I work next door to the Argentine consulate.
There are a ton of unhappy Argentines milling about on the sidewalk right now.
Friday, June 30, 2006
I work next door to the Argentine consulate.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
One of my Above Malibu cohorts, Mullansky, played WSOP Event No. 3, $1500 Pot-Limit Holdem. He busted 215 out of 1200 when he got his 35 BB stack in holding a set versus an overpair, and the overpair spiked a set on the river. (He now owes all of you a dollar, but there's no joint and several liability on this so don't try to come collect it from me.)
His bust-out was not the major disappointment of the tournament though. This was:
Maybe about 10 hands later I pick up AKs in early position and raise Doyle's BB. Everyone folded including Doyle who flashed the hammer. I was tempted to tell Doyle that's no way to play the hammer, but I thought better of it.By "thought better of it", Mullansky must mean "had a brain fart", because I can think of nothing better than to teach a legend of poker something new about the game. To top it off, Mullansky later had the chutzpah to send Doyle to the rail.
As the ever-sharp Ugarte said, "What a dick."
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
--Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Sc. II
On Tuesday I officially turned 30. It's a number that many people proclaim to be a milestone moment in an individual's life. They throw lavish parties and treat the day as a second "coming of age". I, on the other hand, usually yell "Bollocks!"
My view has always been that a birthday -- any birthday -- is just another day. To those that I invited out for a celebratory drink on Saturday, I remarked that "Birthdays are the Earth's equivalent of passing the starting tower on Lap 198 of the Indy 500." Yes, they have a significance, but in the grand scheme of Life, the Universe and Everything, the significance is fairly small.
Today I had a few moments to reflect on this new, fourth decade I've entered. While I'm certainly no Buck Rogers or Phillip J. Fry, catapaulted hundreds of years to a completely alien yet somewhat recognizable future, I can't deny that "30" sounds and feels the slightest bit more jarring than "20-something". Maybe it's a lack of personal familiarity with the "30" designation. Ten years as a 20-something -- ostensibly one's entire adult life -- brands itself into one's consciousness as a deeply-identifying characteristic. It's not that I haven't changed in those ten years (looking back on the greenhorn who was me at 20 is good for a full belly laugh), or that my actual age remained the same, just that those personality and age changes were less immediately perceptible. They aggregated in the erosion or calcification of my life and personality into what it is today. This change, from "20-something" to "30", is more akin to the passage of an avalanche -- it is immediate and noticeable, even though it does not obliterate that which was before. It is also freaking weird.
Where does that leave me? Well, I'm no Peter Pan or Michael Jackson, and until Superman really does crash-land in a Kansas cornfield, I won't be able to reverse time. That means I'm going to have to wrap my hands around this "30" thing and feel out its contours until I know it as well as an old friend over for a spot of tea. By that time, I should be approaching 39 years and 11 months old, and I'll get to do it all over again.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Not much to report, but enjoy laughing at some of my favorite flash animations:
Here Comes Dr. Tran
Charlie the Unicorn
For all of you who just can't. get. enough. F-Train, Dawn Summers gets behind the man and his mythos in a recent posting on her main site.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Never is a promise, and you can't afford to lie.
Party Poker is evil. Exhibit A:
As a token of our appreciation for your patronage, we have added a special ‘welcome back’ gift to your account - 75 USD which is now in your account! **
** To cash out this bonus, you will have to play 10 times the bonus amount in raked hands by May 23, 2006 11:59 p.m. (ET).
Realizing that they have not had the benefit of my rake in a long, long time after I basically swore off online poker due to its drudgery, the diabolical bastards at Party -- the same ones who light cigars with hundred dollar bills and own several small South Pacific islands -- thought waving a measly $75 in front of my nose would be enough to entice me back to their site. What they failed to consider is that the chances of me playing 750 raked hands in 10 days are slimmer than I am. None of my readers needs me to explain just how slim that is.
My firm intention was not to be so easily bought and I justifiably dismissed the email -- without deleting it. Mistake. It sat there, the cursed Party Poker email, taunting me with its free cash, and the promises of more free cash to come from the lemurs that inhabit the Party Poker site. The more the email lingered, the more it seemed wrong to just let the $75 sit there unclaimed. Instead, what if I treated the Party bonus like monopoly money? See how high I could push it, before I lost it all. Treat it as if it were someone else's money, and hey! - it was.
Thus was born the Great LAG Experiment of 2006.
For someone who has always tended towards playing more on the tight-weak side of things (as much as I hate to admit it), playing like a LAG would be a welcome stylistic change if I were going to wade back into the clickmonkey-filled waters at Party. The style isn't *completely* unknown to me. There was one solid LAG at the old Above Malibu game against whom I've logged hundreds of hours and thousands of hands. I set a few pre-flop rules for myself, mainly regarding hand selection, reminded myself to push my hands hard after the flop (raising / reraising with nothing, if need be), and headed off to the $0.50/1 limit holdem tables. Sure, the potential for a meteoric rise or catastrophic fall was smaller on the limit tables than it would have been on a $0.25/$0.50 nolimit holdem table, but since I was conducting an experiment, I wanted to preserve my monopoly bankroll long enough to draw a few conclusions.
First conclusion: people on the $0.50/$1.00 limit tables suck. Please observe:
After approximately 750 hands, a somewhat limited sample size I realize, I am up 120 big bets. That's 16 BBs/100 and an hourly rate of $11.50. What does minimum wage pay these days? I'm not playing a TAG style either - it's definitely more on the LAG side of things. My VP$IP is 34, my pre-flop raise percentage is 19, and my post-flop aggression factor is 3.10. In short, I'm not playing maniacally, but I'm definitely raising light and ramming and jamming.
I think the key so far has been a combination of (1) stupidity of my opponents, (2) opponents' timidity to 3-bet pre-flop without a monster, (3) opponents' timidity post-flop to mix it up against a pre-flop raiser without hitting a solid flop and (4) stupidity of my opponents. Reading these people after the flop most of the time is startlingly simple, allowing my post-flop decisions to make themselves. In short, I apply maximum pressure pre-flop (few open-limps, no cold calls) and then outplay post-flop. Easy peasy.
Second conclusion: being the table LAG is fun! It's much more fun than playing tight because I see more hands and have to make more decisions and am generally more involved in what's going on at my table. If I were playing tougher opponents all those extra decisions might be a problem, but for now it's just delightful -- especially when I defend my big blind with crap and get there. In fact, in one of those weird small sample size quirks, the big blind is my most profitable position.
Now I have $120 which, when combined with some limited monkeying around in $25NL, $50NL and $1/$2 limit that I did early on, I've pushed up to $170. I did not complete the raked hands requirement, so that $170 is on top of Party's initial $75, which they took back. I figure I'll put in another 12-15 hours at $0.50/$1.00, work up to $300, and then jump up to $1/$2. This is potentially the resurrection of my limit holdem challenge started back in December 2004, which was abandoned after my 15/30 flameout in early 2005. In nomine patrie, indeed.
This time, though, it's all the house's money - what do I have to lose?
Monday, June 19, 2006
Apparently, I've been spending too much time writing about things (the World Cup) that don't interest her and not enough about things that do interest her (poker, my social retardation, etc.). Not wanting to incur the wrath of my Vegas roommate, I've collected a few poker thoughts below the fold. By first, apropos of nothing:
Photo by jcn. Other tags added after this photo were "TOO_SKINNY", "AFRAID_TO_SHOP", and "I'M_RICK_JAMES_BITCH_XP". What can I say? Give a group of nerds masking tape and a sharpie and weird things start happening. But this post isn't about my eros or my nerdiness or my amazing resemblance to Rick James. It's about poker.
At the top, congratulations to Glyphic on his impressive 6th place finish in yesterday's PokerStars blogger freeroll. It only took one massive suckout to get there. Phil's reward: a trip to a $1500 WSOP event. Not bad at all. Represent the bloggers well, Phil.
Next on the list: the opening of the Borgata's new poker room! About a week ago, I received a postcard in the mail advertising "THE LARGEST POKER ROOM IN ATLANTIC CITY OPENS JUNE 30, 2006 AT BORGATA". The room will have 85 tables and will be located very close to the surface parking lot behind the casino. Curiously, the Borgata has also scheduled its "Summer Open", a series of 13 holdem, stud and omaha high tournaments, for the middle of July -- directly competing with the WSOP. Most of the events are $500 or smaller buy-ins, but there are a few large buyin events at the end , including a 4-day $5,000 championship event. My question: who's going to enter? Everyone will be in Vegas for the WSOP.
I'm considering a trip the weekend of July 1 to check out the new room and get a bit of a live game brush-up before the trek to Vegas for the WPBT Summer Classic. Any takers?
Now back to our regularly scheduled World Cup musings.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
So, Ghana goes and does the U.S. a HUGE favor with a 2-0 victory over the Czechs, and the U.S. is only able to come away with a 1-1 tie against Italy. Supremely disappointing, but what was even more disappointing was the officiating in the U.S.-Italy match, specifically the "make up" red card on Mastroeni in the 45th minute.
I think it's pretty obvious Pope was heading for another yellow, which he deservedly picked up in the 47th for a late tackle from behind. (I don't care if he *did* get the ball - tackles from behind are going to draw cards.) On the other hand, the red on Mastroeni was unfathomable. Sure, he came in cleats up, but his slide tackle was otherwise a clean play, unlike DeRossi's elbow to McBride's face. At worst, Mastroeni should have picked up a yellow.
Instead, he was sent off, and two minutes into the second half Pope was sent off for picking up his second yellow. Down to 9 men, the U.S. had to play much more defensively. Beasley put one home in the 70th, but a questionable offsides call negated the goal. The ruling on the field was that McBride, who was in an offsides position but did not make a play on the ball, "clearly obstructed" the keeper's line of vision. That was in the 65th minute, and it was the last solid U.S. chance.
By the end, the U.S. was gassed. Not sure why Arena didn't use his last sub, but the likelihood of a U.S. goal in the last 15 minutes was pretty low anyway. Now, it's on to Ghana. We need a win versus Ghana and an Italian win versus the Czechs. (Forget the scenarios involving an Italian tie; Ghana's defense has been stout enough in the first two games, and the U.S. offense anemic enough, that we will not be putting any sort of thumping on Ghana). To make matters worse, we won't have Mastroeni or Pope. Eh, come to think of, Pope hasn't really distinguished himself in the first two games. Maybe he's not that much of a loss.
If you're a U.S. supporter, I'd suggest you spend the next 5 days sending Italians all the good karma you can.
Monday, June 12, 2006
3-0. They got eaten alive. Beasley looked terrible, the back line got carved up by the Czech front, and the U.S. passing was about as poor as I've seen. To make matters worse, the U.S. goal differential is now -3. After Italy beats Ghana later today, the World Cup will pretty much be over for the American side.
They came out to jittery and too aggressive, taking three fouls in the first two minutes and generally not having any sense of rhythm to their game. Giving up the early goal in the fifth minute only sent them into further disarray. It might have been a different match if Reyna's shot in the 30th minute had gone in, rather than hit the post, but who knows.
There's always 2010.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
ESPN's coverage has been nothing short of godawful. Annoying, useless graphics, a staggering inability to follow the action on the field, and some of the worst color since Bill Walton started calling NBA games. If I had heard one more time how a Serbian-Montenegran corner was a "dangerous situation" for the Dutch side, I might have flown to Leipzig to warn them myself.
Here's one for all you amateur bartenders (and Daddy): a bloody mary made with Absolut Pepper, tomato juice, and small pieces of bacon. Deeeeelicious. This little gem was brought to me (well, to jcn really) by The Red Lion on Bleecker Street, where we caught the England-Paraguay game at 9am yesterday surrounded by exactly the types of people you would expect to be English football fanatics, right down to the craggly teeth, tonsured heads and muttered epithets every time an English player touched the ball and it didn't wind up in the opposing goal. Brilliant.
Who else was pulling for Ivory Coast? The bar that I was in erupted when they broke through in the 82nd minute against Argentina after relentless second half pressure. Are the Argentines that universally hated (hello, tainted legacy of Maradona), or is it not kosher to root against a country torn apart by civil war?
At least they're still a country. Serbia-Montenegro can't even claim that. Does that mean I should have been rooting for them, too?
I hit a local bar in my 'hood for a burger after a nice long bike ride tonight. Young Irish kid walks in and asks if they'll be open for the matches tomorrow morning. Bartender asks "what time?" Kid says 9am. Bartender pretty much laughed in his face. Stupid Americans.
Truth be told, of all the places in this country to watch the World Cup, New York has to be one of the best. There are literally dozens of ethnic neighborhoods here, in addition to a large ex-pat scene. Nothing quite like watching a match surrounded by people pulling for their beloved national team.
Anybody else notice that the Final is scheduled for Sunday July 9 at 11am Pacific time? Mandalay sports book it is!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Sometimes we re-discover parts of our personalities that have gotten buried under the detritus of day-to-day living. The trigger can be as simple as the breeze on your face, the smell of a freshly baked pie, or the melody of a forgotten song.
For whatever reason, I've been listening to a ton of Above & Beyond on my ipod lately. Above & Beyond is an electronic act whose sets are punctuated by the usual "trance anthems", those melodic trance lines with airy feminine vocals that start out with a driving bass line, usually break down somewhere in the middle to an ethereal slowdown, and then cascade back up in a giant build to a high energy release. These anthems are infectious in a way that makes you just want to shake your moneymaker.
There I was, "Riding the F Train" to work at rush hour two days ago, crammed between an overweight guy already glistening with sweat at 8:30am and an ancient Indian woman who reeked of too much perfume, listening to Above & Beyond's 2004 Essential Mix set, when I remembered that once upon a time, I danced. Once upon a time, I would hit a NYC club or an underground loft party in some converted factory, starting about 1am, and dance until sometime between 10am and noon the next morning. Sure, one or two of those nights I had some "energetic assistance", but most of the time it was just me, pumping endorphins, flirting mercilessly and losing myself in the music and the company of everyone around me who was doing the same. The shocker was always stepping out of the club or factory the next morning and squinting into bright sunshine. What is that giant yellow ball of fire in the sky and where did it come from?
Many of the "buckets of blood", as one of ex-Mayor Giuliani's aides once referred to NYC nightclubs, are infested with "club kids" all swinging their glo sticks and sucking their pacifiers (a side effect of ecstasy is a tendency to clench your jaw; sucking on something alleviates this). On that basis, it's easy to say I've simply outgrown that stage of my life, that I've matured past it. But how do you mature past an experience that sets your senses ablaze and makes you feel alive? How do you mature past something that can act as a shared experience you remember for years after it happened? This type of music touches a part of me that few other things do. I don't want to "mature past" that.
Tonight I danced, ever so briefly, for the first time in a long time. I set up my the speakers in the living room, turned up the volume on the laptop, and for 5 or 10 minutes I danced. It freaked the hell out of the cat (especially when I picked her up mid-stream), but it unearthed a part of me that has been slowly disappearing under the layers of daily bullshit that seem to get more prolific and deeper the older I get. It reminded me not of who I was, but of who I am.