Friday, June 29, 2007

Hey, Look, It's My Birfday

So are you officially a grown-up when you not only forget that it's your birthday, but have a hard time remembering exactly how old you are?

I guess turning 30 was a bit noteworthy, for all the normal reasons, but since then I've had a hard time keeping track or mustering a whole lot of excitement about birthdays. I kind of like the idea of being 33, though, as it's symmetrical and all and still on the upslope of 40, so I guess it's been a good birthday so far.

Birthday plans? Umm, working until midnight on the investment house I'm desperately trying to finish up before leaving for Vegas on July 5th? Heh. Sad but true, as I'm in the midst of a crazy last push to get everything but the flooring and furnace repair done before leaving, as that can all happen in my absence.

While that's obviously not the most glamorous way to celebrate one's birthing, and not necessarily where I pictured myself back in the days of yore when I imagined what I would be doing at the advanced, decrepit age of 33, but all in all I can't complain, as there's very, very little I'd change presently, if I had magic changing powers. Other than, you know, not having $302,012,182,193 in the bank and a legion of robot monkeys that shoot lasers out of their eyes to do my bidding.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ahh, Vegas

Had much fun in Vegas, as always, and it was an interesting trip in many ways. I think the thing I always find most interesting about the Vegas phenomenon isn't so much the experience while there (which is usually pretty dang uniform and consistent) but more my reaction to it, especially afterwards.

I'm a weird monkey in that I usually come home from Vegas more jazzed and energized than I was before going. And the reason is pretty simple; I'm a greedy, capitalitsic pig at heart. Seeing the Vegas money machine in action always gives me a nudge to get serious about my own little wee business endeavors, not to mention the reinforcement of seeing "successful" types who obviously have made enough scratch in the world to not even begin to sweat the fairly large sums of money they're throwing around.

This trip, though, not so much, as far as coming back motivated. But in a good way, as it's the first time where I got home, immediately got back to work, after looking around a bit and confirming that, yeah, I was busting ass pretty hard before going to Vegas and will continue the same pace of busting ass.

Unlike past trips, the burning desire to play poker just wasn't there. I probably played a total of 7-8 hours the whole trip, mostly playing $2-$5 NL at the Mirage, with a few SnGs thrown in here and there when I didn't feel like wading through the waiting list. I didn't even make it over to the Rio. Most of my gambling was at silly -EV games like blackjack and video poker. And, honestly, I had a hell of a lot more fun playing those games than poker, largely because I was playing with wife and, gasp, it was actually fun to just straight up gamble.

I'll never quit playing poker, so I don't mean to sound too down on it, as it's an intriguing, complicated game that can be fun as hell. But man, it also tends to sometimes bring the absolute worst out of people. And short of simply getting up and leaving the table, you can't escape it, if they're determined enough to give you their absolute worst.

And yeah, it totally depends on the table and situation, yada yada yada, but still. So much posturing and misplaced arrogance and pissedoffedness, and so little tangible enjoyment and enthusiasm for what's going on.

Was pretty much break-even pokerwise, but donated a goodly bit at the blackjack tables. The last night we played blackjack was pretty wacky, as one guy kept doubling down on hard 12 (like nine or ten times) and, every single damn time, won. While that wackiness was going on a guy wandered up to the table (which was one of the cheaper $10 minimum bet tables) and bought in for $10,000. Entirely in twenty dollar bills. Which took the dealer about fifteen minutes to spread, count out, and give him chips for. The guy kept saying that he never got to gamble, so he'd been "saving up".

The pit boss immediately started giving him the stinkeye, and it didn't get better when they asked for the guy's ID and it was a Nevada license. But they let him play and he donked off $2,000-$3,000 betting $100-$200/hand, then wandered off.

Also saw a pretty sick hand at $2-$5 NL when the two big stacks at the table got it all in on the turn, on a board of 3 8 9 9. Big Stack #1 had 89, Big Stack #2 had 1010. Big Stack #2 drags a +$4,000 pot when the dealer deals the case 10 on the river (assuming another player who claimed to fold a 10 pre-flop wasn't lying). Big Stack #1 claimed to work for a hedge fund, though, and immediately reloaded for $500 more and whipped out his ginormous roll of Benjamins and left them on the table, so he didn't appear to be hurting for the cash.

We stayed at the Mirage this time, and I have to say I was kind of surprised at how dinky the room was. Wasn't expecting that much, and we're far from the pickiest monkeys when it comes to room accomodations, but no coffee maker, saggy tiny beds, and having to pay $12/day for Internet access kinda sucks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Whee, Vacation

I usually tend to scoff when people talk about needing a vacation, but man, I am utterly and entirely looking forward to being in Vegas with the wife for a quick vacation this Wednesday-Saturday. I'll probably break down and bring the laptop, but the plan is to not even think about anything house or work related, and focus on nothing more complicated than drinking, gambling, and having of funs.

Still chugging away on all my house fixing-up, with closing on the Austin house scheduled for this afternoon. Big relief, that, and it's made working on the flip house much, much more palatable. 'Tis very much easier to be motivated when money is coming in from all the assorted sweat and labor, instead of flying out the windows and doors and other house orifices.

I managed to satellite into the 100 Main Event seat at Full Tilt last Sunday on my very first try, and was strangely optimistic going into it. Things have been rolling well lately, both poker-wise and non-poker-wise, and for whatever weird reason I just had this feeling that I was going to win a seat.

Which is a strike against my psychic powers, as I ended up going out with a whimper somewhere around the 600 players left mark. I was cruising early, with 2-3x average through the first few breaks, doubling up early when I flopped a boat with 33 and then doubling again when I turned a flush versus a turned straight. Took down some pots from bullying after that, but never really got anything going after that, losing a couple of flips with AK versus short stacks shoving with pocket pairs, making decent sized pre-flop bets with 88 and 77 and getting one caller, who re-popped my continuation bet on a flop like 10 J 3, etc.

The structure was slow enough, though, that I patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Until I had to go into steal mode, eventually running A10o into QQ and no help for me. Kind of frustrating but also a bit unusual, as far as such a protracted run of complete and utter card deadedness. In retrospect I shouldn't have let myself get as short as I did, but it's still hard for me to raise it up/re-steal with 83o when it's not truly desperate times, even when I know, theoretically, that it's not the worst play in the world.

So no WSOP for me this year. Someday, somehow, but for now its still toiling in the minor leagues. Definitely going to check out the action this week, though, and I may hit up some SnGs at the Rio.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tick, Tick, Tick...

The hectic factor is ramping up again, as I'm starting to run out of days before I jet off to Vegas for WSOP madness from July 5th-July 18th. While everything is still on track for closing on June 19th on the house we're selling in Austin, it's going to take a lot of ass-busting to get the investment property ready to roll and listed, before I take off.

It's still within the realm of possibility, thus the busting of hump, but I'm rapidly running out of room to spare on the timeline. I'm not making matters any easy for me, either, by pursuing all sorts of Web tomfoolery with more and more affiliate sites, or taking on more freelance and contractor work. Plus assorted random crap around the house is suddenly deciding to break, as far as disposals crapping out and other fun things.

As far as poker, still on a bit of a heater, with another nice cash in a $18K guaranteed on Full Tilt and a silly run at SnGs. Donked off some of those winnings playing 6 max LHE, a windmill that I continue to tilt at unsuccessfully for some reason I cannot fathom, but overall teh poker has been treating me nicely of late.

It's kind of odd following the WSOP so far, knowing that I'll be out there, flailing around myself in a few weeks. On the one hand, I have to admit that I've been pretty underwhelmed so far. It's not really the fault of the coverage, it's just more the nature of the beast. There's really not much of a substitute for watching the televised coverage, even when you have awesome writers busting their humps covering all of the major action of all of the events going on; as awesome as the effort is, the end result is still just a string of words and chip counts. Kudos to all the fancy interfaces and bells and whistles with the live reporting at PokerNews, but it still rings kind of empty for me, in many ways.

As far as the stuff I enjoy reading, hands down it's still stuff like Pauly's posts at Tao of Poker, Otis' posts at Rapid Eye Reality, and MeanGene's Blogger posts, and CC's PokerWorks stuff. I suppose, though, that's very much the nature of the beast, as far as the stuff that people write to pay the bills and the stuff that people write to write.

People are very odd creatures sometimes, especially the way they behave in corporate settings. If I had to pick one thing to look for in someone, as far as a general measure of the likelihood that they'd be a trustworthy/decent person to deal with, it'd probably be whether or not they have the ability to laugh at themselves. Why is that so hard for so many people? Why is admitting that you made a mistake such a terrifying and difficult thing?

Switching topics, why oh why are sports sucking so much now? Worst. NBA. Finals. Ever. Please Jebus just let it be football season again, when real sports walk the earth.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thanks for All the Good Times, Yahoo Mail

Ever since I was a wee yonug lad, Yahoo Mail has been right there by my side. It was the first email account I ever had, and despite that sulty Gmail slinking around, beckoning with a glistening red fingernail, I've stayed true to good ol' Yahoo Mail, through thick and thin.

So it brings me much sadness and heartache to finally have to bid you adieu, Yahoo Mail. Usually people trot out the "No no, it's me, not you. I'm just in a weird place these days and need to spend some time alone, finding myself" speech, but, umm, sorry. It's all about you this time.

While I'm willing to wade through a goodly amount of spam for the use of a completely free service that you provide me, I can't wade through 50+ spam emails a day. Why the lottery spam folks have been able to bring you to your knees when so many others failed, I do not know, but I just can't deal with 172,182 emails a day from Yahoo/MSN UK Lottery letting me know that I'm the luckiest monkey on the face of the earth, winning a non-existent, completely non-sensical "lottery" that I never entered.

I gave you a few weeks, assuming you'd be able to get up to speed and start blocking such stuff, but not only is it getting worse each week, now for some reason I cannot fathom you're sending completely legitimate emails to the spam folder. A completely innocuous email from my wife (with nary a word in it to trigger a spam filter) is labeled as spam, yet 184 exactly identical emails from Mr Patrick K.W Chan letting me know that "CONGRATULATIONS YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS HAS WON:250,000.00 GBP(Our grand prize)." are considered perfectly legitimate and delivered to my inbox.

Sorry baby. I tried, you tried, it just didn't work out. If you see me out and about with Gmail, well, how about not causing a scene, mmkay? That'd be super.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


'Tis pretty much looking like a done deal, so hopefully posting particulars won't jinx anything. I've managed to luckbox my way into a gig covering the Main Event for, as part of their push to expand their general poker content and tournament coverage. So I'm off to Vegas from July 5th-July 18th, launching myself headfirst into the insanity of wading through who knows how many thousands of unwashed poker masses, trying to make sense of it all with some scribblings here and there.

Obviously I'm pretty excited about the opportunity, for all sorts of reasons (even with Harrah's already making things far more difficult and painful than necessary as far as securing a press pass of any sort.) Not so psyched to be away from home and wife that long, but I'm really looking forward to the chance to be out there and simply throw myself into writing.

Despite the fact that I run roughly a kajillion websites and blogs and that my day job title is essentially "Editor", I feel like it's been many, many moons since I've actually written anything. While much of the work for PokerRoom will be the standard fare, as far as tracking the progress of players who have qualified via their site, general recaps of each day's action, related color, etc., I'm planning on ripping off a page from the book of Pauly and putting up more Writer McWriteyPants stuff here.

I've been feeling the writerly itch a bit more strongly of late, to the point of dusting off some old fiction projects I've been poking at for forever, so hopefully this gig will not only be a great experience as far as poker and blogging go, but also a kick in my ass in general, as far as writing.

The timing is a little less than ideal, though, as far as my real estate wheelings and dealings. I'm going to have to increase the busting of ass to get the investment property I bought fixed and sold, as I'd rather not have to worry about that while in Vegas in July. I'm also losing a chunk of time to our Vegas vacation later in June, plus my mom is flying out this Thursday for an extended visit, so I don't have quite as many free days to work with as I'd like. Not much I can do about that now, though, other than get my ass into higher gear.

As far as ye olde poker, I've managed to donkfish my way back to a decent online roll after a 1st and 7th place finish in decent sized MTTs at Full Tilt, after being on life support for a bit there. I'm not sure that it's healthy that I'm generally bemused by my lack of success at teh poker the last year or so, but I think it's likely better than employing convoluted Waffles-eque logic to convince everyone that I'm a winning player, despite constant talk of blowing through deposits and ad money deposited into accounts.

I'm down about $1,500 or so since the UIGEA shit hit the fan, which is pretty sad, but also fairly indicative of the fact that I've been chunking a few hundred bucks into my account here and there, playing mostly $33+3 SnGs and MTTs. Haven't been in the black, either, at any point, so we're talking about a fairly long run of donkitude there. Which, in the end, is what it is. I haven't played that much volume-wise and tend to jump into tournaments on a whim, when I find something decent looking in the lobby and actually have a few rare, spare hours to play.

The bemusement is multi-faceted, mainly from looking back at how high I was playing at one time (50/100 and, on a few occasions, 100/200) and more general as far as how much self-worth I used to attach to poker results, compared to the miniscule blip that they register these days, on the self-worth scale. I'm not saying I don't care about the results or play with only half my ass, as I definitely do and always play as hard as I can (or get pissed and surly at yet another ridonkulous suckout), but it's just such a different endeavor these days for me.

Which probably, to some extent, dooms me to be a break-even player, at best, but also makes poker in general a lot more enjoyable, sitting there firmly in happy-fun hobby land, instead of where it used to reside, in occupying-far-too-much-of-my-life-and-mindspace land.

Monday, June 04, 2007

One House Nearly Down, One More to Go

Don't want to jinx things, but things are looking good on the real estate front, as far as selling the Austin house. It was on the market for all of a week and we ended up with half a dozen offers, eventually going with one that was not only nearly $3K over our listing price but that's scheduled to close in just two weeks. Obviously pretty happy about all of that, but especially as far as the interest being pretty proportional to all of the work I put into the place the last few months, completely renovating the kitchen, upgrading both bathrooms, etc. I wasn't completely convinced it'd pay off in the end, but decided to trust the gut. Score one for the gut.

I'm also nearing the finish line of the flip house I bought here in town, with just another couple of weeks of work before I hand it off to flooring installers/HVAC repair folks. The timing of the above good news in regards to the Austin house definitely helped me catch a second wind, and I've been putting in pretty long days of late, 12-16 hours, trying to get to the finish line. At which point, more than likely, I'll reload and do it all again with another house (or two).

While the potential for extra money is the obvious shiny thing catching my crow's eye and dictating largely insane levels of personal labor output of late, it's also morphing into a larger way of life, one that's making me pretty happy of late. I'm in the best physical shape I've been in for many years, maybe ever, and the nature of the work itself is pretty damn satisfying. I like taking a fairly blank slate of a house and making it nicer. For the most part, it's completely and entirely controllable, and I get out exactly what I put in, without a two-outer on the river to completely and utterly wreck the stack I've spent hours and hours building.

And, not to be cheesy and/or ginormously melodramatic, but I feel like I've been holding up end of the personal pact nicely that I made when we had to put ScurvyRat down. What killed me the most about losing him was how hard he fought, up until the very bitter end, because, you know, he otherwise might miss something. He kept trying to climb up on my shoulder when I drove him to the vet that last day, because that's where he liked to ride in the car so that he could see everything and not miss a single thing, all despite the fact that he was sick as hell, and likely in tons of pain.

So I told myself that if our little $7 pet store rat could fight that hard to enjoy every second of life, I had no excuse not to bust my ass, if there were things I wanted out of life and getting them was just a matter of hard work. Which lends itself to some long-ass, exhaausting days in the short-run, but if my wife and I can be done with working for other people and free to live life exactly like we want to by the time we're 40, hell, I'll take that trade-off.

Still haven't nailed down definitive word on potential employment for the Main Event, but keeping my fingers crossed. We're going to be in Vegas June 20-24th for a long-planned vacation anyway, so one way or another I'll get a bit of a taste of the WSOP this year. We're scheduled to close on the Austin house on June 19th, which is a bit tight timing-wise but will be perfect, if it goes off as planned, as I'll be able to gambool it up without worrying about paying three mortgages on houses, two of which are sitting empty. Still likely not going to play in any WSOP events, but I would like to hit up some of the single table satellites at the Rio, especially since it's reportedly much easier this to simply play them and cash in anything you win. We're continuing our circuit of Vegas hotels, staying at the Mirage this time, and I hope to get in some time playing NL there as well.