Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"There are no atheists in a foxhole"

I wanted to use that title in homage to one of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Lucas, who used it as her title last week and immediately started catching flak from .......... ATHEISTS. She was referring to some bad things that had happened recently in her boyfriends family and how desperate she felt at the time. The atheists apparently took umbrage to that title because according to them, there are atheists in foxholes. Lets put aside the fact that this is just a saying, and she did not coin the saying but felt it applied in her situation as she is not a religious person. Like many of us, she is feeling her way through the minefields of belief in what cannot be known and the hope that there is something more to existence. She and her boyfriend and his family were going through a very rough time and she decided to share that with her readers which is something I'm not sure I would have done, or at least not so fully. But she thought it would be important so she did.

I'm sure she regretted it once the emails and comments from various atheists started rolling in. They really got offended by her title and the fact that according to them, there are actually atheists in foxholes. Yes, I'm sure there are some atheists in foxholes just like good fences don't always make good neighbors and the early bird doesn't always catch the worm but come on people, what ever happened to common decency??? Is it that uncommon?? Do you have to come down on someone going through a bad time over the title of her post? I swear the country is getting stupider all the time. The smartest people say the dumbest things and common sense is so uncommon that it should be on the endangered species list. So you people who decided to take offense because a woman in pain felt it applied to her should be ashamed of your reaction and the way you went about telling her how you felt. You should wonder why you cannot even feel the basic human emotion of sympathy for someone going through a bad time when she needed some support from her friends and had the guts to put it out on cyberspace for all to read instead of keeping it to herself. Take a look at yourself. Is it that important to "defend" your point of view at a time like this? If you answer yes to that question, buddy I don't want to know you because obviously you care more about your own needs than anything else.

I don't read a lot of bloggers but I have a set rotation of those I enjoy for their intelligence, their humor, and their warmth. I don't always agree with them but I always enjoy reading what they think and they usually make me smile as well as think about what I believe too. There are some amazing people blogging today and Rachel Lucas is one of the best. So you asshats who feel obligated to give her a hard time take note, there are a lot of people out here like me and we don't take kindly to people who would insult someone in their time of need. If you do not have the common decency to act like a civilized human being then do the next best thing and shut the fuck up. The world would be a kindlier place if you just did that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weekend Update

It was a pretty quiet weekend on the home front this weekend. No major poker tourneys to play in, or minor ones either. Was a little money tight so didn't want to spend a lot. I did play a fair amount online actually. Lately I have been playing this tourney that is half No Limit Holdem and half Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. I'm a decent hold em player but I play a lot of Omaha and I think I have an advantage against most of the players when we play Omaha. Last 2 times I have played this tourney I have finished 4th and 3rd. I would have made the money time before that if the guy I had caught bluffing hadn't caught a runner runner straight to almost knock me out too.

So I have been slowly building a stack online now mostly playing low stakes Omaha Hi Lo ring games and these occasional tourney cashes and I have played enough to qualify for these bigger freerolls. Saturday there was a $1000 free roll that payed a top prize of $150 that I qualified for. I managed to last 4 whole hands in that one lol. I had AQ, called a raise to 80 and flopped 2 pair on A-Q-10 flop only to lose to the raiser with KJ who flopped the nut straight. Sucked to be me. I feared the straight but thats the way it goes. But I noticed I had almost qualified for a $10,000 free roll on Sunday so I played some Omaha and made a few bucks that night and played enough Sunday to qualify for the 10K tourney. That was fun I must admit. I managed to suck out a straight on the river with AK when a Jack fell. The guy I beat was PISSED. He was going off on me being a donkey, etc etc. And it was a slightly donkey play but he forgot one cardinal rule. Make sure you bet enough to not make it worth my while to stay in.

He raised to 150 over blinds of 25-50. I raised to 450 with Ace of hearts and King of Diamonds and he called along with 2 other guys. Flop came Q-10-8 with 2 diamonds. He bet 600 into a 2 thousand chip pot and I thought a second and called. I figured him for either a low pair or maybe AQ or QJ and he caught the queen. The way I watched him play, he was easily capable of raising on QJ and calling my reraise. But a king or jack wins it for me I figure. Next card is the 9 of diamonds. If he has something like QJ he has the straight already. But I have the king of diamonds along with 3 others on the board and a jack still makes my straight so at worst, unless he is holding the A of diamonds which I sincerely doubt, I have 3 jacks and 9 diamonds that will win for me, or maybe only 2 jacks if he has QJ. As it turns out, I was wrong and he had flopped a set (so he said, he never showed) and he bets 1200 on the turn. The pot had 3200 before he bet and so I figured my odds at 34-12 or a little under 3 to 1 to get a winner vs his bet of almost 4-1 pot odds and called him again. Next card is a lovely jack of clubs. He thinks a second and bets another 1200. I wait a second and raise him all in. He folds after thinking for a while and says AK so I decide to show I did have AK and that sets him off!!

He starts talking about what a donkey I am for calling, that I'm a calling station etc etc. And it was a little donkeyish as he pissed me off for calling my raise on inferior cards (I felt) and he had raised me off some other pots before when I didn't catch. But it all came down to money and odds. He gave me too good odds to stay in the pot. Yes he apparently flopped a monster, my guess is he had 8-8 or 10-10 preflop but maybe he had QQ. He wanted to keep me in the hand to suck out as much money as he could so he kept the bets reasonable but by the turn, I was getting decent odds to stay in with 3 diamonds and a gutshot straight draw. So it was proper for me to call him down. I mentioned to him that he bet 1200 into a 3200 pot and asked him what kind of odds he gave me. Well he didn't want to hear that now. Of course most players don't want to hear it when they have goofed and allowed someone to suck out on them. But unless you have quads or a straight flush, you are often times taking a chance on exactly that happening if you underbet a pot. He bets 2K on the turn and I have to let it go because I'm not getting good enough odds to call. I almost let it go anyway because the one thing about pot odds in tourneys is that you can play the pot odds perfectly right up till you go bust. Then you cannot reload and try again lol. It's not like playing in a ring game. Our table broke before I was able to watch him go bust which was too bad. What really pissed me off was someone else sucked out on him another time and he went off on that guy being a donkey etc. He may have been right as I don't remember if the guy played good odds or what, but take your beats like a man.

On Saturday night I also played some Omaha at the Dog track. I had some good luck on my first hand and won a decent pot so I was up all night while we played. I turned my $60 buyin to $160 but then went card dead. A lot of bad hands and the good hands caught crap. A-2-3-6 and the flop is JJ9 and crap like that. Twice the dealer flips one of my cards over while dealing to me and both times its a freaking Ace. When you aren't getting decent cards and the best card possible keeps getting burned it irritates you. The first time it happened I just laughed and then the very next hand I look at my cards and its A-J-A.................. and the last card is ANOTHER FREAKING ACE. If you don't play omaha, hands that contain 3 of a kind are really bad hands because you can only use 2 cards in any hand so it's hard to win with it. I was in the small blind so I called the $1 to see the flop but the last Ace didn't hit and neither did K-Q-10 to complete a straight for me so I immediately dumped to the first bet. But I stuck it out and stayed in with mostly solid hands and eventually turned it around. I did stay in on a hand that wasn't very good and got proved why you don't play crap. I ended up turning a full house 9's full of J's but lost to J's full of 9's and I had to call it down even though I figured him for that hand just because it was possible he had something else. There are some really loose players in Omaha who think any flush or full house is the nuts (it's that holdem background again, where full house over full house is nearly unheard of but in omaha you can see it quite often, especially if you play shit cards lol) and they win some big pots but if you watch, they lose it all back.

I was losing enough chips back that I was getting ready to quit if I lost enough to fall back to 60 again but the cards finally turned and I flopped a flush with an A-5 low. If someone had A-4 they had a better low because a 2-3 were on the board but the flush held up and I had a number of callers on the hand that it turned out was a winner for both ends. That pulled me from 80 to 130 bucks. I fell back a bit but hit a winner on my last hand to finish out at 130 when the table broke. So it was a successful stint on the tables even if it wasn't as successful as it could have been.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Well Whoopdee Doo

So, apparently our Democratic challenger for president is a black man. Barack Obama. Let me get this out of the way. Yippee, hip hip hooray. Ok that's done. Now if I don't hear anything more from him for awhile, or from his stupid wife, I will be fine. Because I have some very serious doubts about his candidacy that's for sure.

First off, what has he done? Nothing at all. He's a very junior senator who has no clue about foreign or domestic policy running on a platform of "change and hope" Change for what? Hope to do what? Well according to him and especially his wife, change the tax laws to take more money from people who work for a living and give it to people who don't. I mean if you are running on a platform of "change" don't you think you want to put out some concrete plans about what you want to change? Oh one thing he is willing to change is he wants to sit down with the leaders of outlaw states N. Korea and Iran and negotiate. Negotiate what? Is he gonna negotiate Iran from sending people into Iraq and causing trouble. Thats a big duh. But then he probably doesn't believe Iran is doing anything in Iran. Ole Nancy Pelosi is even worse. Instead of giving credit to the administration when they get something right like the troop surge and General Petraeus' handling of the war over there she credits Iran for negotiating an end to hostilities in Basra. Yes that's right, I fucking RAN. She didn't credit our troops, she didn't credit the Iraqi troops who did a lot of the work in Basra, she didn't even credit the Iraqi people who have turned on Al Qaeda, nope it was due to the good will of Iran. I suppose that means we should be happy if Iran reduces it's terror operations in another country and give it credit for doing less of what it shouldn't be doing in the first place. Nancy Pelosi is a miserable excuse of a California politico who is more interested in winning elections than in supporting her own country. People like that in positions of power are what gives aid and comfort to our enemies.

Now don't get me wrong, we have a right to disagree with each other, hell this country was founded on dissent. But come on people. Some clown saying that from a soapbox on the corner is one thing but the highest ranked member of congress saying that is completely bogus and she is patently doing a disservice to the people who have gone overseas and sacrificed, some of them have sacrificed their lives, to allow her to say stupid shit like that.

Now on to other stupid shit. Seems to me Barack Obama is getting a major free pass on his affiliation with Rev Wright and the Trinity Church. Oh sure, now that he has disassociated himself from the church and from Rev Wright (and Fr Phleger too who as a lapsed Catholic really really sickens me) we are supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy about him. Yet I was reading an interview he gave a few years ago when he was a newly elected senator. The interview was mostly about his beliefs and his church association etc. In the interview he specifically says he goes to that church "every week, 11 am service" So you tell me how he misses all of those anti American, anti white diatribes ole Rev Wright is spinning out from the pulpit. How does he sit there, as a senator, a representative of his country, while Wright is going on about how the government is responsible for AIDs in this country and in giving it to black people? And he does nothing about his associations with these people until he gets called on the carpet about it by the press, amazing they even noticed considering how far over they are leaning on his candidacy (must have been the NY Times since they were big Hilly supporters) and now we are supposed to think he doesn't feel the same way? Let me tell you, if I go to church and the pastor is going on about how the government is doing all these bad things, and is telling falsehoods to get his point across, I'm not going back. I expect politicos to lie, but I don't expect the people who interpret the word of God to do that right in front of me on Sunday morning at 11 am.

So in 6 months we have the election. I know a lot of conservatives are not sold on John McCain who they call a Republican in Name Only. I know he doesn't thrill me to tears either. But I also know some other things. Like he was a man who was willing to give his life for his country. He comes from a naval family, both his dad and grandad were admirals in the navy, I think his great grandad was too actually. He is a man of principals who could have gotten released from prison camp early since he was son of an admiral but chose to stay until people there longer than him were released which meant he stayed till the end of the war. I know he supports the troops and what they are trying to accomplish in Iraq. He won't pull them out before Iraq is ready to take care of itself and as much as I don't want them over in Iraq, now that we are there, we better do the job right. He supports America's friends and won't negotiate with outlaws. I think I'll take a chance on his not being as conservative as I would like over the chance Barack Obama fucks everything up and I end up paying for the rest of my life. Cuz in 4 or 8 years ole Barry won't be around for me to kick anymore but his policies, his taxes, and his screwed up foreign policies will haunt us long after he is gone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A donkey by any other name .....

Sure I felt ready to play in the WSOP qualifier this past weekend. I had been patient, avoiding trouble hands and big pots when I didn't have the goods, and playing aggressive when I was in a hand. Funny how things can change

We started with 10,000 chip stacks and 30 minute blinds so there was no pressure to play fast and loose to build a stack. That can work for or against you. If you are picking up some nice hands and people feel pressured to make moves with marginal hands, you can make some big chips fast but if you are on the other end, it can cost you fast. This way, you get time to settle in and play.

I started off slowly, making a few calls with suited connectors and either not hitting or getting raised off the pot. I made sure I wasn't doing anything in early position as that's just suicidal. And I'm not catching anything either. There are a couple of aggressive players at the other end of the table and so I am avoiding calling and having them raise me off it. Then I get 7-7 from early position. I want to play these and I don't want to be raised up if I limp so I raise to 200 (blinds are 25-50). I get 3 callers. Haven't raised a pot yet and as soon as I do, everyone wants to call. Flop comes A-5-4. I'm sure at least one guy has an ace and I hope he is weak like A-8 and not A-4 so I bet 400 trying to represent a big ace. Guy folds and the aggressive guy further on raises to 800. Now I'm fairly certain I am up against either a set or 2 pair because if I am on AK, he would be foolish to raise me on Ace anything else. Everyone else folds and I decide to call him. Next card is a 6, a good card for me giving me both ends of a straight draw. I check and he bets 600, which puzzled me a bit cuz it looked weak. I thought he would bet more into this one as he had been pretty liberal with his chips. If he makes a bigger bet, I probably have to chuck it as the pot odds aren't good enough for me to play this hand. To me this narrowed his hand down to a big ace or a small 2 pair as a set or top 2 pair would try to move me off the pot. Of course he may be afraid I have a set too, though I don't see that. Anyway final card is a blank. I check, he is obviously confused by my wacko play and checks showing me AQ to take it down. I felt pretty stupid and wondered if I should have pushed the last bet but I just didn't want to get involved in a huge pot on a bluff. Not at that point.

The next 2 hours or so is a blur of lousy hands and decent cards that hit nothing. I did get to see 9-3 and 10-5 a number of times each but never saw AK or a big pocket pair. I am slowly bleeding chips as the antes kick in after the first break but still have some chips at least. By time of the second break I am down to 5400 and haven't played a hand past the flop in well over an hour. The only hand I thought about playing and didn't, K-9 suited in middle position, I decided to dump because I couldn't stand a raise then. Of course no one raises, the flop is K-9-9 and I want to shoot myself.

We come back after the flop and I'm talking to the guy on my left who is also short stacked. Guy next to him has made some big chips and the guy next to him is the one I want to play against. He is obviously used to playing in low limit tables as he is making some very thin calls with 2nd and 3rd pair against raises. And winning when other guys have AK and don't catch. He knocked out the first guy on my left when he called his healthy raise with A5 suited. Flop is 9-10-J, guy makes another good sized bet and he calls that. Next card is a 5 and the guy pushes all in and Mr Low Limit calls with a pair of 5s. He has to put this guy on a complete bluff which it was cuz he had AK but still, he could have had QQ in that position too. Last card is a 2 and he takes the pot and knocks this guy out. That was the 3rd time I had seen him go to the river on a hand I wouldn't have called originally. Of course I never get cards up against him cuz I know if I have top pair, I'm going all the way with him.

But of course he gives away all his chips before I ever get a hand so I don't taste any. I do win a couple of pots from the blinds, once with 5-5 which held up all the way to the river and another with a 7-3 when I river a 7. So my stack is building back up slowly to about 7K. Then I pull AQ in the small blind. 4 people call to me and I decide to just call the blind too. I hate playing AQ in early position and if I raise it and don't catch an A or Q I probably have to fold it cuz I'm not going broke with that hand again!! Since blinds are now 300-600 I would need to raise it to at least 1500-2000 and thats a good chunk of my chips so I would rather see the flop first, then make a decision. Flop comes down Q-7-3. I bet out 1800 and get one caller, the big stack 2 places to my left. Next card is a Jack. I was going to bet another 3000 but that only leaves me a little over a thousand behind so I decide to push all in. He calls and I wonder if he has QJ but he tables Q8 so I am ahead by a good bit. Last card is a 9 (thought it was an 8 when it first flipped) and I pick up a good pot which gets me up to 17K.

After that I lose some blinds and one hand when I flop zippo with AJ. Guy to my left gets AA, guy to my right also gets them, but they keep avoiding me, as do KK and QQ. I'm down to about 14K when I pick up 10-10 on the button. Guy who is new to the table raises to 1500 from 3 seats to my right. He had just raised a couple hands ago and picked up the blinds. I raise him to 4000. He goes all in for about 11K and I start to think. I really put him on a steal on that hand. He was fairly late in the hand and it just feels right, but maybe he has a big ace. I'm favored over either hand though not by much over big ace. For some reason I didn't think he had a big pocket pair. So I call him for most of my chips and of course he has AA now. Sucks to be me. Needless to say a 10 did not hit the board and I was crippled. Not long after that I was out.

I'd like to say I played well except for that hand or I was unlucky but really, I was a donkey and I made a few mistakes during the tourney. Usually unless you are all in, you can come back from a couple of mistakes if you play solidly. But going all the way back to the 7-7 debacle earlier and the 10's near then end, I really did not play all that well when I had a good amount of chips riding on it. I'd like to think I could have gotten away from the last big hand if I had just called his raise and seen the flop but in reality I probably still would have gotten hammered. The flop was 9 and below (I actually had a straight draw on the river) and one of us would have bet after that flop for sure. And I probably would have put him on big ace then too. Maybe I would have gotten away from it but there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't have. And that's on me, I had made up my mind and didn't look at the range of hands. And I should have. His initial raise was not that big, could easily have been for a big hand. Still in the middle I didn't play poorly, I stayed out of hands a lot and when I did make something decent, I got all my value out of it. So I would grade my self a C+ or maybe B- for the day. Unfortunately I would have needed A- to hit the money that day. And some luck lol. Oh well it was a learning experience.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Omaha in Florida? who'd a thunk it

Because of the holiday weekend and being a little flush with cash from finishing second on Saturday night, I decided to play in the Sunday night Omaha tourney at the Tampa dog track. I don't usually play there because it's a little bit of a haul for me to go that far and they almost never have an Omaha Hi/Lo ring game going and I don't care for low limit holdem anymore. They don't usually have that going there either come to think of it, its almost all 1-2 no limit going there. But they do have a Sunday night Omaha Hi tourney. It's not my best game by a long shot but I do enjoy it so I decided to play it.

Only about 40 people sign up. You start with 2500 in chips for $25 and you can do 1 rebuy for $20 to get 3000 chips and 1 add on at the end of the first hour for another 3K chips for $20. So I start playing. A lot of young players at my table. As Teddy KGB said "Aggresyeve and Strong like a bull". I of course folded most of my hands because I was getting utter horseshit and when I had a decent hand, someone is raising the pot and I don't have that good a hand to put my whole stack in on at best a draw and not even 50/50. You know in Omaha a lot of times you'll fold a hand and the flop will come and you are wishing you could take that hand right back out of the muck because it hit you so well? I wasn't even getting that! My hands were so bad, so many times I had stuff like 2-3-7-J all different suits and crap. So I just kept dumping hands. I played a couple and the closest I got to winning was a having a 5-6 to go along with the 7-8-9 on the board but another guy had 6-10 for the higher straight so I lost that one too. Fortunately I didn't put many chips in so it didn't cost me much.

We get to the end of the hour and they ask if I want to rebuy and/or add on. I'm thinking if I shouldn't just say the hell with it since my cards are running so bad but I take the 6000 chips for $40. We start back up and it's more of the same except now the blinds are up and it's costing me chips every go round to fold. I do get to see some of the these young guys do some stupid crap with their chips though. 3 people call the $400 big blind and the button pots it to something like 3300. He has about 20K and is one of the chip leaders. All 3 people call. Flop comes 10 and two low cards and he pushes the rest of his stack in. 2 people call, guy to my right is all in with Q-Q-9-8, guy to my left is all in with J-10-10-9 and the original raiser is in with A-A-7-3. There is no flush draw on the board to speak of and he is pissed cuz 3 people called his raise and the guy with pocket 10s makes a boat and wins a monster pot. I can tell he is normally a holdem player just from his cards and his reaction. Yes having AA in Omaha is good but not so much with a 7 and a 3. Also he thinks these people called with crap but a good wrap hand like the winner had was probably a better hand than Mr AA had, especially after the flop. Even the guy who busted with QQ had a good enough hand to call the raise with, though maybe not the all in after the flop. Anyway, this guy could have gotten away after the flop with losing less than a quarter of his stack. Instead he is down to 4K after the hand, in my range now lol, and he immediately pushes all in on the next hand and loses the rest of it. I'm thinking, I can't even sniff a decent hand and these idiots are going busto with them.

So I'm still getting blinded down but we are down to 15 people or so. We've been playing for almost 2 hours and I have not won a hand. This is getting sad. I finally get into a hand from the big blind and I've got the nut flush draw and a back door straight draw I'm not even looking at, up against a set of 8s. Turn and river are the 3 and 5 and I make the wheel I wasn't even looking for to win the hand. This puts me up to the lofty amount of 6K in chips. Guy next to me is sitting on 25. Luckily people are going bust left and right it seems. I am still bleeding chips from the blinds trying to get some kind of playable cards when the director announces we are down to 11 people and one more bust puts us at 10 and the final table. I'm down to 2K in chips again, when some guy at the other table goes all in and loses and they break the action to seat us at the final table.

I get seat 4 and luckily they redraw the button and it's at seat 6 so I have a few hands to play before the blinds come my way. The blinds are up to 1000-2000 now so I have just enough to play one hand. A couple of hands after we start up, I look down at AK of clubs and 6-9 of hearts. Not a great hand but not bad either, especially compared to what I have been getting. So I push all in. There are 4 callers at this point so I can turn my 2000 into 10,000 if I get lucky. Flop is perfect for me, 5-7-8 and I pull the nut straight. I'm sweating because there are 2 diamonds and I'm just sure someone has 2 in his hand. A couple of big stacks start betting and 2 other guys get all in on the hand. Turn is a black 10 and now I'm worried someone is sitting on a J-9 for a higher straight than I have. Last card is a 4 of hearts. Big stack lady to my right bets 10K and gets called by the remaining big stack across the table. He flips over a set of 10's, she has 5-6 for a low straight and takes the side pot (which is a lot bigger than the main pot lol) while my 6-9 hold up for a bigger straight in the main pot and 2 guys are knocked out.

So we're down to 8 people, I have a few chips though only enough for 5 big blinds, and I finally start seeing some playable cards. I get all in on another pot with one of the big stacks and another guy who is also all in and pull it out though I cannot remember what I had. I pull it out though and increase my stack to 30K while the other guy goes bust. I'm still not a big stack but I'm not tiny anymore and people are respecting my bets, some of the time at least.

A few hands later I'm on the button and look at a beauty hand, AAQJ with the AQ of hearts. Guy 2 places to my right calls the blind and the lady with the large stack between us also calls. I raise the pot which bumps it to 11K and both of them call. Not what I'm looking for at all. The flop was also not what I was looking for either as it's 7-7-6 with 2 clubs. Guy bets the pot, lady next to him repots it and I know I'm up against it now and unlike the idiot at my last table, I can put down AA in this situation which I do. Guy pushes back all in and the lady calls him. He shows 8-9-10-J for a massive straight draw and he might have had 2 clubs for the flush too but the lady shows 6-6 for a made full house and he is drawing almost dead and goes out on that hand. The lady is now the massive chip leader with something like 90K cuz he had a fair stack and she got 11K out of me too. I am down to 19K now and in last place still but at least I avoided going bust. I'm talking to the lady telling her she has the money made now as she is such a large stack that she can fold down to final 2 or 3, but she doesn't want to play that way.

We go on break and a couple of guys are giving me a hard time telling me that everyone hates me because I have been all in 3-4 times now and not busted and we are one away from the money now. We are having fun but I am sweating it cuz I do want to hit the cash too. Next lowest stack to me has between 25 and 30 K so I am a fair amount behind and blinds are up to 2000/4000 now. I fold a hand when the guy to my left raises and the lady to my right calls him. He pushes all in on the turn, all low cards with 2 hearts and the big stack lady next to me thinks about it then calls him. He had a big straight wrap that he hit and she had 2 hearts and was trying to knock him out with a flush. Now he had a little over 40K preflop so she had to put in a nice chunk of change to call him but she didn't even think about it. Heart doesn't hit the river and he doubles up and becomes chip leader on that hand.

I don't know what is going on in this lady's mind to call that hand down and to play like that with such a big chip lead. I konw she won some races and marginal hands, maybe she felt invincible or something, but in her situation I would have been avoiding going all in with anyone unless I had the nuts or a massive draw with straight and flush. Or if she was up against a small stack like me, then the risk is minimal. Instead she gives up half her stack on one shot with just a flush draw. Next hand the 2 of them tangle again. She pushes on the flop and he calls her with a big straight draw again. Which he hits on the turn. She bets, he raises her, and she pushes all in. This time she has top set but he already has a made hand so she only has 10 outs. She doesn't catch and it's good night irene for her. From chip leader to bubble girl in 2 hands. And ole lucky Kevin is cashing now. Yippee!!

We shake our heads and talk a little bit after she is gone cuz we all can't believe she donked off all her chips like that when she was this close to cashing. Then play gets intense and I keep catching some good cards. I win a small hand with a set that I couldn't bet because of all the straight cards on the board. Then one guy goes all in against the chip leader next to me and damned if he doesn't catch another straight and take him out. I then manage to take out a guy in 4th place when I flop the nut flush and the board doesn't pair up to give him a boat. He was in the same position I had been with the lowest stack and the blinds eating him up and he found a decent spot to push it, just was unlucky I had already made my hand. We play 3 handed for a while and I am getting plenty of respect when I push now as I have been all in 5 times and won every one. And they can see I'm not pushing garbage either. Even though I am small stack now, I have 50K now. One guy has about 65 and the leader has about 130K and he isn't ready to chop as he has enough to cover us both right now.

Finally I flop top two pair with AJ and bet the pot. The next bigger stack raises me all in and I think about it a second then call him hoping we have a split or he's on a draw. Nope, he has bottom set which puts me behind. Unfortunately he also has a jack which is one of my outs. I don't catch on the turn or river and finish in 3rd. I am plenty pleased by this, especially the way the first 2 hours or so went, but I really felt I had a chance to win this one if I kept playing. But enough about that, I went about 6 places further than I should have lol. And that's 2 cashes in 2 days for me which is unheard of.

Now I felt fairly ready to tackle the WSOP satellite tourney I qualified for at Derby Lane. I'll post next about that.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Weekend Wrap up

The wife and I get started in the 7 pm tourney. I'm sitting in seat 1 at table 31. I love seat 1 and 10 usually but I hate table 31 as its always first to break. Sometimes I end up playing at 4 or 5 tables and it makes it hard to get a rhythm going when you're constantly moving. Unfortunately there was only about 70 people in the tourney, usually there is 100-110 people and they pay top 10 or so. This time only top 7 get paid.

I take a hit early and lose almost half my stack when I raise with a pair of jacks and a queen kicker and get pushed off the pot. Almost called the all in but it didn't feel right. Guy had been fairly tight and he pushed hard. Either he bluffed me or he had me, think he had 2 pair. Either way I don't want to make that decision that early. After that I catch nothing for a while. After the first break I'm the big blind. I have 100 in the pot and 950 left. Guy under the gun raises to 350 and gets 1 caller when I go over the top of him all in for 1050. I'm sure at least one has a real hand but both have been playing a lot of hands and I didn't think either had a big pair. I had 8s. I figure one will call me but both of them call without hesitation. Now I figure I'm gone but the flop comes out 8 K 7 and I catch a set. First guy immediately pushes all in and second guy immediately calls. Both flip over AK so now I'm really happy. Last 2 cards are blanks and I more than triple up.

They broke the table soon after that and I got moved to a really loose table. That was sweet cuz I started catching some cards for a while and I made a few people pay for loose raises and calls. I doubled up on one guy who loved his KQ against my pocket Kings then took a huge amount off a guy with K-5 when I had K-9. A small stack pushed all in with a straight draw after he bet and then I went over the top of them both and he called me with top pair - lousy kicker and my 9 played and I won a massive pot. Next thing I know I am sitting on 14 K and am one of the chip leaders with 3 tables to go.

That's when I decided to start giving chips back. I made a dumb call with just a flush draw against an all in short stack which cost me a few thousand and then another one with top pair against 2 smaller pair which cost a little more. Suddenly no cards are coming my way and I am just folding every hand. I did make a couple of steals to keep some chips coming and the people kept falling by the wayside. Before I know it we have 11 left and are just waiting for someone to go busto to make it to the final table. I am still not getting much to play but because I have been playing solidly, people don't want to tangle with me when I do bet. However I am still bleeding more chips than I'm making due to the accelerating blinds. I really need to steal more often later in tournaments. Finally 1 guy goes out on each table on the same hand and we move 9 people to the final table. I am 8th in chips and know I will need to make some moves to get into the money.

The 2 guys sitting to my right both have big stacks and have been playing pretty solid poker so I am giving them some leeway when they bet. Good thing too as the guy right next to me becomes an Ace magnet. Twice I pick up AQ, which I generally hate playing as it's just good enough to lose with for me. Guy to my right raises a fair amount both times and I reluctantly fold. The first time he gets a guy all in then flips over AA and busts the guy putting us down to 8. I make an all in raise over 2 limpers with QQ and get a walk from the big blind which puts me in a lot safer territory as some of the others are just bleeding away their stacks. I steal again from the button and I'm still getting a fair amount of respect because no one is tangling with me when I raise but I'm also making sure to avoid the 2 big stacks to my right and the asshat across the table who is the biggest jerk in the room. Finally one of the big stacks busts the guy to my left in 8th place who really called on a marginal hand. We had taken up a collection for the bubble boy and everyone put in 5-10 bucks so he actually made a few dollars over his buy in for going bust.

Now that we got down to the money, play really loosened up but the best part about it was the asshat pushed all in from early position with AK and the Ace magnet to my right instacalled and turned over AA of course. Goodbye jerkoff, enjoy that 7th place money. He had a fair sized stack too, was 3rd in chips and didn't need to push that big a raise but he did and it's sayonara. I am still playing patiently and not getting much for cards. I luck out when I push all in on a flush draw with 5-8 of clubs on a flop of J -6 of clubs and 3 of diamonds. Guy on the button thinks for a minute and calls turning over AJ offsuit. Next two cards are both diamonds but they are the 4 and 7 completing my straight. Boy he was not happy about that but I sure was. Took me out of the bottom in chips. Guy went bust shortly after that. I folded AQ of spades a couple of hands later, very reluctantly, to a big raise from the Ace magnet and when we talked later he told me he was making a pure steal on crap but I just hate hate hate going bust on AQ. And I've done it often enough thats for sure. We get down to 4 players when I flop 2 pair with 10-8 on a K-10-8 board. Guy to my left bets out, folded to me and I raise to put him all in. He calls with KQ and I sweat the last 2 cards which are blanks and bust him. Guy 2 seats to my right busts the guy in 4th place and we're down to last 3. I have about 25K in chips and the guy to my right about 60K while the guy to his right has 55K so I am at a decided disadvantage. Blinds are now 2-4K so I don't have a lot of time left. I pick up AJ on the button and take both their blinds when they fold to my raise. Next hand the guy 2 places to the right raises and the guy next to me raises him back. They both get all in and Ace magnet takes it down, though not with Aces, I think it was KK actually but can't remember now. I was really surprised the other guy was willing to risk his whole stack at this time when he could have waited for me to go bust and been in at worst 2nd place and he was close to him in chips. But thats how it goes sometimes.

Now the guy to my right has 110K to my 30. He tells me he doesn't want to chop since he has such a big lead, and hell I understand that for sure, but he is willing to talk about it if I come back on him. Thing is, if I come back, I might not want to chop because maybe he finally is going card dead and I can take him out. I hold my own for a while but he calls my all in raise when I make top pair with a Q4 and of course turns over AA. Good night to me lol. I had a feeling too but I couldn't throw it away when I flopped the Q. Still I made over $400 on a $45 buying so I was not complaining. It was fun and profitable.

Since it was Memorial Day weekend and I had Monday off I decided to play in the Sunday night Omaha Hi tourney at the Tampa dog track. But I'll make that a later post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pardon the Interruption

God, has it been well over a month since I last posted. Even though it took me about a week to finish my last post, that's still like April 9th and today is May 28. Sorry about that chief.

It has been a hectic time at work and home over the past month. At least work is now slowing down, tax time is over and the phones are not ringing off the hook. I have been working on one problem though for well over a week now and it's still not done. I have about 30 copies of handwritten pages from one of our clients with a bunch, but not all, of her stock purchases and sales since 1969 and I'm trying to get the cost for all these stocks. There is about 50 of them in her account now. The bad thing is, she bought AT&T before the break up in 1984 and held it all the way up to now. So there are numerous shares of AT&T along with all of the spin offs that have not merged back with AT&T (Lucent, Verizon, Idearc, Fairpoint, LSI, NCR, Teradata, and Vodaphone and I'm probably forgetting some too) not to mention having to figure out how many shares of Bell South became AT&T and SBC (Southwestern Bell) also. Some of the Baby Bells even merged with each other and then with AT&T. Needless to say it's quite a mess and since I am sure there are some purchases missing, not to mention all the splits, spin offs, reverse splits, and mergers, I cannot come up with a number for many of the stocks that agrees with the number of shares the lady transferred into us in 2006. I did manage to get a couple of them to come out right, but most of them are not right. But enough work talk

Outside of work, I have been spending a fair amount of time playing poker. I did manage to referee a spring football game last week and had a lot of fun, but most weekends I have been playing poker. My main game when I am not in a tournament is Omaha Hi/Lo. It is rare when I play that and don't make money, especially if I play at the Hard Rock in Tampa. That is one loose game. I refuse to play low limit hold em anymore except when I am waiting to play Omaha because I feel you just cannot consistently win at it. Due to the rules of the state of Fla, you generally cannot play in a limit game with a high enough betting structure to raise people with totally inferior hands out of the pot usually. Thats not an issue in Omaha because you know no matter what your hand is, you need help from the board to win anyway. But in Holdem, no matter how good your hand is, you can lose it to anyone if enough people stay in the pot. And most of these yahoos do it very often.

Anyway this past weekend was poker nirvana for me. Saturday afternoon I started playing at Derby Lane which is the closest place to my house to play. The spousal unit and I were gonna play in the 7pm tourney that night but I went to play some Omaha in the afternoon while waiting for the tourney. Before going to play ( the place doesn't open till 2 on Friday and Sat) the wife and I, along with the money pit, err teenaged daughter, went to see Indiana Jones. After the movie, which I will get into in more detail either later on or in another post, they wanted lunch but I wasn't hungry at all as I have had a cold since last Thursday and my appetite is way down. So they dropped me at the track to play poker while they went to eat and shop. I got there about 15 mins after they opened and the only Omaha table was full with 4 people waiting so I put myself on the list. While I was waiting I decided to play $2 limit holdem. I could have played 2-4 or even 1-2 no limit but I don't carry enough of a bankroll for the latter and I was just wanting to kill time till I played omaha so the 2-4 could have gotten expensive (though I usually do not lose much playing at that level either)

The poker room was running a couple of promotions, one if you got pocket 3s and played them to showdown and won, you got $100, and if you lost you got $50. You had to take them all the way to showdown though, you couldn't bet everyone out of the pot and then show them. I hit that twice in a row a couple of months ago and even though I lost both times, the extra hunny was nice. My buddy Dan hit them like 4 times in one sitting and won a couple of them so he got an extra 300 one day. Nice. So I'm playing for a while and I'm not playing too many hands because I don't want to just blow a chunk of change before I play the game I am best at. I win a hand after being down a bit to get myself close to even. Then I pull pocket Js. I was on the button and the pot wasn't raised when it got to me so I didn't raise it like I should have. Still it all worked out lol. Flop comes K J 8 with 2 diamonds. Lady in first seat bets, one other guy calls her, and I raise which they both call. Next card is a black 2. Lady bets again, guy calls, I raise again and they both call again. I'm wondering what they both are holding to bet into me and then call my raises. I am just hoping for one of the low cards to pair and make my boat when that beautiful final jack hits the river and I got quads. Again the lady bets, the guy calls her, I raise and they both call. I think the guy was just flabbergasted when I showed quad Jacks. He couldn't believe I had the goods. I said to him "Hey, I raised on every street, I had to have something"

That qualified me for the 2nd promotion, which is the high hand on all the holdem tables each hour gets a free entry into the WSOP tourney this coming weekend. It's a 200 dollar buy in tourney and the top 4 finishers win a seat in the WSOP main event plus a week of hotel, airline tickets, and 2 grand cash. NICE. Unfortunately my Jacks were beaten when someone made quad Aces but I didn't care. I won a nice pot and I already qualified for the tourney a few weeks ago. I HIT A ROYAL FLUSH for the top hand one hour. And you can only win once so I couldn't win again with the Jacks and sell the other seat anyway. The bad thing about the royal is they no longer give cash bonuses for royals. I missed it by about 10 days. Sucks to be me, prolly would have gotten 3 grand for the royal if I had done it earlier. The other bad thing is the guy who had the high hand before I got my royal, had a King high straight flush. How would you like to get a hand like that and NOT get the hourly high hand lol.

Not long after that I got called to play omaha so left the table with a profit of about 20 bucks which for low limit hold em is a huge amount for me. I played for a couple of hours and couldn't get it going. Not much in the way of hands and when I got a good hand, the flop never seemed to agree with me. So I was busy pissing all my holdem winnings right down the drain lol. But slowly as I folded a lot of hands. I started getting hungry right before 6 and since I was gonna play in the holdem tourney at 7 I decided to quit soon. Finally picked up a playable hand. Flopped the nut flush and it held up and even though it was a split pot, I still made a nice amount, enough to put me ahead for my time there too. Had a quick dinner, the wife met me while I ate, and we went to play the tourney. Think I'll pick up from here a little later.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Better World Part 2

Continuing with my theme from Monday concerning a better world for my kids, I really want them to be able to have more, especially in the way of opportunities, than I had. Not to say I didn't have opportunities because I did, but I want them to have at least as much chance as I have had. I also don't want them to live in a world of constant fear of terrorism, or to be taxed like mad because of debts my generation has handed down. And I'm really afraid they will get that.

What happened to being responsible for what you did, what you signed for, what you caused? Nowadays, as soon as one thing goes wrong, no matter who is at fault (if anyone), the first words out of someone's mouth is "who do I sue" and the second words are "it wasn't my fault because..." I am totally fed up with it. When I hear people saying how they were never told, never informed, didn't know, etc, I just want to take a hammer to their heads.

That's not to say that if you get something defective and it turns out the maker knew there might be an issue and sold it to you anyway, you shouldn't clean their clock. But more and more it seems that completely random accidents or things that happen where we KNOW the possible consequences, still end up going to court and sometimes even winning. I'll give you a case in point before I go on to the one thing that is really getting me mad. First off, we all remember the McDonald's coffee case. How this 79 year old woman put the hot cup of coffee between her legs as a passenger (not driving as many have stated), spilled it on herself, and sued McDonalds for getting burned because the coffee was too hot. The car wasn't even moving and she managed to do this to herself. Now how do you manage to do this when you aren't driving and the car isn't moving? Because you hold it between your knees and pull the lid off. Everyone knew the coffee was super hot, thats one reason I almost never got McDs coffee myself, but to hold it like that while trying to put cream and sugar in it was inviting disaster. Why not ask for a few ice cubes in your coffee? Why not go inside to get it or wait till you can put the coffee down at a table or something? It's not like the lady was gonna be late for work or something.

McD's knew this was a problem because they had something like 700 claims for coffee burns in the 10 years before this, and thats a big reason why they lost. They could have settled for 20 grand but refused to do it and so they got waxed. But the thing is, the lady knew this coffee was really hot and still did something dangerous with it and ended up burning her genitals. How much was this the responsibility of the person? A hell of a lot more than 20 percent (which is what the jury said). You think I'm gonna put something that hot near my groin??

Now this brings me back to what's really under my skin. During the recent housing boom, too many unqualified people bought houses that many of them knew they could not afford. They finagled the numbers, often times with the help of the mortgage brokers, and took out adjustable mortgages with initially low interest rates that they knew would reset higher, and thought nothing of it. They could barely afford that payment and yet bought their "dream house" and now that rates have adjusted, they are screwed. And what do they want? They want a bailout. They want help. It wasn't their fault, etc.

While you cannot assign them all of the blame as mortgage brokers knew they couldn't afford that house and many banks and mortgage companies didn't even bother to check up on the customer to see if they could afford it or that they showed decent credit. Hell many mortgage brokers would fudge the numbers to make it look like they could afford the home when they knew they couldn't. Ultimately though the responsibility lays with the person buying the home because in the end, they are the ones being foreclosed on. But instead all you hear is how terrible it is that they owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth and that it's the government's fault, the economy's fault, etc.

Now I have no issue with people who lose their job and now cannot afford their house. That's bad and it does happen. But many if not most of the people who are being foreclosed on have the same jobs they had when they bought the house. The problem is THEY BOUGHT TOO MUCH HOUSE AND PAID TOO MUCH FOR IT!!! We all get sucked in from time to time, we see something and we gotta have it no matter how much it costs. But you're talking about something you're gonna have to pay on for the NEXT 30 YEARS. And the kicker is, if some scum sucking unethical mortgage broker fudged the figures enough and stuck him with an ARM or even worse, an option ARM mortgage, as soon as the rates adjust he's now in a house he can't afford anymore. So he loses his house and his credit is fucked. Does the real estate agent or mortgage broker care? Hell no, they go their money. The bank or mortgage company probably doesn't care either. That loan has been sold to someone else so they got their money too. And then it's packaged as a bond and bought by some guy nearing retirement as a safe place to put his money and get a decent interest return, except it's not safe anymore. Moody's says it's AAA rated but it's actually built on junk, on mortgages without much documentation given to high risk home buyers who are walking away from their houses and now this guy isn't getting paid and can't sell the bond for anything near what he paid for it, if at all. So 2 ordinary people (the homebuyer and the bondholder) are taking it up the wazoo and everyone else who sells this shit is making a killing on the deal. Which is why I am not worked up at all about the Bear Stearns fiasco. They made their bed and reaped HUGE monetary rewards from it. Let them take it up the wazoo for a change, especially all the high execs with their now worthless stock options. I say fuck you all. The only ones I feel sorry for in the mess there are the guys like me, coming in everyday and doing their jobs. At least half of them probably won't lose their jobs. But BSC was one of the big dogs in this mortgage mess. Let them roll around in the shit for awhile.

Anyway, the long winded point I am trying to make in this disaster of a blog is, when does someone point the finger at themselves and take personal responsibility for this mess. At least their own little portion of it. Of course the homeowner is gonna have to take some he works like a slave in 2 jobs to pay for a house he doesn't get to stay home and enjoy or his credit gets crapped on when he loses said house to foreclosure. To make matters worse, check out this site: http://www.youwalkaway.com/ of some ass holes catering to people walking away from their mortgages and even counselling them on how they can live in that house for another 8 months while not paying for it. Again, let me restate for the record, people who lose their jobs, get sick, etc, and cannot pay for their house is entirely different than what I am talking to here. I am talking to the majority of the buyers who spent themselves into a gigantic financial abyss and now are staring into the black hole hoping against hope it won't swallow them up. Ultimately they are the ones who are taking a financial bath, along with the unfortunate investors who purchased investments based on mortgages like this and also did not understand there really was risk in this "riskless" investment. These are the people who have to look in the mirror and say to themselves, "well I really screwed the pooch that time" and who want a bailout by your tax dollars to save themselves from the hole they dug. And they ain't getting it from me if I can help it.

So if you are one of the people so named in this story, I better not find you pulling this You Walk Away bullshit in my neighborhood. You better be working 2 jobs to pay for your McMansion and your wife better work too, not to mention how much I want to see your kids cutting grass instead of playing their WII. If you bought into these investments, you better be planning on how to cut back (if you're already retired) or delaying your retirement until your finances improve. Because only by taking some responsibility for the part you played in all the hype, hoopla, and fiasco of this housing bubble is this all going to unwind without my government trying to shove a huge debt onto my kids backs. I'm gonna do my damnedest to prevent that from happening and I hope enough others are too.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Better World For My Kids?

A very good article in the St Pete Times on Sunday talked about rising sea levels in Florida. It mentioned how you cannot tell this is happening in urban areas due to beach renourishment and seawalls, not to mention manmade additions to coastal islands but in areas where man is not building, water levels are higher, salt water has intruded into marshes turning them into bays, mangroves grow where they didn't used to. Water levels have increased about an inch per decade since 1940 according to this article.

I tend to take a dim view of many enviromentaltwits running around like chicken little telling me the sky is falling. For one thing, knowing the average temp for the last 100 years or so hardly qualifies in my eyes as "knowing" the atmosphere is getting warmer because of what man is doing. The earth has been around something like 5 billion years. There's been ice ages and warm times and this was long before man was walking around trashing everything. Now having said this, do I think it is possible that "global warming" is caused by man. I will admit to that possibility. I will also admit this is possibly due to natural earth cycles too. No one understands climatology, meteorology, geology, etc enough to equivocally tell me either answer is true, or even if it's somewhere in between. But I will admit, in the spirit of leaving this world better for my kids, that we all, including me, should do more to protect the environment.

I am all for renewable sources of energy. As sunny as Florida is, there is no reason more buildings, houses, etc do not have solar collectors. Except that the public utility companies don't want them too because then they would not be dependant on the utilities for power. And we know who has a better chance of influencing the legislature now don't we? I do like the fact that our governor is willing to push for more environmentally friendly ways of doing things and is concerned about these things. Maybe there will be big tax breaks or rebates given to people who buy solar panels and other things like that. As long as he doesn't try to ram it down the throat of the people while living like it doesn't matter to him.

This is what burns me the most about many of the glitterati who go on about how we are destroying the planet and how we need to do this and that to cut down on our energy usage but don't do a damn thing about it in their own lives. When I see some of these famous people who's only knowledge on the subject is what some envirolunatic has whispered in their ear try to tell us we need to cut down on pollution or energy usage or what have you while they go everywhere on private planes and humongous limos, I just turn a deaf ear. Even someone like Al Gore who I think is a pretty smart guy and seems pretty sincere about global warming, just PISSES ME OFF because he lives in a giant house and is using 10 times the amount of energy as a normal person. If you're gonna talk the talk Al, you better walk the walk. And I don't think this: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/g/gore-bush-houses.htm qualifies you to tell me anything about how much energy I use. And don't even get me started on Michael Moore and his "Documentaries", I'll save talking about the pompous ass some other time when I have more time. If you want to get people's attention, show us you are doing things too like Willien Nelson and his BioWillie fuel or Cameron Diaz who has used bio diesel for quite a while. I read in Rueters that Darryl Hannah travelled across the US in a biofuel car in 2005 and her house is off the electric grid. Now that I can admire. Of course the same story lauded Big Al for "An inconvenient truth" but didn't say one thing about his inconvenient house.

Well that's it for now as I have to make money the old fashioned way and earn it. Will be watching the stock market closely today as I expect it to rise quite a bit today. Hopefully the stocks I own will be part of that rise. At least I have a relatively short drive so I won't use a lot of hydrocarbons or pollute very much today.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekend wrap up

Well here it is Sunday night and I realize I haven't posted since Monday. Bad Bad Me. I should be severely punished. I think I will punish myself with a beer shortly to celebrate the end of Lent and the end of my beer fast. Yes I gave up beer for Lent, fool that I am. I did manage to forget once and drink a beer early in Lent but after I remembered, I managed to avoid drinking any. My wife, (the empress) managed to forget a number of times and suggest I have a beer 3 or 4 times but I managed not to have one. The first time I even said yes and then remembered at the same time as my daughter (the empress in training) that I couldn't have one and had something else.

I had a busy week and there is much to talk about. I doubt I have time for all I want to get through but here goes. First and most importantly, is the NCAA tourney. I have no particular rooting interest here as the 2 schools I truly root for are Providence College and the Univ of Florida, neither of whom made the tourney. So my bracket this year has no hometown bias and I tried to pick teams based on actual results rather than my biased opinion. All of my final four teams are still alive, so I am better off than those who picked teams like Georgetown and Duke to make it to the there but I made my share of bad picks too like Drake and Vanderbilt to make it to the sweet sixteen. My best pick was Davidson over Gonzaga and Georgetown. The one that is hurting me the most is Pitt over Mich St and Miss St over Memphis. At least Miss St almost got to OT vs Memphis. I also took Butler over Tenn and then over Louisville so thats gonna hurt if either of those 2 make it to the final four. Butler did take Tenn to OT so I was not far off that pick either. I am a bit better than average in my pool, 51st out of 131 but a few breaks and I can make up a good bit of ground.

As for my short term investments in the tourney, I am a bit better there. Won both picks today to make it 3-1-1 for the tourney. Bad pick was Oral Roberts getting 12 against Pitt and getting hammered instead. I did take Stanford giving 15 to Cornell and they covered easily. My other action in the first round was a 3 team tease of Gonzaga +6, Temple +11 and Xavier -4.5. Xavier made me proud by coming back and covering for me. Both Temple and the Zags managed to lose exactly on the number so I didn't win but I didn't lose either and the bet was a push. The Zags were even leading late but managed to let it slip away but Temple was never in their game and really got a back door to hit the number, so no complaints there. Today's 2 bets were UNC -11 over Arkansas. Never in doubt as UNC jumped on them early and won going away by almost 30. The other pick was Miss St +9.5 over Memphis. That one went down to the wire as Miss St fell behind by double digits, clawed back to tie, then went down by almost 10. Memphis managed to brick enough free throws to keep Miss St in it and they actually had a 3 pointer off the rim at the horn that would have sent it into OT. Still it was a betting victory and I will take that anytime.

Other happenings this week involved playing poker yesterday. I did not do well in the tourney though I last about an hour longer than last week at least. I could not get anything much going and my best hands almost always were outclassed. I was way down early, clawed almost back to even, then the hand I kicked myself for. Pick up 10-10 sitting 3 spots left of the big blind with 2 callers already. Blinds are 25-50 and I raise to 300. Guy next to me raises to 1000 which would leave me maybe 500 if I call. I figured he had something like AK so I was planning on pushing all in and taking my chances when the guy on the button pushes all in. Folded to me and I have to think. Guy had plenty of chips, more than covered me but the guy next to me has him covered if he calls, and I am pretty sure he will by the way he is playing with his chips. I felt ok going heads up with tens but I gotta think this other guy has at least pocket jacks or queens, maybe even American Airlines. So I fold. Other guy calls and both turn over AK. I turn green 'specially when a 10 flops and 2 sixes by the river for my boat. After that I don't get much, barely hang on and lose when my next 10-10 runs into queens.

Well thats all for tonite. I had a very good run playing $2 limit holdem after the tourney so all in all a good nite. And really even a bad nite of poker beats the hell out of a good day at work. So off to bed and I will continue tomorrow

Monday, March 17, 2008

The end of BS

Well after looking at the markets today it seems the end of Bear Stearns is here. According to the stories I read, they have agreed to sell out to JP Morgan-Chase for the princely sum of $2 a share. That's right, not $200 or even $20 but $2 a share. Quite a comedown from the $160 or so the stock was at only a year ago. BSC was supposed to report their quarterly financials after the Market closed Monday too, and probably would have showed earnings around $1 a share but now have delayed their report. Hard to believe they could be sold so cheaply when they weren't even reporting a loss. On Thursday the stock closed at $57, on Friday at $30 and on Monday at $4

What it all seems to come down to is that BSC was running out of cash. Yes they had a lot of assets, hell they own their own building in Manhattan thats probably worth a billion bucks or more which would be 4-5 times the price of the buyout, but those assets were not liquid. They are holding on to a bunch of mortgage backed securities with no buyers at the moment, and clients were pulling their money out faster than BSC could get funds to pay them. Something had to give and it turned out, it was Bear Stearns. Apparently no other banks were willing to loan them enough to cover their shortfall till they could raise more cash. Of course BSC was no model citizen as they did not help out in the crisis brought on by Long Term Capital's failure in 1998. And 2 hedge funds they set up based on mortgage backed securities already imploded. Seems to me JPM played some real hardball to get BSC so cheaply. They get the building, the brokerage business and some other real assets. We'll see if that is better than the headaches they also inherit. Personally I think they got a bargain but I've been wrong before.

My kids have gotten me hooked on a TV show I never would have watched on my own. It's called Ninja Warrior. If you've never watched it before, 100 people take on an obstacle course with a time limit. If they make it through that there are 2 more totally different courses and then the final course. They all take balance, strength, endurance, nerves, speed, and great timing. Even pro athletes fail at it (Olympic gymnast Morgan Hamm didn't make it through the 1st stage, his brother Paul did and almost made it through stage 2) and when they fail they usually end up in a cold pool of muddy water. Not fun. Many people try going through the course in a whacky costume or in their work outfits. One guy has been in every tourney, 19 so far, and he always wears the uniform he wears to work. He was a service station attendant, now he manages the place. He has never won and in fact dislocated his shoulder on the last round one time. The announcing is cheesy but funny, some of the contestants are even funnier when they fall in the water but something about it makes me want to watch more. It's on G4 TV, if you get the chance I say CHECK IT OUT.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Politics of Fear and Hatred

Well Obama seems to have been brought down a few notches this weekend with the "Spiritual Advisor" scandal. I don't know about you but I think a majority of Americans get real uncomfortable hearing someone preach "God damn America" in a church in America. And I wouldn't call Obama's defense of this to be any great shakes. First off, this guy married you, baptized your kids, and you have been attending his church for the past 20 years. I don't think saying that you don't support all of his views or heard him say things like that will cut it with the electorate. Then again, what do I know.

This issue of course does not belong just at his footsteps. Its been used by both parties many times before. Use a group's distrust of another, build upon their perceived fears (hello Willie Horton anyone??), pull the most egregious examples to support your thesis and rally the troops around defeating this menace. The politics of fear and hatred win another round. Personally I am sick to death of this. And I won't support politicians of either party who do it anymore, especially if they are the first to sling the mud.

So if Hillary Clinton campaigns that Barack Obama doesn't have any experience, that's a valid criticism (though kind of laughable considering all of the experience she has had isn't it?) but when one of her staffers leaks pictures of Obama in a turban trying to stoke fear and hatred of Muslims, thats way way out. And her mamby pamby denial "We didn't do it though one of my people may have been involved in it" does not fly at all.

And Barack Obama can ask why Hillary is a senator from NY when she lived in Illinois and Arkansas and Washington DC until her husband was no longer president. Perhaps he could ask why being a senator from Arkansas wouldn't be enough for her or even why she waited until Bill was running for Governor to change her last name to his. But his staffer calling her a monster and his wife saying the country is "downright mean" and filled with cynics, sloths, and complacents and that she was not proud to live here doesn't cut it. You don't like it, leave. You liked it just fine when you were earning tons of jack as a lawyer, and telling others to be teachers and doctors while you are struggling to get by on $275,000 a year as VP of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals.

And if John McCain campaigns like this, I won't support him either. I like him as the best candidate to not foster hatred or fear and actually try to be inclusive with people on the other side of the aisle. I think it speaks well for him the Democratic Senators respect and admire him. But if does start campaigning on issues other than his own qualifications or his opponent's lack thereof, I guess I will be voting 3rd party this year.

So to wrap up this thread, lets see how Obama continues to spin his spiritual advisor and if Hillary can use this against him in a way that doesn't get her called a rascist. Personally I don't think she can but I think it may hurt Obama in the general election.

On to other things. Played poker on Saturday in a local cardroom. Mostly played Omaha Hi/Lo ( otherwise known as 8 or better) but also played in a Holdem tourney for a short time. I was out before the first break for the first time ever. My straight ran right into a full house and it was good night Irene. Can't complain, I was behind the whole hand. Unlike my last time when I was well ahead with top 2 pair and some fool reraises me all in on middle pair and a flush draw and of course hits the flush. It was too bad I made the straight on the river so I could get busted this time.

I played poorly at the Omaha table early on too. Before the tourney I was playing and losing a bit. After the tourney I went back and played again. Had to wait for a seat as there was only one table for Omaha and it was full but while I was waiting I thought back to my earlier time there and realized I was playing way too many hands. Tightened up and managed to make back a bit of cash, though not enough to cover my losses earlier or my tourney entry either. Would have been better but most of my good hands and draws never made it. Great high cards had low flops. Low hands had high flops. Nut flush draws on the flop never seemed to complete for me nor did sets become boats, but they hit against me enough. Still I played conservatively enough to make some money back and not continue losing.

I think I have learned a bit more about playing better, not letting bad beats affect me so much (after last week's flush out in the tourney I played Omaha and killed making back more than double my money) and feel pretty good with my game. Will try again next Saturday and hope for better results.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Getting Started

What does this say about the world when someone like me is even blogging? I mean, I enjoy working and playing online and sometimes even talking to others and reading other people's thoughts, but for me to get on and start talking?? What is the world coming to??

That's probably my greatest concern. As I age and as my kids come of age, I keep wondering what kind of world I am turning over to them. First off, the world around them seems much more dangerous and challenging than when I was growing up. There are so many more ways to get into trouble it seems. There are so many more things available to them, which is a double edged sword as some of them are wonderous, some of them are very dangerous. My daughter can chat online with some kid in Canada and not run up the phone bill or have to mail letters back and forth. But is it really some kid in Canada or some nutjob pervert down the street? You teach them and hope they make the right choices and even then, things can go wrong.

And yet that doesn't concern me as much as 3 other things I see. First is the amount of debt our country is continually adding to. Someday this will eventually have to be paid. And that will probably fall on them, or their kids or even grandkids. The second thing is the way the Fed, Wall Street, and the government as a whole keeps trying to prevent the economy from going through it's normal cycles. The economy has always gone up and down, and every time the Fed intervenes, every time Wall Street invents some new investment that no one really understands, and every time the government then bails out the fools who risk too much on what they don't know, the economy is prevented from taking it's normal course. You keep it going up and up and up and eventually no matter what you do it comes down, but it comes down much much harder. Which we may be seeing now. And we get further in debt when the Fed guarantees the foolishness of Bear Stearns (BSC began yesterday at 57 and finished at 30, wish I had shorted that one) and the "Economic Stimulus" the Pres is giving us puts another 150 billion onto the national debt. Don't get me wrong, I am always pleased to get a tax refund, but you better find a way to take that amount out of the budget. Third and last is the amount of interference in everyday life that all levels of government seem to be getting into. It gets so bad that you cannot cut down a tree in your yard without the permission of the city, you have to jump through hoops so that your kids can attend the school down the road from you, and you cannot gamble online (legally) from the privacy of your own home. But then you have idiots in the government who will do whatever they want to get around the rules they pass and expect us to uphold.

I guess to finish up, I'm getting damned tired of seeing the government try to run my life, the courts not upholding the constitution but feeling they need to make their own laws, the people appointed and elected to make life a little better for everyone taking advantage of their position and influence to try to line their own pockets (check out this article about the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/article414941.ece) and slip through loopholes in the laws they enact, and yet bail out the rich and the powerful when they screw up. You try to teach your kids right from wrong, that they need to help others but take responsibility for their actions, and hold them to standards but then they look at the world around them and see their own government teaching just the opposite. They see that freedom of speech only applies to non-offensive speech (unless you are a minority of some kind, then by all means offend whoever you please), that owning a handgun is the province of the police and criminals only, and that the courts can interpret the law how they please. How do you combat that?