Saturday, September 30, 2006

We Lose

As you've probably already read elsewhere, we're a signature away from Internet gambling being illegal in the US. Frist got his wish, tacking on the Internet gambling legislation to the Port Authority bill authorizing more money to fight them mean ol' terrorists, and it passed overwhelmingly.

Not to be Captain Bringdown, but we're pretty thoroughly fucked here. The problem is that (and it pains me to say this) the specific language in the gambling bill was fairly shrewdly crafted. It doesn't really matter that there's no effective way to enforce it, as it places the onus squarely on online gaming sites and transaction processing companies like Neteller, many of which are now publicly traded companies. They have no choice but to bar US players from playing for real money, even if there's no immediate threat of enforcement. It also dodges any appeals on skill/game of chance issues, as it didn't attempt to say its illegal for US players to play games of chance online, it simply makes it illegal for any money from US players to flow into or out of online gaming sites.

Realistically, there's virtually 0% chance that this ever gets overturned or modified even if the Democrats regain control of the House or Senate. That's the real tragedy here that Frist has bequeathed us. We can pretend that Democrats might save us, being logical and rational and all that, but that's ignoring the fact that many Democrats in office now supported the Internet gambling ban. It may be painful to admit, but we were in the minority on this issue, opposing the Internet gambling ban. If you're not an elected official from Nevada or New Jersey, it's pretty idiotic for you to take a public stance that is pro-gambling, even if there's a great argument to be made as far as the revenues created from regulating and taxing the industry. That applies to Democrats just as it does to Republicans. This ain't going to be revisited or modified, regardless of who controls Congress.

As far as workarounds, sure, we're likely going to see all sorts of exotic ideas pitched, as far as opening offshore bank accounts, tricknological ways to hide the fact that you're playing from the US, etc. None of that is the point, though. The typical casual player that drives the whole poker economy is never going to go to those lengths, which sends rippling effects across the entire online poker landscape. Poorer games, fewer promotions, and likely a lot of sites going under or being purchased for pennies on the dollars by the almighty Party machine.

So, umm, yeah. Happy Saturday, here in the good ol' US of A.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wait, Why Do I Have Four Cards?

The good news is that I made it to the second break in WCOOP #15. The bad news is that I've got less than half an average stack, so something good needs to happen quick. Given that I've won exactly three pots the entire tournament, I guess I should be happy to have a stack at all after the second break.

Edit: Hmm. Just hit the third break with $10K in chips, with average stack of $10.6K. 203 players left at the third break, with 120 getting paid.

Got pretty short right after the break but doubled up with a junky unraised BB that hit a set on the flop, although I had to dodge 182 outs as villain had an OESD and a flush draw. Got short again but doubled again with another flopped set that managed to dodge another 875 outs.

I'm still kicking myself a bit, though, as I laid down aces in what developed into a huge pot on a flop of 5h 9d 10d, when there was a raise and a big re-raise in front of me. Both turned out to just be overagressive lemurs with overpairs (JJ and KK), no straight or flush draws, and I would have had a top 20 stack if I'd made the flop call. The annoying part is that an A turned, which is where all of the real money went in, so I wouldn't have even been faced with that agonizing of a dilemma.

Oh well. Turn the page. Let's see if I can make some money.

Last edit: Ended up winning baby money, going out 95th or so, for just shy of $900. I had a few hands on the bubble that I likely could have pushed (stuff like QQ107 double suited, etc.) and picked up some chips but I was fairly short stacked and was certain to fold into the money, which is basically what happened. Went out on 991010 double suited when I ran into KKxx and didn't improve.

Whee, money.


Managed to bubble in a double shootout last night to the Sunday $3 Million guaranteed WCOOP event. I need to cut that bubbling stuff out, as the list of satellites that I've come up one spot short in (yet managed to take home exactly $0 for my efforts) is getting fairly large, including a WSOP ME satellite, a PokerDome final, and a handful of other events paying out pretty big entries/packages.

The bubble last night wasn't horribly painful, though, as I was living on borrowed time at the final table anyway, sucking out twice with AJ at my first table when my M was < 5 in the late stages, successfully outrunning AK and KK. Got heads up at the final table outchipped 3-1 but managed to double up fairly quickly and then steadily chipped up, to the point where I was up 3-1 but couldn't close it out. We were about even when he completed from the SB and I checked my 87o, only to see a flop of 8c 7c 5h. All the money goes in, he rolls over 46o, and I can't fill up and go out the next hand shoving in my 500 or so remainng chips. At least it removed the potential quandry of whether to play in Sunday's event or take the 2600 W$ and run.

Edit: Heh. Just managed to satellite into WCOOP #15, teetering on the brink of yet another bubble but pulling it out in the end. If I was smart I'd take the 530 W$ and run, as PLO is far from my game of choice, but I'm working from home today and it's about as convenient for me to play as any event will be, so I'll probably roll the bones and play.

I'm pretty meh about both the Cardinals and Astros, but it's pretty painful to watchthe Cards self-destruct here at the end of the season. I suppose I'm rooting for them to pull it out, if for no other reason than it makes Roger Clemens look like more of a tool, as the 'Stros would likely be sitting in much better shape if he hadn't pulled his now regular Gee-I-Don't-Know-If-I-Want-To-Play (But-What-I'm-Really-Saying-Is-I'd-Rather-Just-Work-Half-a-Year-and-Still-Force-You-to-Pay-Me-a-Boatload-of-Money) routine.

I've been following assorted threads at 2+2 concerning the online gambling is of the devil and must be outlawed saga that is presently unwinding, and I can't say I'm very optimistic at the moment. We seem to have caught pretty much a perfect storm of unfavorable circumstances, with the current wacked out "moral compass" of this country swinging ever farther to the right, and Frist consumed with delusions of grandeur and his willingness to do absolutely anything that he thinks will increase his 0.02% chance of securing the Republican nomination up to 0.287%. That's the truly sad part about all this, as I could at least give him some grudging credit for all his machinations if he had a real shot at the nomination, because then it's just a case of being ruthless and driven. As is, his effective chance of getting the nomination (regardless of whether he managed to ban the evil Satan of online gambling) is 0%, so he just comes off as ruthless, driven, and idiotic. Thanks, Bill. Why don't you just go back to taking naps on huge piles of money that your family made from charging poor people in Tennessee too much for basic health care?

On the very bright side of things, I pretty much have the entire week off next week, so a big thumbs up to that. Hoping to knock out tons of work around the house and get in some poker playing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

World's Most Boring Degenerate

Not much exciting to report at all from the last few days. I'm still trying to catch up on assorted freelance work, still grinding away at sportsbook bonuses, still sneaking in a few quick HORSE sessions, still picking off house projects here and there, all that good stuff.

Looking forward to new Lost episodes, and I still need to catch up on WSOP ME coverage. I finally saw the Lisandro/Prahlad Friedman brouhaha, and have to admit that my take was a little different than many of the reactions I saw around the blogosphere, agreeing with Lisandro's strong desire to kick Friedman's teeth in for the insult. I mean, yeah, Friedman was being an annoying douchebag, and was doing it intentionally, but I thought Lisandro's reaction was overblown. Maybe I don't defend my own personal honor forcefully enough, but if some annoying douchebag wants to insist that I cheated when I didn't, well, umm, whatever. It wasn't like the table as a whole was questioning Lisandro or anything was going on other than Friedman insistently whining like a wee little girl that Lisandro didn't ante. Seemed a pretty obvious attempt to get under his skin and I was a little surprised that it wasn't shrugged off as exactly that, even if he was implying that Lisandro was an untrustworthy cheater who didn't ante.

I'm at a bit of a loss, as far as poker for the near future. I feel like I've been spinning my wheels for quite awhile, hopping from here to there to this to that, largely because, umm, that's exactly what I've been doing. This last downturn knocked me down to pretty much even on the year, which is more than a little disappointing. I'm shying away from playing mid/high limits as I keep rolling around the idea of buying another house, and want to build up the supply of dry powder if I pull the trigger on that plan. Which is a fine plan, but it's been hard to play poker with an focus of late, as my "plan" largely consists of playing for meaningful (but not too meaningful) stakes, which isn't much of a plan and conducive to the spinning of wheels. Which would be fine, as I like playing poker, but it's sucking time from assorted endeavors that'd further the cause, as far as getting me to a financial place where I could make an equivalent living from buying/renovating/flipping properties.

I suppose it's more a matter of just slowing the hell down, and not feeling like I'm racing some sort of looming clock. Turn the clock back four years ago and I was living in a rented apartment with a few thousand in savings and many thousands owed in student loans. ScurvyWife and I were home owners two years or so ago, but with very little in savings and multiple thousands in debt from our wedding. Fast forward to today and we suddenly own two homes, with a nice chunk of money stashed away. Not bad progress, that, and something I should keep in mind. It's not the end of the world if I have to grind away for four or five more years, if the payoff is the freedom along the lines of that outlined much more finely by Klopzi than I could here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lazy Weekend

This weekend has been pretty nice, as it's the first that I've been able to spend solely in Lockhart with no driving/working in Austin. I did assorted odd jobs around the house yesterday, mainly patching up walls and what-not in preparation for painting. We also made pretty substantial progress in the War of Moving Box Aggression, managing to annex those cardboardy bastards out of most of the house.

Continued to grind off some more sportsbook bonuses, as well as donking around a bit at 10/20 HORSE at Stars. Other than the ugly teeth kicking in at 30/60, I've pretty much been holding my own at the 10/20 games, over a decent number of hands. Which sort of begs the question as to why I continue to play, if I'm really not making much money. And I don't have a good answer, other than its still fun. So I'll go with that whole fun thing.

As far as silly NFL sportsbetting, this week is going to be a slim one, as I'm not comfortable with most of what's out there. Below is the best I can scrape up, as far as games to lay some degenerate money on:

Packers +254 at Pinnacle vs. Lions

This is more a value bet than a bold feeling that the Packers will win. Both these teams are terrible and yeah, Favre seems to play even worse at Detroit (if that's possible) than elsewhere in recent years, but I refuse to believe that any team in the NFL should be a +200 dog versus the Lions, even playing at Detroit.

Carolina -3 -110 at Cascade vs. Tampa Bay

Phil Simms would be better at QB for the Bucs at the moment, as Chris just keeps taking bigger steps backwards. Tampa has shown next to nothing so far this year and the Panthers simply can't go 0-3 and hope to make any noise come playoff time. The Bucs are not a good football team. Any semblence of good football from them last year was largely smoke and mirrors and Phil's Son pretending at times to be a quality NFL quarterback.

Eagles -6 -111 at Pinnacle vs. SF

49ers are showing signs of life, true, but I think Philly easily covers here, getting up big early and coasting. The Eagles pretty much dominated the Giants last week yet somehow managed to lose and I think they come out fired up this week and take care of business versus SF.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Grindstone, Meet Nose...Nose, Grindstone...

Haven't played a lick of poker the last few days, as I've been putting the nose to the grindstone and banging out some freelance work that's been lingering undone for too long.

Still settling into the new house and routine, but we're getting there. It's been interesting joining the ranks of the commuters, especially living in the country (relatively speaking) and driving to the big city (relatively speaking) for work each day. In some obvious ways, yeah, it's a pain in the ass, but I'm sort of liking how sharply it divides work/not work, especially when we're hanging out in our cool, big old house in the country. ScurvyWife has classes on Wednesday nights so I've been picking off more projects at the Austin house, to occupy myself until she's done since we drive into Austin together, so that's been good, as far as continuing forward momentum and not lapsing into relative laziness.

Next big project at the new house is, thankfully, one that involves me lifting nary a finger, except to write a check for many American dollars to someone to murder trees. The backyard is pretty much dominated by a huge elm tree that's got to be pushing 100 years, but one that's sadly on its last tree legs. Tree guy thought it'd been strucky by lightning at some point, and since elms apparently don't really heal well, it's been slowly rotting ever since. Looks perfectly healthy outwardly, as it's still sprouting green leaves with no dead limbs, but once you get close you can see that the trunk is nearly rotted through, with just the outer rings of new growth keeping it alive.

So that's gotta go, which sucks, expensively, but at least it'll give us some extra room and some sunlight to work with back there, landscaping-wise. He's also going to prune things back in general while he's there, and remove most of the old people shrubs that are in the front right now, including grinding out the roots. I could handle that last one but it seems silly to spend half a day digging, chopping, and cussing, just to save $75, when we're already forking over many multiples of that.

Still grinding away some sportsbook bonuses, and I need to get off my butt and update the degenerate challenge, as I've made some decent progress there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yada Yada Yada

Had a long, sorta-whiney post worked up that will probably stay in Blogger draft-land, that wonderful, hellish purgatory that some posts seem eternally doomed to live in. The gist of it was that I dumped a pretty painful amount of genuine American dollars into the 30/60 HORSE game at Stars over the weekend, for absolutely no good reason. Instead of covering ground I've covered many times before, I'll just leave it with this: poker seems to have the bewitching quality of bringing out the absolute best and worst in ourselves, despite of/because of our own best/worst efforts.

There. I can be brief and concise, damnit. See?

Bathroom renovation project is nearing the end game, which is a big relief. I suppose I can chalk it up in the success category (despite the water pipe debacle, and a little jigginess to one corner when tiling due to the dang ol' tub not being level and me not checking and compensating for that beforehand), and it's good to get that experience under my belt, as far as what's involved in completely tearing down and building back up a bathroom. With everything else going on and time being at a premium, I'd probably bite the bullet and pay some tile extortionist to do it all, if I had it all to do over again, but the thought of renovating the guest bathroom at the new place doesn't fill me with dread now, especially if I take my time with it.

Yay, sportsbetting. For whatever reason I've been pretty spot-on with my early reads for the NFL season, doing well in all the assorted pools I'm in. Which'll very likely fade as the year goes on, but is fun while it lasts.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

ScurvyPicks: NFL Week #2

(This is, of course, going to absolutely doom me, as I went 5-0 with my picks last week, when I kept mum about it, so now that I publicly reveal said picks I'm essentially guaranteeing I'll go 0-5 this week.)

It's been a very good degenerate month for me so I thought I'd reward myself last week by splashing some bets around on NFL games, actually wagering real money on the outcome of games (*gasp*). Like I said, 'twas a good week, to the point that my head has swelled enough to post my picks for this week.

Indy +13 +102 at Pinnacle vs. Houston

Houston just isn't very good. (Sorry, April). I normally shy away from big favorites in the ParityFL these days but not when the favorite is Indy playing Houston.

Atlanta -5.5 -105 at Pinnacle vs. Tampa Bay

Tampa isn't as bad as they looked last week, but the Atlanta D is going to feast on Phil's Son. I was tempted to take the Under/35 instead of the spread but I like the odds of Atlanta covering the spread slightly better.

St. Louis -3 -104 at Pinnacle vs. San Francisco

This scares me a bit because I don't understand why the Rams are just -3 here (pretty much across every book), as I'd figure them for at least -5/-6 versus the lowly 49ers. So, umm, yeah. Like the Rams a lot at -3, which scares me a bit in its seemingly no-braineresqueness.

Giants +3 -115 at CanBet vs. Philly

Sorry, Al. I don't love this game but I think it's a case of the Giants being better than they showed in their opener and Philly not quite as good as they appeared.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ride Them Steelers

Online sportsbooks seem to be doing their best to turn the entire sportsbetting world into big, big Steelers fans.

While it's not as juicy as the Mansion promo, BetWWTS is offering a free $100 bet on the Steelers' Monday night game. Here are the details from the site:

"Free $100 Bet - No strings attached

Congratulations – you are about to make a no-lose bet.

Simply bet $100 on the Pittsburgh Steelers at -1½ against Jacksonville this Monday.

If the Steelers win we’ll pay you out. If the Steelers don’t cover we’ll refund your $100 bet right back into your account. No rollovers, no questions asked and you can withdraw your money immediately.

*Terms and conditions apply… further details coming soon."

Now, yes, indeed, that last sentence makes one wonder, as far as exact terms and conditions, so you might keep an eye on this one if you are of the wary type. But "No rollovers, no questions asked and you can withdraw your money immediately." is pretty clear, and BetWWTS is one of the most reputable books out there, so odds are very great that the offer is legit and exactly what it appears to be.

BetWWTS is currently running a 20% up to $200 signup bonus, and they'll also throw in a free $20 futures bet on the 2007 NFL Super Bowl winner when you sign up. BetWWTS offers pretty nice lines and it's pretty easy to find offsetting lines at other books to work off the bonus, as outlined here.

Bonuses like these (deposit $1,000, get a $200 bonus) are good ones to start with, as it's a decent bonus and is relatively easy to bust out, as you can simply bet $1,200 on one game, bet the other side at a book like Pinnacle, and often bust out the BetWWTS account in one bet, pocketing the bonus money on going on your merry way. Once you clear a decent number of those you can work your way up to some of the bigger bonuses such as the deposit $5,000, get a $1,000 bonus ones offered at CRIS, DSI, YouWager, etc.

Edit: They tweaked the terms on the BetWWTS deal to just apply to bets made on the game by new signups (and capped the new signups elgibile at 1000 total), instead of it being open to everyone.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Die, Poker Blogs, Die!

Haven't played much poker of late, or really done much of anything other than work, work, work, drive, work, drive, work, work, drive, drive, watch a tiny amount of football, and work. Which kind of sucks but it does make the time fly by.

I did sneak in a few sessions at the 10/20 HORSE tables at PokerStars, pretty much breaking even despite a really ugly Stud/8 hand. Seemed to be the ideal set-up, as I thought the guy to my left with (x)(x) 5 3 was overplaying his low/straight draw, and that the insanely overaggresive guy to my right was trapped in the middle, with his (x)(x) Q 10. I kept pumping in more raises with (K)(K) 4 K, guy to my left kept re-raising, and overaggressive guy kept calling. Which was well and dandy, except the guy to my left actually had (3)(3) 5 3, and rivered quad 3s, spanking me despite the fact that I filled up. Doh.

Speaking of poker, lo and behold, this humble poker blog turned two years old in August and I didn't even notice. 'Tis kind of crazy to think I've been doing this for two years, as in many ways that time has flown by, yet it also seems like a million years ago when I started up this poker blog type thing.

A few posts of late have been floating around assorted haunts about the death of poker blogs, which I agree with and disagree with. Mainly disagree with, I suppose, but I definitely agree that the times, they are a changin', which can easily be seen as a death of sorts.

Poker blogs are a weird beast. Most people blogging about poker started blogging because of poker, and previously weren't of the blogging bent. And, at the same time, most people are relatively new to poker itself when they start a poker blog. True, not always the case, but I think it applies in more cases than not.

So you've got all this unbridled enthusiasm spilling all the hell over the place, springing up from two different sources. Three sources, even, if you turn the clock back two or three years, when poker was even more boomtacular, and fresh-faced, excited poker bloggers could look around and see all sorts of other people in exactly the same fresh-faced, excited state, with a limitless tower of chips to be won stacked well into the clouds. Not only can the game be cracked and you can gather many thousands of American dollars to your heaving bosom, but the road map is right there, right in front of you!

And then that great equalizer of reality steps in, slowly, over time. You go from rushing home to play after work and voraciously refreshing blogs in the off chance that they might have posted something new in the last 0.27 seconds to, you know, jogging home to play after work, and only checking your favorite blogs three or four times a day. You go from posting every minute detail of your poker journey on a daily basis to only blogging the highlights (or lowlights).

You're still playing tons of hands and thinking about poker an inordinate amount of time, but you're also slowly becoming aware of the slightly darker nature of the poker beast. It's neither inherently good nor bad to be consumed by something, but it always exacts a toll, as you unfortunately aren't sitting on an endless supply of time or energy. You can feed it for awhile, and feed it gladly, but for the vast majority of us the whole thing starts to pick up odd vibrations and rattles. Something is askew, somewhere.

If you keep playing and manage not to go busto, you likely move up in limits. But more than likely not that far. Because poker is much harder than you ever thought, and the price to be a big time balla at mid/high limits is pretty large, as far as both the time consumed and the psychological fortitude necessary to endure the natural swings. Most bloggers, when faced with the above, settle into a comfortable zone where they play lots of poker (often grinding out decent profits), but not with an eye of constantly moving up limits until they butt heads with the Phil Ivey's of the world.

One side effect of that is that you slowly stop looking to other blogs for strategy, hints, and tips. It doesn't mean that you stop reading poker blogs, because you don't. You just don't read them with an eye towards unlocking hidden riches and potential talents lurking in your poker skillz. You don't enjoy poker any less, it just starts to dawn on you that no matter how many blogs you read you're still going to struggle with how to play 1010 from EP, and that any poker you play at the Bellagio is going to be when you're on vacation from work, life, or both.

Your own blog starts to shift, too, as you post less and less about poker strategy, and detail fewer and fewer hands. You stop posting every day, and might even go a week or two between posts. You eventually reach a tipping point where (either consciously or unconsciously) you have to shit or get off the poker blog pot. Or the third option (which actually is the most common), which is to pick up a new magazine to thumb through while on the crapper.

Lots of people just get off the pot, blog goes dark, the end. A few continue to solider on, taking regular poker dumps, but that's pretty rare. Some people (and I lump myself in this camp), find a way to angle around the issue, still incorporating some poker content but also finding another hook, such as my endless poker/casino/sportsbook scheming.

It's the third option that's the most interesting, and to me, most encouraging. What do you do with a poker blog that's evolved to the point where it's not really about poker anymore? You turn it into a real blog, about a real person. You start blogging about you. Which is infinitely more interesting than postulating about how much you should raise with AK on the button preflop in a 6 max NL game with one limper in front of you.

The interesting part is that many of my favorite poker blogs/bloggers that have weathered the test of time really weren't ever poker blogs to begin with, to a large extent. I mean, sure, Pauly, Otis, BG, Linda, Maudie, and MeanGene write about poker (and play poker), but poker has never been the sole focus of their efforts. They're just damn good writers who happen to talk about poker, or use poker as a launchng pad for what they really want to talk about.

And yeah, sure, you can argue semantics and say that a blog that doesn't live and breathe poker 24/7 isn't a true poker blog, but that's a boring argument. It also begs the question of why you'd wish such a thing to ever exist in the first place, as there's nothing that'll cause your eyes to glaze over more quickly than hand history after hand history after hand history.

All of which is a very long-winded way of saying, no, I don't think poker blogs are dying. I just think there's a shelf life for most poker blogs, after which they either die or morph into something much different, usually something much more personal and akin to a "traditional" blog (whatever the hell a "traditional" blog is). I don't think a blog making that journey becomes any less a poker blog, even if a person completely and utterly abandons poker, as it's more the process, beginning to end, that defines it, methinks.

But, in the end, who the hell cares, as all this babbling is pretty much pointless navel-gazing. If you've grown weary of blogging, stop blogging. If it bugs you that all the good poker blogs are dying, post better content to your own poker blog to make up the difference. If you're tired of reading yet another bad beat hand history, don't read blogs that consist of bad beat hand histories. Kind of simple, really, in the end.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How Can it Possibly Be Monday Again Already?

Fairly frustrating weekend, all in all. I was due for a home renovation project to completely and utterly go to hell, as it'd been awhile, and that was pretty much this weekend in a nutshell. Sending many gallons of water flooding into the bathroom was the coup de grace, but I also managed many other small feats of incompetence, including knokcing over a half full can of paint in the garage and then walking through it (and halfway outside) before I even realized something was amiss. And I've still got miles and miles to go before I sleep on the damn project, too.

On the brighter side of things, I'll get it done, eventually, and can chalk it up into the useful experience category, even saving a little money after accounting for the plumber's blood monies. There's definitely something to be said, though, for remembering that just because I can do something myself, it might not be the most +EV endeavor. My time has got to be worth more than $3/hour or whatever it's currently working out to, especially when I'm itching to get to work on the new house.

Man, Trent Green got laid out on that hit. The Cowgirls most definitely need to get Bledsoe out of there. See what Romo can do, as you're going nowhere with Bledsoe in there this year. I need the 'Skins and the Super Chargers to come through and I'll be sitting pretty in all my assorted pools.

Yes, indeed, I am blatantly ignoring the abortion of a game that was OSU-Texas. I don't mind our offense sturggling but Jebus, the defense got absolutely picked apart. If we're going to give receivers a ten yard cushion on every play even Texas Tech is going to thump us this year.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Another Item to Add to the List of Things NOT to Do

If you're renovating a bathroom and cutting out some of the old sheetrock with a reciprocating saw, it's probably not a good idea to get overexcited at the relative speed with which it cuts (as opposed to the old-fashioned manual way you were previously cutting/smoothing out the jagged borders of the old sheetrock with a hand saw).

If you do get overexcited with the relative speed at which it cuts, at least have the good sense to be cutting in areas where you can do no real damage. Try to avoid areas where water pipes might make an unexpected jig and be lurking. Because, you know, it'd be really, really stupid (and ultimately expensive and mood de-enhancing) to cut through the water pipe and send binary compounds that occur at room temperature as a clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid jetting everywhere.

That is all.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Gamblling is Fun

Still slightly in shock that the Mighty Steelers (led by Detroit Lion castoff Charlie Batch) managed to cover the 4.5 point spread last night. Definitely thought the Dolphins were getting a bit overhyped (with some pundits picking them as a sleeper Super Bowl team) but man, 4.5 points was a shit-ton. Which grew into a shit-ton + 1 when the Steeler kicker shanked the field goal attempt with 4 minutes and change left, seemingly dooming us, until that dynamic duo of Culpepper-Porter worked their magic. Unfreakingbelievable.

Today pretty much kicked my ass. I demolished the master bath at the Austin house, in preparation for re-tiling it over the weekend. While it's fun to bash tile for about thirty seconds, as far as the child-like glee of smashing something you absolutely shouldn't be smashing, that glee lasts all of about thirty seconds, for me at least. Then I quickly become resigned to the fact that it's pretty nasty, back-wrecking work, as far as filling contractor bag after contractor bag full of dead tile and sheetrock and lugging it outside, over and over and over. Then I had the pleasure of paying a plumber $300 or so to tell me that the pipes are in fact a-ok and to do about fifteen minutes of soldering. I really need to get over my fear of mucking aronud with plumbing and things electrical, as that shit gets expensive and apparently isn't really all that difficult.

Pretty busy weekend in store for me, but I should have time to watch the Longhorns thump the silly Schumckeyes.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Charlie Batch, Thou Art a God

Nice work, Steelers. Never doubted you for a moment. Nope.

Free Consulting Advice to Execs of Online Gaming Companies: No, Seriously, Do Not Travel to the US

Sportingbet PLC Chairman Detained in the US

I read a fairly encouraging story yesterday that despite Frist's desire to try to ram the Online Gambling is the Root of All Evil legislation through the Senate before the end of September, there were still Republican senators with holds on the bill, and that odds of it passing didn't appear to be great. But then if we're going to keep yoinking bigwig execs of firms traded on the London Stock Exchange and hold them indefinitely on ambiguous charges in undisclosed locations, well, I'm not sure that bodes well for the future of online gambling for US citizens.

I've been hitting the sportsbetting hard this week, but very little poker to speak of. ScurvyWife is going to Dallas for the weekend, which would normally allow me much time for degeneracy, but I'm retiling the master bathroom in the Austin house, which should effectively suck up the entire weekend.


While I probably would hedge the Mansion free bet on the Steelers -4.5 if I could, I have to admit I'm looking forward to watching the game, with a potential $1,000 on the line. I've probably run well over $1,000,000 in wagers through sportsbooks in the last few years, due to my neverending schemery, but I almost never bet on games in the normal, traditional sense. 'Tis kind of fun to have a vested degenerate interest in the game.

Anyone interested in speculation, poker, and/or investing should check this out:

The Zurich Axioms

It's not a quick read but contains some very interesting stuff, and most definitely applies to poker (sometimes directly, as poker examples are sprinkled throughout).

Definitely resonates with many things rolling around in my head of late, especially in regards to the whole conundrum of not just creating enough wealth to significantly alter your life, but also doing so quickly enough so that you can actually enjoy it. Yeah, it's very responsible and Suze Orman-esque to hoard your pennies and sock them away into mutual funds, and over decades turn your pennies into nickels (or maybe even dimes!), so that you can retire comfortably at 65 and leave a nice chunk of money that your ungrateful kids will blow through in 6-9 months.

And I'm not really knocking that and suddenly saying that you should invest your entire life savings in lemur farms in Wyoming, but there is something to be said for setting aside some monies for more speculative endeavors, apart from all the "boring" investments. To some extent, I've been doing this, but it's been a bit self-defeating, as I've never set aside enough money for truly speculative stuff that would hurt, if I blew through it all, nor enough that would make an appreciable difference in my life, if I tripled up. On the bright side, it's not enough money to hurt. On the less than bright side, it's not enough money to matter. So the tendency (for me at least) is to splash and donk around, never really making or losing any serious money.

And, again, not the worst thing in the world, but if I'm going to speculate, I might as well use my whole ass, and not just half my ass.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How to Cash in on Sportsbook Bonuses

This Mansion free bet promo is a pretty good segue into a general post on how you can profit from sportsbook bonuses. And, unlike casino bonuses and poker bonuses, it's pretty much risk-free. Yes, indeedy, that's correct. So, with no further ado, here is yet anoter epic screed from me, detailing how to profit from sportsbook bonuses.

How to Cash in on Sportsbook Bonuses

Taking advantage of sportsbook bonuses are a bit different than casino bonuses and poker bonuses, and take a different approach. If you’re going to go after these as an advantage player, you have to accept a few principles:

1) You aren’t gambling at all.
2) You need a fairly large bankroll to do these, and your money can be tied up for quite awhile.
3) It is a very boring and unsexy way to make money.

If you like sportsbetting, there’s nothing wrong with just depositing, getting a bonus, and picking teams that you think will win. That’s gambling, obviously, and some people make lots of money doing it. What I’m about to describe is very different, and doesn’t involve picking the team you think you’ll win, analyzing stats, or anything like that. It’s just a mechanism to take advantage of bonus offers by making risk-free bets.

This strategy is an offshoot of arbitrage trading, which is not only used in the world of sportsbook, but also in the larger world of investing. Arbitrage trading is essentially taking advantage of inequalities in the prices of commodities on trading exchanges. If you're diligent and know what to look for, you can find situations where you can lock in a guaranteed profit, by both simultaneously buying and selling a commodity. Say you're on the bus and the guy to your left offers to sell you his watch for $50, and, at the same time, the guy to your right says "If you buy it, I'll give you $50.25 for it." You buy the watch, hand it to the guy on your right, and profit .25 for doing absolutely nothing. Which is just a quarter, obviously, but if you do it over and over and over, the quarters add up.

As far as the specific strategy for sportsbook bonuses, at first it's a little counter-intuitive. Let’s walk through a quick hypothetical example:

You deposit $1,000 at CanBet and get a $200 bonus, with a WR of 5x deposit + bonus. So you start with $1,200 and you have to wager a total of $6,000 before you can withdraw.

You also deposit $1,000 at LinesMaker and get a $150 bonus, with a WR of 2x bonus + deposit. So you start with $1,150 and have to wager a total of $2,300 before you can withdraw.

So now you have two different accounts at two different sportsbooks, each with their own bonus money and WR requirements. What you’re looking for are offsetting lines, so that you can make what is essentially a risk-free wager, betting both sides of the same game.

Let’s say you find the following NFL lines:

Houston vs. Tampa Bay
CanBet Houston -2.5 +105
LinesMaker Tampa Bay +2.5 -105

This is exactly the situation you’re looking for. Both the point spreads and the lines match up so that you can make a risk-free wager on this game. You make the following wagers:

At CanBet you bet $100 on Houston; if Houston pays off, this bet pays $105.
At LinesMaker you bet $105 on Tampa Bay to win; if Tampa pays off, this bet pays $100

Total wagers: $205
Total payout (regardless of actual outcome): $205
Net gain/loss: $0

Which looks dumb, on the surface, as you can never profit from the actual bets. But what you have to keep in mind is that you’re not trying to profit, you’re simply trying to clear the WR so that you can withdraw the bonus money.

You can also simply bet offsetting money lines, too, which are straight-up bets that don't incorporate spreads.

Keep in mind, too, that the lines don't exactly have to offset perfectly, as far as it being a 0 risk wager. If you find a line that results in a loss of $10 from betting both sides, that's pretty decent, as usually you'll be clearing large bonuses ($300-$500 range), so it's okay to sacrifice a few bucks here and there, if you can't find lines that offset perfectly.

If you have a shot at completely busting out one of the accounts, you can even take worse lines. Let's say that you bet the following line:

Houston -2.5 +100
Tampa Bay +2.5 -105

but instead you bet your entire LinesMaker initial balance of $1,150 on Houston, wagering $1,150 to win $1,150.

You then also bet $1,150 at CanBet on the Tampa Bay side, wagering $1,150 to win $1,095.

Total wagered: $2,300
Balance if Houston wins: $2,300
Balance if Tampa Bay wins: $2,245

On the surface, again, that looks very dumb. At best you break even, and if Tampa wins you actually lose $55. Dumb, right?

Not so much. +EV, actually. If Tampa wins, you do indeed lose $55 on that wager, but you've also busted out the LinesMaker account, so that the balance is $0. That means you're done there and have no more WR to clear. While you lost $55 on that wager, you got a signup bonus of $150, so your net profit is +$95.

You've also cleared a good chunk of the WR on the CanBet side, too. You can simply sign up at another one of the many sportsbooks offering nice signup bonuses and continue the process, making offsetting bets between that book and the balance at CanBet.

Most people clear these on football and baseball wagers, but it can be used on other sporting events, too, as long as you can find outcomes that you can cover in offsetting sportsbooks and the appropriate spreads and lines to make it a zero risk (or close to zero risk) bet.

So you’d basically just repeat the above process, finding offsetting or close to offsetting lines on different books, until you’ve cleared the WR and can withdraw or have busted out your balance at the book. It also doesn’t matter if by chance one of your accounts wins much more than the other, as you have to keep in mind the cumulative balance and bonuses. Whatever you lose in one account, you’re gaining in the other, as you’re betting both sides.

That’s the basic theory, in a nutshell. Find sportsbooks that offer good bonuses with low WRs, deposit, then wait until you can find situations where you make risk-free bets on both sides of the same game on different books. You’ll almost never profit from any of your bets, but that’s not your goal. Your goal is to clear the WR and withdraw the bonus money or to quickly bust out one account entirely.

One thing to note, along those lines, is that some books will limit how much you can wager, so that it's not possible to bet enough to bust out an account on one wager. You'll also encounter spots where you churn money back and forth between books, losing a bit on each wager but never managing to completely bust out one account. If you're taking lines that don't perfectly offset, you can potentially lose $25-$50/wager, and if you keep churning money back and forth without busting one account, those small losses can add up and eat a big chunk (or all of it) out of the bonus money. This is just one of those things that happens that you really can't do much about.

Like anything, there are risks and complications involved. You have to be really carefully when picking the games, and make sure that you select the correct team at the correct book, so that it’s a risk-free (or close to risk-free) wager. It sounds dumb but it’s very easy to get confused by the + and – lines, and to accidentally pick the wrong bet, or to simply forget and select the same team to win twice.

You also have to pick the right sportsbooks to play at, as some have better bonuses than others. Some also will stop granting you future bonuses if you’ve cashed out with a profit, so you may not be eligible for future reloads if your account is in the positive. So you need to do some legwork scoping out books and getting savvy on typical bonuses, restrictions, etc., as well as the cashout policy (does the money have to remain in the account a certain period of time, how many free withdrawals a month do you get, etc.)

In order to maximize your chances to find the offsetting lines you’re looking for, you’ll want to have multiple accounts, all of which you get the max bonus at when you deposit. People who do this stuff seriously often have multiple tens of thousands of dollars spread around different books, so it takes a pretty large bankroll to maximize your earning potential. You can do it with smaller bankrolls, but you're limited in your options, often just working two books at a time and not maximizing the signup bonuses when you initially deposit.

You also have to be patient and wait for the right lines. Unlike other bonuses, you’re at the whim of the sportsbooks, so you can’t just sit down and grind out a bonus and withdraw your money. You'll have to invest some time scanning the books for offsetting lines, which can be fairly time intensive.

You also need to be aware of the difference between cash bonuses and free bet bonuses. Free bet bonuses are a different beast and need to be played slightly differently, as they're a free bet, true, but they disappear after you use them, so if you use a free bet bonus and win, you just get the winnings added to your account, and the free bet bonus you staked disappears and isn't returned to your balance as a normal cash bonus would be.

Occasionally you'll encounter a situation where you have both offsetting bets ready to go, click "submit" on both books, and one goes through fine, but the other has changed their line (which usually gives you an alert before the bet is confirmed, letting you know the line has changed). So you're stuck with a big bet on one side, but the nice juicy offsetting line you'd found is gone. This sucks, but it's not the end of the world. If you shop around, you'll find a decent line somewhere. It may not perfectly offset, and you might have to absorb a smallish loss, but it's not the end of the world, as the bonus money always makes up for the occasional blips like this, which usually only potentially cost you $5-$10 in bonus money.

You’ll need to keep good records of your bets, and where you stand on each sportsbook as far as WR completed. Since many of them offer different sized bonuses with different WRs, you won’t finish up the WR at exactly the same team, plus you’ll often be making different sized bets at different books. It takes some getting used to, especially at first, so be careful and methodical and make sure you're locking in the bets correctly, etc.

Another slightly annoying thing is that you’ll have to get used to the difference between books that use American odds (expressed as numbers like +105, -110, -120), UK odds (expressed as fractions such as 3/1) and European decimal odds (4.0). Google searches on “odds conversion charts” should produce handy examples that will give you quick conversions between all three systems.

As far as good sportsbooks, below are many of the better, reputable ones that offer regular bonuses. Your mileage may vary, however, and you should always check the terms and conditions for WR, restrictions, etc. Note, too, that many sportsbooks are owned by the same ultimate parent, and some will close multiple accounts you try to open within the same family of sportsbooks. Some European sportsbooks won’t allow US players, either, so keep that in mind as well.

All that said, it can be pretty profitable to grind out these bonuses. If you have a decent-sized bankroll, you might as well put it to work, and you can pretty consistently clear $1K-$2K/month simply moving money back and forth between books, making offsetting bets as outlined above.

Below is a list of reputable sportsbooks that offer nice bonuses of some sort, as far as a jumping off point to get you started:

5 Dimes
Las Palmas
Players Only
ABC Islands

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sportsbook Bonuses

Sorry for this little space of the Intrawebs becoming sportsbook bonus central of late. Blame it on the fine folks at Mansion offering ridiculously +EV promotions.

I've gotten a lot of requests for info on other decent sportsbooks to hedge the Mansion bet at, as far as reputable books that offer good bonuses, speedy and painless cashouts, etc.

Below are some of the better ones, based on personal play over the last few years. One thing to note, and this applies to all of the books below, is to pay very careful attention to the terms for signup bonuses for sportsbooks. Nearly all of them require you to wager 3x-5x your deposit + bonus before you can cashout, which can add up to a lot of sportsbetting. They're different than poker bonuses and casino bonuses, where you can usually grind out the requirements at. That doesn't mean that they aren't +EV (as they are), and I'll follow this with a post telling you exactly how to cash in on assorted sportsbook bonuses, but just be aware that the WR for sportsbetting bonuses can be high, and often requires thousands of dollars in bets before you clear them.

1) Pinnacle: You absolutely can't beat their lines, as they consistently have the best lines in the business, day in and day out. They don't ask for ID on cashout and process most withdrawals within a few hours (although they do give you just one free withdrawal per month, with additional ones at a nominal charge). They offer a 10% signup cash bonus, up to $500, with reasonable terms.

2) LinesMaker: This is part of the SportingBet plc sportsbook family, and they offer some really nice lines from time to time, as well as a 20% up to $400 cash signup bonus. You can also get am easy free $40 for downloading and playing a few hands of blackjack in their casino, as well. On top of all that, they offer some decent $10 completely free bets throughout the football/baseball season.

3) SkyBook: Solid book with solid lines, plus they're offering a deal until September 10th where you get a 100% up to $250 free bet bonus on all deposits. (Note that free bet bonuses are slightly different than cash bonuses, as you don't get the original free bet you stake back if you win, only the winnings from the free bet.)

4) CRIS: One of the biggest and best sportsbooks, with fast withdrawals. They're currently offering a signup bonus of 20% up to $1,000 free bet.

5) CanBet: This one doesn't get much press but it's a solid book with some nice lines and very speedy, painless cashouts. Currently offer a 20% up to $300 cash bonus for new signups and some nice reloads for existing accounts.

6) 2) BetJamaica: Good lines and a 20% up to $500 cash signup bonus. No ID required for cashing out and speedy processing of withdrawals, usually with 24 hours.

7) BetWWTS: One of the biggest books out there, good lines, reasonably fast cashouts, and are offering a 20% up to $500 cash signup bonus.

8) VIP: Big book, good lines, reasonably fast cashouts and are offering a 20% up to $200 cash signup bonus, as well as a 10% up to $50 free futures bet, and a 10% up to $50 horseracing bet.

9) Bowmans: Another nice book with solid lines and quick, painless cashouts. Currently offering a 20% up to $500 cash signup bonus.

10) Bodog: Some decent lines and a bottomless 10% cash bonus on all deposits.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Wacky World of Sportsbetting

If you were waiting to make your decision on hedging the Mansion free bet on the Steelers (like I was), ha. Now we're rooting mightily for Charlie Batch (or Jeff George some other schlub off the street to power the Steelers to at least a 5 point victory. Or for Willie Parker to get 73 carries and rush for 340 yards and 6 TDs.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had an emergency appendectomy Sunday, and their backup QB Charlie Batch isn't exactly awe-inspiring, as evidenced by the line moving like crazy. The Mansion line is now at pick 'em (or pk, or pick), which means that there's no point spread built into the line now, and you're simply picking the Steelers to win, if you still haven't locked in the free bet on the Mansion side. (It's technically still a point spread bet, it's just one in which the point spread is set to 0, which is displayed as "pk", etc.)

Pinnacle has it at +1 Dolphins, but the most you could move the line is to +2.5, nowhere near what you need to hedge the Mansion free bet if you locked it in earlier at -5 or -4.5 Steelers. When books start to post their lines for the game, it'll likely be in the pick/+1 territory, so hedging is pretty much no longer an option if you've already locked in the bet.

If you haven't locked it in yet on the Mansion side, congrats, as they just put the promo back on the site, and you can take it at Steelers pk and hedge to your heart's content, when other books start posting their lines for the game.

Can't say I'm really happy at all with letting the bet ride with the Steelers -4.5 at this point, as their QB situation is pretty damn dreadful, but it is a free bet, and they play the games for a reason.

Dude, Steve Irwin got killed by a stingray?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bless You, Gods of Football

I've been trying to not get too excited about Longhorn football this year (unproven teenage QB, tough early game vs. Ohio State, we got our championship last year, yada yada yada) but I have to say they looked pretty damn good yesterday. Yes, indeed, it was versus North Texas, but Colt looked pretty damn comfortable, much to the relief of Longhorn fans everywhere.

I don't know why I get such pleasure at seeing CU suffer woe after woe, but for whatever reason I giggle when things go wrong for them. Nice work, Buffaloes, in losing to Division I-AA Montana State in your opener. You guys have really got that listing, sordid ship turned around up there.

I've actually played a good bit of teh poker the last few days, throwing some bucks into PokerStars to play satellites into some WCOOP events. 0-4 so far in satellite endeavors, but I've been running pretty well at the $10/20 HORSE tables. I can't say the games are as generally off-the-hook as some reports suggest, but they're pretty juicy all the same. I don't think your average online poker monkey is patient enough to play mixed games well, even if they're otherwise a solid player. Far too often in those games people seem to fall back on amped up aggression, which actually isn't the worst way to play, but fairly exploitable in the RSE portion of the HORSE rotation. The games are kind of swingy, though, and obviously pretty frustrating at times, due to the nature of them wacky mixed games that involve seven cards.

Been slacking a bit on housely work, but we were due for a little slacking, as the last few weeks have been pretty crazy. We unpacked a few more boxes yesterday, wandered around bustling, booming downtown Lockhart, watched some TV, etc. I did manage to get around to getting the wireless router set up and hooked up the other desktops, which was a bit of a pain in the ass. Hooked up everything, in exactly the same configuration that it had been before the move, with the same equipment, but nada, none of the machines could acquire a network address, no IP assigned, etc. I stare at everything and deduce that, indeed, things are correctly hooked up. Reset the router and cable modem and monkey with the router configuration. Still no workee. Drag out the old router, hook everything up, still no workee.

As a last resort I power everything down, unplug everything, plug everything back in, and power back up. Boom, it works. My tricknological skillz are mad.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Moved to the Country but Not Eating Lots of Peaches

One nice thing about joining the ranks of the commuters is that I think I'm definitely going to appreciate the perks of telecommuting on Mondays/Fridays more (as if I needed more reasons to appreciate and/or enjoy that.) 'Tis definitely nice to leisurely drink some coffee and stumble over to the computer to clock in, as opposed to spending 45 minutes in the car, just for the pleasure of entering the soul-sucking environs of HperMegaGlobalCorp.

All in all, though, the commute isn't too horrible. That was the wild card in buying new house, as far as whether we could stand the commute without going nutso. So far it hasn't been so bad, and at least you're pretty much steadily moving the whole time (it's about a 30 mile drive ito Austin) instead of being gridlocked and moving approximateky seven feet every twelve minutes. It'd definitely be nice to own a teleportation device, don't get me wrong, but it's not eye-gouging-out bad.

Still surrounded by boxes but hopefully I'll make a decent dent in those today, and we've got a three day weekend to make more progress. We're liking the house a lot so far, even in it's chaotic and unrenovated state. It's just really nice to have more room, pretty much everywhere, bumping up from 1250 sq. ft. to a little over 2000 sq. ft. It's your typical '50s ranch style house so it doesn't look that much bigger and imposing from the outside, but it's like every room grew 5-6 feet and sprouted extra closets, which is very nice.

It's also really, really quiet here. The Austin house was on the back end of a cul de sac, so it seemed pretty quiet with little traffic, but it was still in the city, with the distant hum of 183 usually barely audible. Here, though, it's ultra, utlra quiet, as we're in town but it's a small town, and we're on a pretty lightly trafficked street with huge lots. Which is nice, and will be especially nice when we get the backyard rocking with a deck and water pond and what-not.

This week has pretty much been a blur, as I've been painting at Austin house most nights, trying to finish things up there, and still moving some stuff over to the new house. I'm hoping to knock out most of the major stuff at Austin house in 2-3 weeks (including a bathroom remodel, joy), just so I can mentally pat myself on the back and not feel like I'm juggling work at two houses on top of my normal monkey routine.

Amen to the sports gods for bringing us sweet, sweet football back. Sweet Jebus that was a long, dry spell.