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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil...........

is for good men to do nothing"  Edmund Burke British Member of Parliament, political theorist and philospher.
Joe Paterno died today.  One of the greatest college football coaches of this generation, perhaps of all time.  And yet he was forced from his revered position under a black cloud for supposedly doing nothing and allowing an evil man to continue his depradations.  By my view he did what he was supposed to do and reported what he had been told, which is 2nd hand information, to the people who are in charge of investigating such matters.  What they did or didn't do was criminal but the resulting firestorm engulfed the entire administration and to appease the critics, the board of trustees fired Joe Paterno.

While he didn't do nothing, in many people's opinion he also didn't do enough.  I'm sure at least part of the problem was due to the fact that many good people, people of morals and convictions, cannot conceive the depravity of those who are evil.  Unless they actually witness that kind of poison first hand, they often can't believe a friend, acquaintance, or person known to them is actually not the person they appear to be and capable of such heinous acts.  So Joe Pa probably could have done more to make sure something was done about Sanduskey besides his resigning as coach, but I think its very possible he just couldn't see his friend and associate in that kind of light.  And in my opinion, he was scapegoated by the Board of Trustees at Penn St.  Not without reason as Joe Pa was a lightning rod for the Sandusky scandal.  Guilty or innocent, having him on the sidelines put the scandal out front and center every Saturday.  But I gotta believe his good name was severely damaged and almost destroyed by this scandal and while lung cancer killed him, losing everything he was known for and being forced to leave the way he did could not have helped him.  I do think the past 6 months took the life out of a guy who lived to teach young men how to play football and how to live.  Facing this killing disease and with his reputation tarnished as well as being forced out of doing what he had loved for the past 60 years had to suck the life out of him.  While I've never been a Penn St fan, I had always admired Paterno for his demeanor and how he never got flustered no matter how bad things could get.  As a teacher of men, he was a class act according to all who played for him.  As a cancer survivor I know how scary that diagnosis is and yet you never heard a word about it from him while this whole ordeal played out in the media.  As I said, he was a class act. 

Now back to my original thesis as I'm sure I've bored you enough.  The triumph of evil.  It's up to all of us to recognize it and do what we can to stop it.  Many of us are only peripherally aware of what evil really is.  We see it on the news and online but we don't see it on that close a basis.  Unless we are unlucky enough to experience it or see it first hand we don't really get it I fear.  Cops, soldiers, and victims do.  The rest of us often don't.  The PQ used to be a court clerk.  She saw the evidence, the crime scene pics and got to sit within 10 feet of some pretty nasty people.  When I met her she was anti capital punishment.  Now she knows about the evil that men (and sometimes women) do and she is very much in favor of capital punishment. 

And what about on the poker table?  While our opponents are not necessarily evil, they are the villains in our universe.  They'll steal your chips if they get the chance.  You can't always prevent them but you gotta make sure you don't make it easy on them.  I'm not saying you have to call em down with 3-5 off but you need to make sure they can't raise your blinds with impugnity also.  And when you have position on them you have to make them pay for raising crap out of position.  Too often we get passive in games and tourneys when we are faced with a real loose aggressive player.  But you can't give in here.  Every once in a while you gotta point the gun at their head and let them know there is a price in chips for raising you as you are coming for them.  They don't know what you have and usually they don't have much.  If you've been tight for awhile, a healthy raise or reraise will get some respect.  It's risky, maybe he actually has a hand, but you gotta take that stand, even when you aren't catching cards.  But whatever you do, remember you're the good guy (or gal) so don't do nothing and let evil triumph. 

Last night the PQ and I hit the poker tables again.  Neither of us were at our best as we were both a little tired.  I spent all day Tuesday in Lakeland at a gun show, looking at tools to help me defeat evil if I should ever run into it up close and personally.  I did not make a purchase however.  The PQ went even further to Orlando for our niece's day at cello camp.  She is a pretty good cellist and there were 20 or kids from different high schools around the state for a bit of instruction and work from some really fine musicians.  She did very well the PQ said.  Anyway I got home a little after 5 and got about an hour's nap in before heading to the poker room.  The PQ went straight there from Orlando and didn't get there till almost 8 pm.  I was playing Omaha 8 by then and didn't feel up to playing a tourney so I didn't join in but she did.  She played well and final tabled it again but just missed cashing going out 7th.  She had to struggle with a short stack for quite awhile and went out when her AK did not improve against 88.  I was up early in Omaha, then went cold and lost all of my winnings plus half my stack before making it up at the end.  I finished up a whole 10 bucks which beat losing.  I'd have done a whole lot better but for my last 2 hands.  I folded a straight into a flush on the board and it turned out 4 other people in the hand did not have the flush.  Damn.  Right after that I flop the broadway straight with KJ23.  I bet every street and the turn and river are the 8 and 4 of spades and I lose the high hand to the ace high flush.  Of course there was a flush that time.  At least I did make the nut low with the 23 so I made money cuz a bunch of people stayed in the whole way. 

This one lady directly on my left was an example.  She was willing to push or call down with flushes but not with the nut flush.  Now I made some chips with non-nut flushes but you have to be careful there.  Cuz some guy with A3 of spades beats your KQ every time on the flush.  She had about $400 in front of her and was preparing to leave but decided to play a few more hands.  She got a little pissed when she got unlucky and lost some chips so she stayed to make them back.  And gave them ALL away.  I had already seen how she would push non nut flushes if you let her think she was ahead.  So when I won a hand with a Q high flush when everyone folded, I showed it to let her think I did the same.  I don't usually but I had a good read on the hand and was pretty certain I was good.  Everyone folded even though there was a low on the board and I didn't have a low hand.  I figured I could use that to my advantage later.  I did. 

Late in my session I am down and pick up 2559.  Crap hand but I'm in the big blind so I see the flop with 6 others.  Flop is a bingo, 556 with one spade.  Since I'm early to act I check.  I don't want to advertise this hand yet.  It gets checked around to a lady one off the button who bets.  I call with 3 others including my friend to my left.  Turn is a spade jack.  I almost bet then but didn't and it gets checked to the same lady again.  I think about check raising there but I'm next to act and there are 3 more to bet behind me so I decide to call again.  Possibly a mistake as I think I get called by low draws and maybe by spade draws there.  But maybe not if they put me on JJ with a made full house.  Lady on my left calls as well as another guy.  River is both good and bad.  A seven of spades.  Puts a low on the board so this is almost definitely a split hand.  Good thing is it put a flush up as well so I can get callers from low draws as well as flushes I hope.  I take a chance and check because I can see the lady to my right still wants to bet.  She does and this time I check raise.  Lady on my left calls for the last of her chips as well as the original bettor though the other guy reluctantly folds.  Original bettor has A2 of spades for the nut flush and nut low, I flip over quads, and lady to my left has KQ of spades along with a 24.  She put in the last of her chips on 2nd best flush (with a paired board) and a so/so low.  And called all the way with nothing made and only 2 not great draws.  And she had done that for the past hour or so in giving away all her chips.  Works in Hold em to not have the nuts or nut draw but in Omaha, it'll get you killed. 
If you ain't got the nuts, you ain't got shiat

To finish let me look at today's games a little.  I'm rooting for the Pats but I'm unfortunately picking the Ravens today.  I just think this game is going to be about defense and turnovers rather than offensive prowess.  Yes the Pats are a points machine but they aren't a speed machine and unless you can run well, you can't beat them without someone who can stretch the field a bit.  To win Brady has to get hot and complete passes BUT if the Ravens can get a pass rush without having to blitz it puts a lot of pressure on the NE receivers to get open quickly.  I like Gronandez abilities in the passing game but you can't get tight ends open down field on seam routes without time and if Brady is on his ass, he isn't throwing long to any TEs.  So that leaves him Welker and Branch, neither of whom sets a land speed record when they run.  And passing into tight windows can lead to bad things like pickoffs.
Will NE be able to run on the Ravens?  That is the X factor.  Other good running teams have been able to move the ball on the ground this year against them.  But to call NE a good running team is a bit much. So a big day from Brady is just about a necessity today.

On the flip side, Baltimore has a good running game.  They can and have won without much from the QB.  Which is a good thing because they haven't gotten much from him lately.  NE will sell out to stop the run, they have to.  And like Pittsburg vs Denver, they may get burned by that tactic.  Baltimore does have a speed receiver in Torrey Smith which can cause problems in a 1 on 1 matchup if (and it's a big if) Flacco can deliver the ball.  I'm guessing Joe plays better than he did last week and that's the difference.  If NE can get ahead by more than a TD and force Baltimore into a passing contest they win, if not I give the edge to Baltimore.  Turnovers will be the difference maker I think.   A close game where Baltimore can go to Rice and use play action to hit a home runs to Smith is what I see.  Possibly in OT.  I hate the Ravens but the PQ hates NE, even though she knows her wonderful hubby grew up 20 minutes from Foxboro.

In SF, I want to pick the Giants.  I do but I'm taking SF.  Lord crucify me now if I'm gonna take Alex Smith in 2 big games in a row.  And really if you had to take the better QB, you have to pick NY and Eli Manning.  He has looked great over the past 4 or 5 weeks and played a near perfect game in GB last week.  Also, in a receivers matchup, the only SF receiver who would start for NY is Vernon Davis the tight end as the Gmen have excellent wideouts while the best you could call the SF receivers is non-descript.  But people seem to forget the Gmen have had problems all year stopping the run.  They were lucky to play a Packer team that hasn't run well all year in the playoffs and even there they won due to the Pack receivers not being able to come up with catches they had all year long.  And pressure on the QB from the D line.  SF won't fall into that trap I think.  They will give to Gore, give to Hunter, give to the United Way to win. 

NY has a good running tandem in Bradshaw and Jacobs but they have had problems blocking for them most of the year.  Eli has taken over the Manning mantle as best QB in the family, mostly due to injury, but also due to his stellar play down the stretch this year.  The Giant receivers are all healthy at the same time for the first time since the season started making them hard to defend.  If Eli gets time to throw, he can definitely beat up on the SF secondary.   If they can run enough to set up play action throws and give Eli time to throw, they can win this.  Drew Brees proved you can throw on SF if you get time.  Eli may not be Brees but he's played as well of late.  And endorsing Alex Smith to win again makes me sick.  He's the Michael Corleone of the bad QB doghouse.  Every time he is getting out they suck him back in.  But I am holding my nose and taking SF to negate the Giant pass rush by running and making enough big plays to win.  And like Alex Smith, isn't Eli due a bad game at some point as well?  I hope I'm wrong as I would love to see a Pats/Giants rematch. 

One final note on Super Bowl contenders.  It is rare in this day and age for a coach over 55 to win a Super Bowl.  The last time was 2008 when NYG won with 61 year old Tom Coughlin and they beat a coach who was almost 56 himself in Bill Belichick but prior to that we go all the way back to 2000 and 63 year old Dick Vermeil.  Coaching is a young man's game it seems.  The hours, the passion, it's just hard to maintain, especially after you win like Coughlin and Belichick already have.  I am in awe of how Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick do what they do to get their teams to perform.  But I think we have the brothers Harbaugh in the Superbowl this year.  Call the Superbowl No Country for Old Men II.  I don't think I want to watch myself.

 Won the Academy Award & Penelope Cruz. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Flipping out

Saturday night the PQ and I decided to hit Derby Lane for the 8pm tourney again.  As good as the PQ has been playing, she was itching for another crack at this tourney.  For me, I was hoping for some redemption after the way I went out last time.  One of us did pretty well.

The tourney started much better for me card wise than last week.  Early on I picked up AJ, AQ, AJ and AK.  But the table I was at did not lend much to my chances.  With the AJ and AQ hands there were raises and reraises before the betting even got to me.  Both times I was in the small blind.  I let the AJ go after a raise and reraise and called with the AQ but dumped after completely whiffing the flop (and watching my opponents both bet the flop).  Not an auspicious beginning.  I get AK in late position and raise with one caller.  The flop is another complete miss and when my C bet got reraised I let that one go as well.  He might not have hit anything either but that early in the tourney,  it made no sense to me to be risking big chunks of my stack on an unpaired AK.

After that the cards dried up a bit and I got to watch my seatmates play.  A lot of gamble in those boys.  Even early in the tourney these guys are raising and reraising with A10, AJ, A6, just about any ace is enough for most of them.  I'm sitting in the 4 seat so I can see the whole table pretty well.  The guy sitting just to my left in seat 5 was the worst, over betting the pot by putting in 3K when the pot has 600 with JJ.  Reraising all in with AJ.  I was just waiting for a chance to trap him and take a chunk out of him but the cards refused to cooperate.  Not too much later he got moved to another table and I lost my chance for now. 

My stack was down to a bit over 7K from the 10K start when I picked up JJ in late position.  Guy in the 1 seat who had been playing fairly aggressively raised it to 550 (blinds 75/150).  I popped him to 1800.  Everyone else folded and the flop was a 532 with 2 hearts.  I'm not gonna fool around too much in this situation, especially since my opponent might be in with A6 or a suited A of hearts.  If he has A4 well them's the breaks I suppose.  He checks and I decide to shove there as I don't have enough chips to put in a 2/3 pot bet and then be able to push him off a draw on the turn I fear.  With 4K in the pot and only a little over 5K left in my hand I didn't see any other way to go.  Luckily or maybe unluckily as I might have been able to double up, he dumped his cards and I get a bit healthier.  The next hand I get AQ and pick up some blinds and antes with a preflop raise.  The table had settled a little from it's rather wild beginning and I wasn't playing many hands so I did get some respect for raises there.  I managed to get AA in early position but unfortunately no one wanted to gamble with me and I just didn't want to try slow playing AA under the gun and out of position.  Still I managed to chip up with a couple of steals later to get back over 10K by the time the table broke. 

I got seated at a new table and lo and behold, to my left is the loosest aggressive player in the tourney and just left of him is my old seatmate, Mr Overbet.  He's still up to his old tricks but as play goes on my hands just go dry and with these 2 on my left, I can't afford to be throwing chips in the pot at will.  I do get a double up when I spike an Ace on the turn when I raised an A7 in late position.  At that point I am having to push any ace as the blinds and antes are getting high.  I now have some chips but still can't afford to wait around.  I'm in the small blind when I look down at AK off.  Ok, that can play.  Guy in the cutoff puts in a raise to 2200 on blinds of 400/800.  I'm sitting on about 14K now which doesn't give me much wiggle room.  I'm debating raising to 5K leaving me 9 behind but Mr Overbet is still in as he called under the gun.  If he calls and I expect he will, there will be at least 16K in the pot and I will only have 9K left.  Then again I get a chance to see the flop and get away if it's too ugly but at this point, I feel I need to gamble.  If I can take it down here, I get about 4K more in chips and if I double or triple up, even better.  I'm pretty sure I'm ahead of the original raiser and I have no read on Mr Overbet but don't put him on a really big hand.  So I push all in.  I want to see 5 cards here and being out of position, I don't want to be trying to play the hand out of position and not knowing where I stand by just calling. 

Mr Overbet goes in the think tank and I feel pretty good about that.  I figure he instacalls a big pair or AK so I'm hopeful he is AQ or AJ.  Finally he calls.  The original raiser thinks a bit but mucks and I'm heads up.  He flips over QQ to my AK and it's a race.  Not a good race for me since I'm up against a made hand.  I don't feel good.  And I'm right as the board goes out all low.  I do get a straight draw by the turn but no 4 A or K on the river and it's goodbye.  I wasn't thrilled but thought I had played it ok there.  Just a tourney that didn't work out too well.  Contrary to my post title, I wished everyone good luck and went to get a beer.  The PQ on the other hand is making some things happen.  She's gotten AA four times and has built a stack over 50K.  She got hurt early when her 2 pair ran into a straight in the hands of the table gadfly.  Lady calls down with near anything but this time she had the nuts.  The wife makes it back though pushing AA in against a guy who really liked his AK and busting him. 

A little later I go to play some 1-1 NL holdem.  The first table is pretty loose with a lot of raising.  I lost some chips when I raised JJ and got 4 callers and a flop with and A and a K.  When the bets started flying, I started folding.  I watched for a while and got a read on some of the guys there while I waited for something worth playing.  Finally I'm in the small blind with AQ offsuit.  Short stack in early position raises to $5.  He's been pretty loose but in his position I figured him for 2 face cards or a mid pair.  The button who hasn't met a hand he doesn't like but has a good sized stack calls his raise.  I am debating reraising but AQ I have learned from painful experience is not the hand you want to put a pile of chips in preflop against 2 loose aggressive types.  So I called to see the flop and decide from there.  Flop is A of diamonds with a 7-8 of spades.  The shorty pushes in for his last 9.  The guy to my right sighs then calls the bet.  I liking my position and if this guy wants to see the flop and turn, he's gonna pay for the privilege.  So I raise to $26.  Guy to my right really didn't like that but called.  I put him on either a straight or flush draw there.  If the flush hits on the turn I do have the A of spades for a redraw too.  The other guy I put on an A but not a great one, I think I'm ahead unless he is on A7 or A8 but with the guy on my right, I can afford to lose to the shorty and take a pile from him.

Turn is a red jack.  I'm sure that didn't help the guy to my right.  He checks and I push in for $33.  He really sighs heavy then but he calls.  I'm liking my chances now.  River is a pretty red 2.  The shorty showed KQ of spades for a busted flush and the guy to my right had a 67 for a missed open ended straight.  I more than double up even after the rake so I'm happy.  The other 2 not so much as both were gone after that hand.  The table broke and I end up at another table.  The PQ comes up to me right after I'm seated.  She is at the final table again and sitting pretty good at 65K as the average stack is only a little over 40K. 

I'm up and down at this table.  I get some good cards but some really loose players and bad flops.  I lost with AK and 99 when neither hand flopped well (AQJ on the 99 hand, yuck).  The room is running a promotion and anyone making 4 of a kind or better wins a jackpot that starts at $50 and increases by 50 for each time someone hits until it hits $500 then they start over again.  We're sitting at $250 and I'd love to finally hit a monster hand.  I get QQ in mid position and raise to $6.  I get 4 callers which I don't care for but if I'm gonna win on this hand, I have to improve probably especially if an ace hits.  Of course an ace hits.  But the flop is AQ5 which is a great flop for me so far.  It's checked to me and I put $10 in the pot with 2 callers.  Ok.  Turn is not so good as a jack hits the board.  I hope no one is sitting on K10 but I hope someone has AJ or even QJ though it kills my chances of quads if they do.  I bid $14 on the turn and am shocked when everyone folds.  No chance of quads for me.  Maybe I should check that turn but I can just see a K or 10 hitting and losing my set to some clown with K5 suited or something.  But I made profit at least. 

And then a little later I give it back.  I call a small raise with A10 off suit.  Flop is nice with A 10 4 but 2 hearts.  I put out a pot sized bet and get 2 callers.  Turn is a 3 of hearts.  Ouch.  Gal in the first seat puts out nearly a pot sized bet and the lady next to me calls.  I'm outta there.  The first lady takes it down with a flush.  I hated losing that pot but some people will chase flushes with anything.  I got some back with the world famous grump a little later.  I called an early raise to 5 from the small blind with a 42 off and 3 of us see a flop of 356 rainbow.  Can you say Bingo?  I make a smallish bet and the original raiser calls while the other guy folds.  Turn is a king.  Please have AK buddy.  I bet half the pot and he thinks then calls again.  River is a jack.  I was hoping the king had hit him and he was willing to think I was bluffing at the pot so I put in a bet of about a quarter of the pot.  He sits and thinks and starts counting chips.  Please push in buddy I'm thinking but eventually he just calls me.  I turn over the 24 to his K6 (rasing a K6 in early position???) for 2 pair.  A decent pot but if I could have convinced him to push in, it would have gone much better.  Maybe I should push harder on the river.  I got the grump 2 more times not long after but neither time did it pay off though I almost pulled a second straight the last time.  Still it cost me some cash instead. 

The last hand I played I got KK in the small blind.  This time I'm willing to see the flop and try to make quads for cash especially when 6 people call so I just check.  Then the big blind decides to raise the pot to $5 and 4 people call.  Ok, now there's $30 in the pot and it's worth my while.  I'm not tossing in another $4 with 5 people to beat.  So I'm raising here.  I was about to raise to $30 when I realized I'm giving these guys a bet of $25 into a $60 pot and if the original raiser calls, at least a couple of others will call and I'll be costing myself a pile of cash when an ace hits and some guy with A rag beats me.  With about $85 left, any raise bigger will both commit me and maybe not give me enough to push someone with a draw out post flop.  So I pushed all in.   The original raiser was not too happy with me.  He starts yakking how I could have gotten a lot more out of him by not pushing so hard.  He's probably right but if I don't push hard I'm apt to lose to someone else instead.  I'll take that small victory over a big loss all day.  I gave back a few chips playing A rag suited when my flush draw didn't pay off but the PQ walks up shortly afterward after getting knocked out of the tourney and she's tired so it's time to go.

The PQ didn't have as good luck as last time.  She was the bubble girl.  She got back her buy in but nothing more and was disappointed.  She put in an untimely bluff and it cost her dearly.  Still she has final tabled this tourney 3 times in a row and had one really nice score last week.  She likes the tourney and she's in a zone playing it so good for her.  There is something to be said for having a comfort level in a tourney helping you play better.  I don't know myself but I can't argue the results.  And I made back half my buy in on the cash tables so it wasn't a horrible night.  I guess it's time to wrap this up.  Happy MLK day everyone.  Stay lucky you nuts, just a little luckier than the PQ was.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It still hurts

I'm so hurt, to think that you lied to me,
Darling I'm hurt, way down deep inside of me.
You said your love was true and we'd never part,
Now you want someone new and it breaks my heart.
I'm hurt much more than you'll ever know,
Hurt because I still love you so.
But even though you've hurt me like no one else could do,
I would never, never hurt you

There is a common phrase, usually used around with guys and gals who have recently broken up or lost someone close to them that goes something like "time heals all wounds."   Speaking from experience I can tell you time doesn't heal the really deep wounds but it does dull them quite a bit.  While not nearly as deep, I can also tell you the pain from last night still hurts and it's gonna continue to pain me for a while.

Last night the PQ and I went over to Derby Lane for the 8pm tourney.  She has done pretty well lately in this tourney final tabling her last time there (but not cashing) and splitting the top 5 places the time before that along with scoring club level tickets for the Bruins and Lightning on the 17th for knocking out the tourney host.  There is definitely something to be said for having a comfort level in a certain tourney leading to good results.  My results have been up and down, I have scored well in it and I have been knocked out early but I do like the tourney structure.  Also I was bringing my new positive attitude with me to the tourney.  And my new Walken Dead t shirt the PQ got me for Christmas.  That has to count for something.

The tourney started slow for me.  I decided to stay out of most hands unless I was willing to raise them up so outside of the blinds I was mostly dumping hands.  This hurt me early as I dumped 8-7 off in the big blind to a 5x raise and of course the flop is 10-9-6 rainbow.  But I let it roll off my back and continued to keep it tight but aggressive.  Picked up some chips when I raised in position with 55 and took it down post flop on a J-8-4 flop.  After that I kept dumping for the next half hour or so.  Finally I get something playable.  AQ of crubs 2 in front of the button.  I raise to 400 (blinds are 50/100) and the next 3 people who have all been playing with me for the past hour, dump their cards but the big blind was new to the table and had only been there for 4 hands or so.  So he puts me on any 2 cards trying to steal and calls. 

The flop is ok, 10-9-4 with 2 clubs.  I bet 2/3 pot expecting him to dump.  He reraises me to 1600.  Hell I can call that.  He started this hand with just under 10K and I had just over 10 at the time.  Turn is a bingo.  7 of clubs.  Now my only fear is he was sitting on J8 of clubs for a straight flush.  Highly doubtful.  He puts out another 1600.  I was just going to call but I really wanted to get him to commit chips here.  If he has 2 pair or a set he is apt to call a reraise or to reshove on me or possibly rethink and dump it.  If I let another card come off that pairs the board, I have a hard decision to make and if it is a 4th club he is probably out of the hand then.  So I figured reraising was my best chance to get more out of him and I bumped it to 4K leaving me about 4200 chips behind.  I was surprised when he called but had to put him on either 9-10 or a set.  River is a 5 of hearts.  May have completed a straight draw if he didn't already have one.  I half expected him to push in from there.  But he checked.  I thought for a sec and figured, if he puts me on AK or AQ off and thinks I'm stealing, he may call.  So I pushed in.  He had about 4K left and 6K into the pot so he was almost pot committed but with 40 big blinds left he could afford to dump if he needed to.  He immediately starts hemming and hawing.  He starts talking it out and while he's doing that, I do my best to appear nervous as hell.  Finally he says, this might be a terrible call but I call.  I flip over my top flush and he is gone.  He apparently had just finished chopping up the 1pm tourney final table so he wasn't feeling too bad and ended up buying in again but being seated at another table.

I played a good bit longer and that last hand allowed me to steal chips from time to time without getting into any issues.  I kept dumping a lot of hands but when I played it was almost always with a preflop raise.  I did make some chips on one hand when I called a small raise with J8 of clubs on the button, flopped top 2 pair and took it down with a reraise over the initial raiser's c bet.  I was hoping he had a big pocket pair and was willing to push it but it was not to be. 

We hit the first break and I'm sitting on just over 20K and in really good shape but it's still early.  Not long after we restart I get moved to another table to balance things out.  Lo and behold, sitting directly on my right is the PQ.   "Oh great, just what I need" she says as I sit down.  Really she has little to worry about.  When we play at the same table it seems she takes me down most of the time.  Whether I go in with the best or worst hand, it seems I end with the worst hand.  So I'm watching her more than she is watching me.  I'm glad she is on my right at least. 

I dump a few hands then my cards finally change and I catch 10-10 in middle position.  I raise it up and both blinds along with one early caller all fold.  A couple of hands later I get JJ but this time get multiple callers and a flop with a K and Q convince me to get the hell out of that one.  The next hand I'm in the big blind with J9 of diamonds.  Guy in early position raises and I figure on calling this one when a guy 4 places to my right reraises.  Ok, good bye J9.  These 2 eventually get all in and original raiser had KK but reraiser had AA and takes him out.  I take out a fairly short stack when I raise in early position with AQ and he pushes all in over the top.  I had been watching him a bit and knew I was no worse than 50/50.  Turned out I was a lot better as I call and he flips over A5.  A queen on the flop seals his fate and I add more to my stack. 

People are dropping pretty quickly at this table as the blinds and antes increase.  I'm feeling pretty good and hey, I'm actually getting cards to play with so I figure I'm gonna push this a bit.  A few hands later I get KK on the button.  Mr AA puts a raise in to 1600 and I make it 4K from there.  Everyone else folds and he calls.  Flop is a semi dangerous 532 of hearts.   He checks and I check my kings.  Damn, no heart.  Ok, I'm all in.  I decide I don't want to fool around with this hand.  If he played 2 hearts or AA, so be it but I'm not giving him a free or even expensive look at another card.  I have him covered by a little.  He thinks for a good bit and I know I'm not up against AA.  He ends up folding QQ.  I think he had the heart Q but I don't know.  So maybe a bad all in but I felt the risks were too great to not put him to the test there.

Our table breaks a little later and I get moved back to the same table I started at.  There's still plenty of guys who were there when I left and they were impressed with my stack which is now at just under 35K.  My run of cards pretty much stops but I am able to maintain my stack by stealing a few chips here and there.  Other guys are pushing in with short stacks and there's only 2 tables left so it doesn't take too long before we're down to 12 people.  I see 2 different guys slow play AA to perfection, both in early position.  Both times they just call, there is a later raise, and they come over the top all in and they bust a guy, one with KK and the other with AQ.  In a fairly short time we get down to the final table.  I am pleased to see the PQ is still in there.  She has managed to double up and has around 20K which makes her a shorter stack.  I am an average stack and there a couple of really big ones and a number of smaller stacks so I am maybe 5th in chips.  One guy in seat 2 has a monster stack.  I get seated in seat 8.  Seat 7 is ...... the PQ. 

Play goes slow for me while there is a fair amount of action, there is a lot of chip trading.  Only 4 people get paid so no one wants to be first out.  The guy in seat 2 I'm watching call almost every single bet.  I figure to wait on a big hand and go after him but I would only have a big hand if K3 were considered a biggie.  The old king crab became a constant in my hands at the final table.   I really grew to hate those cards.  While I'm not getting anything going, I do manage to steal enough to keep my stack between 25 and 35K.  One older guy is playing really aggressive in seat 5 and seat 6 is making a lot of big hands and chips up hugely.  He starts by tangling with seat 2 on an all in.  He had AQ and made a queen and pushed in.  Seat 2 was happy to call with a black J-10.  There were 2 spades on the board and a third one hits the river.  Seat 6 gets up to go as he thinks he got flushed but it turns out the guy had a spade and club in his hand.  He called the all in with basically only an inside straight draw.  The PQ tells me he had an amazing run of cards and hit all kinds of draws to knock out a bunch of people.  Instead of sitting back and using his stack to steal and push people, he keeps trying to outdraw people.  The odds catch up to him and all those 3 and 4 to one calls he hit before stop coming (except once) and he gives up all his chips a hand at a time.  It was amazing seeing him call almost every preflop raise or just call and play down to the river.  He gets more and more frustrated as his draws keep failing.  He ends up giving a lot of chips to seat 1 and 6 and busts in 8th place.  Chipleader with 10 left to 8th place. 

Unfortunately I am getting nothing to play with against this guy.  I know I want to have a good hand because you almost can't bluff him.  But I can't draw flies.  Finally I get AK in the big blind and the aggressive old guy raises in late position.  He has been playing some half assed hands so I figure I'm in good shape.  I push in for 26K.  He calls and also has AK off.  Flop is all diamonds and neither of us have a diamond so it's a chop.  I'm ok with that, just wish I had caught him with a bad hand.  Still it beat losing.  I get up to 36 then the blinds and ante's get me down to 24 and I gotta push something.  We get down to 7 and I get 10-10 in the small blind.  Seat 6 makes a raise to 10K and I push all in.  He has A-10 and doesn't improve and I double up to 50K.  Finally I have a little breathing room.  Seat 6 knocks out the guy to my left in seat 10 getting us down to 6 and I can taste the money. 

It looks like we are getting down to five as seat 1 gets all in against both 5 & 6 but his A2 prevails and he triples up.  PQ shows me something when she min raises under the gun and gets a walk.  I forget how suspicious it looks when a shortie min raises.  Its like advertising a monster hand and it got a lot of respect there.  I know I respected it.  I lose some chips when I call a small raise with 89 of diamonds hoping to make a big hand but the flop is all high and black,  Yuck.  2 guys start raising and I fold.  I make up some chips stealing with Q4 and a little later with 56.  I've got about 40K when I get AQ of spades in the small blind.  Seat 6 raises to 12.5K and I push in.  In a tourney if you make a spade royal flush you get a big bonus which is now up to about 10K so I would love to hit that but I mostly want to double up and make the money here.  I am pretty sure I'm ahead and I really just want to take this down but he calls my extra 27K with A of diamonds and 7 of clubs.  I feel pretty good.

Flop is AKQ which is great except they're all damned clubs.  Turn is the stinkin J of clubs.  I'm hoping the river is an Ace, Queen or a club higher than 7 but its the 10 of damned spades and I'm out in 6th.  I double up there and I'm over 80K and second in chips with 6 left.  Instead I go out.  I am so hurt.  I knew the damned AQ would get me in the end.  It almost always does but it had been so kind to me all tourney till then.  Still in keeping with my positive self I wished everyone good luck and wandered off to lick my wounds in silence. 

Do you remember a singer named Juice Newton?  She had some pop and country hits in the 80s like Queen of Hearts and Break it to me Gently on the pop charts.  She really had a powerful soaring voice and she used songs like Break it to me Gently to showcase her range.  Kind of a modern Patsy Cline (one of the great singers ever in my opinion) with her power and range.  She did a song a few years later titled "Hurt" which was a big country hit.  I posted a portion at the start of this entry.  Well I also hurt way down deep inside of me after that loss.  I know it's only a poker game and means nothing in the grand scheme of things but I really wanted to kick some ass and do well in that tourney.  While losing is never fun, after 6 hours of playing and getting that close to the money, it is that much harder to deal with.  Still I was happy with my reads and pretty much with my aggression though I could have done more there.  I put myself in position to do well and just got unlucky at the end.  But it effing hurts to not hit the money after all that.   It's not like the deck hit me in the head either.  I got some luck with 2-5 once and made some hands with junk but I didn't get much in the way of big hands either.  KK once, JJ once, 10-10 twice and a few small pairs.  AK twice and AQ about 4 times.  In 6 hours of play. 

I stumbled off  to the cash games for a while hoping to make something back.  Not much happened there and after awhile the PQ comes up to me about 30 minutes later.  I was afraid she had gone out 5th but she is all happy.  She doubled up off the big stack after I left, a couple of others went out 5th and 4th and they decided to chop up the top 3 places for an $830 score for her.  I was really happy for her, she played very well and while we don't play the same, I cannot fault her success at all.  Especially when looking at her results.  Which kick the crap out of mine lately. 

So today has been lounge around and recover day, since we didn't get home until near 3:30am.  The PQ graciously took me out after we left the poker room and fed me.  She felt so bad about how I went out (so did the guy who beat me apparently though he didn't offer to give me back my chips lol) and while extremely happy for herself, she was very sympathetic to me.  She played very very well with a short stack just about the entire time which made her results even that much more impressive.  As Lightning says, its a good thing I have her around to keep the family in the +EV territory.  I must agree.  Right now I am consoling myself with a few glasses of Cardinale which is a red wine blend that has become among our favorites.  Surprising as we usually go with whites but this wine is a major winner.  So I hope you all are having a great weekend and imbibing in your favorite adult refreshment while watching Denver??? beating Pittsburgh - they're up 14 in the 3rd quarter as I write this oops make that 7.  I'll pour me another glass soon and I won't be worth much after that I imagine.  Stay lucky you nuts, luckier than your wino host at least.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The shape of things to come

Remember those ads (for Infiniti I think) where the punch line was "the shape of things to come"?  Well I'm no fortune teller - or meteorologist for that matter - but I've seen what will come and I'm not thinking it's better.  Then again, I do a fair bit of carping so take that for what it's worth.

I remember  an old sci fi book by Isaac Asimov, the Wayne Gretzky of science fiction imho.  Back in the late 50's he wrote a book called "The Naked Sun".  In that story, people lived in huge estates and hardly had contact with anyone else except via some kind of teleconference.  Some would spend their whole life without human contact with anyone else, even kids since they had figured out how to have children without all that icky exchange of fluids etc and raised them in creches rather than parenting.  They had robots to take care of their every need and spent their life pursuing what interested them, gardening, research, whatever.  Sounds almost ideal doesn't it?? Or maybe not. 

This is what got me thinking along this line.  I was reading some recaps of the recent blogger meet in Vegas over the past week or so.  One day I will join in the festivities myself.  But there was a remark in Bam Bam's blog post about the WPBT I found very telling.  He said he doesn't tweet or blog post while there because he found he was so concerned with telling everyone else about what he was doing that he missed out on some things he wanted to do.  We've got facebook, twitter, myspace, blogs, etc.  We can go online and order our groceries, pay our bills, even do all our Christmas shopping.   It's getting so much easier to avoid human contact. 

I'm just as guilty as the next guy.  Though I refuse to get a facebook page and I think twitter is the 21st century way of saying "look at me, I'm so witty (or smart or fun or great or whatever) " and that's not my style either, but I do pay almost all my bills online, bank online, did almost all my Christmas shopping online, even occasionally post a blog or 2.  And all of this takes away from different contacts we would make with other members of our own species.  We have hundreds of cable channels not to mention movies on demand in our own homes and we can download all of our music - not from Apple in my case - whenever we want.  When is the last time you went into an actual music store? 

Last week I was playing poker and 2 or 3 people had earphones in and were listening to music.  Now far be it from me to tell someone else what to do at the table but one of these guys constantly had to be told it was his turn, made wrong bets, and generally held up the game because he wasn't paying attention.  Not only that, how sociable are you gonna be if you're listening to music the entire time.  Kinda makes it hard to interact with others at your table that's for sure.  Now you can't be forced to interact with others at the table if you don't want to, but if everyone at the table was doing that, what difference would there be between playing live and playing online?  One of the things I like about poker is the sociability in it.  I'm not a gadfly at the table but I don't mind talking a bit, especially in a ring game.  Well its bed time for me now.  I'll try and tie this together tomorrow.

What I am getting at is that some of us are so busy with our electronic interactions we are losing out on our human interactions.  We have 1800 facebook friends and 2 real friends.  And it certainly seems to be impacting how people act toward each other in public.  Common decency seems much less common.  Very few people seem to consider how their actions will impact other people.  And its a lot easier to think of the avatars online as electronics and not as actual people.  We get used to acting that way at home and how do we act in public then?  When I was young my parents taught me something called manners.  Ok in some cases they beat it into me.  But basically they tried to teach me rules to interact with people I may not know in a manner designed not to offend others and to show that I was a functional member of society.  Manners provide a fabric to help guide people through social situations.  And when people are ill-mannered, the social interations break down.  People are offended, pissed off, etc all because some one doesn't think about the impact of what they say or do. 

How many times have you seen this at the poker table and other places?  I referee football and its all around me there too.  In high school and youth it's not as public perhaps because if we see or hear anyone taunting another we immediately slap them with a 15 yard penalty.  But don't tell me it doesn't go on in the lines or in a pile of tacklers.  Why does it happen?  Kids see it on tv and in person as well.  When did it become ok to grandstand and taunt and try to embarass your opponent whether on the field or on the felt?  How often do you see someone act like a jerk at the poker table?  On the road?  At work?  And it's not always a person going out of their way to do it either.  Too often it's someone not thinking ahead and not thinking about what effect their actions or words would have on others.  From the idiot who pushes his way into the correct road lane at the last second to the clown who brings 18 items into the 10 item or less lane at the supermarket, we are developing into a society of people who think their time is more important than anyone else's time  and therefore they are "entitled" to not wait in a regular line, or not get their car in the right lane 200 or 300 yards early and wait in line like the rest of us. 

We're all in such a hurry that we don't take the time to think of the other guy.  Oh I'm in a hurry or I'm running late so it's ok if I cut in front of everyone else.  In other words, "I'm more important".  This is probably why 90% of us think we are either excellent or better than average drivers.  Now certainly we can only view things from our own viewpoint but it's politeness and manners that ensure we aren't completely thinking of ourselves.  I'm as guilty as anyone of thinking of myself first but it's high time we all try to think of how some of the things we do effect others first.  So in this new year, one of my vows is to think of the other guy too.  Life is short, let's try to have a positive impact on more than just our bankrolls.  I know I'm getting preachy here and I do apologize but lately I've had a lot on my mind and though I don't express it too well sometimes, I would like to make a positive impact on those around me instead of being this guy

It's sometimes hard for me to not be that way.  I do tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive in my life.  And I shouldn't.  I have so much to be thankful for.  My wife and kids and dog are healthy and happy and we have jobs and homes and cars and friends and family etc.  Hey I even got a 5% raise at work this past week.  So time to cut down on Mr Nattering Nabob of Negativity and time to become Mr Positive and Hopeful instead.  Let's see if my results in life (and poker) are better this way.  If not, what have I lost?  Well with luck I am gonna play some cards today so I bid you all adieu (my wife has some French Cooking show on the tube right now) and I hope you all have a good weekend.  Stay lucky you nuts.