-14 in the Jets/Bucs game.  It’s 14-12 with the right team getting the 14.  I predict 20-12 Fins over Bills.  Actual is 20-14 Bills.

Lessons learned:
  • Betting on NFL pointspreads = -EV.  Prognosticating = Priceless.  And worth every penny.  Like David Letterman says, “You gets your money’s worth”.

  • Oh, and went 3-0 in my various FFLs.  God Bless Tom Brady.

  • And Steve Smith.

  • The 49ers suck.  This is a recording….

Monday, October 10, 2005

Online Darwinism

I risked angering the poker gods by withdrawing a chunk from PokerStars this weekend.  The $150 deposit of five weeks ago had ballooned into $630 and it was time to pull back some of the funds for potential whoring opportunities and fantasy football/baseball league fees.  So that orphan $150 that was in Neteller has likely become a fully-accessorized Ipod Mini for my son, a reward for straight A’s this quarter.  And I still have over $250 in money playing at PokerStars and Pacific.  

I haven’t even logged on Party and/or Empire for months so I was unaware of the hubbub regarding the jettisoning of the affiliates and the installation of prop bets.  Two quick thoughts here, neither of which probably matter to most of you.  Party is following a fairly standardized marketing strategy.  Specifically, use partnerships to help grow a customer base, then cut them off when you feel like your product is self-sustainable.  Happens every day.

My second thought is more business oriented.  What kind of idiot lawyers and/or marketing groups do these skins have?  It seems awfully abrupt to just suddenly get cut out of all these affiliate deals without any way to protect/retain their customers.  If they HAD known about the pending separation, every single depositor for these skins should have received an email with a list of their NEW promotions or deposit boni.  This way, they could attempt to lock in some quick incremental funds AND preclude any jumps over to Party.  If they DIDN’T know about Party’s plans, then shame on them.  Each one of these rinky-dink sites will probably dissolve within a few months due to low volume.

Thus begins the inevitable shakeout of the online poker industry.  Strange that I haven’t heard anyone else mention this, but the breakup of Ma Party signifies that online poker has hit the saturation point and sites can’t rely on organic growth to sustain profitability.  Now they must feed off the carcasses of the dead and dying to fuel their hunger.  Thus, it is now more profitable for Party to forego the minimal licensing/sharing fees and try to completely eliminate competitors.  

It’s fairly likely that we’ll see significant casualties as poker sites without casino gaming dry up, and leave us the mega-poker sites like Party, Full Tilt, and PokerStars.  I’m kind of a poker Darwinist, so this doesn’t bother me, but poker whores might lament the decline of deposit boni and the MTT overlays that second and third tier sites have been offering.  You may start seeing some niche marketing (“We have the most Follow-the-Queen MTT in the world!” or “We have the most Spit-in-the-Ocean tables!”) as smaller (ie. less than 5000 players per night) fight for share of mind.  The battle lines are being drawn, and the bodies are already piling up.  

Friday, October 07, 2005

18-seaters rule!

Oh hey, guess what? I won another 18-seater last night on PokerStars for a tidy $92 profit while watching CSI and Without a Trace. While watching this, I made the mistake of commenting out loud how cute Poppy Montgomery is. Naturally, Mrs. Commish immediately went on the commonly seen offensive-defensive female psychosis combination “You never used to talk like that, it really pisses me off” followed by the “You think I’m fat, don’t you?” Oddly, this helped my play by shifting my focus away from chatting up the wife and more to concentrating on the final table.

It took one fairly meaty suckout to get to the big prize, but it wasn’t a bad play suckout. I was shortstacked and out of the money with five left (3xBB = shortstacked). I was UTG and pushed all-in with QJs. It was raised by the button and the big blind called. I was hoping one would push the other off the hand, but no such luck. Flop of K9x gave me some hope for a gutshot. Button NOW pushes and BB calls again. Cards are flipped to show button with AA and BB with AK. Hmmm, not good. Turn is a Q, giving me some outs. River is a J and I tripled up, and the BB was teetering. I busted him and the other shortstack on the same hand a few minutes later when my 77 finds a 7 on the flop.

I agree with BadBlood that the heads-up play online is terrible. I find that most will fold their SB preflop without a fight, and fold their BB to a min raise. I always chip-up in these situations by keeping the pressure on, push push push. I’m always keeping an eye on the chip counts, because having the chip lead in H2H is huuuuuge. It’s fun betting half the guys stack, knowing that it puts him/her into a pot-committed situation. In fact, I probably pay as much attention to the relative sizes of the blinds and chip stacks as I do to my actualcards. Not sure that’s really smart, but it seems to be effective at this level.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cash flow

Y’know, it’s nice when one of your vices can pay for another.  It makes for a happy, symbiotic relationship between my poker play and my fantasy sports obsessions.  I’ve become my own cottage industry, taking money won from various fantasy football leagues and funneling it into poker sites.  Taking poker winnings and refinancing the next fantasy baseball league…  and so on.  I occasionally pull cash from the accounts, just to prove that I can.

It’s self-sustaining, and seems to be growing.  What’s even better is that the consistent positive cash flow from the various ventures means that it is (relatively) exempt from spousal scrutiny.  The funds haven’t need replenishment in years.  I have money moldering in Neteller and Paypal that will only be used if I suffer a long losing streak either in fantasy sports or poker or both, and none of these scenarios seems imminent.

Even so, I probably won’t re-up any funds.  If I start losing consistently, I’ll just stop.  Just.  Like.  That.  One of the key disciplines to any form of gambling (even “informed” gambling) is the discipline to QUIT when the quitting is good.  I would have no trouble shifting gears into video and computer games when the poker/fantasy well runs dry.  I’m not an “action” junkie.  I’m big on “winning”.  If I ain’t winning, I ain’t having fun.

I hope PokerStars really is going to weed down the field for the “Blogger” tournament.  Seriously, even if one takes Iggy’s prodigious blogroll, there ain’t anywhere near 700 poker bloggers out there.  It would be a damn shame if PokerStars were to offer such a sweet package as a service to a specific group, and some poacher(s) were to take down the big prize(s).  It would be like someone from Hawaii jumping into line in Louisiana for some free blankets.  (ok, so analogies aren’t my forte, but you get my point).

Speaking of PokerStars, the bankroll is up to $500 now (from a deposited $150 less than a month ago).  Won another 18-seater last night.  I think I can safely consider myself a pretty decent two-table, low buy-in SnG player at this point.  Granted, that’s like being a really good miniature golfer, but as long as it is profitable, I’ll keep rolling the ball into the dragon’s mouth and through the windmill, and leave the chipping and driving to the big boys.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Midweek thoughts

  • Checked the “Blogger” tournament at PokerStars.  650 entries.  Uh-huh.  Like there were really 650 poker blogs before they announced this tournament.  Shouldn’t there be some kind of tenure involved?  Like at least a MONTH of blogging prior to entering a “Blogger” tournament?  

  • Slowly chipping up at Pacific.  That $5 stake has crept up to $35 playing nothing but $5+.5 SnGs (oh, and one $4+.5 to start).  So, depending on whether I follow an arithmetic, multiplicative, or exponential progression, I might have $60, $245, or $1200 next week.  Or zero.

  • Sticking to my ONE SnG per evening system.  So, I’ll either be in the 16-seaters at Pacific or the 18-seaters at PokerStars.  Let my daughter watch a little last night.  She’s got the makings of a total calling station.  “Ooh, Queen-four.  You might get a pair of queens…”  Reminds me of the classic analysis of “Well, he’s on a pair draw”.  My son is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.  When I raised on the button with JTs, he freaked out.  When I took down the pot with a continuation bet on the ragged flop, I could almost see the dawning of understanding in his eyes.  Almost.

  • Football picks were pretty shaky last week.  

  • Bad picks – Pats over Chargers (umm, NO), Jags over Broncos (not close), Rams over Giants (not in the same country), Seahawks over Skins (I might have to admit that Joe Gibbs might know more about the game than me), 49ers over Cards (did you know Tim Rattay is an anagram for “try at aim”?).  OK, so it’s off by a letter, but pretty damn close.

  • Good picks – Saints over Bills by 10 (actual = 12), Iggles over Chiefs by 4 (actual = 6),  Colts big over Titans, Ravens over Jets in a low scoring game with Jamal getting 30 carries.  Oh, and in the non-upset of the week, ABC has officially married Brett Favre and made the leader of an 0-4 team their official suck toy.

  • Bingo pick – Bucs over the Lions by 4 with a late run by the Lions.

Moving on to week five…

  • Ravens at Lions – Interesting game.  The Lions defense is better than they’ve been given credit for.  The Ravens offense just plain sucks.  Once again, it falls on Joey.  Lions 17-10.  

  • Dolphins at Bills – JP Losman vs. Gus Frerotte?  Gotta take a guy named Gus, especially when the guy named JP can’t throw worth a shit.  Fins 20-12.

  • Bucs at Jets – V-v-v-vinnie and the Jetsssssss.  Surprisingly good team at a surprisingly bad team = tight game.  17-14 Bucs.

  • Saints at Packers – 0-4.  Brett Favre at home used to be a mortal lock.  I haven’t checked the weather, but someone will lose this one on missed field goals.  27-24.

  • Pats at Falcons – Pats can’t lose two in row, can they?  Urrr, yes they can.  See Mike run.  Run Mike run.  See Tom pass.  Pass pass pass.  See them score.  Score score score.  31-28.  Falcons in a minor upset.

  • Bears at Browns – Good lord, these games suck.  Coming off their bye weeks, both teams have a record of…  oh, it’s the Bears and Browns?  Who the hell cares?  20-17 Bears.

  • Titans at Texans – Another barnburner.  Or at least I’d rather be in a burning barn than watch it.  Here’s an odd prediction.  Dominack  Davis and Chris Brown will both go over 100 yards.  And it’ll still be a shitty game.  19-13 Titans.

  • Iggles at Cowboys – A touchy game for the Eagles.  Big win against a tough interconference foe.  Cowboys coming off a weak effort against the Raidahs.  Closer than it should be 24-20, Eagles.

  • Skins at Broncos – Never bet against the Broncos at home.  And yeah, I know I said that Joe Gibbs knows more than me, but still….  Mark Brunell?  But, the Broncos aren’t exactly Elway-esque either.  Waffling on this as I write it, but gotta go with my gut.  Skins 20-17.

  • Seattle at St Louis – Does anyone else think that Marshall Faulk is poisoning Mike Martz?  Who else thinks that the Vikings should trade their second-round pick for Faulk?  He’s got two good years left in him, and would make a big impact for the Vikes, and Martz is just dumb enough to do it.  Anyway, this battle is to see who the LEAST bad team is in the NFC West.  Watch the scoreboard spin around on this one.  37-33 Rams.

  • Colts at 49ers – What’s the over/under on TD passes for Peyton?  Nine?  Ten?  This has all the makings of a early season college football game for Texas A&M against the crippled sisters society.  Alex Smith, I like you to meet Dwight Freeney.  Again and again and again.  Niners will score but only because they’ll be throwing constantly.  37-17.

  • Panthers at Cards – Josh McCown can throw.  He’ll have to.  Panthers take a big early lead, Cards chip back like the Pack did on Monday.  27-17.

  • Bengals at Jags – Marvin’s been yelling at them all week for not beating the Texans by more.  Tough defense for the Jags, but too many weapons for Carson.  Bengals keep the dream alive 23-16.

  • Steelers at Bolts – The Bolts are flying high after rolling the Pats.  Look for the trend to continue.  Cowher puts eight in the box and gets smoked by Gates and McCardell and screen passes.  Big Ben starts to rally late, but it’s too late.  Bolts 31-21 as a last drive for the Steelers ends in a pick.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


OK, since the baseball season is officially over in the Bay Area, I’m gonna review my predictions for the 2005 season and… what?  I didn’t make any predictions?!  Oh well, I’ll tell you up front that I predicted the NL exactly right (San Diego, St Louis, and Atlanta winning the divisions, with Houston as the Wild Card), but so did just about everyone else.  In the American League, I would’ve picked everyone except for Chicago, who I would’ve pegged for third place.  So a good year for my predictions….

On to the playoffs….

Houston-Atlanta – Strangely, everyone is picking Houston to roll in the NL.  Have you forgotten about Tim Hudson and John Smoltz and Andruw Jones?  Atlanta’s been coasting for awhile (as they typically do through September), and will make this a close series, but the deciding factor will be Brad Lidge.  Houston wins one game late against a shaky Braves bullpen and it’s enough to take the series 3-2.

St Louis-San Diego – If San Diego can score a wad in the first three innings, they might steal a game.  Otherwise, this’ll be a sweep.  I’m saying they won’t, 3-0.

NLCS – Houston–St Louis redux – I don’t care what happened earlier this year.  Chris Carpenter is NOT an ace.  This series will hinge on one person, Matt Morris.  If he wins his games, St Louis wins.  If he gets shelled, they lose.  Six games, with Morris taking the pipe in game Six.  Houston 4-2.  Series MVP is Lance Berkman.  By the way, the same thing goes for Atlanta if they win the divisional playoff.

New York-Anaheim – The over-under on each game should be ten runs.  Anaheim will spare us the constant NY/Boston hype and smoke the terrible Yankee staff, losing one game to the Big Unit.  All of the networks cry as the Yankees lose 3-1.

Boston-Chicago – A lot of baseball insiders are touting the ChiSox as the best pitching staff in the AL playoffs.  Well, that’s like having the biggest dick in China.  And no team has a righty-lefty combo like Manny and Papi.  Is the Big Hurt even playing anymore?  You know you’re in bad shape when your best hitter is Paul Konerko.  Boston 3-1.

ALCS – Ah, shades of 1986.  Ghosts of Donnie Moore and Dave Henderson.  KRod and the Angels avenge Donnie Moore and win in Game Seven late inning comeback.  Keith Foulke pitches with a bloody stump, but it’s not enough.  Series MVP is Vlad.  Angels 4-3.

World Series – Houston-Anaheim – Geez, the network execs will be diving from their penthouse suites when this matchup happens.  And it’ll be a low scoring series, making it even more difficult to watch.  But fundamental baseball still has a place… or so I’ve been told.   Brad Lidge takes the MVP with four saves, including a Game Six five-outer to slam the door.  Houston wins their first World Series 4-2.