Thursday, March 29, 2007

Slate on Cricket

In case you wanted a primer on how the hell a cricket coach could get murdered, here's a little article from Slate that you might find interesting. Crazy stuff.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Random Musings for a Monday Evening

I finally got to see some cricket, watching Australia beat South Africa in the biggest match of the tournament so far. Extremely enjoyable, as was the Harp accompaniment.

There is a car parked outside my apartment that has the numberplate AA 5523. Every time I look at it I think: "looks like they have a good shot at the low, but the high is going to be dicey".

I just cracked open "Last Exit to Brooklyn" by Hubert Selby, which I picked up last time I was in New York. I got it from a bookstore near NYU, in the "Drinking, Screwing, Smoking" section (really). I've really been enjoying it thus far, and wonder what has taken me so long to get to it.

I still expect to be an emotional wreck by the end of it.

No man is an island, but I like to think of myself as a highly defended fortification. That has a moat. And the moat has alligators.

A friend (acquaintance?) of mine gave me a great hook: it's a good rule of thumb not to take your girlfriend to see a band tha has a lead singer who you think might have designs on your girl.

I probably should do something with that.

I'm glad to see Spring is here. I really enjoy sitting out on the stoop, beer in hand and iPod engaged, watching the street wander by from within my cocoon.

No need to worry, just the normal injections of weirdness into my life. Which makes sense, weird is practically my middle name.

The Band fucking rocks.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Plot Thickens

Do you happen to remember how I mentioned that Ireland beat Pakistan in cricket? And how their coach happened to have died of allegedly natural causes the next day? I have an update.

Natural causes? Not so much. (Hat tip to Michael). So here's my question: if coaching Pakistan can get you killed, exactly who do they expect to take the job next?! The only way I'd take that job is at gunpoint. I mean, there's a better chance of me agreeing to play defense for the Colombian soccer team than doing that.

The $64,000 question is who was the person who did the deed. It seems clear that is was either someone connected to the Pakistani team, or a rabid fan... and if it is someone connected to the Pakistani team, all hell could break loose. For those people who considered the loss to Ireland to be the low point in Pakistan cricket history, it appears they were wrong. The aftermath of the loss so far is the low point, and it might just be getting worse.

Of course this might be the reason that Tubby Smith decided to bail for Minnesota. (And how do we feel about that, Drizz?) Not that I can put fans of Pakistan cricket and disciples of Adolph Rupp in the same category, but even so.

Mind you, if the cost of being coach of Kentucky was running the risk of being strangled by Ashley Judd... well, I'll take my chances.

* * * * * * * *
If you were wondering how my Magic Bracket was faring... well it is now Magically Busted. Screw you Memphis, screw you Texas A&M, and screw you Kansas. OK, I had Kansas going the whole way, but screw the Jayhawks anyway. Right now I'm behind the local Georgetown Hoyas - so hopefully that isn't the Kiss of Death.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Basketball and Cricket...

Today is the day when March Madness pools around the country begin getting sorted out. The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games sort out the contenders from the pretenders, weeding out which brackets are truly Magical and which are merely Mirages.

Some of you may have read Bill Simmons' article from yesterday, where he revealed that Billy Packer has been inflicted upon us "for every Final Four game and every NCAA championship game since 1975 " - I mean, that's before I was born! Why CBS? Why?! WHY?!?!? And even worse, we don't even get to see all the Sweet Sixteen games by themselves... because they overlap! Such things make me weep.

Other things that make me weep? Hangovers. I have been suffering through a nasty one this morning, as the Indomitable Donkeypuncher was in my neck of the woods, which meant drinks, drinks, drinks, and more drinks. At one point we had a spirited argument about the merits of the NBA vs College Ball, with DP taking the NBA's side while I defended College Ball.

As we had consumed many beers by this stage in addition to a bottle of wine I can assure you that the argument was filled with well-constructed argument and supplemented by wit. Essentially I argued in favour of Emotion, while DP argued in favour of Skill. He also pointed me to a little article about the matter, which is worth a perusal if you have thoughts on the matter.

He's still wrong, though.

While we're on the topic about sports and emotion and articles, here's one about the craziness happening in the Caribbean at the cricket World Cup. A little primer on the insanity that can occur in the sport that you probably don't understand, Bikini Cricket or not. One of our own managed to attend a couple of games, so run, don't walk, to Irish Jim's blog. He has posted a couple of articles about his thoughts about watching a couple of matches, including the Ireland/Pakistan stoush.

So, in closing: Go Texas A&M!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If An Infinite Number of Monkeys...

No cricket or basketball musing today (I guess I could chat about the NIT or the Women's NCAA tournament... but why?!), and I don't have a lot to say about poker on this fine Wednesday.

I am considering constructing an effigy of AQ however - I hate hate hate that hand, and seem to be in the middle of a streak where I can't win with it unless I am seriously behind (I managed to beat out KK the other night when I flopped and turned Queens), and I just can't seem to beat it when someone else has it. Freaking Kournikova.

Anyhoo, last night some people on the girlie chat reminded me of the QDB (via Waffles). Someone posted a gem that I just had to reproduce below.

_kr4m3r: so many fucking criminals, its bullshit
foniks`: heh, if we sent all the criminals to some empty continent and just left them there to die
foniks`: and showed up like 50yrs later like, "sup?"
foniks`: whatd u think they'd say?
FoSZoR[bg]: something along the lines of, "G`Day mate"

Remember everyone... when I'm around watch your wallets and your watches!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

India, Pakistan, Ireland, Bangladesh... and Bikinis?!

I have to admit that I have been overlooking the early rounds of the World Cup (particularly when Australia has not been involved), but there have been some events that bear examining. The cricket World Cup basically involves three tiers of teams: the first tier is composed of the top Test playing nations - countries that have been playing top competitive cricket for decades or longer (examples: Australia, England, India, Pakistan, West Indies, South Africa); the second tier is composed of countries that have only recently begun to play Test matches (Bangladesh, Kenya); and the third tier is made up of the real minnows (Bermuda, the Netherlands etc.).

One of the inhabitants of the "Third Tier" is Ireland. Known more for their hurling, Gaelic football and rugby, you wouldn't expect much from them other than to turn up, get beaten soundly, and then to go out and get really drunk. As luck would have it, they actually had a game on St. Patrick's Day against one of the "First Tier" teams, Pakistan. But here's the thing. The Irish totally won. To put this in perspective, this is like a Div II College basketball team beating, say, Kentucky.

I do have to say that if you asked me which "First Tier" team I could see booting a game to Ireland, Pakistan would be my choice - they are a mercurial side, capable not only of beating any team by any margin... but also of losing to (almost) anyone. And you might have to remove the "(almost)". The loss to Ireland may be the lowest point in Pakistan cricket history. And you can bet Irish Jim is loving it!

On a sad note it seems that Pakistan's coach, Bob Woolmer, passed away the next day, apparently of natural causes. He was 58.

On the very same day India, another "First Tier" team, played Bangladesh, an inhabitant of the "Second Tier". In this game India followed their neighbours, also going down to the scrappy underdogs. Craziness.

And just in case you thought there was nothing else going on, England's star play Andrew Flintoff was dropped and stripped of his vice-captaincy after he had "toppled into the water after a late-night drinking session at the Rumours Nightclub near England's team hotel in St Lucia". If you ask me, what's the point of playing cricket in the Caribbean if you can't go a little crazy?

Just in case all this cricket stuff is going over your head, here's a good introduction to the game from my homeland, which was thoughtfully sent to me by the Good Doctor. I'm sure you will enjoy it.

The direct link is here if you can't see it in your RSS reader.

This game is going to catch on like wildfire.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Well, That Escalated Quickly...

Sunday mornings after a big Saturday night are never fun. Mornings after St. Patrick's day can be ugly. And when St. Patrick's Day is a Saturday? Urgh. The only advantage to my adventures on Saturday was that I passed out at about 1am or so. This meant that when I rolled over at 10am Sunday morning, throat sore from screaming "BAM!" at every big 3 point basket, I was pleasantly surprised at the time, while being reaosnably rested.

Being conscious at a decent hour allowed me to safely enter one of my favourite tournaments, the 11:30am Stars Million qualifier. I jumped into that, and was halfway through navigating the field when the first game of the day, Tennessee/Virginia, kicked off. I still held hopes that my Magic Bracket (aka The Artist Formerly Known as the Perfect Bracket) would recover from the two game slide it had taken late on Saturday. With Tennessee down by 10 with 4:30 left in the first half, I thought it was over. But Bruce Pearl's men would not be denied, despite their penchant for the following play: dribble into a triple-team, leave your feet, and then attempt a bad pass.

As previously mentioned, my "WTF?!" pick for the Elite Eight was Winthrop - which meant their stoush with Oregon could make or break my bracket, especially given that a majority of people who had Oregon making this game would have them progressing to the Sixteen. I had been worried about this matchup ever since it seemed it would come to fruition, but when Winthrop skipped out to a six point lead I dared to dream.

Looking back, my mistake was probably going to the store at that point. I had decided that I was going to play the Stars Million, and thus needed supplies. Though I had indeed managed sleep the night before, I was still far from firing on all cylinders.

I can only imagine what the girl at the counter thought as she rang up the following items for me:
  • 4 bottles of Vitamin Water (large, "Revive" flavour)
  • 3 cans of Red Bull (large)
  • 1 pint of frozen yogurt (Vanilla and Raspberry swirl)
  • 12 pack of beer (Yuengling)
I think the only way that shopping list could have been improved is if I added a pack of cigarettes.

Once I got home I noted that Oregon had taken the upper hand, and as I watched in consternation the game slipped further and further away. I tried to put it out of my mind as I chugged a Red Bull, sipped on my Revive, and opened my first beer of the day.

Besides cracking Aces early with K2s, I didn't have a lot happening in the Stars Million. This was only the second time I had played it (the other being last week), and once again I noticed that it was extremely tight early. I tried to loosen up a little (hence the K2s), and managed to pick up some chips - right until I had a tricky hand just before the break which resulted in a return to my starting stack.

I continued my card-dead ways in the second hour, and then just before the next break I ran into trouble in back-to-back hands. In the first I misplayed AKo against a big stack, and in the very next hand I pushed over the top of the same big stack pre-flop with my stellar holding of 77. The big stack thought, and thought, and then called with A7s. 7 on the flop. A on the turn. Guess what the river was? That meant I busted in about the same place as last week - halfway through the field, just before the second break. I was disappointed, but happier with my play - I had been extremely card-dead all tournament (for the record here were my notable cards in those two hours: 77, AQo, AKo, 77 wheeeeeeeeee) and had only stayed afloat by stealing blinds mercilessly.

I was less happy when I noticed that Texas was getting beaten. Badly. As someone who had watched a lot of Kevin Durant over the season, including him almost single-handedly beating Kansas in the Big 12 final the week before, I was in shock. My Magic Bracket was all of a sudden full of holes; it seemed it had run out of Pixie Dust.

It was at about that time that I made an Executive Decision, and I made a call to All-Star. Basketball and poker were done for the weekend... it was time to go see "300".

I just hoped the Spartans wouldn't go 0-2 for the weekend.

* * * * * * * *

For those people wondering how my brackets currently look, here they are:

I'm sitting in equal 8th in the Deadspin pool, but given that someone only missed one second round game, I'm dubious that I can fully recover. I do see that my cunningly named "Take 4" bracket may have some potential - but even that is torpedoed unless UNLV beats Florida.

* * * * * * * *

Oh, and for those of you who haven't seen "300" (and let's face it, judging by their box office numbers you already have, probably multiple times), I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you want to get your nerd on, I'd also recommend checking out the Wikipedia article about the battle in question: Battle of Thermopylae on Wikipedia. It seems almost impossible for someone to write about it, or make a movie about it, and have it suck.

And people wonder why I wanted to study History at University.

* * * * * * * *

One final thing: lost in all the March Madness was Australia routing the Netherlands handily in the cricket World Cup. Bet you didn't know the Dutch played cricket. This sets up the first real challenge for Australia, when we play South Africa next Saturday. Between my Aussie Rules footy and the basketball I'm not sure if I'll be able to get somewhere to see it, but you never know...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Deadspin Pimpin'

Not that it matters now, as it appears my moment in the sun has passed, but my eagle-eyed operatives have noted that I got my 15 minutes of fame on Deadspin yesterday. Of course the same operative called me a "complete and total attention whore", but that's only to be expected. Good help is so hard to find these days.

The Dream is Over

It was too good to last. After going 38 from 38, my bracket inexplicably had BOTH Indiana and Michigan State progressing. The latter seemed so unlikely I hadn't even realised that I had picked it. I guess this was my "Complete Big Ten Homer Bracket."

Even so... it was a hell of a ride. Watching Ohio State, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh all win their insanely tight games was awesome. The Texas A&M game in particular was important, as in the Artist Formerly Known As The Perfect Bracket I have them losing to Kansas in the title game.

After the Aggies squeaked out a win I began openly telling everyone in the bar about my bracket, being forced to produce my piece of paper to convince everyone. Too much fun.

It will be interesting to see how it shakes out after today - as I mentioned I have a few more unlikely picks, so my bracket may be well and truly sunk. But being in equal 1878th out of 3 million+ after the first three days ain't bad - and I'm still equal second in the pool (though some guy has picked every second round game correctly - which does not bode well).

Too. Much. Fun.

... but I picked Michigan State? Really?!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Perfect Bracket

It appears it has not yet come time for my fluke bracket to explode. I know, I'm surprised myself. Behold the bracket in all its glory!

Some fun facts while I bask in my luckboxicity... there are apparently another 61 people on who pulled an unblemished first round of games out of their arse.

I am also a game clear of everyone else in's pool. There are a couple of people who got 31/32, and ten people who picked 30/32.

In case you were curious, here are the potential roadblocks to future gloating perfection: I have Winthrop in the Elite Eight(!), and Wisconsin and Indiana in the Sweet 16. But hell, I'll settle for what I have at the moment.

And yes, in case you were wondering: the brackets I have in money pools are doing the worst. But are you surprised?!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Moment of Glory

Ah, March Madness. It pains me to think I lived so many years blissfully unaware of its existence, ignorant of the joy and the laughter produced by the pursuit of greatness.

Not to mention the gambling.

I'm in a few pools this year, and have done OK in the first round, though I am still annoyed at myself for picking George Washington over Vanderbilt in some of them. And naturally the bracket I am doing best in is the pool, which is for pride not money. But check it out:

Yes, for a fleeting moment I am ranked equal first in the country. Oh, happy day!

A couple of years ago I actually won my current employer's office pool... before I actually even began working there. It was a "friends and family" pool, and my mate All-Star (who was working for them) asked if I wanted in. You bet I did. I submitted my bracket, and at almost the same time applied for a job there.

I don't know how I did it, but that year I caught lightning in a bottle. I picked Texas Tech and West Virginia to go deep in particular, and consequently was destroying the office pool. During my interview, held just before the Final Four, my boss' boss and I spent 15 minutes discussing my picking rationale.

Yes, I got the job.

The best part about that year, besides scooping the office pool, was my ESPN bracket. As you can see in the above screenshot I have a "MSU Wins!" bracket. Every year I make my second bracket the same as my main bracket, with the exception of having Michigan State win the whole thing. In my office pool of two years ago I had MSU bowing out in the second round or so... while they ended up making it to the final four. Which meant my "MSU Wins!" bracket was absolutely loaded.

From memory I was ranked equal 52nd or something on before the Final Four games, but UNC beating the Spartans and going on to win the title pushed me down to around 1000th in the nation - and I might have even been higher, except for West Virginia bowing out in over-time (I had them going one round deeper). But for a while there it was pretty surreal.

Of course I am now due to lay an egg with all of my remaining picks. But such is the Madness!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Which World Cup?

Before you finish filling in your brackets and planning on how much work you can avoid so you can watch March Madness, I thought I should let you know about a bigger sporting tournament that has just started.

That's right, I just said bigger.

Yesterday marked the official start of the Cricket World Cup, held every four years to crown the dominant nation in the one day form of the game (that's right, I said the "one day" version of the game - the other version of the game played amongst nations are "Test Matches", which can go for up to five days. Yeah, you heard me).

Today I'll be monitoring the Australia vs Scotland match very carefully. Australia are the reigning world champions, and the number one cricket side in the world. Scotland are, well, Scotland. Nonetheless I'd like to see us smack Scotland about like we should to a Third Cricketing World nation.

I'm tempted to try and contact Comcast to see if I can order a game or two... but the fact that I can't even see their offerings from their website feels me with foreboding. Out of all the Customer Service operations I have had to deal with in the US, they might come dead last - and that's saying something.

Until then - Go Aussie!

UPDATE: My spies inform me that Irish Jim (who provided the other accent at the WPBT Winter Classic last December) is in Jamaica for the World Cup. I have a couple of mates who are down there as well, and I think you can all join me in saying: Bastards!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sober Garth <= Sober Heather < Drunkie Heather <= Drunkie Garth

This might be the most self-absorbed thing I have done yet on this blog (and that's saying something), but here is a (slightly) edited IM conversation I had today about poker and where I am going. Please feel free to throw in your two cents in the comments, even if it's to say that I'm a egocentric douchebag who should just shut the hell up.

I could have edited this way down, but I have to run to footy training. Also: I'm lazy.

* * * * * * * *
(14:14:26) maigrey101: some day i must write "the trick to poker" post
(14:15:20) garthmeisterj: Oh? What's the trick?
(14:16:08) maigrey101: play drunk
(14:16:33) maigrey101: or well, certifiably inebriated
(14:16:44) garthmeisterj: Man... I might have to go cold turkey while playing until I win something reasonable.
(14:16:59) maigrey101: you just WON DDA
(14:17:10) maigrey101: while DRINKING
(14:17:18) garthmeisterj: RIght.
(14:17:32) garthmeisterj: But you must understand that I am an extremely contrary and stubborn person.
(14:17:33) maigrey101: why would you change it up with the bigger tournies?
(14:17:42) maigrey101: buttttt the drinking works for you
(14:18:04) garthmeisterj: Thus if someone proclaims that I play my best drinking, I instinctively cut out the drinking to prove them wrong.
(14:18:18) maigrey101: oh
(14:18:23) maigrey101: well then you suck when drinking
(14:18:32) garthmeisterj: Yeah, that totally works.
(14:18:35) maigrey101: (but i've proclaimed that before and you have agreed, btw)
(14:18:40) maigrey101: (of course you were drunk)
(14:18:44) maigrey101: (or tipsy)
(14:18:46) maigrey101: (and playing well)
(14:19:08) maigrey101: but yeah, I think you have to be sober while playing the bigger tournies
(14:19:25) garthmeisterj: I know when I'm playing well - if I'm playing well and also drinking it's pretty hard to disagree.
(14:19:41) maigrey101: hee
(14:20:15) garthmeisterj: (As in: if I am playing well, and drinking and you say "Hey, you play well when you're drinking"... well, that statement is instantly verified)
(14:20:20) maigrey101: hahaha
(14:20:31) maigrey101: ugh, I am debating hi tailing it out of here
(14:20:34) maigrey101: i kind of feel woogy
(14:20:40) garthmeisterj: (The contrariness kicks in at the implied: "You do not play so well when sober")
(14:21:10) garthmeisterj: Hey, if you're feeling woogy, no reason not tol.
(14:21:12) maigrey101: I didn't say that!
(14:21:28) maigrey101: I say that I think there is really something to this playing better while drinking
(14:21:38) maigrey101: my 2nd place in the horse?
(14:21:47) maigrey101: drinking to definite tipsiness
(14:21:58) maigrey101: last night? drinkign, although I annoyingly wentout in 38
(14:23:07) garthmeisterj: Oh, I'm just saying.
(14:23:22) garthmeisterj: Remember: I prefaced this with "I am an extremely contrary and stubborn person".
(14:23:50) maigrey101: also, unambitious
(14:24:05) maigrey101: so what if I say "man I don't think you could make anything of yourself you're so unambitious!"
(14:24:10) garthmeisterj: I agree.
(14:24:12) maigrey101: would you agree or decide to be contrary?
(14:24:15) garthmeisterj: I know truth.
(14:24:19) maigrey101: now see, thus you are not being contrary and stubborn
(14:24:25) maigrey101: and you don't think you play better while drinking?
(14:24:30) maigrey101: it is not TRUTH?
(14:25:05) garthmeisterj: Not necessarily - I can't deny that drinking ups my aggression levels, but I also think I may make more (and potentially bigger) mistakes while drinking.
(14:25:46) garthmeisterj: Now, I have a pretty monster record of cashing in, for example, SUnday morning sats to the Sunday Stars million - and I definitely am not drinking during those
(14:27:00) maigrey101: yes but sats is a different style of play
(14:27:34) garthmeisterj: Oh for sure - I didn't say there weren't flaws in the example.
(14:28:04) garthmeisterj: It also happens to be about the only example of a poker variant I can say that I always play completely sober.
(14:28:19) maigrey101: hahaha
(14:28:22) maigrey101: because it's in the morning?
(14:28:41) garthmeisterj: The other example is playing live at my local game - again flawed, because that game doesn't easily compare to others I play.
(14:28:52) maigrey101: right
(14:28:55) maigrey101: and it's live
(14:28:56) garthmeisterj: Exactly. I usually play it immediately after waking up.
(14:32:07) garthmeisterj: So, anyway, what have we learned? a) I like to play poker, b) I like to drink, c) I enjoy drinking and playing poker, d) it obviously bothers me that I think I play better while drinking, e) I am a contrary, stubborn and frustrating person, and f) I'm unambitious
(14:32:36) garthmeisterj: Hmm, Freudian typing? d) it obviously bothers me that it is possible that I play better while drinking
(14:33:22) maigrey101: why?
(14:33:44) garthmeisterj: That's a very good question.
(14:33:44) maigrey101: it doesn't bother me - and I"m pretty sure I do play better while drinking
(14:33:54) maigrey101: which means GEEZ do you know how much time i wasted in the casino???
(14:33:55) maigrey101: ;)
(14:34:00) garthmeisterj: Let's look closer at Garth's psyche...
(14:34:03) maigrey101: so let me change this
(14:34:08) maigrey101: i play better ONLINE while drinking
(14:34:27) maigrey101: (although, I have had my biggest wins live while being so tired it's hard to think)
(14:34:35) maigrey101: ok *pans the camera around to garth's brain*
(14:35:30) garthmeisterj: Well, I dunno - I realise that while I play DDs, for example, I am playing two tournaments at once, I read web pages, am chatting to multiple people, and listening to music.
(14:35:41) garthmeisterj: (oh yeah - and usually drinking)
(14:36:50) garthmeisterj: Given the fact that I am taking things a little more seriously (not way more seriously - that would take effort and ambition), naturally it has occurred to me that I wonder what environmental factors help me play better.
(14:37:51) garthmeisterj: It's really very possible that I over-think things, particularly online - making moves too often and in the wrong spots when I am stone cold sober and concentrating on one table exclusively.
(14:38:40) garthmeisterj: Actually, that's quite interesting. My aforementioned sats to the Sunday Mill occur when I have just got out of bed, usually a bit tired and hungover, and I am playing a sat so I am aware that I don't have to make the same moves I feel I have to in normal tournaments.
(14:39:34) garthmeisterj: I also think the fact that it's a real possibility that I have to throttle back on using my, for lack of better terms, conscious mind and rely more on my instincts worries me a little.
(14:40:00) garthmeisterj: And by "worry" I mean I'm not sure I know how to hone my instincts, while I sure as hell know how to use my conscious mind.
(14:42:14) garthmeisterj: But in the same breath I really feel that some of my recent success has come out of my beginning to feel my way through hands more, using my intuition and instincts. I'm just not sure how I train that, besides playing and playing and playing. And I can't help but feel that letting myself be moderately distracted the whole time can't be good for my poker game.
(14:42:29) garthmeisterj: Despite potential evidence to the contrary.
(14:42:46) maigrey101: well
(14:42:56) maigrey101: i think the tired/drinking lets your "muscle memory" take over
(14:43:17) garthmeisterj: So! I almost feel the urge to set up a "control" experiment, where I sit down and play at my desk, disconnected from everything else, concentrating only on one table, and see how it goes.
(14:43:21) maigrey101: and what you HAVE been doing, with your live play and feeling your way through hands is playing sober live and paying attention to how the hands play out
(14:43:27) garthmeisterj: But that doesn't sound fun.
(14:43:30) maigrey101: and analyzing things AFTER the tournament
(14:43:39) maigrey101: and that's really where your game improves
(14:43:48) maigrey101: i find that if I over think during a hand i get outplayed
(14:44:01) maigrey101: which is why I think my biggest hands have come when i'm too tired to do math
(14:44:12) maigrey101: I start relying on my instincts and saying "fuck you bitch I know I'm good, I call"
(14:44:23) maigrey101: where non tired heather may have talked herself out of a call
(14:44:28) maigrey101: and they show over a bluff and I scoop the pot
(14:44:46) maigrey101: because they know that I can be pushed off a pot normally
(14:44:47) garthmeisterj: Yeah... I am starting to feel that my game isn't very math heavy at all. Which again seems a little alarming, given I am Math Guy.
(14:45:04) maigrey101: it doesn't have to be very math heavy
(14:45:16) maigrey101: i'm going home now but you should keep typing and I will read when I get home
(14:45:22) garthmeisterj: OKios
(14:45:58) garthmeisterj: OK, you go home, I'll get some water and coffee and continue.
(14:46:05) maigrey101: ps i am not saying you play poorly sober
(14:47:04) garthmeisterj: Oh, I understand - but there is still a difference between "Playing OK" or even "Playing decently" and "Playing well"...
(14:47:45) garthmeisterj: I'm not having a go at you at all, I just realise that this issue and my reluctance to look at it may actually mask deeper issues with my game and further growth of my game.
(14:48:20) garthmeisterj: Also: you may have noticed that I am quite prepared to pontificate and talk about myself at the drop of a hat.
(14:48:32) garthmeisterj: (a hat, not a Hat, you understand)
(14:48:50) garthmeisterj: Anyway: coffee time. Hopefully you have already left for hom.
(14:48:54) garthmeisterj: home
(14:49:19) maigrey101: :)
(14:49:26) maigrey101: trying ok
(14:55:40) maigrey101: HAT!
(14:56:05) maigrey101: but yeah, I think it's interesting myself on how alcohol affects my game
(14:56:09) maigrey101: and I know exactly why that is
(14:56:51) garthmeisterj: Well, it's like one of those things - I think one thing that has also been helping is the instant discussion that we have occasionally had about the hands I have been playing. In some of those I have been able to (at least I think I have been able to) articulate very clearly and logically why I took the actions I took... the thing is that I am coming up with those arguments seemingly after the hand has been played out.
(14:57:38) garthmeisterj: I also thought of another example of when I played sober and played well: that PLO tournament I won on my Snow Day a few weeks back.
(14:58:49) garthmeisterj: Of course that almost confirms the argument that I play by feel more these days since what I know about PLO you could fit in a matchbox without taking the matches out first (OK, slight hyperbole, but it is nowhere near my best, or even second-best game)
(14:59:18) garthmeisterj: Not to mention that people in a $5 rebuy PLO tournament might not be the best barometer of good players!
(14:59:52) garthmeisterj: How does alcohol affect your game? More aggression?
(15:05:11) maigrey101: yeah
(15:05:17) maigrey101: i get pushed off hands less
(15:05:26) maigrey101: and I'm not afraid to push when i should, even though it's a mediocre hand
(15:07:24) garthmeisterj: Are you looser as well? Or no?
(15:09:01) maigrey101: hmmm
(15:09:07) maigrey101: kinda but not really
(15:09:28) maigrey101: i'm less afraid to reraise with AQs to an obvious steal , though
(15:09:33) maigrey101: so maybe yess
(15:10:32) garthmeisterj: I dunno - I'm more apt to put that in the "more aggressive" column.
(15:10:49) maigrey101: so yeah, probably
(15:11:10) maigrey101: and yes, i think talking about the game RIGHT THEN is immenselyhelpful
(15:11:40) maigrey101: it's what helped me become as good as I am
(15:11:53) maigrey101: lawyer mark always sat right next to me and we would talk about the game
(15:11:55) maigrey101: or the hands
(15:12:01) garthmeisterj: Handy
(15:12:03) maigrey101: yeah
(15:12:18) maigrey101: i mean we wouldn't always talk right then - we'd have to go outside and talk because you know, you don't want to give away STRATEGY
(15:12:19) maigrey101: but yeah
(15:12:41) maigrey101: i'm also more likely to bet middle pair early if i'm drinking
(15:12:44) maigrey101: because it's generally good
(15:12:46) maigrey101: so
(15:12:47) maigrey101: yeah
(15:12:51) maigrey101: mostly aggressin
(15:13:04) maigrey101: the tired is more the "screw you you're not pushing me off"
(15:14:02) garthmeisterj: It's good to hear counterpoint and advice (I am much better at taking advice than I used to), but I am finding it gratifying to be able to think through hands I just played and go "OK, now I am rationally thinking this through step-by-step I think I played the hand correctly".
(15:14:28) maigrey101: which justifies your instinct
(15:14:31) garthmeisterj: Right.
(15:14:42) garthmeisterj: So I guess I am trying to work out how to glue the two together.
(15:14:54) maigrey101: and i think hyou're finally starting to realize that you're actually not horrible at this stuff
(15:15:04) garthmeisterj: Which stuff? The instinct stuff?
(15:15:04) maigrey101: and maybe even good for a non-ambitious player ;)
(15:15:08) maigrey101: poker
(15:15:08) garthmeisterj: Heh
(15:15:11) garthmeisterj: Oh.
(15:15:31) maigrey101: i mean, I keep telling you that - i think you're finally starting to see it click, though
(15:15:37) garthmeisterj: Well, I've known I don't completely suck, but I've known it for a while.
(15:15:46) garthmeisterj: Yeah, a lot of the pieces are starting to come together.
(15:16:12) maigrey101: you'll be better than I am in a reasonably short time, too
(15:16:27) maigrey101: you already waaaaaaaay outshine me in tournaments. and I don't say that lightly
(15:16:51) garthmeisterj: My defense mechanism of talking myself down kicks in pretty quickly though. I truly believe that if I go in thinking I rule then I am going to make mistakes because I am playing over-confidently etc.
(15:17:00) maigrey101: oh i know
(15:17:13) garthmeisterj: Eh, I dunno about that. You are no slouch.
(15:17:16) maigrey101: you have to be confident in your decisions - you can't expect to win though
(15:17:21) maigrey101: if that makes sense
(15:17:41) maigrey101: i'm GOING NOW
(15:17:49) garthmeisterj: I'm not sure at all about this "waaaaaaaaaaay outshine" and "better than I am in a reasonably short time" stuff.
(15:17:51) garthmeisterj: OK
(15:17:53) maigrey101: but let me know what WSOP event you decide to play in. I'll buy a piece of garth
(15:17:57) maigrey101: :)
(15:18:07) garthmeisterj: Ha!
(15:18:27) maigrey101: and I don't buy pieces of people, as a rule
(15:18:28) garthmeisterj: Ah, we'll see. The WSOP is still in the "maybe maybe" camp.
(15:18:32) maigrey101: otis and ryan are exceptions
(15:18:38) maigrey101: dda pays for a buyin ;)
(15:18:46) garthmeisterj: The "selling pieces of myself" thing is something that I hadn't even considered.
(15:18:52) garthmeisterj: Hadn't even occurred to me.
(15:19:38) maigrey101: uh well
(15:19:39) maigrey101: dude
(15:22:30) maigrey101: hellooooo
(15:22:36) maigrey101: it's just a matter of how much you want to sell!
(15:22:51) garthmeisterj: See - I find this troubling. I know you're all adults and everything, but I'd have to make you a waiver saying "I am buying a piece of Garth because I regard this as a good risk and not because I think he is asking for handouts so he can play the damn thing."
(15:22:58) garthmeisterj: sign a waiver
(15:23:00) maigrey101: ok, i will sign
(15:23:14) garthmeisterj: Ah, I'm a bit fucked in the head sometimes.
(15:23:34) garthmeisterj: If we strike "sometimes" and replace it with "regularly".
(15:23:45) maigrey101: welcome to the human race
(15:24:08) garthmeisterj: And ignore that I just created a badly constructed English sentence.
(15:24:31) maigrey101: yes dear
(15:24:31) maigrey101: ok
(15:24:32) maigrey101: BYE
(15:25:25) maigrey101: you know that would be a funny way of selling pieces of your buyin
(15:25:35) maigrey101: put a picture of you up, and like flicker notes off the portions
(15:25:36) maigrey101: HAHAHAHA
(15:25:38) maigrey101: i crack myself up
(15:25:58) garthmeisterj: Actually, that's pretty good.
(15:26:04) maigrey101: I GET THE CHEST
(15:26:19) garthmeisterj: Maybe you could have a nipple. My chest isn't small.
(15:26:42) maigrey101: hmph
(15:26:50) maigrey101: we will talk about this later.
(15:32:57) garthmeisterj: Anyway, I think the biggest advantage of playing while drinking is that I don't play as scared. I think that's a subtle difference from playing more aggressive, but hey, I'm a subtle guy.
(15:33:04) garthmeisterj: Try not to laugh out loud when you read that.
(15:37:38) maigrey101 logged out.
(15:42:06) garthmeisterj: Alright! Time for me to continue talking about myself, to myself.
(15:43:44) garthmeisterj: I guess I'm just continuing to have those thoughts about wondering what I am doing with my game. That whole recreational vs serious player thing.
(15:45:28) garthmeisterj: Thinking about it, the whole "play better when I'm drinking" thing is that discussion on a micro level: is it possible to be a serious player if you play better while drinking? Men Nguyen aside, of course.
(15:47:02) garthmeisterj: On one hand I am happy sitting on the recreational side of things, since I can just keep doing what I'm doing: play lower limits, get trashed, chat to people and not worry if I'm distracting myself.
(15:50:09) garthmeisterj: On the other hand I feel that my game is coming together, and I do feel that I want to allow myself to have a shot at becoming a good player while building my roll and being able to play higher limits.
(15:50:24) garthmeisterj: In short: I want to have my cake and eat it too. Surprise!
(15:51:26) garthmeisterj: But that's when the laziness kicks in.
(15:52:12) garthmeisterj: I guess the $64,000 question is this: what do you think I need to do to become a better player?
(15:53:40) garthmeisterj: Wow - I have been talking about myself for over an hour and a half. I'm glad I'm not self-absorbed.
(15:54:32) maigrey101 logged in.
(15:55:15) maigrey101: hahahah
(15:55:21) maigrey101: Jen harman plays better after a beer too
(15:55:25) maigrey101: theyve said that on HSP
(15:55:30) garthmeisterj: Really? Hehe.
(15:55:53) garthmeisterj: So factoring in body mass and alcohol tolerance... I need to knock back half a case before playing.
(15:56:05) maigrey101: hahahaha
(15:56:15) maigrey101: yeah I noticed she started off with a beer this season
(15:56:23) maigrey101: and gabe said she was playing really tight last year
(15:56:28) garthmeisterj: But seriously - what do you think I need to do?
(15:56:29) maigrey101: and then she had a beer or two and losend up
(15:56:32) maigrey101: hold on one
(15:57:28) garthmeisterj: I mean, I have a PokerTracker database that I have never really used beyond pairing it with PokerAceHUD. That could be a starting point.
(15:57:48) garthmeisterj: But that is more of the "higher brain function" stuff.
(15:58:15) maigrey101: yeah and really that was a bad thing fo rme
(15:58:22) garthmeisterj: Maybe it's just "Don't be afraid to have a few while playing, and just continue to play a lot while mixing in the occasional shot"
(15:58:24) maigrey101: i would rely TOO MUCH on that and not my instincts
(15:58:35) garthmeisterj: (the occasional shot thing being something we discussed while I was wrecked on Friday night)
(15:58:37) maigrey101: you do know that danny n used to knock them back on a regular basis right?
(15:58:40) maigrey101: before he found jesus?
(15:58:52) garthmeisterj: He found Jesus? I actually didn't know that.
(15:58:55) maigrey101: here's what I say
(15:58:58) maigrey101: oh yeaaaaaaah
(15:59:02) garthmeisterj: Dang.
(15:59:11) maigrey101: you are still learning
(15:59:15) maigrey101: Absolutely.
(15:59:16) garthmeisterj: do you drink at the club?
(15:59:19) garthmeisterj: No
(15:59:20) garthmeisterj: Not normally
(15:59:23) maigrey101: right
(15:59:36) maigrey101: I think there's a HUGE difference between online and Live
(15:59:43) maigrey101: grand canyon size
(15:59:54) maigrey101: as I said before, I can make laydowns playing live that I can't online
(16:00:04) garthmeisterj: I had a few on the President's day weekend Sunday... coincidentally the one where I pushed over the top of a guy on the turn with nothing but TPTK...
(16:00:11) maigrey101: heh
(16:00:18) maigrey101: yeah but I think that's ok - you are still LEARNING
(16:00:22) maigrey101: hopefully you will always be learning
(16:00:22) garthmeisterj: (But that was like after 3 beers over 3 hours)
(16:00:34) maigrey101: but yeah, don't be afraid to have a few while playing
(16:00:44) maigrey101: seriously, with your tolerance? a few is nothing, really
(16:00:55) garthmeisterj: Just to take the edge off.
(16:00:57) maigrey101: it just .. right
(16:00:59) maigrey101: i was going to say that
(16:01:20) maigrey101: I am never reeally afraid to drink when I play - because one an hour just takes the edge of inhibitions
(16:01:28) garthmeisterj: And beyond that? Just keep playing?
(16:01:29) maigrey101: I was when i was playing for A FUCKLOAD OF MONEY
(16:01:30) maigrey101: yeah
(16:01:38) maigrey101: and keep TALKING about the hands
(16:01:42) maigrey101: with smart people
(16:01:57) garthmeisterj: Yeah, I actually had "playing and talking", but took out the talking part.
(16:02:01) maigrey101: that is like uber number one important
(16:02:13) maigrey101: I learned a hell of a lot before i played the big game just watching mark play
(16:02:31) maigrey101: i learned a lot more when I was playing and talking though - able to relate commentary to something I just did
(16:02:36) maigrey101: muscle memory really
(16:02:37) garthmeisterj: Right.
(16:02:49) maigrey101: and you're going to need to find someone who's not afraid to say "uh, I would not have done that"
(16:03:08) garthmeisterj: Yeah, well you seem to fit the bill thus far.
(16:03:10) maigrey101: (which is me, I know)
(16:03:28) maigrey101: but there are a lot of people who will be yah yah you played great
(16:03:36) maigrey101: I like talking to you about hands - you have a different view on things than I do
(16:03:52) maigrey101: and that's what kurt and I do - and I never feel with either of you that it's a lopsided arrangement (like I did with mark)
(16:04:00) maigrey101: (although he said teaching me reinforces his play)
(16:04:08) maigrey101: also I think there's something about playing a tournament with someone watching
(16:04:11) garthmeisterj: Kurt? Who is Kurt?
(16:04:26) garthmeisterj: Oh. See, someone I haven't met.
(16:04:28) maigrey101: right
(16:04:34) maigrey101: my buddy from chicago
(16:04:41) maigrey101: who i would gamble wit
(16:04:46) garthmeisterj: Yeah, I am pretty relaxed about people watching me these days.
(16:04:59) maigrey101: well - people watching me forces me to play better
(16:05:07) maigrey101: or, well, less stupid
(16:05:13) maigrey101: i'm not afraid to make the right moves
(16:05:20) maigrey101: but the "ohhhh 86o let's play"
(16:05:22) maigrey101: goes away
(16:05:30) garthmeisterj: During my DDA run I had a few people watching me. I found talking about what I was doing (post-hand) was really useful.
(16:05:43) maigrey101: yep
(16:06:29) garthmeisterj: Even if at the end it was me talking to Alan and Fluxer going "I have this hand. This is what I am doing."
(16:06:37) maigrey101: hahahaha
(16:06:42) maigrey101: well yeah, it makes you think
(16:06:57) garthmeisterj: I mean, Christ, I folded A7o from the BB to a small raise from the short stack who was UTG when it was three-handed.
(16:07:40) garthmeisterj: I think my chatter went something like: "Hmm, A7o. OK, I don't like this. The book probably says I should raise here, but screw the book."
(16:07:52) garthmeisterj: But I just felt very dialled in.
(16:08:58) garthmeisterj: (and he was the short stack - like 220k to my 700k, the other stack at 600k or something... and I probably got the numbers all wrong, but there you go)
(16:10:09) maigrey101: so, i think you should realize that right now your intuition is good shit, that knocking a few back forces you to let that take over
(16:10:17) maigrey101: and the talking about it helps you process it for next time
(16:10:27) garthmeisterj: Yeah, I can't fault that.
(16:10:29) maigrey101: and all the club stuff is good goood good learning stuff which is better to do sober
(16:10:56) garthmeisterj: So you wouldn't advocate knocking back something along the lines of a beer an hour at the club?
(16:11:05) maigrey101: for you? I don't think it would be an issue
(16:11:09) maigrey101: i think that's fine
(16:11:18) garthmeisterj: But do you think it would help?
(16:11:24) maigrey101: i do, in two ways
(16:11:28) garthmeisterj: It would probably help my image. :)
(16:11:30) maigrey101: and I wounldn't...
(16:11:31) maigrey101: yes that's one
(16:11:32) maigrey101: :)
(16:11:54) maigrey101: i wouldn't really advocate it for most people, but face it, you're not a small chap unused to drinking, so one an hour is not going to impair any judgement
(16:12:15) maigrey101: it will most likely relax you and let you dial in
(16:12:27) garthmeisterj: <----- deletes next question.
(16:12:29) maigrey101: the only think I wonder if it might do is keep you from paying attention to everything else going on at the table
(16:12:36) garthmeisterj: Right.
(16:12:46) maigrey101: because it's SO important live to watch ALL THE TIME
(16:12:50) garthmeisterj: Yeah.
(16:13:13) maigrey101: but you have to be the judge of that
(16:13:31) garthmeisterj: What?! I have to make my own mind up about something?! :((
(16:15:22) garthmeisterj: As I mentioned before though, I am not sure your comment about my outshining you in tournaments. I seem to recall you coming 2nd in HORSE + finishing deepish in a few DDs recently.
(16:15:28) maigrey101: annnnnnd
(16:15:33) maigrey101: who was drinking when she did that?
(16:15:38) maigrey101: to the point where I could TELL i was tipsy?
(16:15:51) garthmeisterj: So? Maybe a couple of drinks is good for you as well.
(16:15:58) maigrey101: oh, i have decided it is, at least online
(16:16:06) maigrey101: which is what started this whole conversation
(16:16:11) garthmeisterj: It was.
(16:16:11) maigrey101: for most of the same reasons we talked about
(16:16:23) maigrey101: I amp my aggression up when drinking
(16:16:32) maigrey101: i think it's okay enough as it is live though
(16:16:46) maigrey101: and when I drink live I don't do as well in the cash games really
(16:16:55) maigrey101: tournaments I do, because I'm not aggro enough ther either
(16:17:01) maigrey101: being a cash game player
(16:18:07) garthmeisterj: OK, so the continuum goes as follows: Sober Garth <= Sober Heather < Drunkie Garth <= Drunkie Heather
(16:18:19) maigrey101: hahahahahaha
(16:18:26) maigrey101: yes something like that
(16:18:33) maigrey101: there's the title of your blog post :D:D:D:
(16:18:37) maigrey101: and now I need to crash
(16:19:03) maigrey101: although
(16:19:09) maigrey101: i think i'd flip the drunkie ones around
(16:19:31) maigrey101: because I tend to get stupid when drunk :D
(16:20:48) garthmeisterj: hehe
(16:21:39) garthmeisterj: The only other thing I was going to ask was if you were serious about the "you're going to be much better than me in no time", because I'm not sure of the rationale. The only thing I can think of is that you think I am lower down my learning curve so my ceiling is higher.
(16:21:58) garthmeisterj: But I think if that's your thinking then you are selling yourself short.
(16:22:20) maigrey101: yep
(16:22:27) maigrey101: that's my thinking
(16:22:28) maigrey101: also
(16:22:33) maigrey101: I don't play much live anymore
(16:22:45) maigrey101: I am rusty
(16:22:51) maigrey101: and I will be honest here
(16:23:01) maigrey101: I don't really ahve the DESIRE to become a better player that I used to
(16:23:38) maigrey101: I'm really and truly ok with being an ex-big game player :)
(16:23:43) maigrey101: and donking around online tournaments
(16:23:45) garthmeisterj: Which is understandable - I mean that's a big part of my poker-related angst anyway.
(16:23:48) maigrey101: and the occasional AC stuff
(16:23:53) maigrey101: yoooou like it or not
(16:23:55) maigrey101: want to get better
(16:24:00) maigrey101: and see where you can go from here
(16:24:18) maigrey101: and you have me to help you ;)
(16:24:18) garthmeisterj: I guess so.
(16:24:28) garthmeisterj: Yeah, which I appreciate.
(16:24:34) maigrey101: I really am a fucking awesome poker coach, too.
(16:24:43) maigrey101: so there you go
(16:24:46) garthmeisterj: wheeeeeeeeeee
(16:24:53) maigrey101: I'm not selling myself short - I know i'm better than 90% of the folks
(16:25:02) maigrey101: I just see that you're not that far behind me
(16:25:07) maigrey101: and you have a lot more potential than I do
(16:25:11) garthmeisterj: I guess I need to ensure I start making myself go play live more often.
(16:25:15) maigrey101: yeah
(16:25:24) maigrey101: there is nothing like playing live
(16:25:28) maigrey101: online is great for what it is
(16:25:31) maigrey101: quick base learning
(16:26:13) garthmeisterj: Well, if nothing else I am pretty clear that playing live has helped my overall game.
(16:26:35) maigrey101: ye
(16:26:37) maigrey101: s
(16:26:43) maigrey101: because ther is no FTP clock ticking down
(16:26:49) maigrey101: and you've had time to THINK in the live game
(16:26:53) garthmeisterj: Fuck I hate that clock.
(16:26:54) maigrey101: so your online decisions are easier
(16:27:12) maigrey101: i go nap now
(16:27:15) garthmeisterj: OK
(16:27:23) garthmeisterj: I'll look this over and see if I post a version of it.
(16:27:27) garthmeisterj: Have a nice nap

Monday, March 12, 2007

March Musing

The dawning of the third month of the year heralds many things: the onset of Spring, the rush towards the Madness, and the start of my Australian Football Season. Last year, you may recall, finished pretty well on the footy front, and the mighty Baltimore Washington Eagles are hoping to build upon that. Last year we spent a weekend in Salisbury, Maryland as a beginning to the season. One of our veteran players lives there, and this was a way to combine "giving back" by making the trek to his residence, but also provided a way for us all to kickstart preparation for the season.

This year we decided to reprise the trip to Salisbury, which unfortunately also conflicted with the AC get-together. Since I was last year's Captain (the team has partially regained its senses, appointing one of our up-and-coming Americans as our leader on the field - I say only partially because I they still made me Vice Captain) and am currently Vice President of the club I felt that I had to pass up the Air Conditioned city this time... there will be others, I promise!

The weekend itself was a good time, as the weather co-operated and allowed us to run around in comfort, which was a far cry from last year when we began under a deluge of rain. After the game we retired to the classy Ramada Inn to get changed and get ready for the evening's festivities.

That night we had a few beers, participated in brainstorming and team building exercises, before sitting back to watch an Aussie comedy that came out of nowhere last year called Kenny, a movie about the qunitessential Aussie Battler, who just happens to be a guy who works for a port-a-loo company (you Americans would probably call it a port-a-john company). Good fun, and a good dose of home. No idea if is even going to make it to DVD out here, but if nothing else the Australianisms are hilarious.

After the movie it was time to hit the town, which is synonymous with "get lost in some town you don't know while trying to find somewhere to get our drink on". Naturally once we found a bar I was rejected at the door for not having a US ID or a passport. Nice! That signalled a return to the classy Ramada Inn, where we proceeded to commandeer a couple of tables and commence some serious bicep curls.

What was the crowd like at the Salisbury, Maryland Ramada Inn, you might ask? Strange than you might imagine. For starters it was Karaoke Night, presided over this strange guy in a t-shirt, jeans and cowboy hat... who couldn't really sing that well. That might be questionable normally, but when the song I hear the guy sing is about tractor's being sexy or some such? Eeks.

The crowd was also "interesting", being comprised of locals, members of a black Evangelical Christian group staying at the hotel, and bunch of lesbians who must enjoy super-sizing their meals. One of the latter group befuddled me for a moment as I originally thought the bar was supplying alcohol to 16 year olds before realising that the "under-age guy" was not a guy at all. Go me.

But that's not the best part. Here's the best part. In fact, it's so awesome that I am going to allocate an entire paragraph to its greatness.

$4.50 pitchers of Yuengling.

Now, I don't want anyone to overlook this fact. Yes, the price is outstanding, but that is also the beer I consume most regularly. And saying "regularly" is a little bit of an understatement - I have a permanent half case of Yuengling in my fridge, as I tend to get antsy if I have less than a sixpack in there. An ex-girlfriend of mine used to perform this ritual when she got into my apartment: give me a kiss, throw bag on the counter, open fridge and get beer. Why? Because there was always beer. So perhaps you can understand my joy.

$4.50 pitchers of Yuengling.

Yeah, I just needed to say it again. The bunch of us, plus significant others, managed to plow through a huge amount of the stuff before they chucked us out. Given my nervousness about not continually having enough beer I made sure we always had a fresh pitcher on hand. When I cashed out I glanced at my tab and laughed. $19. Awesome. Essentially it means between the hotel room, bar tab, and miscellaneous other expenses of the weekend I paid less than I would for my normal bar tab in DC. Good times.

I may need more than $4.50 pitchers of Yuengling to get me back there, however.

* * * * * * * *
I have realised, belatedly, that my previous post was the 200th on this blog. No biggie really, though I was amused that it marked my posting about my biggest tournament cash to date. Seemed appropriate somehow.

Right now my bankroll is pretty healthy, so I have decided that I may look at mixing in a few bigger tournament buyins to supplement my lower buyin tournaments. I'm not going to go nuts, but I do want to allow myself to expand my horizons a little. If I run bad in the bigger events I intend to pass them over until I feel I have the bankroll to re-introduce them to my poker diet.

My first foray under the new plan was entry into yesterday's PokerStars $215 event. Normally this is the PokerStars Million, but this was the "Anniversary Edition", which had $1.5M guaranteed, though the prize pool eventually passed $2M.

I busted out just before the second hour, after oscillating around my starting stack for most of the time, unable to generate any real traction. Some of the play I saw was a little alarming - I think my favourite was when I fired bullets the whole way down in a pot, only to have someone check-call with a rivered straight. Questionable by me, particularly when a straight came on the end (thus contributing to the bad play in the hand), but the best part was when my opponent just decided to check-call with the nuts, rather than check-raise.

Since this was my first stab at one of the big online tournaments I may need a few more goes at them before I get a feel for the play, but I'm trying to regard this as an ongoing process. If anyone out there has any tips or comments about the bigger online events, let me know - even if the advice is "Don't over-think things, just play your normal game".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Like DDs

As I have mentioned many many times, I consider myself a Master Procrastinator. There is no task that I am unable to put off, almost indefinitely. Thus when I have a really productive day like yesterday, it leaves me a little agog that actually completing tasks and chores is this easy and rewarding. I am usually able to shake this feeling off, however, and get back to my procrastinating ways almost immediately.

I managed to get heaps done at work yesterday, and did the following as soon as I got home: dropped off some dry cleaning, did two loads of washing, cleaned my bathtub, put up my new shower curtain, put out my new towels, and put up my NaNoWriMo poster which I had framed. This amount of work would normally take me a week, if not a month. Even better, I finished these tasks just in time to be able to squeak in and register for the Daily Double on Full Tilt, which is fast becoming my favourite tournament (for obvious reasons). Yeah, I said tournament, even though they are really two simultaneous tournaments. I continue to be surprised at the number of people who sign up for Daily Double A, but not Daily Double B.

So I sat back, cracked a beer, put my headphones on, and attempted to get in the zone. Along for the ride was Maigrey, who not only signed up but had quite the head start on me in the drinking stakes. I started out a little unsteadily in B, but was able to keep my head up above water (another reason I am all about the DDs: 2k chips to start). Heading into the first break I had a healthy chipstack on A, but was down to a miserable 775 chips on B.

The second hour was a real rollercoaster as I managed to chip up a little in A, but which was nothing compared to my swings on B. I went from T775 chips to T10k in about half an hour, finishing around 6.5k or so when I dumped about 3k re-raising with AKo (the guy on my immediate right raised it up big in a pot full of limpers) but folded to the re-re-raise all-in.

This is another part of what I love about the DDs - having the two tournaments going simultaneously lets me appreciate the ebbs and flows of my stack as I am always aware of the difference in the number of chips I have in both tournaments. More than once I have been scraping by in one tournament, while having heaps of chips in the other, only to have the tables turn and have the positions reversed. I think that helps reinforce good habits, making me more patient even when a little short as it is obvious that I don't have to donk it up in an attempt to resuscitate a failing chipstack.

At the same time I was making my move, Maigrey had amassed a huge stack on B, at one time holding the chiplead. Unfortunately she was not faring so well in A.

As the number of entrants dwindled I attempted to keep a careful eye on the number of people remaining, as I attempted to make a double cash. As the bubble approached I had a huge confrontation with another big chipstack on A as we both got it in pre-flop, the classic AA vs KK confrontation. Fortunately I was on the AA side, and even better than that it held, and I was launched into the top 10.

Things went into a tailspin on B, however. My stack dwindling I managed to lose with TT and AKo back-to-back to bust out just before the money. A contributing factor may have been my getting into an argument with another guy who was annoyed that I played some bigstack poker to take away a sidepot that much larger than a main pot (though I won the main pot anyway). I find it quite depressing to bust out of half of the Daily Double - it sucks out a little of the fun. I rubbed my eyes, poured another glass of wine, and attempted to rally in A.

Maigrey managed the double cash, but was unfortunate enough to bust out of A in 63rd. She was still healthy in B, so I informed her there was nothing else for it: she would have to win B, while I took down A. Unfortunately she went out in 50th in B, so we didn't make it. At least I held up my end of the bargain.

I actually made it to the final table in 9th of 9 remaining, but was able to bob and weave, pick my spots, and pick up blinds and antes when I needed to. Amusingly at the final table were both the guy I crippled with AA earlier, as well as the guy I had argued with when stealing the big side pot.

Someone busted almost straight away, and another followed close behind. A railbird by the name of Osaki was trying to make prop bets with everyone about outlasting Kodiak125 who was the chipleader. When I was 7/7 (or thereabouts - I was definitely the shortest stack), with a stack of about a third of Kodiak's he offered my 4-1 that I would outlast him. I refused to make the deal, but when I counter-offered Kodiak125 against the field he gave me 3-1, which I took gleefully (yes, I made a bet with someone I don't know. Yes, I might be a moron). Which is when I made a raise from the cut-off with 66 (I didn't push - I had enough of a stack that I could fold if re-raised), only to be called by the two monster stacks. The flop was a beautiful T62 rainbow, chips went in, and suddenly I had tripled up to be in the chiplead.

From there I managed to hold onto the lead until we got four handed, when Kodiak125 took the lead back after busting some other players. Kodiak continued on his way, though three-handed play took some time. But all of a sudden the third player took a couple of hits to his stack, and finally was put out of his misery by Kodiak. I went to HU at about a 700k to 1.2M disadvantage.

By this time we had a few railbirds, and one in particular had been attempting to annoy me for a while by claiming that I was only here because I sucked out on someone. Which was patently true - when we were down to only a couple of tables I pushed over the top of a stack (after the turn) who appeared to be trying to weakly buy a pot. I had the Q high flush draw, and over, and a gutshot draw, but my opponent had made two pair. Luckily for me the gutshot came through on the river. And this railbird was not going to let me forget it.

I started off well in HU, mixing up my play, and being able to take down pots with aggression. This put my in the chip lead, though only marginally, and all of a sudden the hater on the rail changed his tune. He announced that I had been playing great poker, felt that I was the best player, and said he was rooting for me. I commented back that I hoped that wasn't the kiss of death. Cue me losing 3 or 4 pots in a row, not to mention the chip lead.

"OK, I'm switching back to Kodiak," said the hater.

I continued to mix up my play, taking down a pot here and there, when I was dealt AA (I had been dealt JJ early in HU, but Kodiak had folded on the button). I limped on the button, hoping for a raise, but none was forthcoming. The flop came down a J high rainbow. Kodiak overbet the pot, which was the biggest bet I had seen him make at a pot during HU. I began praying that Kodiak had hit some part of the flop (just part of it please!), and let my timer tick down a little before I pushed all-in over the top. Kodiak thought for a few moments before calling with his TPSK. I held my breath as the turn and river were blanks. This crippled Kodiak, giving me a 1.7M to 2ook lead or thereabouts. It was over the very next hand: Kodiak limped from the button, I pushed over the top with A7o, and he called. I had the lead, and kept it... I had won!

This is actually my biggest tourney win ever, and while that is pretty gratifying it didn't even occur to me until a little later. For me I was just extremely happy with how I played - I felt I made the right plays when I had to, and refused to get myself into positions I didn't want to be in. I sat back, cracked myself a Victory Beer, and attempted to wind down before crawling into bed after 3am. Yes, work is a little rough today. Thanks to all who rail-birded including the Princess (who had to crash), Alan, and Fluxer.

And Osaki: you owe me $90, bitch.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Future is Now

If there is one thing I love, it's sports. I can watch and follow just about any sport you care to mention; I have been known to watch lawn bowls, darts, billiards (despite not really knowing the rules), World's Strongest Man competitions... almost anything. This is just one reason why I love the Olympics, as not only do I get to watch the highest level of competition in a lot of sports I already know and love, but within two weeks I become a rabid expert on the finer points of such sports as the biathlon, the luge, water polo, and handball. Having said that, I do have some standards. I draw the line at synchronised swimming and curling, two sports that I would only watch if my Significant Other (stop laughing!) or a family member was competing, and even then I may have to be threatened with physical violence.

If there are two things I love, it's sport and gambling. The gambling thing I am sure is no secret (this is ostensibly a poker blog, after all), though it reaches beyond mere poker variants. Anyone who was at the WPBT Winter Classic could vouch for that if they witnessed my performances playing Blackjack, Pai Gow, or (especially) craps. The craps example is a good one, as craps is a game I had avoided during my entire casino-going career, yet after some simple deception lessons from the Princess and Joe Speaker I morphed into a total craps fiend. I am hoping to make the next WPBT Summer Classic, and if I do my resolution is to play more hands of non-electronic poker than I did at the Winter Classic... which means I need to play at least one.

If there are two great tastes that taste great together, it's sports and gambling. I am a little hesitant to put horse racing into this category, as I believe that the "sport" part is firmly manufactured to allow the "gambling" part, but I fear the Boy Genius' wrath. This is an example of a "sport" (imagine me using air quotes) that I could care less about, except for the fact that you can gamble on it. Even better, the form guide presents a nice collection of numbers that I can pore over and pretend to glean some knowledge from. Hell, I (somehow) managed to pick the winner of the Melbourne Cup (Australia's premier race) despite only having a single paragraph to go on.

Now if I get this excited about gambling on a sport I profess to know nothing about, what about a real sport (sorry BG!) that I actually enjoy without the gambling part? Yes, it can get a little crazy when that happens. Gambling on the NFL is where I have plied most of my trade, though I stunk up the joint horribly this year once I returned to the US (for some reason both my NFL picks and gambling took a huge nose dive when I came back from Australia... somehow being on the wrong hemisphere allowed me to clean up). I have only bet on a couple of MLB games, have no idea about the NBA (though if I wanted to bet I would probably follow the picks of J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas - look for their "Book It!" posts), and I am just plain scared of people who bet on NHL.

"But what about College, Garthmeister J?!" I hear you cry. I have historically steered clear of College Football, which may have something to do with Michigan State (my adopted College team) being generally mediocre. As for College Basketball, the only gambling I have ever done is through the ubiquitous Bracket Pools. I actually have the distinction of winning my office's March Madness pool before I actually started working for the company (my boss' boss and I spent 20 minutes of my interview discussing my selection rationale).

Now is the time of year when everyone starts thinking about those magical days in March when everyone starts to think about the Big Dance. It may have not escaped your attention that ESPN has been showing games featuring the likes of North Texas and Arkansas State, a harbinger of the Madness soon to come.

Which brings me (eventually) to my point: this past Sunday I was chatting to a friend of mine, who happened to mention a way to gamble on the NCAA tournament that I hadn't heard of before: futures. That's right, it is actually possible to buy and sell NCAA Final Four futures - that is you can buy and sell futures in a particular College making it to the Final Four. The site my friend informed me about is called TicketReserve (full disclosure: I am NOT getting paid for this, I just think it's cool - and it's highly possible other sites have similar offerings, this is just the one I know of). The site has set up the futures (which they call the gag-worthy "FanFORWARDS") for tickets to the Final Four; if you hold futures for a particular team that makes the Final Four you have the right and obligation to pay face value for tickets to the game.

Naturally this provides a method for people to attempt to get Final Four tickets, while at the same time allowing Action Fiends and Deviants of All Kinds (such as myself) to speculate like crazy people.

I haven't yet taken the plunge and registered an account, but I may do so in the near future. First I felt I had to let y'all know about it.

Your welcome, Miami Don.

UPDATE: My friend tells me that this was mentioned on ESPN Radio this morning. So there you go.