Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Screw It

I'm in.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Charity and Other Good Works

First things first: new auction items are up for bidding For Peyton. There are some absolute beauties including: a poker table signed by the greats, a Grey Raymer package, a signed Mike Matusow jersery, (and last but not least) a package featuring the Donkey Puncher, Bobby Bracelet, and AlCantHang. The latter is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and as of this moment a complete douchebag is winning. So hop to it, sports fans!

* * * * * * * *

Second things second: it has come to my attention that the month of November is fast approaching. I can usually tell this is occurring by observing some key indicators: a) baseball season has just finished, b) basketball season is about to start, c) Daylight Savings time has just finished, and d) people I know start talking about NaNoWriMo.

I am a two-time National Novel Writing Month winner, 2001-02. For those of you who don't know (both of you), you "win" NaNoWriMo by completing a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. For the history behind it, go to the website and check it out.

I found about NaNoWriMo through my very first Imaginary Internet Friend. Shauny had a gay online diary that I read regularly before gay online diaries had really hit the public consciousness (not to mention before they had become completely gay - at the time they were merely bi-curious). She mentioned to me that she was going to be doing NaNoWriMo, and that I should do it as well.

"NaNoWriMo?" I asked myself, before checking out the website. I was immediately hooked.

I had always enjoyed writing, though I was historically hopeless at doing much with it. I had various short stories in various states of completion strewn about, and every so often I would attempt to flex my writing muscles until I strained something during the third page and stopped doing it for another six months. But this was different. The idea was pitched so perfectly that I couldn't help but be excited. So excited, in fact, that I shelled out a large proportion of my net worth to get my hands on a second-hand IBM Thinkpad laptop that I was sure would help propel me to glory.

The week before November 1st I spent scribbling things down on index cards: sketches of characters, possible locations, potential plot points. I did a lot of this in bars, as it seemed to help - or at least, I liked drinking while doing it. As the kick-off date approached I felt ready to literally explode all over the page (ewwwww!). And at 12:01 am on Thursday the 1st of November, 2001, I did exactly that.

In the first three days of November 2001 I wrote 15,000 words. I was almost euphoric as I let loose a torrent of prose, ignoring my inner editor and just pouring everything out. I wrote during my lunch hour. I wrote after work. I wrote on the weekend. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.

There were various things I found that helped during the month. I found I liked writing in pubs. I would take my laptop and some cds to a bar and find a seat at a table next to an electrical outlet. I would then order a schooner of beer, put a cd on, put my headphones in, and pound away on the keyboard. I discovered it took me about 45 minutes to consume the beer, which is about as long as a cd takes to play. When the cd finished I would shut down the laptop, pack everything away, go to the bathroom, order another beer, take out my laptop again and lather, rinse, repeat.

One thing I noticed was people's reactions to what I was doing. With my headphones on, typing frantically, it was obvious I wasn't compiling a presentation to give to my department on "Best Practices for Onboarding Customers to Existing Products". Every so often someone would come up to me and motion that they wanted to ask me something. After I had taken my headphones off they would inevitably would ask me what I was doing.

"Writing a novel," I would answer cheerfully.

This usually elicited an excited response. Some people would want to know if I was published, etc. It was then that I would explain the whole writing a novel in a month thing. Strangely, this was usually greeted with an even stronger respone; generally people thought it was one of the coolest things they had ever heard of. That's some pretty good validation, right there.

I would also write at home, fuelled by a steady diet of Victoria Bitter and Tooheys New. When I had made the decision to have a tilt at NaNoWriMo I gave myself the tacit allowance to do whatever the hell I wanted to do to get there, up to and including embracing my nascent alcoholism. Most nights I would knock back beer after beer while I listened to the Dandy Warhols and wrote paragraph after paragraph. If I was feeling good about what I had written, and had consumed enough alcohol, sometimes I would then venture out to a pub for some more drinking, but leaving the laptop at home.

That first Friday, November 2nd, was such an evening. By 10pm or so I had consumed a bunch of beer, but my novel was also sitting at 10,000 or so words already. I was feeling extremely good, so I decided to head out to the local backpacker's pub for a pint or three. I kept to myself as I consumed my beers, observing the crowd. The next Tuesday, with close to 20,000 words under my belt, I did it again. The pub was much quieter this time, but at the bar I noticed this cute girl and her friend who I had seen on Friday night. Infused with self-worth and liquid courage I walked up to her and uttered the immortal lines: "Hi! You were here on Friday as well. I've just finished writing a chapter, what's your excuse?" She was Irish, her name was Ann Marie, and we were together for 18 months.

While I wasn't able to keep up my insane starting pace I was still able to keep my momentum. I raced past 50,000 words but kept writing, as my narrative was not yet complete. On November 28th I finally typed "The End". I had written over 74,0000 words in four weeks. And it felt fantastic.

The next year I tried a repeat dose. This time I tried my hand at some Science Fiction, but found it tough going. Maybe it was because I hadn't really thought about it much, or this time I let my internal editor into my head, or maybe it was just something else. Still, I applied myself as best I could, and limped over the 50,000 word line.

In 2003 I was in the middle of changing countries. 2004 and 2005 I can't really recall, though last year I almost made a pact with an old friend of mine to do it, but at the last moment we both gave it away like complete pansies.

And this year? In a completely innocent move, I purchased a MacBook last week. Just after that I began discovering that Imaginary Internet Friends of mine were intending to bust out the NaNoWriMo-icity, and one of them in particular began encouraging me to dive into it once more. Initially I was reluctant; after all, an old friend of mine is showing up this week and staying with me for a few days, plus I'll be out of town most weekends this month. And, you know, I fear committment.

But now, you see, I've started thinking about it. Formulating possibilities. I think I have a main character. I may not have a narrative arc, or really any semblance of a narrative at all, but as they say in NaNoWriMoLand: "No plot, no problem!".

If I do decide to take the plunge, I will let you know. The extra guilt and pressure can only help me across the finish line.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Costanza Weekend

Yes, my friends, it is a sad Monday morning indeed. As has been noted elsewhere my football tipping and hypothetical wagering has taken a sad turn for the worse since I have re-entered the country.

Why would this happen? There are four schools of thought:

1) I was lucky earlier
2) I have been unlucky as of late
3) Since I have re-entered the country I have suffered a bad case of paralysis by analysis
4) I suck

This weekend was the culmination of my bad run. No matter the result of tonight's game, I would have done better with my picks if I just had done a Costanza (immortalised in this episode), and instead of going with my original picks just reversed them. Going sub-.500 when you are merely picking the outright winners (rather than against the spread) is truly a shot to the tipster's ego.

I sure hope the Giants win tonight...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Meet the Mets

I have always had a soft spot for the Mets, despite the fact this may clash a little with my Red Sox Nation membership (yes, I am a Red Sox fan, commence abuse now). The reasons for enjoying the Mets are clouded in mystery, though one driver might be my hatred of the Yankees (itself a primary cause of my allegiance to Boston). This year I had the pleasure of having both Carlos Beltran and David Wright on my inaugural fantasy baseball team, and they did me proud all season.

Last Sunday night I dragged my hungover carcass to my favourite bar in DC for a couple of drinks with my mate All-Star, se we could catch the late football games. As is my wont when I am under the weather I got myself warmed up with a few Bloody Marys. All-Star bailed before the end of the games,but I stuck it out, smoothly changing up to Yuengling and enjoying the finishes to the 4 o'clock games.

As the fourth quarters were coming to a close I realised there was an extremely high chance that I would be sticking around to catch at least the start of game 4 of the NLCS. The bar which I frequent is nominally a New Yorker bar (and no, I don't make any secret of my Red Soxness), so I figured at least a few Mets fans would show up to keep me company.

As game time rolled-around, so did a few law student Mets Fans, and together we cheered on the mediocre Oliver Perez as he managed to take the win despite being hit for 5 earned runs off his 5 2/3 innings. I rolled out of the bar well after midnight having had a great time, though I was not looking forward to the next day at work. I watched the next two games of the series at home, but when game 7 rolled around, and Ollie Perez was taking the mound again, my course was clear. To the bar!

I made sure I got there a little early, as the place would no doubt be packed cheek-to-jowl and I wanted a seat at the bar. I managed to snaffle a good position, though I had to wait out the highly annoying (and loud) IT nerds braying on my left. As game time fast approached people started streaming in, Mets fans predominating.

The game itself was extremely intense. At regular intervals people started slow-clapping or leading "Let's Go Mets" chants. Perez pitched much better than any Mets fan would have dared to hope, though Suppan started to knuckle down from the third inning on.

Endy Chavez's insane catch in the 6th inning is one of the reasons that I love to watch big games in bars. At the crack of the bat we all collectively groaned, as the ball looked for all the world like it was going to safely clear the wall. But Endy Chavez would not be denied, and as he went up the wall you could hear a pin drop... until he came down with the ball. The place almost literally exploded, high fives exchanged, man hugs abounding. Those moments just aren't the same when you're watching at home.

But unfortunately for the Mets they couldn't take it home. Yadier Molina, of all people, doing the damage against Heilman, despite the fact that the collective opinion was that Heilman should have stayed in (no one wanted to see Billy Wagner at that point). It was a sad ending to a great night's baseball.

And now? I guess I'll be pulling for Detroit. I have a few friends there (my old company used to be headquarterd there, which means I went to the Motor City a little too often for my liking). And I just really dislike the Cardinals.

But to all you Mets fans out there (Alan included), take heart. The moment that forever crystallized my love of the Red Sox was when Aaron fucking Boone smashed a home run off Wakefield over the left field fence in the 2003 ALCS... and you might remember what happened the next year.

There is always hope.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Oh, do NOT do this to me (and us)...

So, I just saw this, courtesy of Mean Gene. Looks like there is a possibility I will be going for Workaround #2 sooner than expected.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Things seem to be a little out of whack for me, poker-wise. Let's go over the facts:

  • I spent the end of August and most of September offline (though winning in live play)
  • Upon my return some retarded legislation was passed
  • I cashed out most of my moola from poker sites and then FirePay
  • Created a new Neteller account and began the process of validating bank accounts etc.
  • I still have to reload meaningful amounts of cash on various sites
This means that I haven't been playing a normal, well, "routine" (for want of a better word) of online poker for almost two months. And I feel all over the place.

My first poker tournament in a month was a WWdN a few weeks back, where upon I achieved the much coveted status of Gigli. Last night I played my third (I think) WWdN since returning...and hey, I'm Gigli again. On the first hand.

No, no pushing KK into AA or anything - just folded to me in the SB, I have AKo, the baseball is on and I think "I'll raise, and if I get pushback, I'll go all-in". I get pushback, go all-in, and my opponent calls and watches her JJ turn into quads.

So I shrug my shoulders, say "well, I knew that could happen", and sit back and watch baseball, right?

Wrong. Instead I seeth for a while and bash my head against the keyboard a few times. Instead of sitting back and watching the baseball I decide that I need to work some things out, and jump into a 180 on Stars.

I don't make the first break.

So then I jump onto UB with the remnants of what I had there, and play A-5 Triple Draw (which I dislike) while short-stacked for the limit I was playing. Somehow I don't bust (a key play: calling someone's bet on the end with trash, but it turned out he was bluffing with worse trash then I had), and manage to turn my $9.90 into $40.

What am I trying to say? Hell if I know. Once I have everything validated and loaded on the various sites I can play the games I want to play, I am hoping I'll settle down a bit. But I'm kinda thinking I need to sit down and decide what I am doing again.

Of course I seem to remember saying this before.

* * * * * * * *

I'm also in the middle of trying to sort out my Visa status. Work is preparted to sponsor me with a Green card, but it probably means signing up for the long haul at my current job, plus I could just go to the Aussies-only E3 Visa, or I could just stick with the H1B I have, but my Visa sticker is about to run out in my passport which means I can't leave and re-enter the country without getting a new one overseas (probably back in Australia)...

I really need to sort that one out as well.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Someone Else Has All The Mobney

I was looking on Ultimate Bet tonight, and noticed two people were playing 300/600 Triple Draw. I opened the table, and saw something I found highly amusing:


No, he didn't reload.

Man, Triple Draw is awesome even when you're not playing.

* * * * * * * *

Tonight I also created myself a Neteller account, instead of cleaning my apartment. Even better, I was able to validate it, despite my fears of rejection.

First step: validate my checking account.
Second step: deposit onto Full Tilt before October 20th to cash in on the current reload bonus.
Third step: profit!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Neteller Question...

As my current Internet Wallet, Firepay, has not only registered it's desire to dump US residents but figures it can also extra money out of them as they flee, I am looking to find another provider. The clear choice seems to be Neteller.

"But Garthmeister J.," I hear you ask, "why weren't you with Neteller in the first place?"

Good question. I actually tried to use them when I first wanted to test the online waters, but I was rejected. Why? Because the phone number I had given (with a Virginian area code) did not match the address I had given (which had a DC zip code). Firepay had no such restriction.

Does anyone know if this pre-requisite is still required for Neteller? If push comes to shove I can always get myself a pre-paid phone to solve this dilemma, but if I don't require it I'll just sign up with the phone I have. Any help/advice/abuse would be most welcome.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Just Call Me Vargo

(WARNING: long post ahead, which may contain Aussie Rules footy jargon)

It was a strange sensation flying into Las Vegas for a non-gambling visit. The Official Airline of the Tao of Poker did not disappoint, Jet Blue allowing me to knock back a couple of beers and watch the Detroit Tigers dispatch the Yankees before we taxied to the LAS terminal. Nonetheless, it was strange. Instead of counting down the minutes until I could be sitting at a table stacking chips I was mentally going through a checklist and digging out my contact list to start trying to locate team-mates.

I managed to get to the hotel without too much trouble, locating my team-mates, luggage and a rental car in quick order. The New Frontier hotel lived up to my (low) expectations, but I was able to order some late night pasta from a flyer shoved under my door, which was more than I had hoped for. I hit the hay at 1:30am, the alarm set for 6:15am so I could make the team meeting before we headed out to the tournament grounds.

US Footy holds a national tournament every year, open to all the Australian Rules Football teams in North America. The field is assigned to three divisions of 8 teams (usually), to allow teams of relative strength fight it out for supremacy. Each division is split into two pools of 4 teams apiece, which play a round robin to determine the pool representative to play in the Division National Championship. Each tournament game is played in twenty minute halves (a normal game has twenty minute quarters), as it's hard enough to play(let alone schedule) three games per team plus a divisional final in a single weekend. Each team plays two games on Saturday (one morning, one afternoon), one game on Sunday morning, and then the final is played Sunday afternoon.

Sunday night? Oh, well that's to get highly intoxicated.

My team, the Baltimore Washington Eagles, had been assigned to Division 2, something which had been up in the air all season. Despite having high aspirations we only logged our first win 6 weeks before the tournament. We had kicked off the year by getting crushed (unexpectedly) by North Carolina, and despite putting up valiant efforts against the strong New York and Boston teams we only had a late home win over Philadelphia in the win column. Nonetheless senior members of the team, including myself, felt good about our chances. A catch-cry of the club for as long as I have been part of the club has been: "If we could only field our best team." The Eagles have players from Northern Virginia, Washington DC and Baltimore, and being able to get everyone to be at a game is difficult, but for this year's tournament we had managed to do exactly that.

Standing between us and a potential finals berth were Calgary, Seattle, and Dallas. I didn't know too much about the other teams, and what I did know was worrying. Calgary, our first opponent, had steamrolled every team they had faced (which included Seattle), apparently had a couple of players who had played reserve grade for the Australian pro-leagues, and to top it off had a player (Tim Brasher) who used to represent Australia in Rugby League. Yes, that's right, my team was meant to play someone who had their own Wikipedia page.

Unsurprisingly we circled the first match as being all-important. A loss to Calgary meant an effective end to our Nationals campaign, while a victory boded well for our chances to take down the whole show.

I felt good prior to the match. I normally don't get worked up about too much, and this was no exception. Having said that, I did feel some pressure. Being Captain I take a lot of responsibility on game day, leading warm ups and trying to say the right things to get everyone going, and ultimately it is my job to lead the players on the field. Last year I felt that the team, and myself, had fallen short of the mark. Now was time to atone for the sins of the past.

At the Nationals we either play 16 or 18 players a side (yes, an Aussie Rules ground is huge). We had spoken to the umpires beforehand and ascertained we were playing 16. As we took our positions for the first bouncedown I looked down the ground... and there seemed way too many Calgary players on the field. As play commenced, I began screaming at our coach (who also plays) that I thought they had 18. As the chaos swirled around us he yelled back to make sure and if so to ask the umpires for a count (as Captain I am the only player on my team allowed to actually have a formal dialogue with the umpires).

What to do? Well, I guess I may as well ask the guy who was defending me.

"Are you guys playing 16 or 18," I asked my opponent conversationally, hoping he hadn't noticed my screaming two seconds earlier.

"18," my opponent replied. Bingo.

I raced up to the nearest umpire, bellowing for a player count, and was told to wait for the next play stoppage. As it turned out, the next play stoppage was a goal for us. That's right, we had just scored within two minutes of play starting against a highly touted team who looked like they were fielding two extra players.

The umpires lined up the two teams, and Calgary was indeed playing two extra players (accidentally - they weren't looking for an unfair advantage). The extra players were sent off, and we were awarded a free kick for goal. Though we missed the shot we were able to score a goal shortly afterwards. We were up two goals early, and now we were playing 16 on 16. Things were looking good.

At half-time we were up by three goals, and the half-time huddle was fiery. We had these guys by the throat, and we knew it.

Calgary came out hard in the second half, and things became heated. One of our star players was reported for striking one of the Calgary players, and one of the Calgary players was also sent off. Ignoring the disruption we were able to hold our equilibrium and finished up winning by just over 4 goals.

After the game we were all ecstatic. Such a strong result to begin with boded well for the rest of the weekend. We tried to rest in the 4 hour break inbetween games, chugging water to try and stay rehydrated and eating bananas and the like. Most of us sought shade to avoid the Las Vegas sun.

I hadn't been happy with my own game, however. I was playing out of my normal position (the half forward flank, instead of centre half forward as normal, for those who know what I'm talking about, which is probably no-one), and wasn't able to find my flow. But we had still won, and I had two more games to get into it.

Warming up for a second game on the same day is never fun. Muscles are a little stiff, bodies are a little bruised. More than that, I was keenly aware that we needed to avoid becoming over-confident. I knew that not only was Seattle a good team, but they had also brought about 30 guys, meaning that they could keep themselves fresh. That could take its toll as the game wore on. Even worse our player who had been reported for striking had been suspended for the next two games, which meant that we would be missing one of our best. The good news for me was the coach had decided to move me back to my normal position on the field.

As the game started it was immediately obvious that we were not paying as close attention to our opponents as we should, ignoring some of our defensive responsibilities. We managed to take control of the game late in the first half, going out to a two goal lead, but it was still worrying. In the huddle at half-time the coach chastised us for our attitude, demanding that we respect Seattle or face losing and scuttling our tournament hopes.

That seemed to do the trick, as we took over the game in the second half, kicking clear by three goals. I was personally very happy, as I had been able to get a lot of the football and done damage with it, despite having two opponents taking turns coming off the bench to play on me. My only concern was a problem that had emerged as the season had gone on: kicking for goal. A similar thing had happened last year; as the season went on my kicking for goal became more and more erratic, and no shot for goal became a certainty. I did not want this to happen at the Nationals. In the second half of the Seattle game I had a shot for goal that I should be able to kick most of the time, but hadn't even been able to register a score. The good news is that I still had time to get over it.

After the game we all got changed and returned to the hotel. Saturday night had a casual function scheduled for all the teams, with a couple of special guests speaking at an outside function featuring Coopers beer (an Australian beer that Australians actually drink, unlike Fosters) and meat pies. Our team had decided to do something a little bit different for the function, deciding that we would all dress up like Steve Irwin. In tribute, of course. Amy, the wife of the coach, had organised iron-on transfers for our outfits, just to top it all off. We created a bit of a stir upon entry, strangely enough, though everyone seemed to enjoy the costumes.

"Have you seen a stingray around here?"

The speakers at the function were two champion Hawthorn players from the 80's, Peter Schwab (who also coached Hawthorn) and Robert DiPierdomenico. DiPierdomenico (known as "Dipper") is famous for continuing to play in a grand final after sustaining broken ribs and a punctured lung. That, my friends, is hardcore.

For most teams the end of the first day meant the end of their Nationals hopes, as they were effectively eliminated from contention as a result of their first two games. This meant that most teams, despite having to play a game the next morning, were in the business of getting drunk. I have been in that position the previous two national tournaments I had attended, but this time we were well in contention.

No one on my team was getting drunk.

Have I mentioned we were in Las Vegas?!

The Baltimore Washington "Steve Irwins", featuring Dipper and Schwabby. Also shown: crocodile. Not shown: stingray.

After the short speeches we all headed off to the surprisingly good value Mexican restaurant in the casino. I managed to eat perhaps a third of my serving of chicken fajitas before crying "Uncle!" and crawling off to bed. Tomorrow was a big day.

Our 10am Sunday morning opponents, Dallas, had gone 0-2 the previous day by losing to both Seattle and Calgary. Despite these results they were definitely no easy-beats, almost coming back to beat Calgary late in that match-up (they were actually ahead with about a minute remaining). I was aware that only a minor miracle would prevent us from making the divisional final, no matter what the result of our game (which was confirmed after Calgary beat Seattle narrowly in the game before us), but the aim was to win out to ensure our spot in the final and go in on the right note.

We started the first half with the aid of a breeze, and we were determined to stamp our authority on the game early. I personally was determined to play good footy and try and sort out my kicking for goal problems. The first aim appeared to be realised as after an early arm-wrestle we kicked a couple of goals. The second aim appeared to be in trouble as I once again missed a goal I should have kicked. Undeterred I reaped the dividends of lax marking by my opponent and the hard work of Josh, one of my team-mates up forward. Josh and I like to style ourselves as the Old Firm, two of the senior members of the team who enjoy playing next to each other up forward. After hard work to get the footy he found me right in front of goal, and I made no mistake. A few minutes later I got free again about 45 metres from goal, and accepted a pass to kick another goal on the run.

We continued our dominance in the second half despite playing against the breeze. The Old Firm was again in action as Josh found me close to goa once more, and I chalked up another score. Five minutes later I grabbed a loose ball in traffic and kicked a checkside goal. We romped home for an emphatic victory, and all of a sudden I was feeling good about my kicking.

The divisional final was to be played on the Main Field (where all the Division 1 games had been played, complete with commentators on the PA) at 2pm. The good news for us was that our potential opponents for the final were playing at 12pm for the right to play us, so hopefully they would beat each other up. The better news was that one of teams was Philadelphia, who as mentioned earlier we had beaten earlier in the year, and we had a better side while they were unchanged. As it turned out Philadelphia didn't make it and our opponent in the final was going to be Minnesota. Whom I knew nothing about.

We warmed up for the game listening to the sounds of the Division 3 final being played. As game time approached I found myself getting a little nervous, but I was able to concentrate on getting everyone ready for the game. We ran out onto the field for some final shots for goal as the Division 3 winners, Las Vegas, celebrated on the field. I took a few more kicks, and continued with my good form.

Before too long we were called over by the umpires, and we lined up as the national anthems of the US and Australia were played. There was a reasonable crowd on the sidelines, and we had quite a lot of support. We had our own people, plus the teams of Philadelphia and New York, cheering for us loudly. Both teams were out of the tournament and hoping that we would represent the Eastern AFL proudly.

All tournament I had won every coin toss before the game to choose the end to start from, but I finally lost one. I hoped it wasn't a bad omen, and I felt better when the Minnesota Captain chose to kick to the end they would have even if I had won the toss. And don't you try and tell me that being superstitious is bad luck.

I gathered the boys for one last rev up before we ran out to take our positions. We were all extremely pumped up and ready.

To a noisy crowd the first bounce was made... and one of our top players (an American only playing in his first season!) raced through from the backline and after a few passes took the ball and kicked a goal in the first thirty seconds.

Nice start.

At the subsequent restart our player who had been suspended for the previous two games gave away a free kick and 50 metre penalty to allow Minnesota to kick the next goal, which was exactly what we did not need. But true to form we shook that off and completely dominated the first half. It was not even close. At the end of twenty minutes we were 5 goals ahead, and looking good. I had been involved but hadn't had, or needed to have, a shot at goal.

At half-time I exhorted our players to keep up the awesome effort and put the game away. Our coach was extremely happy with the effort, but demanded we continue on and finish it off. Everyone remained psyched up for the final sprint.

We kicked a couple of early goals in the second half before I got onto the end of a kick, right on the left boundary about 35 metres from goal. I am left-footed, which made it a difficult proposition, but I decided that I would give it a go anyway, and settled down to have a shot at goal. As I was lining up I could hear the commentators over the PA talking about it. As I was right on the boundary I had people right next to me... who of course were all offering advice.

"Have a goal son!" encouraged one.

"Just kick through the ball, mate!" exhorted another.

"Can I just freaking kick the ball?" thought I.

I settled down, trotted forward... and kicked the fucking thing. I jumped higher than I had all weekend, and celebrated with my team mates who all came running in. It felt like we were home.

Ten minutes later it was over. Anti-climactically I totally missed the siren, and only realised it was over when I saw the umpire giving the signal.

We were Division 2 National champions. God it felt good. Funnily enough, through all the bumps and tackles I had sustained during the weekend the only bad bruise I sustained came from the post match pile-on. In the huddle a couple of long time players spoke about how special the win was, which was pretty touching. We jogged over to the sideline and thanked our supporters. And then set about the task of getting trashed.

The official presentations occurred after the end of the Division 1 final, which (strangely enough) we weren't really paying attention to. The presentations started with the women's runner-ups and champions, and I realised that the Captains were being asked to come up, accept trophies and medallions, and say a few words. I had better get my shit together.

US Footy had put out a program for the tournament that contained information about the teams, a list of their players, and some information regarding the club. It was also small collection of typographical errors. On the cover it was noted that this was the "2007 Nationals", despite it still being 2006. Minnesota was spelled "Minesotta". San Diego had a player listed as being named "934264.14352", so it was not surprising that they won Division 1 as they clearly had a robot on their team. Our side was not unscathed, as the listed President, Coach and Captain had been accidentally copied from Vancouver. This meant that I was referred to as "Doug Vargo".

Forewarnedis fore-armed, so I was ready to be called up to accept our trophy and medallions as someone else. Sure enough "the Captain of the Baltimore Washington Eagles, Doug Vargo!" got me out of the audience.

"Say a few words, Doug," encouraged the MC. Nice one.

But hell, I didn't care, and didn't really mind what I said as all the other Eagles emergerd from the crowd to accept the trophy as one. It felt good.

This man looks entirely too satisfied with himself. Douchebag.

We headed back to the hotel, and some of us hit the pool before meeting up in a suite to continue getting our drink on. After some more celebrating we headed to down the strip for some quick food and more alcohol. For some reason we ended up in some bar called "Kahunaville" at Treasure Island, where a lot of drinking and bad dancing was done, before we headed back to the New Frontier. We closed up the "club" they had there , before heading back to the bar on the main casino floor.

By this time it was was pushing 2am and a hard weekend's football combined with a bunch of alcohol was taking its toll on my team-mates. People were floating away to pass out, but I was determined to punch on. I found one of team-mates sitting at a 3 card poker table with some civilians. I received a two second primer on the rules and plonked a Benjamin down. I quickly determined that this was a poor man's Pai Gow, and proceeded to scream "Pai Gow!" every time the dealer made a hand that didn't qualify (i.e. had a hand that was less than Q high).

I was busy explaining to the table at large that much like Pai Gow this was a drinking game; that is, the object of the game was to try and break even while consuming as much alcohol for free as possible. And who knows, you might get lucky. Which I did within the first hour, hitting a straight flush which paid out 40 to 1 on my $5 "pair or better" bonus bet. Awwwwwwwwww yeah.

Now and then a drunken team-mate lurched by to see how were doing, usually signalling that they were about to crash, though one did leave straight to go to the airport... which was a signal that it was getting late.

By 6am I was beginning to flag, and waved to my team mate that it was time for sustenance and bed. A quick run to a nearby Denny's followed by hitting my bed extremely hard rounded off a highly enjoyable evening.

Not so enjoyable? Getting called by a team-mate at 8:45am to see if I needed a lift to the airport. No thanks, especially since my flight didn't leave until 1pm. Checking out of the hotel and getting to the airport was essentially uneventful, and I arrived back at my DC apartment at 11pm. After a long, hot shower I crawled into my bed and sank into a blissful sleep. What a weekend.

Go Eagles!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Vegas Bound

I'm off to Sin City in a scant few hours, courtesy of the Official Airline of the Tao of Poker, JetBlue. It is extremely weird heading to Vegas without gambling being the primary goal, let alone going for the United States Australian Rules Football national tournament. It is actually possible that I may not make a single wager the whole time I am there, though the smart money says that there will be some money thrown about on Sunday... not to mention a lot of alcohol consumed, especially if we manage to win Division 2. The possibility for going without sleep is high.

If you are interested, the up-to-date scores are allegedly going to be posted here. My team is the Baltimore Washington Eagles.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Yes, my little shrimp cocktails, it is finally time for the unveilling of the performance art piece of our time... the Earth Sandwich! As you may have read on Gracie's blog, due to my inability to attend the Bash (by virtue of being in the incorrect hemisphere) we decided that is was only appropriate that we attempt an Earth Sandwich to coincide with the event. And what is an Earth Sandwich, you might ask? Go now to ZeFrank's site and be educated in the mysteries! (And while you are at it, you should probably check out his show, as it is 9 kinds of Awesome).

Due to technical difficulties (also known as Garth managing to transpose two of the digits in Gracie's phone number) I was unable to go ahead at the scheduled time. This was unfortunate, as I had decided to perform the Earth Sandwich on Australia's most famous beach, Bondi. I decided to take a picture anyway.

(If you squint really closely at the above picture, you can see boobies!)

Despite this setback I was determined that the Earth Sandwich would be performed, though I only had one last shot - doing the deed before I flew out of Sydney the next morning. Getting up way-too-early I had a shot at calling Gracie, but though I reached her phone I only got her voicemail. I was worried, as if I didn't get her on the phone the next time I tried, there could be trouble.

Keeping the voices at bay, I set about finishing my packing before attempting one last phone call... SUCCESS! I had managed to caught the bunch of degenerates eating, which made it easy for Gracie to find a piece of bread for the task at hand.

Giddy with the knowledge that our goal was oh so close I headed out onto the street to find some bare ground. My hotel was right on the edge of Hyde Park, a gorgeous area right in the middle of Sydney. Laying the bread on the ground, I was able to record the Australian side of the Earth Sandwich for posterity.

It took me 5 or 6 attempts to get the right facial expression.

As I was finishing up, I noticed that there was something else in the vicinity of the Earth Sandwich. Sydney, at an early hour on a Sunday morning, can be an "interesting" place. I took another couple of photos to record the moment.

In the foreground, the Australian side of the Earth Sandwich. But what is that in the background?

I decided to get closer, and see what that unidentified object was. Upon further inspection, and after consultation with my contacts at the Bash, it may have been a long lost relative of TripJax or F-Train.

This guy looks like TripJax sounded when I talked to him later.

Who says Sydney isn't a glamorous place?

Content that the Earth Sandwich mission was over, I caught a cab and headed to the airport. After checking in, I managed to finagle a Victoria Bitter for breakfast, and spent some time doing International Dial-a-shots until I had to scurry to my plane. Now that's the way to prepare for international travel.

In case you were wondering, there were no Russian Close-Sitters on the flight back. As far as you know.

* * * * * * * *

With the "Last Days of Disco" feeling in the air (and as I am going to be unable to play poker online from Friday until Tuesday at least - I might be able to squeeze some in tonight), I threw caution to the wind and played a few tournaments last night, including a $150+12 on Stars. Unfortunately I didn't manage to do any serious damage, finally bowing out in 167th of 580 or so when I had to make some moves. I still have a little bit of cash to throw around a few sites, so no fear, I will still be around.

But where the hell is the money I cashed out of Ultimate Bet?!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pokus Interruptus

I decided to do a little pruning of my resources, withdrawing (or attempting to withdraw, in the case of UB) most of my bankroll back onto Firepay. I had an Interpoker account to store my winnings from the WPBT tournament in July, and I also won some money in a free-roll for the rake mob I am with - no sooner had I grabbed that cash then they emailed me to tell me I could no longer access my account, and that they would be sending me my balance in a check. Just beat them to it.

I still have some cash on UB (for Triple Draw), Stars (for tournaments and general donkification) and the teensy bit I still had lying around on FT, which I will probably blow on NLHE tournaments and/or HORSE tournaments. The UB and Stars amounts should keep me happy before they decide to shutter the doors and/or I suss out independent and safe routes back onto the tables.

I did cash out the majority of my FPPs on the site that I had anything meaningful on. I grabbed Ray Zee's High-Low Split Poker (Felicia might even be proud of me!), a coffee mug, and a poker chip set from FT.

But fear not! I still intend to hit the tables as often as I can until that time. Though I would be happier if UB released it's hold on my funds...

Monday, October 02, 2006


Like a lot of you I am still trying to come to grips with the anti-online-gambling laws being shoved down our throats. With Stars and Party indicating they are going to cut off US residents, I have a number of questions, questions that a lot of you are probably having. I am waiting to read an analysis from those who know more than I do before I take any action.

1. Do I just pull off all (or at least the vast majority) now?
2. Should I try and use my FFPs (or whatever) on anything I can immediately?
3. If I have a lot of tournament dollars, should I just try and spend them as soon as I can, damn the consequences?

1. Is it going to be possible to play online poker from the US at all?
2. If I (hypothetically) know this guy who has an Australian bank account, is that going to help?
3. Given what this is going to do to the online poker population, if I am able to play, do I want to play?