Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lots of Stuffs to be Thankful For

Definitely enjoyed the long holiday weekend, especially since we got the first investment house I bought under contract the day before Thanksgiving. When it's all said and done (assuming that it all gets done, knock on wood) I'm not going to make much money on the deal, but it's been a pretty valuable learning experience as far as the whole real estate investing thing, and will be a pretty big relief to get one sold and pocket a bit of profits, even if it isn't a bulging, fat pocketful.

The months seem to keep ripping right along, with December looming, which means 2008 is looming, and sweet Jebus, how can it be 2008 already? I mean, it was just 3 or 4 years ago when the whole Y2K thing went down, right? We somehow skipped 3-4 years somewhere in there, and get them back, right?

Poker play is still pretty paltry of late, with most of my free time getting sucked up by the current house I'm renovating. This one has been a beast to get started, as far as sorting out building permits, contractors, sub-contractors, etc., but the last few weeks have been pretty exciting, as real progress is finally taking place. Again, the point of all this work is to make some mobneys, but I'm enjoying this one a bit more than I expected, as far as actually doing a bit more planning, new additions, and creative re-arranging that a simpler lipstick rehab of paint, carpet, fixtures, voila.

What little poker I've played has been fairly brutal, but mostly amusingly so. I've been playing some HU matches as a change of pace (and simply because I usually only have 15-20 minutes of spare time to play with of late), and I'm on an 0-5 tear that included getting it all in pre-flop two hands into one match with KK versus K9d, only to see a flop of 10d Qd Jd, for the flopped straight flush, and other similar fun stuff. Not much one can do there other than smile and fire up another one, or, you know, heed the subtle prodding from the poker gods to, umm, go do something productive with yourself.

December should be pretty dang hectic, as I'm pushing to have the house done by December 15th, and off to Vegas for another poker blog reporting gig covering the Bellagio Five Diamond Class December 11th-19th, then off to Tennessee to visit my folks from December 21st-December 26th.

We'll be staying at the Bellagio for the Five Diamond Classic, which'll be my first time to stay there, so thumbs up to that. The closing for the house that's currently under contract is scheduled for December 11th, which would be pretty sweet timing as far as allowing me to actually play some poker on the trip with little guilt, as far as having most of my discretionary cash typically used for such things tied up in houses. I'm definitely itching to play some live MTTs, so hopefully I'll be able to hit a few while out in Vegas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And The Clock Keeps on Ticking...

Part of me feels bad when the post frequency continues to dwindle here, but it's one of those things that I'm just not sure how to look at. Much like poker, which also explains the dwindling action.

Caught up in the busy hullabaloo that is my life these days, I completely missed the 3rd year anniversary of these here scribblings. Making note of that quickly leads to complete and utter bafflement, as I refuse to believe that it's been that long since I got completely eaten up by the poker bug, finally starting a gay blog of my own after discovering the wonderful world of poker blogs, and refreshing the likes of Iggy, Grubby, Al, Otis, Pauly, and others approximately 192,142 times a day, doing backflips in my cube when new posts were up.

That was three years ago? Really? Not a year or two? Three? You swear?

Should I be proud of all the babblings contained herein? I suppose I am, if for no other reason than I've stuck with it, unlike many projects that I start up, cruise along with for awhile, but ultimately abandon at some point.

I can't help but view it with some disappointment, though, as far as missed opportunities. For me, the primary point was always to play better poker, and I can't really fly the "Mission Accomplished" banner on that one. I mean, yeah, relatively speaking I'm a better player these days when I focus and don't half-ass around, but the dreams of crushing the big games are pretty much doomed to never be realized.

Life keeps getting busier and busier, and it's harder and harder for me to devote a lot of time and thought to this thing called poker. It is indeed a sexy diversion, one of the sexiest, but when you're too busy to be diverted, well, there you go.

Which may be the point, in the end, as far as both poker and neglected blogs go. Too much free time and obsessive, competitive tendencies are a great recipe for tons of blog posts and much juicy poker content, but, in the end, that's kind of a sad dish to serve.

I'm still playing a bit of poker these days, but it's mainly of the bloggerment tourney variety, and of late I've been playing excruciatingly bad. I can usually squeeze in a bit of time to play later at night, but usually end up second-guessing the decision to sign up for the tournament in the first place, and manage to donk off my stack in assorted silly and/or ugly ways.

But it's still fun, and that's pretty much the point, right?

Unlike other times, though, I'm pretty much unconflicted about all of the above. This has been pretty much the busiest, craziest year I can remember in awhile, as far as all my sundry schemings and projects and real estate investments and jobs, and I'm pretty cool with the slice of pie assigned to everything at the moment.

The reporting gigs for PokerRoom have been nice, too, as far as reminding me about the things I like about poker, and the potential there. Too much blog drama and ranting and ceaseless overcompensating can pretty easily sour one on poker in general, but it's very cool to go on these trips and spend time with people who love to play the game and have a blast doing it, regardless of whether they're a long-term "winner". 'Tis cool, too, that you can assemble a group from Jebus knows how many countries, with often not much in the way of a common language, but who ultimately get along really well based on a common liking of a silly card game.

So, umm, yeah. No real point here, no grand pronouncements. Crazy how time flies, I suppose, is the grandest. And lamest. Boo, me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back to Reality

All in all, I really enjoyed the Niagara Falls trip. It's always hard coming back from these poker writing gig for PokerRoom, as I go from feeling a sense of accomplishment and -- for lack of a better word -- "rightness" about the work I do there (as far as putting writing talents, some Web knowledge, and a tiny bit of poker knowledge to work) to facing the reality that the day job that gainfully employs me is pretty much the polar opposite of all of that.

But yeah, been there, tilted at that windmill, yada yada yada, shutting the hell up.

This tournament was interesting in that I spent a lot more time railing the tables, due to the fact that my media application was mysteriously lost and the uber-important officials at the tournament wouldn't let me set up a laptop there in the media area. And by "railing" I mean literally that, as the only tables spectators could see were the three that were right by the roped off area.

While I guess allowing any spectators at all is something to celebrate, it still boggles my mind at just how hard some tournament organizers work to make the spectator process as unfriendly and difficult as possible. I'm not sure I've ever seen a hobby, sport, pursuit, whatever that goes as far as poker does out of its way to shoot itself in the foot, time and time again, when it comes to marketing the experience and making it spectator-friendly. Even things as simple as how you break tables, with an eye towards having as many remaining tables close to spectators (while still roping off enough space for your staff and players to be at a comfortable distance) instead of grumpily responding to an innocent question about why you're breaking tables away from spectators with a response like "You're lucky you're even in this room to watch."

I still slightly cling to the romantic notion that maybe, just maybe, the poker world will wake up and get assorted things right, but more and more I wonder if that'll ever happen. Too many people are intent on grabbing as much cash while they can, with hardly any eyes turned towards what's the best thing for five years down the road, ten years, etc.

But I digress. Watching lots of actual hands was pretty interesting, as far as how various pros attack the proposition of trying to wind their way through the mine fields and make the final table. Like any tournament, too, you have to have your share of luck. Sometimes lots of luck, like Jonathan Little, who went on to finish 2nd but within the first twenty minutes or so of the tournament start found himself all-in with 88 on a flop of J 9 8, facing one opponent with JJ and another with AA. Spike a J for quads, win tons of chips, proceed to final table, place 2nd. Pretty easy, really.

On the flip side of that coin (or maybe the same side of the coin, as that's a scary flop to lump all your chips in twenty minutes into the tournament, even with a set, with starting stacks of 20,000 and blinds of 25/50), you can't help but see some surprisingly bad play from the pros. I can definitely see the value in winning big pots early/midstage or hitting the road, but correctly reading your opponent's over-shove as JJ or QQ, thinking for two seconds and shrugging, and then calling off your stack with K8s, with nowhere near the odds to call? Ditto for more than a few similar plays with AK, when at best you're flipping coins with JJ/QQ or chopping with AK. Aggressively raising with those hands and driving the action, sure, by all means, but just calling off all your chips, when you're opponent has purposefully denied you the odds to do so, well, I dunno... But there's obviously a reason I'm a fish, writing about these tournaments, and not playing in them.

I'm not sure I'd want to go back to Niagara Falls again and again and again, but it definitely was impressive to see, and a fun trip on the cheesy tourist side of things. I don't quite get the Canadian obsession with coins and hatred of $1 bills, but other than that Canada was pretty nice.

The next working poker trip is December 12th-19th for the WPT Five Diamond Classic, then maybe a bit of a break until April. PokerRoom is sending players to the Aussie Millions, but so far I've only handled the tournament reporting for the North American gigs, and I haven't heard anything about being sent to the land down under, so I'm going to assume it's a no-go.

For any non-US players out there looking for good qualifiers for the Aussie Millions and other events, you really should hit up the PokerRoom qualifiers. Yeah, I'm biased, yada yada yada, but the $650 + $50 online finals that award the trip packages provide a lot of value for good players, as you're only jousting around with 40-50 players for the seat, and most satellite in through cheaper qualifiers and aren't the strongest players in the world. While only 1st typically wins a seat, 2nd-4th typically pays out pretty well, sometimes more than $5,000 for second, so it's not an all-or-nothing sort of deal. The fringe benefits if you win a seat are prettty nice, too, as far as the extra meals, excursions, day trips, etc., all of which is on top of your entry, air fare, hotel, and spending money.