Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lesson #1 – Apparently, I don’t squat about football. 0-2 on the championship games. On the plus side, I’ve been predicting all year that Jake Plummer’s performance would eventually normalize to his career curve. Still, it was almost painful to watch him revert to “Jake the Shake” during the biggest game of his career.

Lesson #2 – 95%-5% is not a sure thing, no matter what people complain about. Last night, I ended up third in a SnG losing multiple times to runner-runner flushes (at least three) and two-outers (at least two). Luckily, in almost every case, it was to shortstacks. Of course, the last one was the killer, losing to a two-outer on the river. K9 for me, J9 for him. KJx on the flop. He pushes me, I call (naturally). J on the river. IGHN. Sigh.

Lesson #3 – Working for a living is hard, especially starting out with an established company with SET ways of doing everything. I’m re-learning how to define training and e-learning according to the company’s established protocols. Every company does things differently and “training” to your company might not be the same as “Training” is to my company. Identifying all these little pitfalls and paradigms is the hard part. Actually performing the job is relatively easy.

Is it my imagination or are there only a couple of poker tournaments on television and they’re just repeated over and over and over and over again?

Given the appalling level of play and the lack of personalities, the UltimateBet tournaments are the worst advertisements for poker. These people look and act like trailer trash and/or D&D graduates and their ascension to the top of the UB ladder seems to be the equivalent of a welfare recipient winning the Lottery and becoming the richest guy in the city.

On the other hand, the FullTilt sessions are more entertaining and while the “Learn from the Pros” title is self-aggrandizing, the information is somewhat useful, moderately interesting, and well presented. Plus, it’s only a half-hour. It’s cool to watch a hand from the past and hear the pros argue about “what they were thinking”. Of course, since we’re much more likely to find ourselves across the table from one of the braindead UB geeks than a pro, most of the tips might not have immediate practicability, but they make for good television.

I had to bail on a poker tournament being thrown by one of my buddies (16-seats, $40 buy-in, 100% goes to prizes) because my mom invited us over for my wife’s birthday on Saturday night. Dammit. My wife pulled one of those “It would be really nice to have us all there…” faces, and my dreams of local poker glory were torpedoed. I may head over later in the evening since there may be a second tournament launched later with sufficient interest, and the busted players are usually up for a ring game.

Super Bowl XL prediction – Ratings will be down about 5%. The best thing that could happen to Fox is that there is a snowstorm on the East Coast on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Starting a new job is hard. I’m gonna be running the global e-learning function for the company. Or at least starting it.

I suppose I should be glad I even have a job. A number of people have expressed admiration and surprise that I found a new (and better) job in such a short time. I’m not sure if their surprise is based upon the current Bay Area job market, the time of year, or their lack of faith in my hire-ability, but whichever way you slice it, I didn’t have much time to “play”.

But, like I said, I’m basically getting double pay for the next month or so, and I decided to take some of the severance and plan a nice trip for the family in the summer. And this also means that my poker stake has been re-activated for whoring and bonus purposes. I’m still restricting my play to SnGs at FullTilt and PokerStars with no time for MTT. One hour, win or lose, get the heck out.

I’m in one of my periodic slumps right now, with declining balances at both sites. Some of it is bad luck, some is bad play. I’m not a good enough player to overcome bad luck, and my bad play moments have been doozies. Called a re-raise preflop with AKs. Got the Kxx rainbow flop and got my money in the middle against one of the two hands that had me drawing virtually dead (KK). Not sure if I’m a good enough player to get away from that one. Other times, my flopped straights run into rivered flushes that chase against pot odds. More times than any, I get chipped down in the early going by playing overtight. Playing shortstacked means that I can’t take even ONE bad beat without packing it in. In reality, I need to chip up to be 1.5x to 2x the chip average when the table gets down to four or five to withstand the inevitable bad beats while the blinds are escalating.

If I had to guess, I’d say my losses are 40% bad luck, 50% bad play (and that includes letting myself get shortstacked), and 10% getting outplayed. Of course, all of my victories are due to superior play on my part. See, when I win, even if the other guy makes a stupid play, it’s because I made a good read or because I goaded him into the stupid play. Last night, I have a slight lead heads-up in a $15+1 at PokerStars. I make a standard preflop raise with wired 8’s. We’d both been raising preflop on every hand, but this time I was willing to take a coinflip for the pot if he re-raised. When he re-raised for 2/3 of his money, I pushed expecting to see overcards. Instead, he had 85o and was virtually drawing dead already. This was a wonderful play on my part. See how that works?

Championship Day

In my opinion, usually a better day than even the Super Bowl for football, but with these four bland teams, I may not even watch. I’ve already made my predictions and I’ll stand by them. Denver and Carolina in the Super Bowl and they’re gonna play in Detroit. Oooh, I bet Fox is crapping their pants right now thinking about the horrific ratings for this one…

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ahhh, back after a brief hiatus. Hope my dozen or so readers didn’t lose my URL…

I haven’t blogged recently because I’ve spent the last two weeks looking for a job after being unceremoniously laid off at the end of the year. Since I received severance plus PTO equivalent to two months pay, I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get re-employed, but knew that I’d have to take the first good opportunity. After all, like Latrell Sprewell, I have a family to feed.

And guess what? I got one. I’ll be a Human Resources Training manager for a large database firm headquartered here in the East Bay. The positive side is that they’ll pay me about 7% more than my previous job, I won’t have to commute (about a mile from my house, no freeway involved), and they have better benefits across the board. The negative side is that I start on Thursday, cutting my relaxation and golf and poker time to virtually nil. I was kinda hoping for a couple of months off to take as a man of leisure, sleeping in, golfing, relaxing, etc. Now I’m diving right back into the Rat Race with only a two-week pit stop to recharge my batteries. Sigh.

As a consequence of this quick return, I have reloaded money at PokerStars and have continued to prowl the SnGs at FullTilt. Since I’m technically going to be DOUBLE-paid for the next six weeks, I’m might start throwing money around the tables like Gus Hansen on Quaaludes. Or I might just be judicious with this windfall and invest the money in some stock or t-bills. Or I might just plan a nice trip for the family. Or I could just pretend it never happened and squirrel the severance check away for a rainy day. Or I could just use it to buy a nice gift for myself as compensation for my industriousness in finding a new job. So many choices…

Oh, one quick poker tidbit… I hit my FIRST river one-outer the other day in a SnG (which I ended up winning). Down to five players, I re-raised against one of the short stacks with pocket sixes, knowing he’d have to call all-in. He flipped up A6s and immediately flopped his Ace. The turn was a brick and the one-outer case six on the river knocked him out and gave me the chip lead. I honestly can’t remember ever hitting a ONE-outer like that before. I’ve hit many two-outers and runner-runners (probably more than a good player would ever try for), but never hit a case card like that.

Football thoughts-

Props to Mike Vanderjagt for fucking up my Super Bowl prediction. I’m sticking with Carolina in the NFC and going with Denver in the AFC now.

Seattle looked really strong, but I can’t help but think that Shaun Alexander’s concussion will continue to bother him this week. The Skins had been gearing their defense all week to key on Alexander, and didn’t adjust when the focus of the offense shifted to Hasselback. This week, Carolina will expect the focus to be more pass-oriented and will be able to gameplan more effectively. This will be a very good game with the kicking advantage going to Kasay. Call it 23-20 Carolina.

Pittsburgh was very good for 58 minutes and very lucky for 2. Denver was solid and error-free against a seasoned, experienced team. I’d look for more of the same with the Broncos benefiting from the home field. Big Ben is a little banged-up and will throw some Jake Plummer-like (circa 2002) passes. He got away with a couple of shaky throws against a suspect Indy pass defense. Get ready for a LOT of cornball SB XL promos with “The Two Jakes”. Denver 27-17.