Friday, June 30, 2006

A Thursday Night Recap

I am a Master Procrastinator. And I have been busy. Thus I realised extremely late that DADI 7 was going to be going on last night... so it was with great speed that I assembled my crack outfit of poker players: Dnasty, Mookie and myself forming Team Drunkie. Stay tuned to Jordan's site for the results.

Of course the DADI wasn't the only poker action for me last night. So why not describe my Thursday night gambling chronologically in pictorial form?

First Triple Draw Session

180 SnG on Stars


Second Triple Draw Session

Blogger cash table

By my count that is the equivalent of 5000+ words, so I'll probably leave it there.

Oh yeah - feel free to cheer against Italy in the World Cup. I know I am.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

You Know What? Screw Being Objective.

Props to Deadspin for the link: what to wear for the World Cup Quarterfinals.

Springing A Leak?

Twice last night I was doing well in the early portions of a tournament. Twice I found myself in position with a decent pocket pair (one a great pocket pair) when a smaller stack pushed all-in with little provocation. Twice I called. Twice they had Aces. Twice I did not improve. Twice I did not make it very deep in the tournament.


I'm hoping to make it to the DADI tonight with a tentative team of myself, Dnasty, and Mookie. Given the last moment nature of our collaboration, it's not definite that we'll make it, but we'll see how we go. One or more of us may be scrambling for partners as the launch time approaches. Just sayin'.

* * * * * * * *

Vegas is fast approaching, as everyone knows. I've been a little pre-occupied, as I've also been trying to spec out my trip back home in September (it seems a certain younger brother of mine is getting married). I've been scribbling all over whiteboards, trying to suss out an appropriate itinerary. This morning I actually booked the International flights, though I have yet to book anything internal (my flight lands in Sydney, but my family lives on the other side of the country).

To paraphrase Joe Speaker, I spent $1500 in 20 minutes, and I'm still feeling aroused.

The plan is to spend a bunch of time in Sydney, catching up with people and, well, enjoying Sydney. Have a week or so in Perth (including my brother's wedding on the 16th), and head back to Sydney via Uluru (aka Ayer's Rock), which has the distinction of being one of the few things of interest in the middle of the country. Some of you may have no idea what I am talking about, so here is a picture of it:

Basically it's a huge fuck-off monolith in the middle of nowhere. Woo!

Making sure to break up the trip from Perth to DC is important. Consider: it is a 5 hour flight from DC to LA. Then it is a 14 hour flight from LA to Sydney. Followed by a 5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth. 24 hours in flight time alone.

Last time I went home (about 2.5 years ago) I did it all in one hit. Roughly 31 hours elapsed from the time I left DC to the time I landed in Perth. To put it lightly: I do not recommend anyone do this. Ever.

But soon enough it will be time to drink that sweetest of nectars. I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

So, the Soccer...

Some time has passed, and it is now time for me to return to the topic of Australia's departure from the Copa Mundial 2006. Thanks to everyone who left a comment, and bonus thanks to Gracie for keeping things in perspective.

I'm going to preface my comments with the following: I am not as upset as you think I am. Maybe it's because I thought all along that Australia would find it difficult to progress to the Qaurterfinals. Maybe it is because I recognise that soccer is a game of inches and big moments, and some times it isn't your day. Most likely it is because I know we had our chances, and didn't take them. In a lot of ways we only have ourselves to blame.

Australia had been punching out of its weight-class for a while, and Italy was merely the next heavyweight opponent. By this stage, however, the underdog had started to believe in himself, and after taking the game to the Brazilian juyggernaut, facing another soccer super-power was old hat.

The game itself started out eerily similar to the Australia/Brazil match, the entire first half reminding me constantly of the previous contest. Australia seemed to be dominating possession, but without managing many real chances. Italy, on the other hand, had Luca Toni running riot and showing up our shorter, slower backline. Australia very easily could have been behind at the half, except the big Italian striker could not find the back of the net.

At halftime there were reasons for optimism, for as long as we could hold the Italians from breaking us down there were opportunities for success at the other end. But just like the Brazil match the course of the game would be altered only minutes into the second half. This time, however, it was in Australia's favour.

Which brings me to the refereeing. Setting aside the final climactic decision for a moment, let's look at the two sides and their reputations. Australia are known as a fit, physical side who have caused other nations to complain about our hard-nosed play (naturally those other nations are pansies). Italy are know as a team which "accentuates fouls", or as we like to say "will take more dives than Greg Louganis". This presents a bit of a quandry for a referee. You know the Australians are going to play physically, but you know the Italians are going to flop all over the place. That makes it a difficult game to call.

The refereeing was indeed a bit all over the place. What I found strange was that he quite often let physical challenges go (which even I, as an Australian supporter, thought deserved an Italian free kick), while occasionally awarding free kicks to Italy after ridiculous dives. I mean like "take two steps after contact, then fall over" kind of diving. The inconsistency was maddening.

Which brings me to the dramatic events in the 51st minute, when an Italian clattered into an Australian, and instead of issuing a yellow card the referee reached a little deeper and proferred the red.

Naturally, I was overjoyed. But was the sending off warranted? Hardly.

Nonetheless, with essentially 40+ minutes of time left in the game, Australia had been given a gift. Initially they were, in my opinion, correct in playing carefully. As the USA discovered against Italy, once a red card comes out you have to be careful not to be too overzealous with the man advantage, as another red can come out pretty quick-like.

So Australia's ploy of carefully attempting to craft a goal was OK. Initially. But as time inched along, we needed to go fore the jugular. Playing in a 4-5-1 (four defenders, 5 midfielders, and one solitary attacker) was not enough. All it would take for things to be undone was one Italian counter-attack, or one physical challenge to let the referee send an Aussie off, and it would all go to hell.

Eventually, finally, Guus Hiddink (who I find it very difficult to criticise, even given this late move and the zany goalie change in the Croatia match) brought in Aloisi, another attacker. But he did it in the 80th minute, seemingly too late. I thought it should have happened at least ten minutes earlier. As soon as Aloisi stepped on the pitch the Aussie attack was put into high gear, and quality chances started appearing in bunches.

But, as often happens in soccer (including to the Italians in the first half), we could not put one away. And as full-time approached, the prospect of another half hour of play (albeit one with a man advantage) looked certain. I know it was in my mind, and it definitely looked like it was in the Australian side's. Which is how Fabio Gross managed to step his way into the penalty box, let Lucas Neill go to ground, and make the most of the opportunity by flopping like a gutted fish with ten seconds to go.

Should it have been a penalty? No. Was I surprised it was called? Again, no. Why not?

First of all, the penalty box shenanigans are unfortunately a part of soccer. Going to ground in the box is something that happens a lot. Once in a while a referee decides that it's good enough, and a penalty is given.

As mentioned before, I truly believe that the concept of the "square up" is alive and well in soccer, especially International soccer. As I mentioned, if you are lucky enough to have an opponent have a man sent off, you better be extra careful because a referee will not hesitate to send one of your men off as well.

Australia has been playing with a man advantage for 40 minutes. In those 40 minutes they did not appear to be going hell-for-leather, they also did not score. This inability to cash in allowed the Italians to steal a goal. Which they did, gleefully. With ten fucking seconds to go.

Would an Australian have done the same? Most probably. And if an Aussie hadn't taken the opportunity to taste grass with a good chance of a penalty being given, and Australia had gone on to lose, there would be all sorts of commentary about how Australia wasn't "sophisticated" enough to grasp the opportunity.

Unfortunately this is part and parcel of soccer as it is currently officiated. Do I wish referees were harsher on diving? You better fucking believe it. But, like it or not, the referee has an enormous amount of power in soccer, and currently calling dives does not seem to be a priority, no matter what FIFA claims.

In my mind the biggest shame of it all is that Australia's amazing achievment in making it into the second round, and almost making it to the Quarterfinals, is in danger of being forgotten. Prior to the tournament Australia would have been ranked at best third in their group, and was probably listed as fourth-best by the vast majority of experts. Believe it or not I actually picked the group's results correctly, as on ESPN's "pick 'em" contest I pegged Australia to beat Japan, lose to Brazil, and draw with Croatia. That was how I hoped it would play out, how I hoped we would get through to face the big dogs in the second round.

Looking back on the Cup we have so much to take from it. The fight back against Croatia, when it looked like a strange decision at goalkeeper would eliminate us, was fantastic. The battle with Brazil was epic, and it was unfortunate that we didn't take away points. But if nothing else, I have those last amazing 7 minutes against Japan to keep forever.

But what about the future? I hope that finally busting back into the World Cup after a 30 year hiatus has done its job in continuing the soccer revival back home. I hope that this can only serve as a boost to development in our country as we look forward to trying to battle back into the World Cup in four years time.

And from now on, there is no way any nation, from Brazil to Argentina to France to, yes, Italy, will look past Australia again.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Late to my own dance

Not sure if I am going to be able to make the Garthmeister issue of the WWdN tonight. We'll have to see. And don't worry, I will be posting something lucid about the soccer sooner rather than later. I promise.

Monday, June 26, 2006


That's all I can really say right now.

Friday, June 23, 2006

90 Minute Rollercoaster

The signs did not look good. The previous afternoon my boss reacted unfavourably to my stated intention to leave at 3pm on Thursday. All through the work day itself I had been slammed with work that I completed feverishly, hoping to make my escape before kick-off. As game time approached I punched out email after email, finally shutting things down to find my Aussie mate All-Star so we could race to a bar. Except that shit was hitting the fan at high speed, and it looked like it was going to take some time for my mate to extricate himself.

What's a bloke meant to do? My mate knew full well that game time was fast approaching, but this issue had to be dealt with. It looked like things might be winding up, so I pointed back to my cube so he could get me when he was done. Getting back to my desk I pointed a browser at the BBC's play-by-play commentary, figuring to keep up with the match until we could flee the premises.

It looked the match was just about to kick off, with the latest commentary about the sides waiting to start. Except I noticed one thing. The score seemed to be Croatia 1, Australia 0. Which meant that somehow Croatia had scored before the first play-by-play update.

And I was stuck here at work, failing to believe my own eyes.


A few minutes later my mate gave me the all clear, and we scurried away from the office. On the way I gave All-Star the bad news about the early goal.

As we made the few blocks to the bar, I couldn't shake an all too familiar feeling.

* * *

Four years ago, during the last World Cup, I was living in Sydney and dating an Irish girl. Hailing from County Laois, she and some friends were spending a year in Australia, working and having a good time. Since Australia wasn't involved in 2002 I was granted automatic Irish cheering rights. Thanks to the fortuitous time zone situation (the games being played in Japan and South Korea), we were able to watch every game, usually jammed into an Irish pub in Bondi Junction. There is nothing like watching a soccer match cheek-to-jowl with a few hundred drunk and passionate Irish folk.

I still remember vividly one of my all-time sports viewing highlights, during the preliminary round of matches. Ireland had scratched out a draw with Cameroon in their first game, but their next match-up was against Germany - who had just given out an 8-0 beating to Saudi Arabia. Germany managed to get out to a 1-0 lead, and though fighting gallantly it loooked like the Boys in Green were not going to be able to penetrate the stout German backline. Finally, in the 89th minute, Robbie Keane managed to get on the end of a long ball and smash it home for the equaliser, and the pub went totally and completely insane.

I swear I blacked out. I have no immediate memory of what happened immediately after Robbie Keane did his habitual springing victory celebration. When I came to it looked like a small riot had broken out (which it had, really). Tables were oveturned, glasses had been smashed, all victims of pure euphoria.

The draw against Germany was important, as Ireland also beat Saudi Arabia like a rented mule, allowing the Irish to progress into the second round of the tournament, where they were to face Spain.

Now the stakes were raised things were a little more complicated. Friends, and friends of friends all wanted to watch the game, and there was to-ing and fro-ing over where to go. Eventually the Irish crew decided on a trendier venue, as a bunch of people had already committed to going there. Being an Honorary Irishman, I didn't want to rock the boat, and so went along with the plan.

Naturally it was a total cock-up, as we ended up standing in a long line that was showing no signs of moving as game time fast approached. My girlfriend and I started giving each other secret signals, and we eventually leaned over to a couple of our close friends and whispered that we were bailing from the line and heading to another pub. You know, one that we could actually get into for the game.

We raced from the line into another pub, only missing a few minutes of the first half. But I didn't feel good. The bullshit organisation had rattled me, and I wasn't mentally ready for the game. My mindset almost seemed to reflect what was happening on the pitch as Spain scored just as we entered the pub. Ireland managed to fight back, drawing a penalty kick, only to miss. A later second penalty kick (this time converted) allowed Ireland to draw even, though the game eventually went to a penalty shoot-out. Which we lost, in agonising fashion. We shuffled out of the pub, disheartened and depressed.

And here I was, four years later, running late and racing to a pub to watch my boys. And that same old feeling was back.

* * *

The bar that All-Star and I went to was essentially deserted, the only other inhabitant turned out to be the brother of the bar-tender. Slightly panicky we asked if they could turn one of the TVs to the soccer. Then we realised the other TV was better, and asked if we could switch to that one. Then we asked if the sound could be turned up. Finally, we asked for alcohol. We were quite demanding.

And then we began worrying in earnest. 20 minutes in, Croation up by 1. Hell, Japan was even beating Brazil. What was going on?! I became even more confused when I noticed that we had a different goalkeeper for this game, the solid Mark Schwarzer not in his normal position for some reason. As I watched the replacement play a couple of balls shakily I couldn't help but wonder aloud if Schwarzer was injure (it later turned out it was just a selection by the coach).

A few more people wandered into the bar, probably wondering what was up with the two guys at the end of the bar, one of them in a bright yellow shirt, screaming at the TV. Australia was fighting mightily, pressuring Croatia like crazy, which you hope we would do since we needed a draw at least to go through. Finally, towards the end of the half, a Croatian player forgot the whole "don't use your hands" thing, and Australia were awarded a penalty kick.

Just like four years ago.

With my hands clasped to my mouth I waited for the kick to be taken... by a defender?! With my heart pounding I watched as Craig Moore stuffed the ball in the back of the net. All-Star and I went nuts, jumping up and down with joy.

Half-time arrived, and we rehashed the first half while punishing another couple of pints. A small crowd had gathered, and at their request we began explaining the situation at hand. As the second half began it seemed we had a few extra supporters for the cause.

Apparently a few extra supportes are not enough, as after a blazing run from Harry Kewell the ball is turned over, a Croatian makes a weakish strike at the ball... except the replacement goalkeeper makes a complete donkey of himself and somehow lets the ball in. And all of a sudden we are in danger of not moving onward again.

Teetering on the precipice Australia began ringing the changes, though this does not include swapping out the goalie. At roughly two minute intervals I am demanding to know why Schwarzer is not in goall. Again, Australia is lifting and pressuring the Croatians like they have to, though a couple of Croatian breaks highlight the dangers of being aggressive.

But it doesn't matter at this stage. We need a goal. Now.

With dismay I watch as once again the Croatians forget about the whole "don't use your hands" rule, but this time the referee doesn't give us a penalty kick. I can not believe it. In the 79th minute, just as I am preparing myself for an extended stay in the Pit of Despair, Harry Kewell manages to perform a Jedi Mind Trick on the side judge so he isn't seen off-side as he manages to crush the ball past the diving Croatian keeper. No flag, no worries, bedlam. All-Star and I are back on our feet, fists punching the air. Now all we have to do is hang on for ten minutes plus stoppage.

Except the last ten minutes are insane. A Croatian cheats, and he is sent off. Then an Australian forgets about the whole "don't use your hands thing", and he is sent off. Then another Croatian cheats and gets a yellow card, except this is his second and he should be off, but the ref doesn't realise. Croatia are pushing like mad as Australia is on the defensive. Finally we get it back up the other end, and win a free kick. GOOAAAAAAAAAL! Wait, no it's not. What's happening? A third yellow card to the Croatian, and now he is off. And now it... it's over!

Australia are through.

Despite the confusing ending, Australia get the draw, coming behind twice to do so. All-Star and I are begin celebrating in earnest, as more pints are sacrificed. The bar tender, unbidden, makes us a special shot, a green and gold concoction which we instantly dub "The Socceroo". The Socceroo is tasty.

All-Star's girlfriend eventually picks us up from the bar, but only to head to another one closer to home. We are loud and proud, and even though we get a lot of strange looks we also get a lot of congratulations. The night goes on, and we keep bending our elbows, until finally the bar closes and they kick us out.

Next up: Italy. I look forward to it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WWdN Action

I have played the WWdN a number of times. I have never won it (best place finish: 3rd), nor have I eliminated Wil to win the honour of having the next tournament named after. This week was no different, as I finished in 12th after pushing my smaller stack into AQ.

The thing is, I do get the tournament named after me next week. How? Turns out Wil couldn't make it last night, and so the Wil-by-proxy was CJ. I discovered this fact moments after CJ chose an unfortunate time to push his stack from the button, as I was sitting in the BB with Aces. So next week is the Garthmeister Invitational. Sweet.

Guess I better turn up.

* * * * * * * *

I have been trying to play a few more 180s recently, as I had spent far too long away from their embrace. Coming back to old faithful was instantly validated, as I was able to double up in the first 15 minutes when a A-x-x flop fell with two spades, and my opponent and I got it all in. My AK was better than his AQ, and I was off. In the second hour I was beginning to feel the pinch, when right on cue I was dealt Aces. UTG raised it up, I pushed... and then UTG agonised over his decision. I was busy screaming "Call!", and finally he did, showing JJ.


My joy was short-lived, as a Jack hit on the turn, but I took it well. Having my faith in the 180s restored was worth it. I played another 180 in stereo with the WWdN last night, and again got a reasonable distance in the second hour before running my short-stack into AQ (again!).

I have been trying to retool my tournament game a bit since coming back to MTTs, as I think I got a little off-kilter after playing cash games for a while. I still think I can wait longer while short stacked before I really have to push, but that could also be me being a little shy after careening headlong into AQ twice in a row.

I'd still like to have a nice finish soonish (who wouldn't!), so I will be looking to keep plugging away.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Loud, Proud, and Drunk

I was working on a larger post describing the entirey of my weekend, when I just thought to myself: Screw It! There deserves to be a standalone post about Australia's effort in the World Cup.

Through a series of events to be described later, me and my Aussie buddy decided that we could be loud and proud in the lion's den. Yes, we came up with the idea of watching the largest test ever in Australian soccer history while throwing back mojitos and verbally jousting with Brazilians.

My mate Alistair and myself rocked up to the bar 15 minutes before the match, with a reasonable crowd of Americans in support. It's the funny thing about the two teams in question - we both wear green and gold. Thus I encountered a series of double and triple takes as I wandered about wearing my Australian International cricket jersey. Wandering about was of paramount importance, so that people could see the "AUSTRALIA" emblazoned on my lower back.

The game itself was enthralling. Australia were definitely not cowed, and had a lot of quality possession in the first half, though Brazil had the better quality opportunites, in my view. Amusingly our side of the bar had the ESPN feed (despite the fact that we couldn't hear the commentators), while the other side had the Spanish language feed. The ESPN feed appeared to have about a five second delay, so one side of the bar would go "OOOOOOOOOOH!", followed five seconds later by the other side going "AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!". One of the bartenders thought this was hilarious, until he took some executive action and switched the ESPN feed to the Spanish language feed.

At half-time I was in good spirits. Partially this was because of the quanity of mojitos consumed already, but mostly it was because of how the game was playing out. Brazil were not overly impressive, and Australia could claim they had won the honours at the break. Already our minds were moving inexorably to thoughts of a vital point, and maybe even to one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.

By equal measures the natives were getting restless. Their South American heroes were being challenged by a motley bunch of battlers playing out of their minds. No one wearing the Brazilian colours would easily reconcile losing to any team in the first round... but Australia?!

As the second half got under way the tension in the bar was palpable. Unfortunately it wouldn't stay that way for long as Brazil strung together a piece of magic to put them up 1-0. The part of the bar that was refusing to cheer for Australia erupted, as the rest of us registered our dismay. But much like our bretheren on the pitch we refused to bow and go quietly from this encounter.

At a few minor heckles from those around me I proudly displayed my Australian colours as the Socceroos made some daring runs. A breakaway to the Brazilian goal was thwarted without a shot taken, but it was evidence that we had more scoring chances in us. Harry Kewell missed a chance which you would hope he would gobble up 9 times out of 10, and Viduka also had a great effort. Kewell then almost produced a goal which would have been replayed ten bazillion times back home, while potentially resulting in the Brazilian goalkeeper going into hiding.

But alas, it wasn't to be, and after a couple of Brazilian changes were made the back-breaking second goal came, courtesy of the unlikely monikered Fred. And that was how the game ended, 2-0, making the game look more one-sided than it actually was. Brazilians, both in the bar and across the world sprang into paroxyms of ecstasy... and I chose to feel proud.

Who amongst any of the football watching public would have guessed that Brazil would be played as tough as they were? If the Australians had been wearing another jersey, if for some reason it wasn't the Socceroos but Portugal or Spain out there, it would have been lauded as a hard-fought game amongst two Football Super Powers. But no, it was an upstart country from a nation in its second ever World Cup, fresh from scoring its only goals ever in the competition, fighting a giant to a standstill... and if things had broken slightly differently we might have achieved a draw or even (amazingly) victory.

After the immediate victory euphoria had worn off, a few Brazilians came over to congratulate us on the game, and expressed their belief that the Australians would be able to advance. We smiled, and agreed that we hoped that we would.

So as it stands Australia only has to draw against Croatia this Thursday to propel the nation of Australia into soccer history. Two weeks ago people would have laughed at you if you had presented this scenario, yet this is what now presents itself. I never mark the results in the books until the game is over, yet I look forward to Thursday with hope. If we play like we did against Brazil we have a real chance at progressing.

As a final note, if any of you thought that the Australians may not have competed as well with Brazil as well off the pitch as we did on, let me present exhibit A (courtesy of Deadspin) :

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Short-Lived Feature

It is with a heavy heart that I report that our favourite section of Disco Finery, "Where is Weak Player" has completed its short but memorable run. The culprit? Weak Player himself, who not only has free WiFi access in his hotel, but all the hardcore porn he can shake a stick at. Don't believe me? Well, see for yourself.

I can report that he is currently reporting live from the Bike (apparently favoured for extra donkaliciousness), where he may be combining forces with our Beloved Veneno... and all I can say is "Watch out, LA!". If I am handed any tasty tidbits, I will be sure to pass them on. But in the meantime, send your card mojo to the dynamic duo. May tasty pots be theirs to feast upon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Disco Finery, With Guest Reporting Action!

An Official Friend of Disco Finery, the intrepid Weak Player, is off on far more exciting adventures than myself. Fresh after kissing the 9-5 work day goodbye, he spent some time at home, grinding away at the virtual tables. He is off for a week of "work" in LA, hitting the tables at Commerce Casino. Read his post here. He was unsure of his ability to blog while he is in LA (though some would question his ability to blog while he was still at home) despite my entreaties to do so. He considered letting one of his blogger friends have access to his blog to post reports, but felt that we would abuse the privilege. He knows us too well. As a stop-gap measure, I offered to have him text message me updates, which I will then publish on this blog.

Thus, we introduce a new feature to "Garthmeister J's Disco Finery": "Where's Weak Player?". Today's "Where's Weak Player?" update is as follows:

"La traffic blows"

Join us next time, as Weak continues to update us on his progress in the Wild Wild West.

* * * * * * * *

Not too much to report in my own chip flinging: I missed the WWdN last night due to beer and Thai food. I made up for it by grinding out the rest of my bonus on Party, though I forgot that I shouldn't cough up the entire bonus (almost) while doing so. Whups! Hey, at least I'm up for the bonus session as a whole, plus the bonus itself...

In other news, I discovered that there seems to be problem with UltimateBet's Triple Draw tables. When I tried to access them last night there was a message stating that no Triple Draw tables were available, and that I should access another tab. WTF? Has my romance with TD been nipped in the bud? What is it? A jealous lover (I'm looking at you PLO8)? General UltimateBet crappiness? Chris Fargis, afraid that I am encroaching on his territory?

There have been no updates on UB's web page regarding the Triple Draw status, and my operatives report that as of this morning no TD tables were operational...

I sure hope that whatver issue is preventing me from drawing to a smooth 8 are resolved post-haste. Either that or some other site better start offering Triple Draw ASAP. Just, you know, I'm startting to get the shakes man... I just need a hit, just one more hit! I can pay tomorrow, I swear!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Lot of Poker Talk for a Soccer Blog

Finally, my downswing has subsided. Not that I am on a rush, but it is just nice to post some winning sessions again. The main contributors to the positive side of the ledger have been the No Limit tables on Party, and my new love: Triple Draw. Seriously, every time I log onto UB and there isn't a table going at the limits I like (anywhere from 0.25/0.50 to 2/4) I die a little inside. I think I have been playing fairly decently, or at least not as badly as some others I have noticed. There are still some situations that arise where I am unsure of the correct action, due to my inexperience; in most of these occasions when I suffer from brainlock I usually just fold.

Unfortunately my tournament game seems to be broken, or at lest suffering from a mild sprain. The cause seems to be a combination of bad play with variance mixed in. The cure? Good play, and time. Yeah, I'll let you know how that one goes.

I also got my official email from PokerStars alerting me to the fact that I am registered for the the World Blogger Poker Championship. I just hope I'm not too hammered from drinking beer and cheering on my beloved Socceroos.

What a smooth segue to World Cup talk.

First off, my commiserations for those hardcore American soccer fans. It is extremely disappointing to have a "once in four years" opportunity to heighten the profile of the sport start so badly. Hopefully, for your sake at least, the Americans put up more of a fight against the Italians on Saturday.

The negativity surrounding Team USA thus makes me feel a little guilty for revelling in the match Australia played yesterday. It was totally worth sneaking out of work to watch in the little cafe downstairs. And then using my office phone to call people in Australia to celebrate the result. Prior to this World Cup, the only other time we have been to the Big Dance was in 1972. We had stumbled at the last hurdle for qualifying in the last two World Cups, Uruguay beating us out for a place in 2002, and a heart-breaking loss to Iran for the 1998 Cup. Prior to yesterday Australia hadn't scored a goal in World Cup competition, let alone won a game. So scoring three goals int he final eight minutes for a come from behind victory was pretty insane.

Our next game is against the 900 lb gorilla of our group, Brazil, who had a 1-0 victory over Croatia today. It was in our favour for Brazil to win today (essentially we are all playing for second place), but it would have been better if the score was 17-0. Sunday's game will be a huge affair, despite the face we will be heavy underdogs. Truthfully we are not expecting to win, or draw, but a good showing will be imperative before the potential showdown for the 2nd spot in the group with Croatia on the 22nd.

Go Aussie!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Australia vs Japan

Next game: Sunday vs Brazil. It's on, baby.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Question of Time

Ah, nothing like the Friday morning hangover. Not my fault, of course. I was invited out to a friend-of-a-friend's shindig on her apartment block's rooftop deck. What was I going to say, "No."?! And when I arrived at said shindig, was it my fault that the hostess informed me that she had purchased a keg of Yuengling that needed to be consumed, and that I was the man for the job? Hell no! This confluence of events conspired to ensure that I had a boozy Thursday night, though the most embarrasing thing I ended up doing was consuming a gyro while walking home at 1am, oblivous to the tzatziki I was splattering over myself.


I am no stranger to the Friday morning hangover, which I sure no one is surprised to hear. When I first moved to the US I became friends with a Marine, and I used to go to the Thursday night "suds and buds". Just me, the random Aussie, and a bunch of marines, with the odd Navy chick or two. I guess they liked me, or at least found me amusing, and liked the fact that I could put away more than my share of booze. Though this resulted in more than a few rough Friday mornings, it never put me off knocking back a few too many on Friday night. That would just be wrong.

On the card this evening is drinks for a fallen comrade, fleeing the premises for greener pastures. As it is a work-themed happy hour, I am not sure how long it will last... or if anything will be happening later on. If nothing seems like it's happening, I will either retire to my local for a few more or meander back to Chez Garthmeister J. for some donkey poker.

At any rate, this weekend is the first for a while that I am not off travelling, so I will definitely be flinging chips on the felt virtual, attempting to arrest my downswing. Or failing that, having fun. Possible items on the agenda:
  • 100NL on Party. There is a 20% reload bonus going, which should help whip the fish into a frenzy. And free money is good.
  • SnGs on Party. I saw the other day that they have 50 person SnGs, which I'd like to check out. Anyone have any experience with these? A few two table affairs might be good as well.
  • MTTs on Party. Frankly, I need to have a shot at a 40k Guaranteed, or some such game.
  • Rebuy madness on Stars. Donkey poker is fun!
  • One of the big $20 or so tourneys on Stars. Change100 can't be mistaken!
  • 180 SnGs on Stars. Need I explain? Of course, I might have to explain why I have neglected these again.
  • Sunday morning satellite on Stars. I love me this tournament. It has been funding my retardo play in the WWdN and the Mookie.
  • Joe Speaker's favourite tournament. Calling this donkey poker is an offense to donkeys.
  • Triple Draw on UB. Because Chris Fargis is my hero.
Yes, yes indeed. Poker is fun.

* * * * * * * *

In addition to drinking, poker and footy there is the small matter of World Cup action. I ensured I took an extended lunch to catch the opening game, Germany vs Costa Rica. I am not going to give the result away, because I HATE HATE HATE when someone does that to me - especially in this Age of Tivo. I enjoyed the match, except for one small detail: I really can't get used to having American commentators for a game of soccer. It is jarring to me to hear an American accent during a match, especially after a lifetime of hearing some Pom (that's an Englishman, for you non-Aussies) doing the play-by-play with maybe a drunken Scot doing the analysis. During halftime the Irish bartender leaned over to me and pointed out that

Australia play their first match on Monday morning at 9am... so I am hoping to be able to be able to turn up to work late. We are in a tough group, with Brazil, Japan, and Croatia. I am hoping that we can beat Japan, and draw or beat Croatia. A win over Brazil would be completely insane, and may result in a nationwide alcoholic binge of epic proportions. Either way it's going to be difficult for us to squeeze through into the second round.

On behalf of the nation of Australia, I cordially invite one and all onto the Aussie bandwagon. Step right up, there's plenty of room.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lazarus has Risen!

It was with some trepidation that I began my preparations on Monday morning. I carefully laid out the laptop that I had attempted to drown, replacing the battery and cd-rom drive into the housing. Mouthing a quick prayer to Saint Isidore, patron saint of Idiot End-Users, I pressed the power switch. Despite the fact that I had let the laptop dry out for over three days, with liberal use of a fan, this could go either way.

With a "bleep" and a flickering of LEDs, my prayers were answered as the laptop began its booting sequence. It was... ALIVE! I let the thing run while I got ready for work, shutting it down before I left. Monday afternoon I brought home my emergency auxiliary laptop, bringing in the newly dubbed Lazarus for work yesterday. Upon booting it up and having it connect to the network there was some delays as it sorte itself out, but so far so good.

St. Isidore be praised!

Now let's hope that Lazrus keeps functioning, and that I don't have the sudden urge to feed my laptop a bowl of chili.

* * * * * * * *

In Poker news, I continue to suck. But! I have finally bitten the bullet and created a real money account on Ultimate Bet. "Why?" I hear you ask. Two simple words: Triple Draw. Now, by no means am I a Triple Draw expert. Or a Triple Draw amateur. I am more the Triple Draw neophyte... but something about that game I find really interesting. Primary blame probably falls at the feet of Chris Fargis, who writes about his high stakes Triple Draw adventures from time to time.

I've only played a few sessions, with middling results (translation: I am down). I feel like I am playing OK, but obviously there is a serious learning curve involved. Last night while I was playing 0.50/1.00 I noticed that Chris was on as well... only he was playing 300/600. Might be a little while before I am playing that high.

* * * * * * * *

From the "Meaningless Milestones" department, this is also apparently my 100th post. So now you know.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Last night featured WPBT event #7, held at 9:30pm on Full Tilt. Since I had only just returned from a big weekend in Boston, I wasn't sure if I was going to play or not (seriously, can't we schedule these things a little earlier?). But as kick-off time approached, I felt myself weakening. The fact of the matter is: I like HORSE. It's fun to play games in rotation, and it's definitely refreshing to play some non-NLHE games. Blogger HORSE events also make me nostalgic, as it was way back in January where I was introduced to Weak_player and SoxLover et. al by Veneno as I went on to take 3rd place.

I still think that Triple Draw should be added to the mix so it could be "triple draW, Hold 'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, stud Eight or better, Stud"... which makes WHORES. All credit goes to SoxLover and SoxWife for coming up with that one, unless I got that wrong, in which case credit goes elsewhere.

Truth be told, my thoughts on HORSE are still the same as before: I'm very prepared for it just to be ORSE. I believe H is my weakest rotation in HORSE, if for no other reason that I believe my relative LHE tournament game is the worst of the different games.

Last tournament I discovered that Razz was my favourite rotation, and it was so once again as I was able to grab the tournament chip lead after that rotation. I lost a big hand to CJ in Stud Hi/Lo, when his rolled up 5s found a third five, allowing him to scoop. I lost another big hand to the Luckbox in my favourite rotation (yes, H), and all of a sudden I was in trouble.

I managed to stay afloat as my table started getting filled by familiar faces, and people started dropping like flies as the blinds escalated. The final table bubble was fast approaching, as was the aggression level. I tried to bust the Poker Princess when she made what looked like a tilty blind-steal after losing most of her stack the previous hand. I held 9T s00ted, and thought it was worth a shot. No good, as Maigrey's K8o held up. I then tried to bust another short stack (Mattazuma) as we got it all-in pre-flop. This time my AJo couldn't hit the board, and his 33 (I believe) was good. This made me the short stack, and again I got it all in against Mattazuma, again my overcards to his small pair... and again I missed. Stupid H. I was out in 9th, the final table bubble boy.

Jordan made it deep, and managed to cash, so good work there. SoxLover finished in 10th, and Waffles finished in 8th (after leading most of the way). CJ eventually took out the event, with Maigrey (who battled back from the felt) finishing in second. StB is just unstoppable at the moment, finishing 3rd and retaining his clear lead atop the POY standings.

* * * * * * * *

In non-WPBT news, my downswing continues. Not going to harp on it too much, it happens to everyone. After getting rivered in a large cash pot on Party, I had a little look at my NLHE cash stats in PokerTracker as a precursor for some deeper analysis on my game. Insert caveats regarding sample sizes etc. here.

To be honest, I might not need to dig that deep to improve my game. Anyone want to guess what my biggest loser for "average per hand" is? I bet you can get it.


QQ. Not only is it my biggest loser overall, it is my biggest loser on every site I play on. Aiiyah! I need to have a look at the hands in general, but I'm willing to bet that most of it is running an overpair into a flopped set (something I do way too often). Add that to the times I just misplay it in more inventive ways and you have a formula for leaking money. Scary to think I'd have saved a bit of money by just folding such a premium holding.

I knew I hated that hand.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Another 48 Hours.

In the last couple of days I have been able to strike a few things off the "Things I Have Done" list. This list is not to be confused with the "Things I Would Like To Do" list (currently topping that list is "sex with identical twin acrobats"), as will soon become clear.

As I mention from time to time on this here blog, I play Australian Rules Football for our local team (yes, Aussie Rules is played in the US). Members of the team are actually spread over a large-ish geographic area, so we have three different training sessions. The one I attend (and occasionally run) is on the National Mall. It's a surreal experience to be playing this very Australian game with the Capitol Building at one end, the Washington Monument at the other, flanked on both sides by the Smithsonian.

Besides the scenery, training on the National Mall has some minor issues. It's a public area, so it's "first come, first served". As the warmer weather rolls around we are not the only group looking for space. In addition to us there are innumerable kickball and softball league games going on, everyone looking for their piece of the Mall. The other pain can be the fact that quite a lot of events are held on this piece of ground. These are normally not held during the week, but quite often all sorts of activity is taking place to either set up or take down infrastructure for one gathering or another.

These two issues combined can sometimes make things a little dicey. This week, for example, we managed to snag a nice chunk of ground that was surrounded by large tents in various states of construction, plus a few generators and miscellaneous gear. Not too annoying as we had more than enough space for our training drills requring more space.

The really painful part was that it was our first training session of the year... nice and hot and humid. Not a lot of fun as we ran around and sweltered in humidity you could cut with a knife. I'd be mad at the coach for making us run around like that in those conditions, but since I was the one running the training session I couldn't say much. Though I did. That bitch, what was he thinking?

We finished off the sessionwith a "kicking for goal" drill which is a bit of fun (and which I tend to win ;) ), letting us cool down and practice a much-needed skill. After that was finished we went back to our bags to get changed, and to see who was keen to go for the bar for a beer or three. Changing after footy training is usually a must as you're most likely drenched with sweat... and on a day with DC heat and humidity it's not "most likely", it's just a matter of degree. No problems, as I bring a change of clothes, and using the style honed from years of playing in Australia I jump out of my icky training togs into some fresh clothes.

This week there were only a few guys able to go back to the bar (some people had something called "work", others had made promises to people they referred to as "wives" and "girlfriends"). As we were ribbing those who weren't hanging around, a few guys looked at something over my shoulder. I turned around to see one of DC's finest in his Police Truck.

"What are you doing?!" the copper called out from the cab of his vehicle. Being the guy in charge I wandered over, wondering if we had somehow annoyed the DC Police by training around generators and the like. I don't know what the Public Liability laws are, so who knows.

"Sorry?" I answered, continuing to walk towards the now stationary truck.

"I said, what are you doing?"

"I'm not sure what you mean."

There was a slight pause.

"Did you just drop your drawers?!"

"Yeah, I just got changed."

OK, that was a little surprising. The copper must have been watching pretty freaking closely to register the 0.003 of a second before I had my boxers on.

"That's an arrestable offense," the copper said, as he started to open the door of his truck.

"Oh great," I thought to myself, "last thing I need is some bored cop who wants to drill me for getting changed." It was also at that point that I realised that the copper in question seemed pretty outraged. Oh well.

"Do you have any ID?"

I reached for my wallet, totally aware that the only photo ID I had was my Australian driver's license... the same license which gets rejected by a bar once in a blue moon (not realising what they are doing to their profit margin, I might add). As I handed my Aussie license over to Officer Outrage I warned him that it was the only ID I had. Predictably the cop looked at it like it was some sub-standard fake ID, and I was a college freshman trying to buy a fifth of Jack Daniels.

"Do you have any local ID?"

"No sir, this is the only ID I have."

A few moments pass.

"You don't have any local ID?"

A real sharp one, this guy.

"I have my passport, but that's at my house."

"No local ID?"

"The only thing I have is my passport, and I would have to go back to my house and get it."

"No you wouldn't, you'd have to get someone to bring it for you, because you'd be in the cellblock."

It took a moment or so before I realised that Office Outrage didn't want to take me to the cellblock, he just wanted to issue me a ticket, have a bit of a rant, and then go back to whatever boring cop stuff he was doing before. The problem was that me having ID of less value to him than a library card from Bumfuck, Idaho was throwing a wrench into these plans. Not to mention I didn't seem to be generating the appropriate amount of fear he seemed to be looking for.

A few moments passed as the copper turned my ID over a few times. He eventually came to a decision.

"Stay right here," he commanded, getting into his truck, and winding up the tinted window. Unable to see into the cab, I stood silently, trying to stop myself from striking some pose that reflected my inner thoughts. After a couple of minutes the window wound down.

"It's your lucky day," Officer Outrage began. "I'm letting you off with a warning. You've got three minutes to get out of here before I change my mind."

"Yes sir," I said, taking my ID and heading back to my bag. Gathering up my things, I could only come to the conclusion that Officer Outrage had sat in his cab, doing nothing except stewing that he couldn't just hit me with a ticket, while hoping that I was at least freaking out a little bit about whatever he was doing in there. No dice.

Wandering to the bar I recounted to my team-mates what exactly had taken place.

"What a douchebag," one stated, shaking his head in wonder.

My thoughts exactly.

* * * * * * * *

"But wait Garthmeister J,. I thought you said there were a couple of things from the last few days which you could strike off The List!"

Yes, yes, I hear you. It's true, being able to tick the box next to "Almost Get Arrested for Indecent Exposure on The National Mall" was not the only result of my week. I'll 'fess up to this one too, though it doesn't quite have the glamour of my previous incident.

Yesterday was a normal Thursday afternoon at work. I was wandering back to my desk from a meeting, which had interrupted by schedule of "trying to do as little as possible while actually achieving all of my employment objectives". Once I arrived back at my desk I put on my headphones and fired up the latest Basketball Jones podcast (the second-best Canadian-made podcast available on these here internets, the best being, of course, Brent Stacks' and Cincinnati Sean's "Lord Admiral's Card Club"). As the always amusing basketball goodness began, I reached over for the large cup of water next to me... and manged to dump most of it all over my laptop.


As I raced to turn the laptop off I saw it bluescreen before the monitor went blank. I ripped out all of the cords, and looked at it for a couple of moments in horror. Then, inevitably, I began to giggle. I quickly grabbed anything absorbent within reach and did as much as I could. I then turned the laptop upside down on my chair, went and grabbed some serviettes, and continued doing what I could.

But the fact of the matter was my laptop was now inoperable. And it was just after 2pm.

Fortunate Fact No. 1: I have an emergency auxiliary PC in my cube. Ostensibly I got it to allow me to do some testing, but even after that period I have been able to keep it for my own ends. The only unfortunate thing is that it is set-up so I can't install anything, or make any registry changes, so it is essentially lobotomised. But I can still access Web Outlook and do a few things.

Fortunate Fact No. 2: I actually have a second work laptop which I keep at home; it's my original work laptop, which I had for a few months before inheriting a co-worker's laptop when they upgraded. I am 90% sure that no one at work who cares knows about this second laptop. I keep it at home so I don't have to lug my laptop inbetween work those weeks when I am on call (which is half the time).

Given these two things, I immediately had a plan of action: try and see out the day doing what I could by using the emergency auxiliary PC, then taking the rather drenched laptop home and begin attempting to dry it out, while bringing my other work laptop from home to the office for Friday.

So after fleeing work early yesterday and arriving home I took out the battery, the cdrom drive, retrieved my fan (which has a flat front) and placed it squarely on top of the wet laptop. I left the fan running on high until I crashed for the night, and gave it another short session this morning before I left for the office with the second laptop. And yes, in case you're wondering, I am using the second work laptop to type these words.

I should also mention that I have also managed to do all of this without anyone noticing (besides my good mate who is also a co-worker, who I had to tell immediately). I keep waiting for someone to ask me why my laptop seems to have a different resolution all of a sudden, but it hasn't happened yet.

I'm away for the weekend, arriving back in town on Sunday, when I will apply the fan once more. I figure I will try and see if I can rename the poor laptop "Lazarus" on Monday morning, before I head to work. If it doesn't boot up I get to call it "Poseidon", and come up with a good story to tell my IT people. I'm leaning towards using the "I'm a moron" defence, but we'll see how it goes.

I'm hoping I don't get to strike any other items off The List for a little while at least.

* * * * * * * *

So, poker! You might be wondering if all this Ying in the real world has resulted in some extra Yang in the virtual poker world. No dice, it's been Ying all the way. Bubbling in the WWdN on Tuesday, busting out with two tables to go in The Mookie, and bubbling in two $30+3 SnGs on Stars last night have all contributed to the minor downswing I am experiencing at the moment. I'm not panicking or worrying as of yet, but no one likes being at the wrong end of Lady Variance. We'll see if I can start my rally on Sunday when I return. Just after I continue drying out my laptop.