Sunday, December 31, 2006

Buh-Bye 2006

It's kind of interesting to wave goodbye to 2006. I'm not sure if it's a happy or sad wave. More happy than sad, I suppose. But not quite the same as joyfully bidding 2005 adieu, either, for a variety of reasons.

If I had to wager on it, my money would be on 2006 improving with age, as far as looking back on it as the start of many good things. Buying a second house introduced a lot of short-term headaches, but it's the first necessary dominoe to tip over if I'm going to get out of the corporate monkey cage and give real estate investing a go. Throwing in the poker towel and giving up any notion of playing full-time or semi-full-time makes me a sad monkey, but I'm just not wired to be successful at poker under those conditions. Having virtually all of my extra income from affiliate sites wiped out by the UIGEA shenanigans and being forced to rebuild things from scratch sucked pretty royally, but I'd been getting kind of lazy in regards to that stuff anyway, and needed a jolt to get my ass in gear again.

Nothing bad happened to anyone close to me, so there's that to be thankful of. As a country, we inched a year closer to the 2008 elections and our collective waking nightmare at least easing a bit, regardless of who ends up being elected. Hopefully the economy can continue its precarious balancing act for a bit longer until some of the damage of the last eight years or so can be unwound, lest we fall head-first over the cliff.

See you in 2007. Be safe and have fun.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You've Been on Vacation Too Long When You Pine for the Salt Mines

I hope everyone had (or is having) a very nice Christmas holiday, assuming you celebrate such stuffs. Ours was pretty low-key, which was nice. ScurvyWife and I agreed not to go nutso with the gifts this year, as there's a million things we want to do with the new house, and, unfortunately, houses have pretty damn expensive tastes.

All this time off from work this month has left me in the third or fourth level thinking of: "I need a vacation from my vacation from my vacation". Don't get me wrong, not having my soul sucked from my ears and nostrils at the place I work is the best thing in the world, but I am starting to miss the social interaction, even with the mouth-breathing, gold-chain wearing, calliope-ringtone-playing types. My wife is very cool and my rat is very cool but I'm starting to miss, oh so very slightly, that slant ego boost one gets when working on a daily basis with some of the pettiest, insecure, and/or vindictive people that corporate America can churn out. Kind of like how watching Cops can always make you feel a bit better about yourself, no matter how much your life is currently sucking. Unless it doesn't. At which point you know you're in real trouble.

Some interesting posts and experiences here (Early Retirement) and here (Retiring young, happiness), in regards to the whole-make-lots-of-money-retire-early line of thinking that many of us (myself included) are obsessed with. I flip-flop pretty regularly on the subject, as far as imagining what my life would be like if I'd socked away enough money to simply do whatever I wanted at any given time.

In many ways, it'd probably be largely similar to what it is now, except with lots of travel thrown in. We'd probably live in the same area we currently do, in a similar house (except maybe more in the country with acreage for horses and donkeys and what-not), drive the same cars, etc. I'd probably still do all the affiliate marketing stuff, buy and sell real estate, finally get around to seriously trying to write a book, and continue to fail miserably in trying to trade the precious metals markets.

Travel is the one thing that'd be drastically different, though. That's the one thing that I feel like I'd have really dropped the ball on, if a safe crammed full of rubies fell on my head tomorrow. And not for any socially-aware, mind-expanding reason, but simply because there's so much shit out there in the world to see, for the sheer sake of seeing it. Everywhere. Pick a continent.

In the end, I suppose that's pretty hopeful, as I'm reasonably close to living how I'd like to live, if money were no issue. I'm blessed/cursed with the busy gene, with a healthy dose of the greedy monkey acquisitive gene, so I doubt I'd wrestle too much with struggling to find something to keep myself occupied with. But it is interesting to ponder, especially at the end of the year when it's reviewing and/or resolution time.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Amazing, Flying (Well, No) Rat

I honestly don't know how you breeders manage it. ScurvyRat somehow consistently manages to, at any given moment, do the exact thing that will maximize trouble, consternation, and/or woe. I mean, he weighs like a pound and a half. How that much trouble-causing can be packed into such a small mass, I do not know. We could probably solve all that stuff over there in the Middle East by simply releasing a few rat bombs to wreak utter havoc and doom, until the "terrorists" capitulated and all was well in the world.

He managed to bung up his hand last night, doing his best impression of a flying rat (which in reality was pretty poor, flight-wise), and is moping around now, not eating much. Which would normally be fine, as he's fine and just cut his hand a bit, but we're supposed to drive to Dallas on Saturday and had planned to just load him up with food and leave him to his own devices until we got back on Tuesday. Which will probably still be the plan, given that he gets insanely car sick and hates even short car rides, much less trips to Dallas. But now of course I get to worry too much about him, with the added bonus of irrationality and consternation that always accompanies me worrying too much about the rat, because, umm, dude, he's just a rat.

Nice work, non-flying rat.

Absolutely no one in the office today. Thanks for making me come in, instead of the normal schedule of today being a telecommuting day. Watch as I amaze you with my lack of productivity and ability to sit here all day, mashing keys on my keyboard, accomplishing nothing. Whee...

Many thanks for for assorted support (especially you, Senor Falstaff) of the Gadooney affiliate project. It's been pretty refreshing to work on something like that that I truly enjoy rambling on about, which isn't always the case with some of the affiliate work I've done.

Not much else going on these days, other than scurrying around to finish up the Giftmas shopping. Visiting assorted malls and retailers this time of year is pretty much my own personal vision of hell, but I suppose that's what I get for putting off shopping past the point of no return, as far as buying anything online and getting it shipped to you in time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We Have Liftoff

So I've been threatening to launch a new blog detailing everything you ever wanted to know about affiliate marketing, and lo and behold, here it be:

Gadooney.com

It's very much a work in progress, but that's the plan for the site, as I'm enjoying setting it up as a project that is by nature a work in progress, with it being a meta-y affiliate site that shows you all the steps in setting up a successful affiliate site.

I've been surprised at the volume of emails I've gotten asking about it, but it makes some sense when I thought about it. Many bloggers play poker to make money, so it's pretty natural to be curious about other ways to make cash, armed with nothing more than a keyboard and the ability to write well. I also like to think I have a decent track record of showing people assorted ways to make cash, so there's that, too.

Since it's still in its infancy, it's still very much at the nuts-and-bolts stage, and I plan to get into more technical stuff as it unwinds.

Any and all links and bookmarks are, as always, appreciated.

Brandi, Brandi, Brandi...

Sweet Jebus, but that Brandi Hawbaker thread is some amusing stuff. On the one hand, there's no reason to believe any of that is true given the sources and participants involved, but so many of the strange details (Huggles and back penises and what-not) are weird and bizarre enough that I end up believing much of it.

Storytelling is an odd thing that way. We're prone to equate specificity and attention to detail with honesty, but that's a pretty easy puzzle to decode and reverse. And it's odd, too, as far as why we'd equate those things in the first place. Why does providing lots of details make something more trustworthy and legitimate? It's just more detailed, nothing more, nothing less.

ScurvyWife and I listen to a silly radio morning show while commuting and they had a bit the other day about how guys will always corroborate and cover for their guy friends if either needs a good cover story and did a mock conversation where two dudes are working out what they did after work, to explain to the wife of one why he was a few hours late getting home. The cover story was fairly convoluted and involved moving furniture, helping some lady in a blue Taurus who had a flat, then getting stuck at a light when a parade for disabled vets, etc (which they had actually seen while driving back form the bar, which was where they really were). Very specific, and it sounded good to me. And then a female caller phoned in and told them she always knew when her husband was lying when he busted out such things, because he NEVER normally talks to her that much about anything, so when he unreels all of the insanely specific details it's a sure sign he's lying, instead of grunting that he had a good day and disappearing.

Poker, poker, poker. Just when I think you're done with you and I'm finished then I go on a nice heater. It is interesting, though, as I've been playing NL again of late, and I have to agree with the general perception that seems to be floating around out there that the games have changed a good bit for the worse. Maybe it's because the last serious batch of NL I played was on the blessed iPoker network that I no longer have access to, but I think it may be a little more widspread than that. While the UIGEA didn't quite have the killer asteroid effect that some imagined, I wonder if much of its impact was imply delayed a few months, as far as the deadest of money not being replaced as quickly as it had been in the past. Yes, indeed, US citizens can still play at any number of sites, but the Party juggernaut isn't spending loads of cash on advertising to keep replenishing the supply of dead money that was propping the whole thing up, as far as attracting new clueless fish with cash.

Been thinking a lot about blogs and content and what-not lately, mostly in the very abstract. It's mostly prompted by programs like Pay-Per-Post and ReviewMe cropping up of late, and the response to both. What interests me is the notion that there's an implied compact of sort between bloggers and readers, which is typically boiled down to the following:

Blogs should be unbiased and ad-free, with nothing interfering with the enjoyment of the content by the reader. Anyything else violates the spirit of the blog. If ads are unobtrusive or otherwise do not interfere with the enjoyment of said content, then and only then is it acceptable for bloggers to profit from such ads.

There's also usually an addendum to the above, something like this:

If for whatever reason a blog has ads, then the acceptability and quanity of such ads is directly proportional to the enjoyment or intrinsic value the blog provides. Ads are tolerable on very popular blogs because they are very popular blogs.

I pretty much agree with the above, as far as my own personal take. But I'm curious as to how that line of thought developed, especially in relation to blogs, which the author is most often doing for free and not otherwise being reimbursed for. It's a bit of a chicken and the egg thing, but it seems one of the few arenas in which someone consumes something and benefits for absolutely free (the reader) yet manages somehow to dictate the terms of the engagement, as far as what is or is not acceptable. If you're a female at Mardi Gras with large breasteses and are desirous of beads, you don't get said beads by only saying "Hey, dumbass, give me those beads."

And sure, I know, bloggers can do any damn thing they want, readers be damned, but if you reduce your audience to 0 it's a pretty moot point.

I truly have no larger point that I'm working up to with all this, I just find it fascinating.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's Like All The Leaves are Falling Off the Trees Simultaneously

Big huge yards and big huge trees are theoretically very nice features to possess. Except, you know, when it's fall and suddenly there are many metric asstons of leaves to rake and bag up. Save me from the leaves, wee baby Jebus baby.

Sneaky plans to not be in the office until January got slightly derailed. True to form, the powers that be decided that it was better to take the petty, completely non-sensical approach and make me come into the office on my two telecommuting days this week when they realized I wouldn't be back in the office until January. Mmmkay, that's some fine management skills on display there, cranking up the disgruntled knob and only gaining the utility of having me drag myself in for two whole days, and quarter-assing it through those.

Some interesting things floating around the poker blogosphere of late. No thoughts or comments on the drama stuff but I did think Duggle's Full Tilt account getting hacked did raise some interesting issues. 'Tis probably a good wake-up call for everyone who plays online, as far as the nature of this beast that we have fondness in our hearts for. It completely sucks that peoples' accounts have been hacked but I think you have to keep in mind that we're talking about unregulated activites that the US government has been pretty vocal about deeming illegal. Drawing parallels to banks or PayPal seems a bit of a stretch, as I doubt that any of us, if we're being totally honest, truly believe that we have a God given right for funds we leave at an online poker site to be as secure and safe and protected as money in a Chase account. I've had pretty disgusting sums of money tied up in sportsbooks in the past and would have been absolutely sick and/or livid if that money went poof, but I was also aware of the potential risk I was running.

I'm also a little surprised at the ReviewMe backlash here and there, or I suppose, more accurately, the opinion voiced here and there of late that blatantly monetizing poker blogs is somehow sullying the blog and/or content. I completely and utterly respect the opinion that there's no place for ads and related clutter on blogs, and that things like paid reviews are cancerous to the world of blogging. It does change the content and the experience, almost always for the worst, if viewed from the perspective of the user. This here blog is a good example of that. I'm the first to admit that.

What intrigues me, though, is that most of the criticism focuses on the blatant nature of it, and not so much on the principle. In my eyes, there's little difference from doing paid reviews for ReviewMe and running Party banners or Full Tilt ads on your site. We all immediately gloss over that stuff anyway and all recognize it for exactly what it is, silly shilling that puts some extra bucks in our pockets. Is a paid review any different than the same Full Tilt ad everyone runs and recognizes as a paid ad? Does quietly running a banner ad in the sidebar make you less of a whore?

Or I guess the real crux of it is that as long as I've been reading poker blogs (approaching three years now), I've been seeing affiliate links and banners. Much of the criticism seems to presuppose a pristine, wonderful world before the fall, when the apple was uneaten and poker blogs were chock full o' texty goodness, with no eye towards making money or monetizing content or any crap like that. And I do agree, that'd be a cool world, but I'm just not sure it ever existed.

But then again, I can be a pretty shilly monkey, so I'm far from unbiased and not the best judge.

Cruising along in 2nd in one of Pauly's football pools and had one of those "der" moments this week, as somehow or other I picked KC to beat San Diego straight up, despite the fact that I'd pick that roughly 0.00% of the time if I was paying attention when clicking radio buttons. Trailing 1st by two points, which isn't much on the surface but it's hard to pick up points in pools where you're picking games straight up, especially when the leader isn't going out on any limbs. The end of the NFL season does sometimes get strange though once teams have clinched and have nothing to play for,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pokerteam.com

The following is a paid advertisement for PokerTeam.com:

PokerTeam.com provides a variety of information for online poker and casino poker players, including poker forums, tournament listings, professional player profiles, and poker strategy articles, as well as poker news from across the US and the world.

The strategy section covers a variety of basic poker topics, including the value of position, common beginner mistakes, hand rankings, poker tells, poker etiquette, how to read your opponents, and bluffing. There are also articles on five card draw and seven card stud, which is something not commonly seen in many poker forums. The rules for various poker variants are also listed, including those for Texas Hold'em, Seven Card Stud, Five Card Draw, and Omaha.

The professional players profile section contains more than 40 articles on a variety of famous poker pros such as Phil Hellmuth, Huckleberry Seed, Phil Ivey, John Dagostino, Allen Cunningham, Chris Moneymaker, Perry Friedman, and Layne Flack. The lady pros also get their share of the spotlight with profiles on Isabelle Mercier, Kristy Gazes, Clonie Gowen, and Annie Duke.

Pokerteam.com also offers reviews of online poker sites and casinos, as well as information on current bonuses and promotions that are being offered, covering first deposit bonuses, freerolls, and more.

Radpoku Poker Forums

The following is a paid advertisement for Radpoku Poker Forums:

Radpoku Poker Forums is a newer entrant into the world of poker forums (launched in November 2006) and offers the standard poker forum fare, including sections devoted to hand analysis, the ever-popular tales of bad beats, and a beginner's forum. The site also offers an Omaha forum as well as a lounge for off-topic discussion about sports, current events, and assorted other non-poker stuff.

RadPoku (short for Really Addicting Poker for U) also offers its own RadPoku poker game, which pays out $500 for the monthly high score as well as $25 for hitting 4 of a kind, $50 for a straight flush, and $100 for a royal flush. The Radpoku game itself is basically five card draw, and you accumulate points for certain hands.

The site also promises to give away a minimum of $1,000 in prizes to members who earn the most points, but only when there are at least 1000 members of the forum. At the time of this review there were only 39 total members, so keep in mind that the first promised prize giveaway might not happen in the near future.

While it's hard to judge the ultimate success of a brand-new forum site, RadPoku seems to be off to a solid start, and offers some unique games and potential prize giveaways that you don't often see on poker forum sites.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Need a Vacation from Vacation

Two days into my year end orgy of vacation time and I'm already pretty worn out. Made approximately 182,192 trips back and forth from Austin to Lockhart in the last week or so, finally completely emptying out the garage at the old place. I'm now the proud owner of 9 tape measures. No, seriously. For some reason, I'm kryptonite to tape measures, and as soon as I buy one it goes missing approximately twelve seconds later. So I buy another one. And anoter one. And another one. Apparently they were breeding in the garage. Who knew.

Today was the Epic Day of Many Chores. Many Chores were slain. The people rejoiced.

The elderly neighbor lady directly across the street just came over and introduced herself. Then she said "My husband died in June and I haven't been out of the house since." Then we made a little more small talk and she told us she was going blind from macular degeneration. Then she wished us a Merry Christmas and left. Then I started feeling bad for bitching and moaning fifteen minutes earlier for losing another goddamn 80/20 goddamn poker hand, goddamnit.

Poker and I are currently in the sneak over at night and slash each others tires stage of the relationship. Played the last FPP satellite for the PCA event at Stars on Sunday, with the top 3 finishers getting a trip package. Played my ass off and tripled up and then lost with AA vs. KK to the other big stack at the table, whacking me all the way down to 1000 chips, with blinds of 50/100. Pillaged and stole and played my ass off again, rebuilding to about average stack until KK lost to J5o (who pushed over my 5BB pre-flop raise). Hung around on life support then doubled, then tripled up a little while later. Steadily chipped up from there until the fourth hour, when AA lost to J9o (who pushed over the top of my 5BB raise from MP), at which point I mercifully busted.

I've been trying to bust my last $1,000 or so online at Full Tilt since then, but nay, the bastards had to roll out the mixed games, and I think a short-bus riding orang could make money in those games right now. So I'm still playing, but it's with malice and blind simian rage in my heart. Which actually seems to be working out well at the moment. Who knew.

Oh palladium, why art thou so volatile?

About to take the wraps off the new websites I've been working on, so stay tuned for that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Poker Tables and Poker Chips from CardroomSupply

This is a sponsored post for CardroomSupply.com:

If you're a fan of the online poker, chances are you like to sling chips and cards in real life as well. And it's pretty hard to get your real life poker on in meatspace if you don't have poker chips, a poker table, and cards.

CardroomSupply.com offers a wide selection of poker accessories, including Kestell and Weber poker tables, Copag cards, and both 13g and 11.5g poker chip sets. They offer quite a range in poker tables, from your standard folding table on the lower end to casino-quality tables that run upwards of $5,000. They also offer the opportunity to buy a custom table with your own logo on it, as well as providing dining room tables that convert into poker tables via a flip-top and gaming tables for other pursuits such as chess, backgammon, and bumper pool.

While the poker chip set and playing card selection are fairly limited as compared to other suppliers, they offer a decent selection of 11.5g chip sets in 300, 500, and 1000 chip quantities. CardroomSupply also offers related accessories such as drop boxes, tournament timers, and chip racks.

CardroomSupply was founded in 2003 and takes orders online and through a toll-free 1-800 number. The online ordering system uses the Yahoo! Store system, accepting all major credit cards as well as PayPal. The company also offers free shipping on all orders that are over $100.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

So, umm, is something happening in Vegas this weekend?

I hope all of you degenerates have a great time. ScurvyWife recently started a new job so taking a trip just wasn't in the cards for us (har) as she's got essentially zero time off to spend, plus we're fairly pot committed (har) to spending time with her folks after going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving to visit mine. We're hoping to make it out to Vegas sometime soon, though, likely early spring.

I'm a perpetual hoarder of vacation days/assorted paid time off days at work, so December is usually pretty sweet, as I usually have to burn a goodly amount of vacation days to get under the cap that I can carry over to next year. So I'm taking off Tuesday-Thursday for the next two weeks, and then am off the entire week following Giftmas day. Add in the fact that I telecommute on Mondays and Fridays and after today I won't have to step foot into the office again until Jan. 2, 2007. This makes me a very, very happy monkey.

If you've ever lost money in any sort of investment and felt like a chump, hop on over to I Am Facing Foreclosure for a quick ego boost. I'm sorry but sweet Jebus, what a train wreck that is to read. Sort of like reading assorted poker blogs where you know that the person is destined for Bustoville, as not only has the kid dug a ginormous hole for himself, but apparently he hasn't learned a single thing along the way, still looking to swing more deals to get some "positive cash flow", still running up credit card debt, etc.

What is it in us that makes reading painful stuff like that so much more appealing than reading tales of success? Envy? Greed? A need for reassurance? Maybe I shouldn't say this out loud, but it's always more engaging to read about someone blowing through their bankroll and going busto instead of someone who has run up a tiny bankroll into many grandusands of American dollars. Which is weird. It's not that I'm bitter and jealous of big winners, or that I default to wishing doom and gloom to befall everyone but myself. It's simply just more entertaining to read about someone who loses the biggest pot of their life when a mouth-breather hits their two-outer on the river, despite the fact that I personally know that pain very, very well, and should instead be empathizing greatly with the blogger.

Staying pretty busy of late, mostly with Web monkey work. It's been kind of fun diving back into the world of SEO/Google Adsense and knocking some of the rust off there, as I'd gotten away from playing that game the last year or two. While building and optimizing sites solely to grab search traffic and monetize it via Adsense and similar programs is not the most exciting or rewarding work in the world, it's still amazingly easy, if you're savvy enough and can crank out content. It's also essentially cost-free (other than your time), as Web hosting these days costs about as much as a Big Mac.

While I don't really need more ways to waste time, I have been thinking about starting a new blog that's a bit like the Degenerate challenge thing I did here, as far as starting from absolute zero, with a goal of making $2K/$3K/whatever$K a month within a certain time span, likely 1 or 2 years, using nothing more than a working knowledge of affiliate marketing, a cheap hosting account, and my monkey fingers and brain. Affiliate marketing definitely isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's an easy way to make money, and you can scale it to whatever degree you like, as far as making beer money each month or more substantial income. I think it'd be fairly instructive and helpful in general, and completely transparent "challenges" like that seem to motivate me fairly well.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Argh, Ye Scurvy Guvnor!

You have to love the odd phenomenon that is college football. Only strange humanoids such as ourselves could create such a baffling monster, equal parts straightforward, exciting, and utterly non-sensical.

I absolutely love the fact that nearly every year we end up in this same predicament, debating the pros and cons of a playoff system, dancing around the almighty dollar, before finally proclaiming it all good, and that the controversy as to who should play for the national title is just a fluky, one-time aberration, and that the current bowl system (cha-ching$$$) is super. Because, you know, college football is about making sure that the players get an education. Yep.

Besides, it's a great system, and it's just this one year that things are wacky and fans and teams are pissed. What, you remember this happening in other years? Go eat the last of the leftover turkey and stuffing, Tubs, and cram those memories right out of your head.

In the category of letters I never, ever thought I'd write:

Dear Miss Spears,

For the love of Jebus, choose one of the options below:

1) Wear panties.

or

2) Keep your legs closed.

Your biggest fan,
Me


We went to see a TXRD roller derby match last night, which was pretty entertaining. ScurvyWife works with a girl on one of the teams, which was the main reason we went, but I'd been meaning to go for years. I thought it was a pretty decent turnout for a cold Sunday night in Austin, so I guess the roller derby scene in Austin is still kicking.

Last Friday night we dropped by the Lockhart town square, as they were having a "Dickens Christmas" weekend, with food and booths set up with people hawking Christmasy stuff. We found a gift for my dad and stepmom but the pickings were pretty slim, as it was more of a sell-cheap-imported-crap thing than a craft fair, as it was advertised. We were about to take off when I noticed a bunch of, umm, pirates heading our way, yelling non-sensical pirate-isms. So we sort of stood there as twenty or so high-school age kids streamed by, all dressed up as, umm, pirates. I was trying to remember if there was a less popular Dickens book that was about pirates (A Scurvy Christmas?) when one of them handed me a flyer advertising some upcoming Renaissance festival type thing, but with a pirate theme. Which made it all a little more sensical. Well, sort of.

Poker, poker, poker... I've been playing some FPP satellites to the PCA event at PokerStars of late, mostly the 1000 FPP ones. Bumped up my FPP total to about 40,000 but I haven't had a chance to playing in either the 15,000/10,000 FPP events that pay 1/3 trip packages. Got fairly deep in a few $50-$100 buy-in tourneys, but only ended up with relatively baby cashes. AA didn't stand a chance versus 810s in one and KK couldn't hold up against A3o in the other. You know, standard.

I've pretty much cashed out my accounts, so I'm not sure what the poker future holds, at least for online play. My heart hasn't been in it for awhile and now my head and motivation have fled south for the border, as well. I'm basically a break-even player at best these days, but impatience is ruling the land and sea and leading to poor play.

I've been painting myself into an un-fun poker corner for awhile now, where I almost resent the time it soaks up, putting pressure on myself to justify the time expenditure by producing a certain amount of dollars, etc. Which I either manage to do (whew) or fail to do (bah). Perceptive readers will notice that there's no (whee) in that equation, just relief and pissed-offed-ness. Which probably is doomed to fall apart in the long run.

So what am I gonna do with all that free time, assuming that I do indeed manage to stay off the online poker crack pipe? I'm honestly not sure. Although the whole Nano thing ground to a halt pretty quickly, it did get me writing a bit again, at least enough to reawaken the residual guilt that I've never really given writing a shot. I can't get too stoked about the idea of writing more literary fiction like in grad school, as I think the world is pretty full up on that, but there's no reason not to get off my ass and write some detective novels. None at all. And yeah, odds are great that anything written will join the 99% of manuscripts that sit around in desk drawers, gathering dust, but at least I'll have given it a shot.

I need to be better about staying ahead of the curve, too, as far as projects around the house. I'm pretty good about staying busy, but I need to keep in mind that plans change and sometime opportunities arise that you can't really pass up. I got caught a bit unprepared by the timing of buying the new house here in Lockhart, as I was working under the assumption that I'd still have a year or two to finish up what I wanted to do on the Austin house (renovate the kitchen and bathrooms), and I don't want to make the same mistake here. We're planning on living in this house for quite awhile, and it'd be perfectly reasonably to plan out assorted projects over the next five years. But if I can bust my ass and do it all within a year or two, well, that's pretty much equivalent to money in the bank, even if I don't see it for awhile.

I'll likely also spend more time making artsy and/or fartsy stuff. I've had a lot of fun with the metalcasting stuff of late, and I think a big reason is that it forces me out of my recent mindset of almost unconsciously performing a cost analysis on anything I do. Yeah, money is nice, and I'll probably always be cooking up assorted schemes and plans to escape the 9-5 day job rat race, but always viewing things through the lens of whether it's a profitable use of my time is a pretty damn dreary way of living life. Aside from the fact that if I look back on the assorted things I've done in life that have made me money, most of them didn't originally stem from a blatant attempt to make money. This here poker blog has been pretty damn profitable but making money was the last thing I ever expected from it, when I started it up back in the realtive days of yore.

Not to continue the bashing of poor poker, but it's also pretty sobering to think I spent a few hours making my mom a candle holder cast from aluminum for Christmas, which she seemed to like, and will keep around the house, with it continuing to spark feelings of happiness for quite awhile. Contrast something as simple as that with all of the hours consumed by online poker in the last few years, and the tangible happiness that was created by that, for someone other than myself. I can't think of much, other than funding some trips to Vegas for ScurvyWife and myself and the happiness of socking away some money in the bank. I mean, yeah, true, I enjoyed playing poker a lot of that time, so there is a goodly amount of self-pleasure, but jerking off is fun, too, and just as impermanent.

Advertising Info and Rates

Sound of a Suckout is a poker and casino gambling blog with 100,000+ page views a month, over 1,000 incoming links, and a very select number of outbound links, guaranteeing sponsors the maximum impact for their purchased ad space.

Pricing for advertising is as follows:

Text Ads Only

  • Sitewide text ads: $100 per month with a 3 month minimum buy.
  • Text ad on any single page of your choice: $50 per month with a 3 month minimum buy.

Graphics/Multimedia Ads

  • Sitewide Graphics/Multimedia ad: $200 per month with a 3 month minimum buy.
  • Graphics/Multimedia ad on any specific page of your choice: $100 per month with a 3 month minimum buy.

Banner Ad

  • Sitewide banner ad: $500 per month, with a 3 month minimum buy.

Product Reviews and Sponsored Posts

  • 200-500 word review of any specific product, website, or service: $75/review.

Please contact me at prufrockrocks@yahoo.com if you're interested in advertising on the site or have any further questions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blogging Doldrums

Blogging is a weird thing. If I don't do it daily (or close to daily), it gets increasingly hard to drag myself back to blogdom, and increasingly easy to just shrug my shoulders and say "Meh, not much huge and interesting is going on anyway, there's no point in babbling about boring daily crap." Which, in many ways, is sort of the point of blogging in the first place, as far as capturing daily minutiae that you'd otherwise lose, which in itself isn't very valuable as discrete words but collectively picks up some strength, when you look back at the journey it chronicles over time.

Or, you know, something like that.

The pretty much complete implosion of my affiliate business has had me down for awhile, for all the obvious reasons, and has honestly sucked a lot of life out of ye olde blog here. The UIGEA was pretty much a double kick to the junk for me, as I not only lost pretty much all of the monies from the affiliate streams I'd built up over time, but all of the freelance gigs I was pulling in as well creating content for Ongame, as they battened down the financial hatches and put a kibosh on all the money they were spending developing domains they owned. The perfect storm completed itself with the few non-gambling freelance writing contracts I had not getting picked up again at pretty much the same time.

The silver lining (sort of) was that all of the above was complete and utter gravy money, and we'd always treated it as such from Day 1. ScurvyWife and I don't spend much money or have expensive tastes, both have day jobs that pay decently well, no kids, etc. So all that money going bye-bye is far from a financial catastrophe and doesn't really impact us, as far as being able to do all the things we want to on a day-to-day basis. But it's been a dark cloud over my heads for months now, and the cause of much teeth grinding, as I kept trying to find hidden outs, some way to immediately rectify the situation, some way to replace all of that extra money. No matter how much I ground, though, there just wasn't an easy answer.

The holiday break was nice, though, as far as sorting out my head and giving myself a needed kick in the ass to get back to work. I've managed to keep my nose pretty close to the grindstone the last week or so, as far as buckling down and getting some new projects underway, revamping some older mainstream affiliate websites that I still had floating around, and other similar things. There's just no upside to wallowing and being angry about Frist & cohorts, and no sense in waiting around for some magical machine to descend from the sky, to fix everything. It's pretty painful to basically exchange dollars for pennies, as far as the monthly income I can expect to generate from affiliate sites I have up, but that's the reality, and whining and moaning won't change it.

Like many things done to us that we moan and/or cry about and/or shake our fists at, in the end I pretty much have myself to blame. I lumped all of my eggs in pretty much one basket, and didn't do much to diversify things. Instead of continuing to crank out sites in a wide range of industries or reinvesting cash into other pursuits, I was pretty happy and content to cruise along, doing what I was doing, cashing checks, etc. Granted, I did a pretty good job of being smart about pulling out profits and investing it in real estate, IRAs, and stocks, so it's not like I blew it all on strippers and blow, but I also left a godawful amount of money just sitting there on the table, and did nothing to cover my ass if the online gambling affiliate market went poof, which it essentially did if you were largely dealing with US players and traffic.

Drawing the obvious poker parallel, I'm now faced with a situation that's pretty similar to blowing through your bankroll and going busto and starting from scratch playing micro-limits. One nice thing about the affiliate business is that, like poker, you're pretty much guaranteed to make some money, if you're savvy enough and willing to put in the time. Like micro-limit poker, though, it's really slow going at first, as you build traffic, as you're literally building up an income stream pennies at a time. The obvious problem, though, is that it's really, really damn hard to play .02/.04 limits when you're used to playing 20/40, especially when you have to put in hours each and every day, because it's the only way you're going to rebuild your roll. You know it'll work, as you already have the proof of concept, but it really doesn't make starting over from scratch any easier.

Which is a really long-winded, slant apology for the blah, repetitive nature of things around these here blog parts of late. So, you know, sorry...

I've been getting back into the metalcasting stuff, and am finally at the point of being able to make stuff that looks reasonably cool. I've been playing around with lost foam casting, which is basically making something out of styrofoam, burying it in loose sand, and then pouring molten aluminum into the mold, with the metal simultaneously burning out the styrofoam and taking it's place, which happens quickly enough to prevent the sand from collapsing so you get a surprisingly detailed reproduction of whatever you originally made out of styrofoam. On the bright side, it greatly speeds up the creative process, as you don't have to make a wax model, encase it in plaster, burn it out in a kiln, etc. (which is what I previously did, which is called the lost wax process). The major downside, though, is that it's hard to get a smooth finish on any pieces you cast, as they pick up the detail of the styrofoam, so you end up with what likes like styrofoam aluminmum, as far as the finish. You can apparently coat the styrofoam with a mixture of drywall compound and water, though, before casting it, to get a smoother finish, so that's the next thing I'll experiment with.

Like anything, these hobbies seem to build on themselves, as now I'm looking at assorted plans to build a DIY hobby CNC router, to be able to be a little more precise in cutting out foam patterns for stuff.

I've also been getting back into more actively playing assorted markets, as far as trading options and dipping my toe into precious metals markets for the first time. Interesting stuff, and probably something I'll babble about in the near future.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Got back in late last night from our whirlwind Thanksgiving tour, which mostly consisted of driving and eating and driving, pretty much in that order. We got some pretty decent loot from my mom and stepdad (we went ahead and pretended it was Christmas, as we won't be able to visit again during actual Christmas), including a remote controlled helicopter (yes, my mother still thinks I'm ten years old; no, I didn't ask Santa for a remote controlled helicopter for Christmas). I also got a nice mitre saw, which is what I actually asked Santa for.

'Twas good to see all the assorted family, but man, it's nice to be home. All of our critters managed to survive the week or so without us and don't seemed to pissed at us, which is good.

Way to lay an egg at the end of the year, Longhorns. It doesn't help much for the officials to randomly yank touchdowns away from you for phantom offensive pass interference but it's your own fault for stinking up the joint versus the dang ol' Aggies. Good luck in the Holiday Bowl getting thumped by some Crap Ten team like Cal.

Next week I start with the first real estate class towards getting ye olde realtor's license. Can't say I'm necessarily looking forward to it, but I should be able to knock out most of the certification classes in December and just be done with it.

Not a whole heck of a lot else going on. Played a goodly bit of poker over the last week or so but am feeling a bit burned out of late. I may cut back a good bit on the pokering over the next few months, as I really need to buckle down and finish up some projects around the house, especially if we're going to buy another fixer-upper house sometime in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ahh, Tennessee

The plan this year was to spend Thanksgiving in Tennessee with my parents, as we pretty much have a choice/obligation to spend either Christmas or Thanksgiving here, and we did Christmas last year. We decided to just go ahead and take the whole week off and drive out, with a pit stop in Dallas to see her parents for a few days, then off to the lovely hills of Middle Tenneessee, which is where we are now.

Umm, whee?

I get along with my parents so visiting isn't that painful, but you pretty quickly reach that point where everyone is caught up on everything worth talking about, you all mention how great it is to have everyone back home, then sort of nod your head a few times and think, umm, now what? The fact that my parents live in the middle of nowhere sort of exacerbates the situation, as they just got a movie theater in town LAST YEAR, so the entertainment options are pretty slim. Before that we had to drive thirty minutes or so to the next county over if we wanted to see the moving picture shows. No, seriously.

But I shouldn't complain, as it's good to be home, nice to have people cook mny meals for you, and all that good stuff.

I have managed to get lots of poker in. Unfortunately, I've lost the ability to win even a single frigging coin flip, despite flipping the damn coin 162,192,182,192 times. Definitely whee.

Cardschat.com

The following is a paid review for Cardschat.com, a poker forum site:

Cardschat.com is one of the more active poker forum sites out there, with nearly 15,000 total members and over 160,000 posts. You can find discussions threads on just about any poker topic you can name, including bankroll management, bonus codes, upcoming freerolls, hand analysis, and much more.

Cardschat.com also provides free poker strategy guides, including articles on basic poker odds, tournament strategy (including MTT and SnGs), poker book reviews, and guides on how to build an online bankroll, as well as a variety of quick and dirty poker tips and advice.

While the site skews towards NL Texas Hold'em, which is far and away the most popular form of poker these days, the site does touch on other variants such as Omaha and Stud. Cardschat also offers poker site reviews on many of the most popular sites out there, as well as a comprehensive listing of available bonus codes for online players looking for a bit of a boost to their bankrolls. They've also got a poker odds calculator on the site, in addition to poker screensavers, picture galleries, and tournament listings.

While it's not as large as 2+2 and other forum sites, the Cardschat site is clean and well-organized and is a breeze to navigate. If you're looking for a new poker forum site to frequent, give Cardschat.com a whirl, as it's a solid forum site with a nice mix of active members and discussion threads.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Commence Workplace Rant

It's been awhile since I had a good rant about the absurdity of the place that sucks eight hours of my life on a regular basis, aka the workplace. These days I mostly try to forget the fact that I work at HyperMegaGlobalCorp the second I step out the door, so I haven't been inclined of late to point out assorted absurdities. But who am I to deny you wonderous tales of the daily joys of working as a cube monkey in corporate America?

Turning Non-Verbs Into Verbs Shows You A Savvy Business Man and Have an Enormous Penis

I'm not exactly sure when this trend started, but our former President (who either just got canned or fled of his own accord) was obsessed with turning non-verbs into verbs. At first it was fairly tame, such as talk of "projectizing" this or that, or encouraging us to lead by winning and ensure that we "calendarize" our goals on a daily basis.

Then it took a turn into the absurd, capped by the announcement that he was leaving the company to "realize his aspiration of CEOing a start-up company". Umm, okay. I hope that CEOing goes well. May your aspirationing be successful. Hopefully no doorizing will have a negative impact on your ass on the way out.


Respect the Buffer Urinal, Fool

In the nearest bathroom there are exactly three urinals. That's a nice, solid number that works well, especially since the general bathroom traffic isn't all that high. Usually no more than two people are using the urinals at any one time, so you take one on the end, the next dude takes the one on the other end, and you have a nice buffer urinal in between and everyone is happy.

Except for the dumbasses that botch it all by sauntering in and taking the middle urinal. This is especially annoying because not only are they not recognizing the value of the buffer urinal, but they're actually walking a farther distance to do so, by walking past the first urinal they come to, which would keep the Buffer Urinal principle intact.


Serial Primpers and Bathroom Talkers

There's usually a 90% chance that the particular breed of dumbass that ignores the Urinal Buffer princple will also compound their dumbassery by either attempting to talk to you (after forcing you to piss next to them) or will reveal themselves to be a Serial Primper, after washing their hands.

Bathroom Talkers, I really don't know what to say about you. I don't even like talking to strangers in general, much less ones that are holding their penises in their hand.

Serial Primpers will quite literally stand in front of the mirror at work, in the men's shitter, primping and adjusting their clothes and hair for a good five minutes after they've finished their primary business. Ironically, Serial Primpers are almost never involved in any function that involves face-to-face contact with clients nor any general importance in the business, whatsoever. The amount of time they spend primping is usually inversely proportional to the importance of their role in day-to-day activities.


People Raised By Wolves Who Cannot Figure Out the Coffee Makers

We've got two types of coffee machines. One is the normal kind that you put a filter and ground coffee into a basket, hit "brew" and it does its thing, brewing lots of coffee in a canister with the transparent level marking showing how much is brewed. The other is the type with all of the fancy individual packages that you can choose from, that you insert into the fancy machine, put your cup under, and it brews exactly one cup for you of whatever flavor you chose.

Nearly every week I'll encounter someone poleaxed in front of the coffee machines in the morning, breathing out of their mouths, absolutely flummoxed. Usually it's the fancy machine that blows their minds, as they simply stand and stare at its unfathomable complexity, empty cup in their hand, hoping against hope that it will magically somehow fill itself.

In the past, when my heart wasn't completely blackened and shriveled, I'd try to help them, pointing out that you just hit the button that says "coffee or tea", at which point the machine opens up the slot that you slide the individual package of whatever you want into, you slide it in and close the slot, put your cup underneath it, and you're good to go. These days, though, I just smile and stand there, waiting for them to either ask for help or to give up, defeated, and to slink away with an empty cup.

Equally amusing are the people that avoid the fancy machine and use the old-school one with the filter, but who don't understand that they can dispense coffee before the entire batch is done brewing. Since it's a large coffee maker, it takes fifteen minutes or so to brew an entire batch. These people will literally stand their the entire time, ignoring the fairly obvious fact that they can engage the machine and get what's already been brewed at any point. The best part of these folks is seeing the look of utter amazement and joy when you step by them and get a cup of coffee as it's brewing, as you can see the lightbulb appearing, and the word balloon of "OH MY GOD I DON'T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL IT'S FINISHED THIS IS THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD!!!" forming in the air above their heads.


We Shall Help You Balance Work and Play

Earlier in the year we received an email from the mothership about how they understand that we feel pressured to balance our work and personal lives, and that they're taking decisive action on that very issue, because they love us so much and want us to be happy.

Moving forward, they're drastically cutting the number of vacation days we can carry over from year to year, reducing the amount from the current figure of 25 days to a paltry 5 days. This wasn't because of any accounting issues or any such thing. Oh, no, heavens no. This was because we had expressed concern on our employee satisfaction survey (officially known as the Winning Culture Survey) that we felt perpetually pressured by goals and bosses to the point that we couldn't take time off, thus leading to vacation days accruing and stacking up.

So the obvious, caring solution was to reduce the number of days that we can accrue and carry over to the next year (instead of, oh, say reducing goals and expectations and unreasonable workloads). Voila! Now you'll simply lose those days that you previously were able to carry over, so you'll never have to worry about piling up a bunch of vacation days that you don't feel like you can use! See, we really do love you and react to your concerns!


Turn Off Your Motherfucking Calliope Ringtone, Motherfucker

No matter how many memos or e-mail reminders go out, some people either can't remember or simply refuse to turn off their cell phones when in the office. I work in an open cube area, so it's pretty loud and annoying when someone's cell phone goes when they're sitting there with it at their desk. Invariably it's also turned up as loud as it will possibly go, so we're not talking about a quiet, subdued ring here.

As annoying as that is, I've largely accepted that it's one of those things that will happen, each and every day. The last few weeks, though, have been extra-cool, as The Old Dude Who Wears Gold Chains and Goes to the Tanning Salon 182 Times a Week (like, seriously) has recently busted out a new ring tone. I can't really do it justice in words, as it's this hideous calliope music that sounds a lot like "It's a Small World After All" but isn't quite that.

The fucking thing keeps going off, every day, loudly, and I keep waiting to see a bearded Russian lady and bear come waltzing by, trailed by a car packed chock full o' clowns.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lay Them Bitches Down, Daniel-San

Managed to satellite into Sunday's FTOPS #2 event pretty cheaply and got off to a good start, sitting with nearly 8,000 at the first break. Dropped down to about 7,000 near the second break when the hand o' doom struck, and I donked off all of my chips with QhQc on a 8h 9h 10c 3h board, with all the chips going in on the turn, and villain's black kings holding up when the river was a non-heart, non-queen, non-jack.

And that's not the absolute donkiest way to go out, but the pre-flop/flop action pretty much screamed that he had KK/AA (pre-flop there was an initial raise from UTG, I re-raised a hefty amount, villain then min-re-raised on top of all that action; on the flop I bet out the pot and villain once again min-raised me), but I managed to talk myself into calling the pre-flop re-raise to see a flop (possibly ditching it if a K or A came on the flop), then talked myself into calling the flop re-raise to see the turn (ditching it if I didn't improve), then managed to talk myself into shoving on the turn, based on the highly dubious logic that I couldn't call him if I checked and he fired at me again, and that I might have picked up flush outs, etc. (Jebus that's a long, ungrammatical sentence.)

Just not goot play. If I'd folded to his re-raise on the flop I'd have still had 4,000 or so, which was a good bit below average but still enough chips to work with. But instead, whee, there go all of my chips. The more disappointing aspect of it is that it pretty well sums up the last year or so of poker for me, which has been lots of grinding with little progress to show for it. Most of that's my own fault, from leaping to and fro from different games and stakes with no real purpose or direction, but I should be at the point where I can lay down QQ as outlined above. Boo, me.

On the brighter side, things are clicking along fairly well on the SnG front. And that's even with running pretty badly the last few days, from a purely statistical sense. One of the nice things about the turbo SnGs (and one of the frustrating things) is that the majority of the time you reach push/fold territory when blinds get high, all the chips go in pre-flop and you get called, at which point it's blatantly obvious whether you were ahead or behind. So it's easy to note what hand bounced you so that you can go back over your last 0-8 streak and see exactly how non-goot you're running:

7th: KK loses to 77
5th: AKs loses to A8o
4th: JJ loses to 1010
9th: AA loses to JJ
4th: KJs loses to K10o
5th: AKs loses to QQ
4th: AJo loses to A4s
4th: AKo loses to 66

To be fair, the above is also ignoring the times you get donkfish lucky and cash, so it's kind of silly to point out the statistical unlikelihood of losing the eight consecutive hands outlined above.

Like, oh, say raising a hefty amount with QQ UTG, getting one caller from MP, than a solid regular player on the button pops it again for a largish re-raise (but not all-in, in that I-have-kings-or-aces-please-Jebus-reraise-me fashion), then calling to see a flop of A 10 5, rainbow. Check-check-check. Turn is Q. You shove, MP folds, and button insta-calls with AA. Except, umm, the river is the case Q for runner-runner quad Qs. Whee, one outers.

I'm still having intermittent issues with the FullTilt client, but I do think the turbo SnGs are softer there, as more Party regulars seem to have transitioned to PokerStars than to FullTilt. I'd split my play roughly equally on both sites until the last few weeks, but more and more often I'd find myself at Stars in games with tough players that were still 8 or 9 handed with blinds of 100/200, which is pretty rare at FullTilt. Rakeback is also a goot thing, which is another vote for FullTilt, so I'm pretty much solely playing there these days.

I'm still in the process of noting Sharkscope results for players, which is kind of a funny process, as I usually pull up their results and copy and paste the results into the player notes, then using the color flag option on FullTilt to note broad categories (red for profitable regulars, green for losing lemurs, orange for break-even decent players, etc.). The funny part is guessing beforehand, based on the name chosen, whether the player will be a winning or losing player according to Sharkscope.

Some of the trends make sense, as far as annoying-ass names that are difficult to look up actually often trending towards solid, profitable regulars. It surprised me at first, as I'd assume that someone who chose "16261513281" or "hoop4u____27162o0li" was just a dumbass (and more than likely a losing player), but if you're a profitable regular you're aware of sites like Sharkscope and, if signing up for a new site, possibly inclined to make your handle as hard as possible to quickly Sharkscope.

There's also the contrarian trend, as far as any handle with "fish" in it usually trending towards a profitable player, and anything with "cash" in it usually belonging to a losing player. Players with famous pros incorporated into their handle, such as IveyBluff322, are almost always losing players. "Pimps" are actually surprisingly good at poker, while "gangsta" can go either way. Pretty much the whole weak is strong, strong is weak thing, which I suppose makes sense.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

ReviewMe

Like several others before me, I decided to hop on the ReviewMe bandwagon. So, with no further ado, here's my own two cents.

I like the idea, as it's pretty simple and the interface is clean and easy to use. ReviewMe hooks up advertisers who want their products or services reviewed on blogs with bloggers who will do just that, in exchange for cold, hard cash. They're very upfront about the fact that these are paid reviews, going so far to state the following in their terms:

"You must disclose that the post is a paid post in some way. Here are some ideas: "Sponsored Post:", "The following is a paid review:" "Advertisement:".

Does that mean you have to glowingly sing the praises of whatever it is that you're reviewing? Nope. ReviewMe doesn't allow advertisers to require a positive review, although they do note the natural outcome of advertisers paying for reviews, which is that most reviews do, indeed, end up being positive more often than not, as few people would want to risk chopping the head off the goose laying the golden egg. Reviews must be at least 200 words long but other than that there are no real guidelines as far as style or format.

Signing up as a blogger is free, quick, and painless, and you'll immediately get the going rate that you're paid for each review, which is based on some sort of formula thatt takes into account your blog's Alexa and Technocrati rankings, as well as an estimate of your RSS feed subscriptions. You can choose to receive payment via PayPal or check, and have access to stats to see what you've earned by period, etc.

All in all, it looks like a decent way to make some extra cash. The biggest question for me is whether or not they have many advertisers that will actually pay for reviews, as the system is set up so that they push the review requests to you, behind the scenes, and you decide whether to accept them or not. The default review is to review the ReviewMe site itself, so everyone gets that gig when they sign up, but only time will tell if more review opportunities crop up. Part of me wonders if the site is initially paying for reviews of ReviewMe for the link pop they'll get, hoping that in turn will buy them publicity and actual advertisers, etc., but that's just conjecture on my part, and only time will really tell if this turns out to be a viable way to make some extra cash via your blog.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scraping the Bottom of the Blog Post Title Barrel

Not much pokering the last few days, as the middle of the week gets pretty slim on free time, especially Wednesday nights as we don't end up getting home until about ten at night. Rewinding a bit, Monday was a pretty damn grim day at the tables, as I dumped just shy of a grand, wiping out all of the steady gains of late and putting myself in the hole for November.

On the bright side (if there is a bright side), I was fairly non-plussed by it all, chalking it up to just one of those days. Play enough SnGs and it's inevitable that I'm going to run KK into AA in three consecutive SnGs, each time into the only stack at the table that can bust me. People with decently sized stacks are inevitably going to make horrible, unnecessary calls on the bubble, for all of their chips, with hands like K5h, when the short stack at the table has 2BB left. You're going to have days where you lose every 80/20, over and over and over, despite getting your chips in with the best of it.

But man, those big hits do hurt, especially when I rarely notch any offsetting +$1,000 days. But none of this is new, yada yada yada, and I still don't have much of a sample size to work with, having only logged 300 or so SnGs in this latest iteration of grinding out many SnGs.

Not a whole hell of a lot else going on in ScurvyLand. I'd fallen into the habit of consuming a completely craptacular diet in recent months, eating at Wendy's every day for lunch when I'm in the office, and usually something similarly fast-foody at night for dinner. While I'm lucky enough to be pretty perpetually skinny, I finally reached a saturation point where I was just like, umm, no, no mas. So I've been pretending to be some sort of herbivore the last few weeks, eating lots of bullshit foods like vegetables, fruit, grains, and crap like that, eating smaller meals throughout the day, blah blah blah. And, damnit, as much as it pains me to admit it, I do feel about 1000% better, less malaisical, more energetic, all that positive crap.

I'm also finally getting most of my tools and metalworking toys moved over to the new house, have bottles for the welders, and should be cranking up my efforts to blow myself with molten metal again soon. Haven't broken the news of those hobbies to the new neighbors yet, but they'll probably figure it out fairly quickly, what with five foot tall flames shooting out of trash cans and welding arcs dancing around and what-not.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More November Surprises, Por Favor

That certainly was a nice November surprise to wake up to this morning, Mr. Rove. Thank you!

Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Mr. Leach. Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?

*Cabbage patch*

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Votealicious

Ugly poker day yesterday. And that's about all I have to say about that.

It's going to be interesting where we are tomorrow morning at this time, as far as election results. The Democrats taking the House is a done deal, but I don't think they're quite going to be able to get over the hump in the Senate. Missouri and/or Virginia is/are going to decide it, and I just can't see both going the Dems way. Arizona is suddenly getting closer, though, and how freaking sweet would that be, if Kyl got the heave-ho.

I've definitely been more involved in the races this go around, and have definitely enjoyed reading assorted scribblings out there in the blogosphere about politics and what-not. Repeated, increasingly shrill assertations that the polls are not trustworthy due to the fact that smart, savvy Republicans are lying to pollsters have been good for more than a few belly laughs, which are always appreciated. I'm sorry, kids, but, umm, no. Hold up any measuring stick you want and the last six years falls horribly short. Epicly short. Maybe even unprecedentedly short, in the relative wee history of our country. That's why the polls are what they are. That's why the people feel the way they do.

I find it amusing, too, that the Republican defense of late has shifted away from a debate of any real issue, and devolved to: "Well, if you think we've screwed up so badly, what's YOUR plan for doing better?" And to be fair, I do agree to some extent. There's nothing more annoying than someone standing there, criticizing you for doing the best you can at whatever job it is, without ever lifting a finger themselves to help you.

But that doesn't mean that you get a free pass, either. If you're the absolute worst pitcher in the major leagues, with a 28.92 ERA and a 0-14 record, you're terrible. I get to boo you and talk about what a bum you are. Defending yourself by saying "I'd like to see YOU get out here and do a better job," isn't really much of a defense. Of course I can't do a better job; I'm not a major league pitcher. Criticizing the minority party (who as such has no real ability to set or enforcy policy) for not crafting better foreign and domestic policies is sort of a silly, circular exercise, no?

Lest anyone come throw me in a cell existing somewhere on an unmarked map and pull out my toenails, one by one, if I had to go down a checklist and mark my response to assorted Republican/Democrat issues, add them up, and have the majority determine your party affiliation, I'd probably end up Republican.

I think anyone should be able to have as many guns as they like, am for the death penalty, believe in privatizing Social Security, and generally agree that we get more economic bang for the buck through business incentives than in doling out welfare checks. The less guvmint, the more better.

I'm doomed to consider myself a Democrat, though, for a relative handful of issues that I'm at complete odds with the Republican party about, including abortion rights, religious tolerance, stem cell research, and gay marriage. Pretty much all of the touchy-feely people stuff, where the Republican party seems to insist on attempting to legislate the decisions that we should all be free to make, as tax-paying citizens of an age of majority. The louder you insist that you're right, damnit, and that it's for my own good, and that Jebus will ultimately hold me to his bosom, the faster I will slide over to the Democrats side, despite the fact that I probably agree with you on more of the hot-button issues that commonly get bandied about.

So, umm, yeah. Go vote.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How the Crizzap is it Monday Again?

Logged a ton of SnGs since Friday, and have managed to stay good and stick to the $60s. I still haven't quite calibrated my variance and/or bad beat meter yet for SnGs, but Saturday was truly ridiculous. Time after time after time after time I'd get all my chips in the middle late with AKs versus A2o and, as certain as the tides, a 2 would flop, with nary a K in sight. KK versus 88? Boom, there's your 8. AhKh versus AsKc? What's that, villain, you want four spades on the board? Here you go, buddy. Enjoy.

I managed to get stuck nearly a grand fairly quickly, clawed back to -$200, then donked my way back down to -$800. I nearly shut it down for the evening but ran one more set of four SnGs, won a couple, then stuck around to grind my way back, barely, to the positive side. I had two different streaks of nine straight non-cashes, which is, umm, fun. My only saving grace was that I was winning most of the ones I cashed in, managing to eke out a profit despite a pretty pitiful ITM%.

Sunday seemed destined to be more of the same, getting buried right off the bat, but I caught fire in the last 8 or so I played, finishing up +$800 or so on the day.

It's kind of odd looking back at my stats over the last 300 SnGs at the $60 level, as I don't feel that I'm running particularly that well, but I'm sitting at just about 10% ROI and have some extra dollars in my accounts to show for my time. I suppose it's the whole calibration thing, as I tend to focus on individual streaks too much, especially the negative ones, and chalk up the times that I notch four or five 1sts in a row as lucky flukes and not reproducible nor sustainable. And sure, they aren't, but that's not really the point. It was just as unlikely that I had eight straight 4th place finishes, yet I tend to dwell on those and accept them as par for the course. The glass is half empty, damnit. Look at it.

This weekend was super hectic, but in a good way, as I got much done. Mowed and fertilized the lawns at both houses, finally finished weeding the gargantuan rose bed at the new house, and knocked out another big chunk of painting in the living roomm/dining room, and started on the guest bedroom. I've been taking the piece-meal approach to painting this time, as I fear I'd go nuts if I tried to finish it all in one fell swoop, given that it'd take me a week or two of ten hour days to finish it, so I've been plugging away for a few hours here and there, etc. Still a bit overwhelming, especially at the new house, as the list of projects remains pretty ginormous, but getting everything painted inside would be a pretty big job knocked out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NanoBlahMo

This NanoWriMo thing is hard, yo.

I need to get of my normal mindset when it comes to the writey stuff, as I tend to dwell a good bit and get things pretty much to my liking before inching along, which ain't going to cut it with the whole write-a-novel-in-a-month thing. As the good doctor mentioned in advice earlier this week, you're pretty much doomed to crank out crap, and the real point is to get into the swing of writing things down, consistently. I'm a bit north of 3,000 words but I need to get a move on as I'm going to lose some time to travel for Thanksgiving and all that jazz.

Have had a solid day so far as the $60 Sngs, clocking in a little shy of +$500 for the day. I'm probably going to be a wuss and shut it doqn for the day, as I've still got a crapload of painting to do that I haven't even touched. I should just plow through the silly desire to book a positive day, as this is pretty much the sweet spot for me to grind out poker time, but I've already gotten in 50 or so SnGs, so I'm probably done for the day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rewind

I want a do-over on today so far. Living 45 minutes from where you work can be a pain in the ass, especially when a wreck in the morning stretches the drive to work to 2 hours, and then you have to hop into the car an hour later and make the round-trip yet again. Bah.

Living in the country is kind of fun, though, come Halloween time. Many, many trick-or-treaters, and we got cleaned out of candy by 8 PM or so. It was fairly crazy driving down a street next to our house, as the neighborhood apparently goes all out with scenes and mini haunted houses and what-not, and it was pretty much pandemonium with many hundreds of peoples running around, freaking out.

Only got in 10 or so SnGs last night but I managed to post a nice little $300 profit, which was a welcome change from the junk-kicking of the previous two days. I also finally got a response from Full Tilt support about the whole site taking a dump on me the night before, which was a little underwhelming.

Starting with the positives, the did actually read my email and claimed to review the SnGs I was involved in. They also added a $24+$2 token to my account, which was nice. And that's pretty much it for the positives.

It took them nearly 24 hours to get back to me, though, and they didn't really address my issues, seemingly shuffling me off into the category of someone trying to scheme money out of them and get refunded for the SnGs I was in when I lost connection. In my email I made it really clear that I was NOT asking for a refund, and that what I really wanted was clarification on whether or not they were addressing the widespread connectivity and client issues they've been having of late, and how they handle SnGs if the site goes down completely in the middle of one. The only quasi-answer I got was that when I sign up for a MTT or a SnG on their site, I'm fully responsible and assume all risk of what might happen if I lose my connection. Which, umm, I understand, but that's kind of a poor line to take, methinks, especially when I pointed out in my email that they were in danger of losing me to PokerStars, if I couldn't be sure that their site would allow me to complete SnGs that I signed up for.

More annoyingly, they claimed that after reviewing the games that I only lost connection for a minute and a half. That's just simply not true. I wouldn't have blinded off in all three if that were the case, aside from the fact that it was well over 15 minutes before I could reconnect. I have to assume that it's an honest mistake on their part, but even so it doesn't instill me with much confidence, as far as similar issues in the future being addressed appropriately. Again, I wasn't asking for a refund, so they had no reason to downplay how long I was unable to reconnect to the site.

It's cool they gave me a free $26 token, which they didn't have to do, so give them credit for that. It's not cool, though, that their client is still really buggy and prone to taking a dump, and not cool that people are still having connectivity issues that they're unable or unwilling to openly address. I'll still probably straddle PokerStars and Full Tilt for the near future, but one more incident like the last one will probably cause me to give Full Tilt the heave-ho, as there's no reason to flush $240-$300 in SnG entries down the toilet each time I have connectivity issues and can't log in, get blinded off, etc.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blah Blah Poker Blah Blah Poker Blah

First things first, Spaceman's normal gig writing tournament coverage of the upcoming WSOP circuit event for Bluff is getting picked up by Harrah's and is going to be featured over at the official WSOP site. So make with the clicky-clicky and check out the coverage, as I'm sure more clickage might result in more opportunities for Spaceman in the future. And for every time you don't click, a kitten is fed to ravenous, kitten-eating sloths in Madagascar. It's true. So click.

Despite knowing better, I broke the cardinal rule of Positive Poker Results Club and blogged about it, which means that things will immediately turn south. Sunday was pretty ugly, as I dumped back a good chunk of my gains, and yesterday wasn't much better. I managed to grind back to the point where I was only down $300 or so on the day, when the following lovely situation arose.

I was playing my last set of 4 SnGs on Full Tilt, and was heads-up in one (about even stacked) and four/five handed in the other three, third in chips in all three of them. No one was monstrously ahead so I'm was likely looking at a nice finish to the day, maybe even pulling even if I could score a couple of 1sts. So I was feeling pretty good, right up until the point where I lose connection to Full Tilt. I quickly close out the client, re-open it, nada. Can't connect to the site. My internet connection in general is fine, PokerStars is fine, other sites are fine, I just can't connect to Full Tilt. I manage to get on for about ten seconds once, then it kicks me off again.

When I finally am able to connect about fifteen minutes later, I discover that I finished 2nd in the one I was heads-up in, and 4th/4th/5th in the other three. So I'm assuming that the entire site wasn't down and that it was a broader network traffic issue for a subset of people playing on the site. Okay, that sucks. But, you know, shit happens. Most of my irritation was due to it coming at the end of a couple of junk-kicking days, but it did raise an issue I hadn't encountered before, as far as how sites handle SnGs in progress if the site goes down. Cancel it and refund the entries? Split up the prize money for remaining players and pay it out based on ranking when the site went down? Pay out the top three as of the time when the site crashed?

So I shot off an email before bed, briefly outlining what happened and asking what their policy was in situations like that. Still haven't gotten a response back, which is a little disappointing, as I'd heard decent things about Full Tilt support in the past. I was mainly venting and curious about their policy for handling SnGs when/if the site went down, but even Party managed to at least respond to me, even if it was gibberish and less than helpful, instead of completely ignoring queries to support.

Feeling empty of nuggets of dubious SnG wisdom, based on the last few days, but I'm still fairly encouraged and motivated. I had to fight the tendency to tighten up, though, especially in steal situations on the bubble, as I was far too willing to limp into third towards the worst of the downswing, just to stop the bleeding. I'm splitting time between Stars and Full Tilt at the moment, and it's odd as it seems impossible for me to run well on both, or run poorly on both, as my results are of the polar opposite variety so far in the SnG grindy experiment.

Still steadily chipping away at painting the living room/dining room. Very happy with the results so far, but the trim is going to be less than fun, especially when I get to the bank of casement windows, as I'm probably going to bite the bullet and refurbish them, in addition to chipping away a couple of decades worth of paint that's currently keeping them painted shut.

Not sure what project is up next, as I tempted to save a lot of the painting for the winter, and maybe try to cram in some more outdoor projects now while the weather is so nice. Then again, "winter" is a pretty relative term in central Texas, so it's likely pointless to worry too much about such things. I need to stay motivated and knock out a goodly amount of projects over the next few months, as the current plan is to buy another fixer-upper early next year, thus starting the cycle once again.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

No Mas Baby Cashes

Eventually went out 40th in the $50K guaranteed yesterday, making the money but basically just doubling up my buy-in. It's probably wishful thinking but I feel like I'm due for a serious cash in a largish buy-in event soon, as I've been right there in the last dozen or so I've played but haven't gotten over the hump.

Yesterday's outing was odd, as I got KK, AA, and then KK again within the space of six hands, all in the first ten minutes. The fact that I was sitting at 2,600 chips after those hands (starting stack of 3,000) was due to one instance of playing KK as poorly as I possibly could and then stacking someone with KK and doubling up someone else with AA when they flopped a flush.

Managed to double up shortly after that, though, when I flopped a set with 99. Hit the first break at roughly twice average stack, then was card dead for most of the next hour. Saw a free flop with 810o and doubled through a slow-played KK on a flop of 88Q, leaving me once again at twice the average stack at the second break.

Things pretty much fizzled after that, although I had a healthy enough stack to cruise into the money, which was a fairly easy decision when the best hand I saw for half an hour was 8 high. I eventually busted when I shoved all-in from the button with A10h and the big stack in the BB couldn't resist calling with A5o, flopped a 5, and that was all she wrote.

Had my first +$1,000 at the SnG grind, which felt pretty damn good. Of course, it's pretty easy to post results like that when you get donkfish lucky and turn in a set of ten consecutive results like this:

1st
2nd
2nd
1st
4th
1st
3rd
3rd
8th
1st

Yesterday pushed me pretty solidly into the black for the SnG grinding, and it'd be even juicier if I hadn't spent the earlier part of the month flailing around like a lemur, donating many American dollars playing the $200 SnGs, $500 heads-up matches, and other destructive pursuits.

One nice thing about the orgy of SnGs I've logged is that it's at least getting easier to let beats slide right off, especially early on. Yeah, it makes my spleen ache to get it all in on the first hand with AA versus AJo and lose, but at least I invested essentially no time in that debacle, fire up another one, move on.

And it can always be worse, as poker has the sick capacity to produce some pretty terrible beats. Here's an actual hand from this morning. It's five handed, blinds are 100/200 and the two people who tangle in the hand below have roughly equal stacks:

Everyone folds to the button, where Unlucky Dude Who Did Something Fierce to Anger the Poker Gods raises to 400. SB folds, BB calls.

Flop is J44, rainbow.

BB shoves all-in pretty quickly. Unlucky Dude Who Did Something Fierce to Anger the Poker Gods insta-calls and turns over JJ. BB shows Q7o, who seemingly picked a bad spot to bluff all-in with air, no draws, etc.

Turn is a 4. River is the case 4.

Pot is shipped to BB, who doesn't even understand what happened and has to have it explained to him that he won because his Q outkicked Unlucky Dude Who Did Something Fierce to Anger the Poker Gods' J(s).

On the flop:

Board: Jc 4d 4h
Dead:

equity (%) win (%) tie (%)
Hand 1: 99.5960 % 99.60% 00.00% { JhJs }
Hand 2: 00.4040 % 00.40% 00.00% { Qs7c }

Oof.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Things That Are Good (And Things That Suck)

It finally gettng coolish in this neck of the woods is a good thing, especially when it motivates me to throw a beef stew in the slow cooker earlier today...

...having to sit here, ravenous and drooling, for at least two more hours while the house smells of tasty beef stew kind of sucks.


Getting KK, AA, and KK in the first ten minutes of the $50,000 guaranteed on Full Tilt is pretty awesome...

...ending up -500 in chips overall after the first ten minutes sort of sucks.


Watching some crappy Pac-10 team get a big lead on USC (hands down the most overrated "great" college football "dynasty" of all time) rocks...

...watching them claw back and make a game of it after being seemingly dead, yet again, sucks.


Seeing dorky little skinny dudes like David Eckstein do well is pretty cool...

...except for having to watch/read 192,182,182 stories about David Eckstein, and what a great, scrappy (white) ballplayer he is.

Writey Writey

Joining the ranks of Speaker, Mean Gene, and Gracie, I'm going to throw my hat into the NaNoWriMo ring this year. I've made the same declaration the last two years and fizzled out, barely off the launch pad, but hopefully things will be different this year. I've got a little more spare time on my hands this year and fewer excuses, especially since any oversight at the day job has completely disappeared, so I'm free to bang away at the keyboard while at work, since my entire job entails sitting there all day, banging away at the keyboard.

I'd like to say I was planning on writing the Great American Novel, but I'm probably going to be much more crass and commercial. I've had half a dozen plots for detective novels rolling around in my head the last few years, so I'll probably try to buckle down and grind out one of those. From a strictly commercial sense, I'm not sure it's +EV for an unpublished author to write anything these days, but the best bet for me to make any bucks in the writing business would probably lie in some genre-tastic area such as detective novels, instead of writing more literary, high-falutin' stuff like I did in grad school.

Things are chugging along on the poker front. I managed to get in 60 or so SnGs yesterday at Full Tilt, and was a good monkey and stuck to the $60s. That's pretty crazy volume for me and the most poker I've put in at the tables in a very, very long time. Nothing too horribly exciting and I was staring a largely break-even day in the face (I think I was up +$50 or so) when I had a nice run in my last four of the day, finishing ahead +$300 for the day. Not very sexy in many ways but I'm actually sort of enjoying the grinding at the moment, and while there's not the massive upside and earning potential of playing 30/60 or 10/20 NL, I can definitely see how people grind out nice, steady profits doing the SnG thing.

I can also see how it'd be easy to get pretty burned out, too, sitting there, playing SnG after SnG after SnG. I was "telecommuting" yesterday so I'd play a bunch, do a little work, play a bunch, go paint some in the living room, play a bunch, do a little work, rinse, lather, repeat.

Had an interesting bubble decision in a situation I hadn't yet encountered. Four players left and Dumby McDumbs had gotten really short (like 1 BB short), won a few hands, and kept shoving all-in with any two after that point, despite not having to do so. He ran his stack up, back down, up, back down, etc. Literally was shoving every single hand with any two cards, and had done that for the last 15 hands or so. I've been chilling out, waiting for someone to bust before tangling with Dumby. It was one of those wacky situations where it somehow managed to stay four handed, though, which brings us to the following situation, with blinds of 250/500:

Random #1: 1,500
Me: 4,000
Dumby McDumbs: 4,500
Random #2: 4,000

Random #2 posts his BB, Dumby the small blind. Random #1 folds and I look down to find QQ. I shove, Dumny insta-calls with 85o, Random #2 folds, and the poker gods quickly put me out of my misery when Dumby flops a straight and knocks me out.

I'm not really questioning my shove, but it does raise the question of what proper play is in that spot, when the chip leader has lost their gourd/is having "fun"/"is playing a rush" and is guaranteed to shove all-in every hand with any two. If you could somehow absolutely know that Dumby will continue to shove with any two, every single handfor the remainder of the tournament, do you fold your queens and waiting for him to bust/bust someone out?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Let's Get Grindy

Many thanks for all the comments on recent SnG posts. 90% of me agrees with the consensus that the hand yesterday is a push, but a tiny part of me still wonders at the value of picking up the blinds there, as opposed to waiting an orbit to let things clarify themselves a bit, as far as an obvious chip lead, mid stacks, and short stack emerging. You can't wait for forever, though, thus the shove, as you're likely not going to get a better hand than that in the next 1-3 orbits.

Had a good night at the tables last night, which spilled through to this morning. I also broke down and paid for two months subscription to Sharkscope, as well as ponying up the cash for SnGPT. 'Tis a little time-consuming looking up players and saving Sharkscope data, etc., but pretty worthwhile overall, methinks. Granted, SnGs are harder to datamine in many ways as they're a different beast from cash games, but it definitely helps to know that you're sitting on the bubble with profitable regulars, as opposed to a losing player playing way over their normal buy-in.

It also erased any lingering doubts that I need to just focus on the $60s and hammer those pretty hard. Not only are there multiple instances of players beating those to the tune of +$10K months so far, but the average game is light years better than at the $120 level. Far too often in the $120s it gets down to four or five handed and everyone left is a solid, profitable regular at those levels, with not much of an edge to be had. Not so with the $60s, though, as they manage to summon up some pretty wacky play, even/especially around the bubble. The fact that I'm chugging along at 15% ROI at the $60s and, umm, cough, much less than that at the $120s sort of seals the deal.

Looking like it may take a wee miracle for me to cash in on my futures bet on the Tigers winning the World Series, but it's hard to get too upset about that, as far as plunking down a longshot free bet midway through the season, solely because the odds were juicy. My silly -EV sportsbetting has pretty much ceased, suffering the double whammy of some terrible weeks plus cashing out the majority of my online funds. How people make a living betting sports, I do not know, as the inherent stress alone would send me to an early grave, even if I was competent at making profitable picks.

Thumbs up to all of you kids who kept recommending Heroes, as we caught up on all the episodes last night and that's definitely one to add to the rotation. I have to join the chorus of people expressing much happy disbelief that such a show got greenlighted and is getting beamed to our television sets, amidst so much crappy, crappy programming these days. Part of me wants to believe that the pendulum will have to swing back and that we'll see more similar fare, but then American Idol and Dancing with the Stars keep drawing 172.192.194,102 viewers each week, so who knows.

Going to start taking classes in November towards getting my real estate license. I'm a little meh about the whole thing, but it does make sense, and I can hopefully blow through them pretty quickly. There's a school here in town that offers the six 30 hour classes I need, with a Friday/Saturday/Sunday schedule (10 hours in the classroom each day) that I'll probably take. Even if I never work professionally as a realtor it'd pay for itself pretty quickly, if I'm going to be investing/renovating/flipping properties, and while the prospect of potentially working as a realtor some day far off in the future doesn't fill me with glee, neither does it fill me with dread. I'm happy enough to keep cashing paychecks from the current day job, but we're pretty firmly on the Layoff Expressway right now, as all signs point towards disappointing earnings, layoffs, etc.

Two-Outer Magnet

Managed to dig quite a deep hole for myself last night and then clawed my way back, down just -$100 on the night. I'm still living dangerously by mostly playing the $119 SnGs, which is pretty dumb as I'm not really bankrolled for that at the moment, and should be smart and just drop down and grind away at the $60s. Especially since my ROI is higher at that level anyway, as I ain't quite up to speed on all the intricacies of the SnG world yet.

It's actually been kind of fun poking around in the STT forum at 2+2. Not a ton of lightbulb moments but definitely some valuable stuff, as far as playing a big stack on the bubble, and correct bubble play in general. I've been playing like a donk in more than a few situations, especially as far as not constantly pushing with any two with a big stack on the bubble, when the other stacks are evenly distributed.

Last night was an odd one as far as the extremes, with opponents constantly rivering two outers to knock me out on the negative side, but then nearly every single coinflip with my pocket pairs holding up for me versus overcards, on the positive side of the spectrum. Including a fairly bizarre hand where it was still six handed and I was the shorty with 1400 or so, 200/400 blinds, and I shoved with 44 from UTG. The button shoving over the top of me dashed any hopes that I might pick up the blinds, then the SB pushing over the top of him, and the BB shoving as well pretty much torpedoed any excitement I had in my wee pocket pair.

Until the button, SB, and BB all turned over AKo, and despair turned to joy. The two-outer gods still tried to screw me with the case K on the river, but I flopped a set so I still quadrupled up.

That hand does (sort of) illustrate one of the concepts I still wrestle with when holding hands like that, but usually when I'm not quite so short. Lacking the vocabulary here, but I still flail around when there's 5-6 players left, stacks are reasonably evenly distributed, and no one is painfully short. Let's pretend the following SnG scenario:

I'm UTG with 7h7d, blinds are 100/200, and remaining players have the following stacks:

Hero: 2,000
CO: 2,000
Button: 3,000
SB: 3,500
BB: 3,000

I'm pretty much reduced to folding/shoving, as I have to fold if someone pushes over any raise I make. I guess I could try to limp, but that's just encouraging someone to shove behind me, which they can do profitably with any two as I'm folding nearly everything but a huge hand.

There's a lot to be said for shoving. Picking up the blinds adds a non-trivial boost to my stack and I don't necessarily hate getting called by hands like AK, AQ, etc., as I have to win some coin flips somewhere to pick up serious chips. On the flip side, since the stacks are relatively distributed, more often than not I'm only getting called by a bigger pair and in bad shape. Since I'm only picking up 300 chips a majority of the time, my gut rebels against pushing hands like these, as the utility of those chips seems diminished since picking up the blinds doesn't really clarify the roles each player is playing.

Ugh, that's a clunky way of describing what I'm trying to get at. With all the stacks fairly evenly distributed, should I tend to avoid shoving in situations like the above, when I can afford to donate my blinds and still have a workable stack with position when I get the button? Or does the fact that stacks are evenly distributed add value to pushing, due to the tendency for everyone else to fold? I feel like I have a decent grasp on playing these situations when everyone's role is clearly defined by their stack size and position, but am a bit lost when that's not so clear and everyone is still in wait-and-see mode, largely waiting for a clear chip leader and short stack to emerge.

Fuck me, this is like three posts in a row with real actual poker content. Here's a picture of the coolest rat in the world to counteract that:


All your peanuts are belong to me

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

4th Place, Baby, 4th Place

Poker is fun when you're winning. Profundity, thou art my bitch.

Thanks for the comments and emails about my SnG babblings from yesterday. I need to poker around on 2+2 and elsewhere to get a better sense of what "average" is for winning players, as far as the distribution and percentages of place finishes. To a large degree, it's kind of a moot point, as there's no practical application from determining "Hey, I need to stop finishing 3rd as much and finish 1st more, even if it increases my percentage of 4th place bubbles, so that my overall ROI is higher despite my ITM% dropping." I mean, umm, sure. Exactly.

Plus the ultimate answer is likely as simple as: play better poker. There's a reason that top players convert more 1sts than us normal folks when we all get down to the final four players. It's because they're really good players and we're not. The reasonably mindless push bot SnG strategy works fine, and probably comes close to guaranteeing at least a tiny profit if you're disciplined and bankrolled well enough, but it's not enough in and of itself to get you to the top.

A trap I've been falling into too much of late playing SnGs is getting lulled into the false sense of security that SnGs largely play themselves, especially the turbos. I play pretty conservatively early and, more often than not, am still around when there's 4-6 players, not having been blessed with great cards, with a stack of 1,000-2,000, and blinds of 100/200 and up rolling around. At that point, correct strategy indicates pretty automatic play, as far as when you should push your stack in, based on your position, your cards, and the relative position and stack size of other players.

But that doesn't mean that reads aren't important, which is the part that I often ignore, paying only cursory attention to the action up to that point, often 6 or 8 tabling SnGs. I've tried to pay more attention the last few days, cutting back to just 2-3 SnGs at a time, and forcing myself to take notes, look up players at Sharkscope, etc. Last night was a pretty good example, with the following hand occuring:

$120 SnG at Full Tilt, 4 players left, blinds of 100/200

Me: 3,000
Lawn Gnome: 800
Happy Elephant: 10,000
Angry Frog: 1,200

Lawn gnome is UTG and shoves his 800 chips in. Angry Frog folds and Happy Elephant, from the SB, shoves his 9,000 chips in. I'm in the BB with JJ. What's the correct play?

If you have no knowledge of the action up to this point and come to the table cold, I think it's a pretty easy call. On the surface it looks like the SB is just trying to get it heads up with a hand < QQ, KK, or AA (as he'd likely want my action with a truly premium hand and wouldn't massively overbet like that) and the odds are that you're ahead and are in a great spot to pick up chips. The only way you call and get bounced in fourth is if Lawn Gnome wins the main pot and Happy Elephant wins the side pot, as you're guaranteed third if Happy Elephant scoops both pots since you start with more chips than Lawn Gnome.

I folded. Partly because I'd actually been paying attention for once and had watched Happy Elephant build that stack from two huge multi-way pots where he had KK and AA, respectively. Other than those hands, he'd hardly played at all. So I actually might be behind, or racing with AK.

More importantly, though, is that I've got a workable stack and there's another relative shorty (Angry Frog) at the table aside from Lawn Gnome. Granted, Happy Elephant could be shoving with a hand like 22-1010 (in which case folding my jacks is a minor disaster), but even so it's just a minor disaster to fold to him, as odds are he's a favorite to knock out Lawn Gnome, who is short enough that he could be pushing many marginal hands there. If I fold I still have a workable stack, am likely to be guaranteed third, and can aggressively go after the two remaining players. I can recover from a minor disaster but not from a major disaster.

Happy Elephant ended up winning the hand with 1010 (boo, me), but I knocked the other shorty out later and ended up taking it down when it got heads up. I won't claim that the moral of the story is to fold JJ in that spot, as you can make a very good argument that folding is bad due to the chance of a double-up that would increase your likelihood of finishing 1st. It does touch upon the issue, though, that following a push bot strategy that solely looks at whether a shove is +EV or -EV may not always be correct.

Which is a very long-winded and patently obvious way of stating what was said more simply before: top SnG players finish 1st more because they're very good poker players and balance all of the above considerations, often on the fly, on many simultaneous tables.

All of which loops back to the fact that I'm trying of late to simply force myself to slow down a bit, and not necessarily fall into "This is an obvious shove, whee, there go all of my chips into the center of the table." In most cases, yeah, it is an obvious move, and whee, there go the chips, but taking the time to slow down (and backing off from firing up 182,192 tables at one time) spills over into concentrating more in general, which can never be a bad thing.