Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
Now Available on Smashwords for Kindle and other ebook readers!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Somedays it's too bad I play within my bankroll

Cause I'd have loved to be playing 3/6 or higher when this happened.

The Hero Call

We've all heard about it, most of us have made it, but what exactly is a "hero call?" I've got a couple of ideas, so I thought I'd put them down on electrons and see what you folks think. Basically, a hero call consists of making a tough decision, typically after going into the tank and deciding to take a stand, trust a read, or pick off a huge bluff.

There are multipe types of calls that all fall into the same style as the hero call. There's the "I've got a read this hand and I'm gonna go for it" call. There's the "I've played with this opponent a bunch and based on experience I'm pretty sure I'm good here" call. And then there's the "I'm too stupid to lay down top pair" call. All of these can be considered a "hero" call, a "crying" call, or whatever adjective you want to apply. Typically we call something a hero call after the fact if it works out perfectly, and a crying call if it works out poorly, but they're really the same thing.

The most startling, and most "heroic" of these calls is when you've got a read. It could be as simple as your opponent announcing his bet amount instead of just flinging chips out. It could be something funny in the betting line your opponent has taken. It could just be how he's sitting in his chair. But we all want to trust our reads. We don't want to talk ourselves out of a read, and making the hero call with a read is one of the most satisfying things I do at a poker table. It's rare that I get a good enough read on one hand to make a big call, but I can frequently pick up enough to get myself out of harm's way in a hand.

The experience-based hero call is the one I'm most familiar with. After you've played a lot with the same people, you get a good idea of how they play, and those experience-based reads give you a lot of room to make big calls with inferior hands that you might not be able to make against unfamiliar players. For example, Nate the Elder has a betting pattern. It's not 100% accurate, but it's good about 80% of the time. A limp into the pot, then a lead out for $3-4 means that Nate has hit, at best, middle pair. Two weeks ago I called Nate down on every street with second pair, top kicker, and it was good. I get a chance about once each week to make that call on Nate, and only very rarely is second pair no good there. I've played enough hands with Nate to know that making those long calls are ultimately profitable there, because I can make a big call based on experience.

BadBlood made a similar move a few weeks ago at my house, with less stellar results. He made a big call on the river with pocket eights on a Queen-high board, and I had fired on every street with second pair, Tens. Blood has played enough hands with me to know that I'm perfectly capable of three-barelling with air once I've taken the lead in a hand, or betting a strong draw on every street then bluffing the river when I miss. He thought for a long time before making the hero call, and that time around, it wasn't good. The experience-based hero call will be good probably 80% of the time against weak players, and about 50% of the time against decent players, because a decent player will change up their style. Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink talks a lot about thin-slicing, which is how we subconsciously process information and make decisions based on past experience. I don't want to play much poker against Malcolm Gladwell.

The worst kind of hero call is often attributed to "a read," when it's really just a players inability to lay down an overpair or top pair, top kicker in the face of a strong betting line that indicates their hand is no good. Understanding your table is key to knowing which players are going to make those calls against you, so you don't give them the opportunity to make that hero call. Nate the Elder is one of those. There's no point bluffing Nate, because he's incapable of laying down pocket threes on a straightened, flushy board with three painted cards out there. So against Nate, I just sit back and pick my spots. He's gonna win some big pots over the course of a night, but he usually goes home broke, so I don't mind giving up some pots to him.

So figure out what you're really doing when you're making a tough call, and really evaluate whether or not you're making a call based on a read, based on experience, or just based on your status as a TPTK donkey, as the BWOP calls 'em.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yay! A counter-point.

Special K has posted his thoughts on my thoughts on the presidential candidates. I don't agree with all his ideas, but I don't disagree with all of them, either.

One note in response to several comments - I understand that the federal government doesn't handle a lot of this things I listed in my blog post that are paid for by taxes. My point was that there are things in the world that I want, and the government in general pays for them. I also want some specific things that the federal government does pay for, like Medicare for my parents' hospitalizations, to name one very specific case.

Special K makes what I consider to be the most valid point I've seen anyone make for voting for McCain, however, in the final bit of his post.

I'll probably vote for McCain as an obstruction to the other party so that only the plans on which there is some agreement make it into law.

This is the most valid argument for a McCain vote that I've heard. Our government is built on a system of checks and balances, and our current two-party system is so locked into party politics that the only way those checks and balances can occur is if there is dissent between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Here's a concrete example. Prior to the Democrats taking a majority in Congress in 2006, George W. Bush vetoed exactly 1 one bill. Since the beginning of last year, he has vetoed 10 bills, and used the power of the pocket veto once. So we went six years with only one disagreement between a company's board of directors and it's CEO? Yup. That's what happens nowadays when the President and Congress all sit on the same side of the aisle.

So do I want Obama to lose? No. I think he's the better man for the job and for our country right now. I think even a potentially empty message of hope is more in line with what the country needs when so many people are feeling beaten down and punch drunk from the economic turmoil of the last 8 months (and I still stand on my soap box claiming that it's equal parts the fault of the lenders, the borrowers, big business and the media that's blowing everything out of proportion, but that's another debate).

So I'd like some dissent between Congress and the President, but I don't want Obama to lose. I think the Democrats in Congress have shown themselves to be pretty ineffectual in the past two years, and can't foresee them doing too much harm with a carte blanche from the White House. And if they do, we get to elect new Congressfolk every two years. So as long as we pay attention, we can change 5-6 seats in Congress and move the majority in the other direction. I reserve the right to be wrong about the number of seats the Democratic majority now consists of. I didn't feel like doing the research.

So there's my response to Special K's well-expressed rebuttal. I'd like to find that patriot, too. Eight years ago I wanted nothing more than a McCain-Colin Powell ticket to win the White House, because I wanted a change from the constant grind of hearing about how awful the President's morals were. Now I want Obama (still unsure about Biden, but that's the baggage I get) because I want a change from the constant grind of saying how awful the President's policies are.

I got a change eight years ago, even if wasn't the one I wanted. I'll get a change again this year, and who knows if it'll be the one I want?

Got Hope?

warning - political post ahead - if you're not interested in my choice for president, or can't respond with logical discourse, you should click somewhere else.

Never before have I worn my political affiliations on my sleeve (or in this case, chest). But I did head over to Barack Obama's website today and buy a Got Hope? T-shirt. This is going to be a tight presidential race, and if I can help influence a couple of votes to the candidate of my preference by wearing a T-shirt, then I'm good for that.

I think it was unintentionally telling that almost all the T-shirts on the McCain website were white and boring, while the Obama website had a bunch of different colors and styles.

I'm just sayin'.

And for the record, I was at one time a McCain supporter. Back when he was a maverick and stood up to the party, I was all for him. I probably would have voted for McCain over Gore in 2000 had he not been torpedoed by the Bush campaign. But in the past eight years he seems to have lost a lot of things. His political balls, for one. I really do think if McCain is elected, it's another four years of the same behind the scenes assholes running the country that have been running it for the past eight years.

That's what I'm hoping for with this election - that Barack Obama wins and brings in new assholes to run things behind the scenes, and that maybe those assholes will do things a little more in line with the way I want things done. I have no illusions about one man's ability to run the country. I know it's all back-room deals and shady shit.

But this election is about putting people into the back room that line up with your views, and I think Obama's back-room guys are gonnea get fewer poor American boys killed in foreign countries than McCain's back-room guys. I hope that Obama's back-room guys will cut our dependence on foreign oil with a multi-pronged plan for drilling and developing new energy sources, rather than using a drill everywhere approach that will only hold us over for a few years. I hope that Obama's back-room guys will stay a little more the FUCK out of my life than the back-room guys who advocate smaller government but have done nothing but give the government more power for the past eight years.

Yes, I know Democrats are going to raise taxes. I want higher taxes.

No I am not insane.

Well, a little.

But there are things I want my government to do for me. I want them to pick up the garbage, educate the kids so they can count out my change properly at a store, handle the sewage, put a LOT of cops on the street, pay for new fire engines and have enough tanks and airplanes to defend our country in case of an attack.

Tanks, fire trucks and garbage trucks are expensive, and I want my government to have money to pay for them. And I want my government to spend less than it makes, so we don't have to borrow from other governments. If that means a "tax and spend" policy, that's a lot better in my eyes than a "borrow and spend" policy, which is what we've done for years.

So yes, I do think that Barack Obama will raise my taxes, and I'm not only voting for him in spite of that, I'm voting for him partly because of that. No, I don't trust him. If you trust anyone running for major political office in this country, you're insane. Jimmy Carter was the last trustworthy man to achieve the office of President, and you see how well that worked out. So I don't care if Obama is everything he claims to be, or everything his wife claims he is. I'm sure he's forgotten most of what it was like to grow up in a single-parent household and be broke, and I don't blame him for trying hard to do so. I don't expect him to be perfect. I don't want perfect, I just want the best man in the race.

And I think Barack Obama is that man. So he's got my vote. And $20.08 for a t-shirt.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Must be Monday, cause my balls ache

Wow - what a great big back of suck today was. After staying up to the ass-crack of dawn last night live-blogging the Sunday Million for PokerStars, then getting up and heading to a decent meeting this morning, the wheels fell off my day when the mechanic called.

Oh yeah - there's a mechanic story. So Saturday morning, after sleeping for a hair over two hours post-poker, we got up and headed to the flea market. We got close to the interstate when Suzy's truck started to overheat. This had been a problem before, but adding coolant would fix it. All I really wanted was for the truck to limp along for a few more weeks until I could sell it, but that obviously was not to be. When we found out that not only was the truck not good for the 25 miles to the flea market, but that AAA will not tow a pickup with a bunch of cargo in the bed, we limped it home and went back to bed for a bit. I got up, limped the truck down the street to the mechanic, and made the move to see what it was gonna cost to get the coolant situation fixed.

That answer came in this afternoon - $2,000. With my AAA discount, that's only $1,800. Nice for a truck that I'm hoping to sell for $3,500. Oh, and that doesn't fix the AC. Or the handle on the third door. Or the center console. Or the seals on the doors. This might be a break-even proposition (at best) in selling the truck.

So that sucked. Then I came home for what I thought was a brief errand, loading a bed frame into a friend's car. Except she was late. And it was raining. Then she was lost. Then she was later than ever. And it was raining.

So that sucked. Then I make it back to work for an hour or so and get a call from an electrical contractor that I had put out a bid to a few months ago. We were low. They were low. WAY low. So low that there's probably a few things missing.

Like $35,000 worth of rigging from my proposal. So I get an angry call from this EC as we try to come together in a way to make the numbers not suck horribly for each of us. So that sucked.

Then I drove around town to three different SunCom stores to get my wife a new cell phone since AT&T doesn't work in my house. It works in my yard, but not in my house. But I got Suzy a new phone, and the monthly bill will drop from $70 to $35 (not sure what the bill will look like after tax, probably $40, but still an improvement) so that helps the monthly bottom line. It should take me about 6 months to amortize the early cancellation fee, but I was stuck under contract until September '09 otherwise, so that is an improvement long term.

So my day sucked, and I came home and lost a few dollars playing poker before finally deciding to just watch football. I don't have any money on it or any emotional investment in the Seahawks or Chargers, so it can't really suck. Hope you're all well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A week that was

Yeah - I've been MIA for the week. It's been kinda retarded, and honestly, I get into a little funk every year right after my birthday and don't really feel like writing. So I'm back now, and here's what's been going on.

Monday - nothing impressive. I don't really remember anything specific that went on, so there it is.

Tuesday - meh - average work day - meeting in the morning, quotes in the afternoon, again - nothing impressive. I played a little on FTP - won a SNG, doubled my bankroll there.

Wednesday - played the warehouse game again and tried a different approach to the game, and failed miserably. I shot for a small-ball approach, and splashed around in a lot of pots. That didn't go well and I busted before the first break. I'm sure that it's an effective strategy in a deep-stacked tourney with long levels, but in a relatively short-stacked tourney with quick levels, the standard TAG approach I had taken in past weeks is more effective.

I played the cash game later, and that went about as well as everything else has gone in August. I dropped a couple of buy-ins, and the only real saving grace is that even though it's a 2/5 game, the average buy-in is $200. Had I played a real 2/5 game, I couldn't even have bought in twice, much less lost two buy-ins without vomiting. I felt like I played fairly well, but one brief period of impatience cost me most of my stack.

My defining hand came against the biggest donk at the table, a kid that never saw a starting hand he didn't like. He went at least 45 minutes playing every single hand at least to the flop, and usually to the river. I picked up AQ off suit in late position, and made it $25 to go preflop. I got a couple of callers including the kid. The flop came down Q-2-x with 2 spades, and I fired out $50. Two callers with one of them being the kid. Turn is a blank, and I fired out $75. The kid was my only caller, and the river was my absolute nightmare - the As.

Kid checked, and instead of checking behind in fear of the flush, I decided that if he'd made a flush he certainly would have bet out, so I pushed a stack of reds into the middle. I thought the obvious value bet would make him fold a small flush, but the kid made the call with the wheel straight and the baby flush. Kid had 4s-5s, and couldn't let go of the baby flush, and stacked a bunch of my chips.

Not long after that I pushed in with 2nd pair, top kicker over top of an aggressive player's flop bet, he called with a flush draw, hit it on the turn and IGHN.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What a week

It's not many weeks I get to play poker three nights in a row, but this was one of them. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of good to report, as my game fell apart all three sessions, but that's kinda been my August. I remarked to a friend today that at the stakes I play, it's remarkable that I had a session +$500 on the second of the month, and managed to get stuck $100 by the 18th. Pretty impressive, I think.

So Wednesday I made my way back to the warehouse game, and took fourth for $200 on a $85 buy-in. Would have made me feel a lot better if I hadn't held 40% of the chips in play when we got to 4-handed, but one bad beat and a pile of hyper-vagtastic play on my part, and I was glad I'd agreed to a save for fourth. My bad beat was flopping a set with Queens and losing to Broadway, but there's no excuse for me letting off the gas when we got to 4-handed. I sat back and tried to play small ball when I should have been wielding my big stack a LOT harder. And that cost me a pile of profit.

Then Thursday I went back to the $110 tourney, and performed admirably. If by admirably we mean awfully. The Thursday tourney has a $5 bounty on everyone, and the levels are only 15 minutes long instead of 20, and the contrast in structure was huge for me. I needed the extra 5 minutes per level, and I needed to catch some cards. Didn't go well and couldn't get the cash game going, so I went home even over the two nights. I would have been stuck, but I won $15 off the dealer playing stud before we got the tourney going.

Sunday was my birthday tourney (actual birthday was Thursday, but we could get a game going on Sunday, so there it is). That was also somewhat less than spectacular, as I got nothing going at any point in either the tournament or the cash game. Nothing terribly interesting on any front, just a whole lot of me making moves that got picked off or betting draws that never got there. I don't know that I played a single hand particularly well or poorly, but it ended up expensive. I chatted wit Special K and Brian the Red a little after the game, and it just seems like my game is a little broken right now. I'm still certainly up for the year, but the month of August has been pretty ugly so far. I'm probably going back to the warehouse game Wednesday to see how that goes, but right now I've got to figure out what the issue is.

Maybe I need some new poker music - any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wasabi Poop

This is what happens the day after my buddy ate a marble-sized chunk of wasabi, followed by another chunk the size of a robin's egg.

Xavier Neuro

wasabi shit?

Xavier Neuro
the only thing that can be said from the back end of wasabi

you might need an ointment

Xavier Neuro
gonna hardcore it

careful - don't want any explosions in the plumbing

Xavier Neuro
too late

I'm gonna blog this whole IM conversation

Xavier Neuro

do you need a cushion with a hole in the middle like for 'rhoids?

Xavier Neuro
i make holes in my own pillows thank you

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another way to make a few pennies

So a few months ago I blogged about Text Link Ads, which generates a little of $120/month for me in ad revenue just for having a few links on my blog.

Yes I know the almighty Google doesn't approve, but I have Adsense too, and it generates nothing like this kinda revenue.

Well, there's another site very similar to TLA called LinkWorth, and I make nearly double each month on LinkWorth what I make on TLA. It took a lot longer to get rolling, because I think LinkWorth hasn't been around as long, but the payouts are better. All in all, these two sites generate over $300/month for me, which means that just by having a few links on my blog, my wife's car payment is made. So give LinkWorth a shot, and I hope you have similar success.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The weekend in tweets - Flea Market edition

This is a list of the Twitter updates I sent out as Suzy and I embarked on our adventures in flea marketing this weekend. I have a long and storied history of selling shit at flea markets that dates back to high school and college (there was one weekend when I paid my rent for the month selling $5 posters of Billy Ray Cyrus and the original Dream Team), but Suzy had never done this before. We rented two spots at the Webb Rd. Flea Market in Salisbury, NC, and loaded up the pickup and Element with as much shit as we could cram in there. We bought a pop-up canopy at the Mart of Wal for $95, and paid $32 for the weekend rent on two spots (each spot consisted of a 10' x 10' area outside with two tables), so our overhead for the weekend was $127.

So here's the tale of the Tweets -

Ugh. Up at 5 to write and sell stuff at flea market all day after poker til 1.

6:50 am - honda element and pickup truck loaded to the gills. 20 min behind schedule leaving. Time 2 make the donuts.

Been standing outside 15 min waiting to have my space assigned. Novelty is wearing off and I still smell like cigars from last night.

8:15 am - ez-up canoppy definitely misrepresented itself.

8:45 am - two booths with 4 tables full o crap set up. Sales so far - $4. Expenses so far - $131

9:50 am - total sales so far - $20. Another few bucks and the rent is paid.

10:24 am - Guy in the booth next to me decided to leave early. Gave me everything he didn't want to pack up. Too stupid to say no, I have a new $1 rack

11:30 am - gross sales $92. Potential for profit now looks reasonable. Especially if I sell this truck.

12:18 PM - In case you were wondering, the mullet is alive and well in Salisbury,NC.

12:43 PM - Just used flea market pisser. Flushed with foot and sneaker melted.

12:59 pm - we have achieved profit! Since we prepaid for both days, tomorrow is a total freeroll.

1:40 pm - packing up

1:57 pm - loaded up and headed home. Could likely condense to one vehicle tomorrow, but getting good leads on selling truck.

5:37 PM - Operation naptime a success. Today I got up at 5:15. Then 12 hrs later I got up at 5:30.

6:08 am - time to head to day 2 of project flea market

6:29 am - time to head out again. This time with everything I forgot the first time. Working on 2 hrs sleep today.

8:10 am - my setup is done, suzy still working on jewelry display. Already up $125 on the morning. Happy sunday, indeed

Final day 1 tally - $191 gross for $56 net profit. Freerolling today and looking for $200 profit on the weekend

9:15 am - have already sold the heaviest two items in the car. That's a jackpot right there. $220 so far.

10:12 am - Big items moving better on sunday, but def need to improve mi espanol if we do this regularly. Pretty sure I'm leaving $ on the table.

10:35 am -
Latinos with chihuahuas and rednecks with harley tats. Welcome to sterotype day at the flea market.

11:10 am - have passed yesterday's total by $100 already. Meat is back on the menu!

12:33 pm - the flea market experiment is over for this week. Net profit about $ 450. Can't bitch about that one.

We actually had a great time selling at the flea market this weekend, cleaned at least a carload of shit out of our house, and made enough to cover Suzy's car payment and the power bill, all on extra cash. I got home yesterday and crashed amazingly hard, sleeping until 9:30 PM. Which was kinda the plan, since I covered the Sunday Million last night, and knew I'd be up until at least 2 with that, so the afternoon nap (sleep?) was vital. And the tourney didn't end til closer to 3:30, so the only way I'm at work today is by sleeping all yesterday afternoon.

So we're gonna hit the flea market again next weekend, this time going for three or maybe four booths. We're gonna add another pop-up canopy, but we were able to buy that out of profit from this weekend, so our only expenses will be rent on the booths, food and gas. I think our nut for next weekend will be around $50, since we're only doing Saturday. But it was fun spending the couple of days with Suzy, out in the world and not stuck in the house or a theatre. And we got rid of some clutter.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Adventures in Ink

So most of you have seen at some point the tattoo on the inside of my left forearm. It's nothing special, a couple of kanji symbols that loosely translate into "seize the day." Words I try to live by. Well, I got that done the winter after my 30th birthday, and lately had been getting the itch for more ink. Probably because it took 5 years for the sense memory of the friggin' pain to subside. Apparently the guy who did my arm had something to prove, because it hurt like a mofo.

So I found my artwork, and shopped around for months for a tattoo studio. Last week my friend JW got a new tat at a place called Nikki's Custom Tattoos on Monroe Road. I was pretty impressed by the work on his arm, and thought I'd go in and give it a shot. I went in, and the guy there (Jason), told me that the piece I wanted would take about an hour and a half and would cost me $250. Since that was half the time and $100 less than I'd been quoted, and since I liked his portfolio, I dropped the deposit and set my appointment for last night.

So I headed over there after work, and we started the process. He brought out the sketch he did based on the artwork I provided, and it looked great. He did a lot of neat things with the flames for the wheel in the cross, so I thought it would be pretty badass when finished. I laid down on the table, and he got to work.

Yep - the last guy obviously had something to prove, because the tat on the back of my calf hurt FAR less than the one on the inside of my forearm. And Jason was surprised at that, because he expected it to be much more painful, especially since it was much larger. I'll admit the that first few strokes of the needle were pretty flinchy on my part, but after a couple minutes I just found a little zen point and chatted with Jason through the whole thing. I lay there for about an hour fifteen listening to his life story (fairly interesting) while he inked my leg. Just about the time I started to get really bored and need to pee, he wiped down the back of my leg and said "You're done."

I was really surprised. The two chinese characters on my arm took 45 minutes and hurt like a motherfucker, and this piece, much larger and much more detailed, took only 1:15, and hurt a lot less. I got my care instructions and drove home to unveil to Suzy. She liked it, because I'd told her what I was getting done, but hadn't mentioned that the flames would be in color, so she liked the contrast. It hurts a little today, kinda like a bad sunburn on the back of my leg, and you really don't know how many things hit the back of your leg until you don't want the back of your leg hit at all, but it's really discomfort more than actual pain. But thank god for boot-cut jeans.

So here it is - my new leg -

The Celtic Cross is because of my mongrelized British Isles heritage. The claddagh in the center symbolizes me and Suzy, and the ring of fire is (what else) my love of music, and an homage to the late great Johnny Cash. I'm really pleased with it, but it'll be tough for anyone else to see, unless they ride even slower than I do! But now I have even more reason to get a new kilt.

And by the way - this tattoo brought to you by Compatible Poker, who renewed their ad this week, Thanks, guys!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Clawing and Scratching

That's what last night was all about - clawing and scratching my way out of big holes, little holes and just to stay alive. I ventured back to the warehouse game last night, and managed to lose a lot less than I could have thanks to a late surge in the cash game, which was playing at 1/2 instead of the usual 2/5. Good for me, since I'm not really comfortable at 2/5, even the short buy-ins that these guys usually do.

Interesting side note - BadBlood's home game plays more like a 2/5 game than a 1/2 game, and I'm perfectly comfortable playing there, but I'm not completely at ease playing in an actual 2/5 game that behaves more like a 1/2 game. Not sure why that is, but it might have something to do with knowing and trusting at least most of the people at the table.

But anyway, last night was a $75+5 tourney with 7,000 in starting chips. Plus 1,000 if you RSVP and show up on time, plus 2,000 for a $5 dealer toke. So it's an $85 tourney with 10,000 chips. I shucked and jived for the first hour and finished with 15,000 at the first break. My most significant hand in the first hour was against Jim, who along with T accompanied me to the game. I picked up QJo in late position, hit the Jack-high flop and called all the way down to his well-played pocket Kings. He kept the bet sizes small enough to keep me in, and not so small that I felt froggy, so he pretty much maximized his value there. After the second break people started dropping pretty quickly, and I chippe up to a little over 20K when what had to be the most ridiculous hand of the evening occured, which led to a three-way all in and two people (myself included) bounced to the cash game.

I'm in late position with blinds of 500/1000. After UTG limped, small stack in early position raises to 3K, leaving himself about 8K behind. I assumed he was pot-committed, because I certainly would have felt that I was at that point. Big stack two to my right flat-called, and the player immediately to my right with tear-inducing body odor folded. I looked down to find Kd-Qd, and shoved all in. I had played very few hands with the big stack or the shorty, and figured my fold equity was pretty good.

Until the Small Blind shipped it all in, and the UTG limper moved all his chips in as well. I leaned over to Angelo the dealer and muttered "oops." Shorty went into the tank for a long time before he folded what he said was pocket sevens, which is no way a fold I could make with all that money in the pot, and the big stack folded as well. Also not necessarily a move I would have made, since were his cards even live, it would have been worth 20% of his stack to send three players to the rail in one hand.

Of course I watched my outs dwindle to vapor when the SB tabled Queens and the UTG limper tabled Aces, but the flop jacked me back up to 12 outs twice when it came down 8-9-10 with two diamonds. No diamond or Jack on the turn and river, and I was out, although the 7h on the turn made Shorty puke a little in his mouth. I don't hate my move there, since I thought I was in pretty good shape with good fold equity, but I ran into two monsters and headed to the cash game.

Where the hits just kept on coming. Within the first two orbits I missed with 99, 10-10, Ad-Qd and A-10. That put a $100 dent into my $200 buy-in, and I spent the next couple of hours trying to rebuild. The table was pretty sickly loose, with two players behind me that had a huge tendency to overvalue middle pair, so when I was finally able to string a few good hands together, I finished up $35 from the cash game. Add that to the $105 I dropped in the tourney ($85 plus a $20 last longer with Jim), and I was only stuck $70 for the night. Pretty good considering the number of times the drippings of my cash game buy in were all in the middle.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Home Game silliness

So this time last week I hadn't hosted a home game in a month or more due to theatre stuff, so the regular band of retards gathered at my house on Saturday night to sling chips and drink beers.

Note to self - maybe drink less beers and more people will sling chips in your general direction.

I don't know that I played more than three hands well all night, and I'm pretty sure I never strung together two good hands in a row. My play was for shit, and my results reflected it. If ever I've deserved to lose a couple of buyins, it was Saturday night.

Some people may have had the same to say about Friday night as well, and I'd be hard-pressed to argue, but I didn't, so there.

I did manage to hang on to my first buy-in for three hours, which usually means I'm going to have a killer night. But since I didn't win much after the first orbit, all I was doing was hanging on to my first buy-in, not really doing anything with it. I did manage to triple up in a hand where I tilted Special K by cracking his KK with 10-8 sooooted. He couldn't stay too tilted for too long, since I was quickly back into my pocket for buyins 2-4, while he actually managed a meager profit on the night.

And for the record, I shoved with my shitty suited one-gappers, I didn't call with them.

But my one good hand, the hand that allowed me to finish the night only down 1.8 buy-ins, came in Omaha. I picked up some great starting hands once we shifted to Omaha, lots of K-K-10-x suited, A-K-10-x-double suited type hands, but couldn't make anything happen with them. So I pick up 9-9-x-x and limp in, because limping was the flavor of the table, and I see a flop of 9-6-4 with two hearts on it. I fire out $10 into the $4 pot, because that guaranteed me at least two callers, and Big Nick popped it to $35.

I had about $100 behind, and I had kinda been hoping for just this action. I figured everyone between Nick and I would fold, and since we were on the next-to-last hand of the night, I didn't mind the possibility of putting all my chips in the middle. I figured Nick had a heart draw, and maybe an overpair, so when the action folded around back to me, I shoved. It was $66.50 for Nick to call, and he went into the tank for a long time before finally making the call. He turned over 6-4-J-5 for two pair with the heart draw, I dodged the 8 non-boat hearts and doubled up.

Yeah - not terribly exciting, but it was my best hand of the night, so there you go.

I did indeed play the Tao of Poker 5th birthday party event last night, and performed about as well as I expected. I went out before the first break on a coin flip when I called off all my chips preflop with AK and didn't improve against pocket 10s. I did outlast Hoy, Waffles and Special K, so I wasn't Gigli. Congrats to Garry Gates on taking down the tourney and the Borgata package.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

NC Ink

No, it's not yet another tattoo show, although I admit to being fascinated by LA Ink. I'm just saying, chicks with ink are hot!

So I got my first (and currently only) tattoo for New Year's a few years ago. I don't remember if I got it when I was 30 or 31, but anyway, it's been a few years. Well, several friends of mine have added new ink in the past week, and that, coupled with the fact that I've had my design ready for several months now and have just been waiting for the right time, piled on top of the fact that my 35th birthday is next week, led me down Monroe Road last night after my production meeting looking at tattoo parlors.

I did a bunch of research on tattoo parlors in Charlotte, and decided on Nikki's Custom Tattoos, mostly because I liked the philosophy of Nikki, the owner, the openness of Jason, her new artist, on his web bio, and because my friend JW got his tat done there last week and it looks really nice. So I went in and talked with Jason, and showed him my artwork.
I really like this particular celtic cross because of the claddagh in the center, and I'm having him do the cross in black & grey, and take out the lines on the wheel and turn it into a ring of fire. The ring of fire (obv. Johnny Cash reference) symbolizes my love of music, the cross itself is for my heritage (hailing from the British Isles from way back in my family's history), and the claddagh is for me & Suzy.

I had originally thought about putting it on my upper arm, but since I'm less bicep-prone than some people, my arms are a little short of real estate. So he's gonna put it on my right calf, since my calves are significantly larger than my arms (although that would likely change if I pedaled with my arms). My appointment is for Thursday after work, so I should have new art to show off for the home game this weekend!

And my birthday tournament is next Saturday, if anyone is around and wants to join in, lemme know.

Happy Birthday Tao! and Easy!

So today marks the 5th Birthday of Tao of Poker, and to commemorate, the doc is throwing a birthday tournament on PokerStars. Which is great, except I have .27 on Stars.

Frankly, I have practically no money on FTP, either, so I'm not even looking for a swap. I'm looking for someone to gift me $5.50 on Stars to play the event. If I win, I'll give it back. If I don't (which I won't) I'll buy you a beer sometime. So go ahead, transfer $5.50 to jhartness on PokerStars, you know you want to.

There's really only about a 40% chance I'll remember to play, in which case I'll refund the mobney. But it's really cool of Pauly to set up this tournament, which has a trip for two to the Borgata with a buy-in to the $5k event there built in for first place.


And Happy Birthday, EasyCure! Leos rock!

UPDATE - So I actually looked at the PokerStars cashier, and saw that they now do Echecks. So I dropped $25 on there, and I'm signed up. Somebody gonna call me to remind me to play?

Monday, August 04, 2008

More frugality from Falstaff

So since I've been on this kick of reducing debt and accumulating extra income I've been on the lookout for additional ways to make a nickel and/or reduce the cost of things that I'm buying. So read about on a personal finance blog and decided to check it out. Turns out that there are a bunch of rebates out there on stuff that I buy all the time, and this site will help me capture them.

For example, the chair in my home office has had it. So much so that we've thrown it out. Now I've been putting off replacing it because office chairs are kinda spendy, and with not a lot of writing work since the WSOP ended, I haven't felt like it was enough of a priority to use the cash on that particular thing right now. Well, one of my advertisers renewed for a year today, so I had a little cash, and went looking for chairs.

So I went to Ebates first, and saw that they had a 3% cash back offer for Office Depot, and a 6% cash back offer for Office Max. So off I go to Office Max, and I find that they're running a new deal where you can pay via Paypal, and get 15% cash back on orders over $100. Well, the chair I decided I wanted only cost $70, and it wasn't worth it to me to spend $30 to get $15, especially since I was already getting $4 back via Ebates. So I ordered my new chair, and that $4 will get added to my Ebates account. In 3 months, I'll get the mobneys in my Paypal account.

Yeah, $4 isn't much. But it was something I was going to have to pay anyway, and OfficeMax delivers for free, so it's not like I paid more by going online. I'm not sure how much of a change this will make in the way I shop, but I get $5 for every one of you guys that signs up, and you get $5 just for signing up. So go to and sign up, and maybe we can both make a few pennies. This was not a sponsored post, just an idea that I thought I'd pass along.

On a semi-unrelated note - here's food for thought: if the current financial troubles that many companies and people are experiencing cause companies to rethink their lending practices and people to rethink their borrowing habits, won't it be worth this momentary pain? I mean really, the root of it is that companies loaned money to people who couldn't pay it back, and people borrowed more money than they should have. Both parties were stupid, and if they learn from it, there's value, right? Of course, with the gubmint standing there ready to give handouts to both companies and people who did these stupid things, it's gonna be hard for them to learn from their mistakes. Maybe the gubmint should take a little more of a mama bird approach and let people fly or fail on their own merits.

Yeah, I know - if you're not a liberal before you're 30 you have no soul, if you're not a conservative by the time you're 40 you have no brain. Some smart guy said something very similar that I've moderately butchered.

Warning - Poker Content Ahead

Yes, with the end of my summer theatre season, this weekend I actually played poker. And a couple of lengthy sessions, not just a few hands here and there between scenes backstage. Friday Special K, Brian the Red and I cruised down I-85 to the House of Blood for some beers and cards with the G-Vegas boys. As always I had a great time, and as usual, I had a couple of less than stellar plays to report.

I managed to stack off to our host on the second hand of the night, because I'm just that damn good. I don't remember our positions relative to the button, except that we were in early position, and Blood was immediately to my right. I picked up pocket eights, and put out a little raise ($8) preflop. There were several callers, and my eyes lit up when there was an eight in the door. They dimmed a little to the two hearts out there, and I wasn't exactly thrilled with the 8-J-Q flop with two hearts, but I fired out $50 when Blood checked. Everyone else got out of the way, and Blood called. He checked again when a third heart came on the turn. I died a little inside with the third heart, but fired out $100 anyway, because I'm only so bright, and in this equation "only so" = "not very."

Blood called, and insta-shoved when the fourth heart hit on the river. I had the 8h, and with only about half my first buy-in left on hand #2, I made the crying call. He shows Kh-10x for the flopped open-ender and the four-flush that was significantly better than mine, and I was the first rebuy of the evening. There are so many ways that I misplayed this hand that I can't count them all, so let it suffice to say that I was happy to scratch my way back to even for the night by the time my next Hand of Note occurred.

Of course, this happened about two minutes after I realized I'd gotten back to even, which is how these things happen, right? I picked up 6-6 in early position, and limped in. There were a few limpers, and then someone behind popped it up a few bucks. I called, as did several others, so we were probably 5-handed to see a flop of 6-3-2 with two clubs. I was a little more excited with this flop, since I'd made top set instead of bottom set, and the other two cards were less likely to be in anyone's hand, so I led out for $75 (again, about a pot-sized bet). Action folded around to Rocket, who I'd never played with before, and he moved all in over the top.

I couldn't tell exactly how much he had in front of him, but it was close to my stack, if not more. Otis thought for a long moment before folding, and then Blood got out of the way as well. I went deep into the tank, because I had no idea about his game. If he had a smaller set, I'm in amazing shape. If he had a pair and a flush draw, which I considered his most likely holding, I was in pretty good shape. If he had an overpair, I'm thrilled. If he had 4-5, I'm fucked. Finally I decided that I couldn't put him on the one specific holding that I was behind, and I called off the rest of my chips. He had me covered by about $45, so it was a $550 call for me to make with top set.

He tabled 4-5 suited for the flopped straight, and I needed one of 4 outs to save my evening. Turn was nothing, but the 3d on the river gave me my four-outer and a $1200+ pot. It was a rough beat to put on him, but most folks at the table said there was no way they were laying down top set there. I almost did, because I felt a little snakebit after losing my first buy-in to Blood so early, but finally made the call, got my money in behind, channeled the Luckbox, and raked in a decent profit for the night. I don't think I played particulary well all night, but I got lucky there and in a couple of key spots to take down a nice profit on the evening. Unfortunately, Special K and Brian got their asses handed to them, but the unfortunate thing about poker is there has to be a loser to the same amount that there is a winner.

I continued my streak of bad play on Saturday, with less lucksackish results, but that's a tale for a little later in the week.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I might be wearing a tinfoil hat, but at least it never goes out of style

So when some folks mysteriously disappeared from Google's radar last month with no explanation, it was a pain in the ass. Since I was one of them, it was a bigger pain in the ass. Since I saw my traffic cut in half in a matter of days, it really pissed me off. When I lost a couple of advertisers and some regular revenue to the circumstances, it REALLY pissed me off.

But now that the stakes have been raised, I'm starting to get a little paranoid. These might be unrelated issues, but when Bill, Otis, me, Nat, Mookie and a bunch of others that I'm sure I'm missing were disappeared from Google's radar, it was one thing. When the Good Dr. and others had their blogs frozen completely due to a "possible violation" of Google's T&C, I started to have an unpleasant thought - could this be some type of odd belated fallout from the UIGEA?

I know, it sounds paranoid. And the fact that there are non-poker blogs on the hit list seems to make it unlikely, but I'm gonna wear a colander in my motorcycle helmet* just in case.

* Bonus points if you name the movie in comments.