Tuesday, December 29, 2009
It is with very little pleasure that I sit down to write you this note. What is there to say? Well, first of all, congrats on a hard fought win. The Bears were playing for pride and their coach's job, and they fought hard all the way even while losing a couple key players to injury along the way. They never gave up. Unlike the Vikings, who didn't even show up until the second half.
It's funny, after the atrocious first half, I had a letter entirely composed in my mind. It was full of profanity and shocked outrage. While those core sentiments still remain, I am proud of the Vikes for playing with heart and intensity in the second half. Too little too late. The game was an absolute microcosm of their season and what it is like to be a Vikings fan in general. Dismay and deflated hopes, followed by an incredible surge of optimism, only to be emotionally crushed in the end. I am truly amazed at their ability to find fascinating and unique ways to dash my spirits. It's not easy staying fresh and contemporary in this day and age.
None of the Vikings woes are Favre's fault, so all the inevitable gloaters and haters can shut the fuck up this week (but won't).
Do you realize that last Sunday night the Vikings had the miraculous scenario unfold with the Saints upset loss, that they were playing for a chance at home field advantage throughout the playoffs, not to mention a first round bye? As of last night they have fallen to the third seed and will have to play in the wild card round. Classic. Absolutely classic. After a stunning eight days and two horrific nationaly televised losses, the mind bogling collapse is complete. I refer you to my last note for what it's like to be a Vikings fan. At least they are consistent. Every year, bone aching dissapointment. I think I had four or five minor heart attacks last night. My sportsfan soul feels like it went three rounds with Mike Tyson (in his prime too, not the bloated face tatooed version).
On a lighter note, we don't have ESPN, so for Monday night games I stream the Vikes radio network and follow the up to the minute game chart on NFL.com. It's actually a really cool way to experience the game. As you have pointed out, baseball lends itself to radio more than football, but you still get the crowd noise, etc. The Vikings home broadcasts are a bit embarrassing. They are exactly what the snobby east coast people would expect. Amatuerish, a little goofy, and prone to emotion. They are truly homer announcers. Last night, all of that was somehow perfect. After an emotionally charged up and down game, Paul Allen (the voice of the Vikings) couldn't take it any more after Adrian Peterson fumbled and the Vikings couldn't even get their defense on the field in time, and had to take a timeout. He was so frustrated, and was clearly showing it. He didn't have much time, though, because on the next play the Bears scored. His voice was brimming with rage and dissapointment as he made the final call. I can't find it online, but if you run across it, it's amazing. After bemoaning Adrian Peterson's tendency to fumble at critical times, the next play was: "Cutler back to pass, he throws a fade to Aromashodu. Of course. Touchdown. We lose. Bears win. This is the Vikings radio network." Straight to commercial. When they came back he could barely contain himself as he read off the list of producers, etc. He ended with "Bears beat the Vikings in overtime. Stay tuned for fan reaction." I was sure he was going to explode, but he managed to get off the air before losing it. Great radio moment. Sad but humorously gripping. I needed that laugh badly, too.
Well, all that's left is for the Vikings to get crushed by the Packers in the playoff in Favre Bowl version 3.0, the one that matters the most. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will come to pass. I've been a Vikings fan for 40 years, I know these things.
See you in 5 days!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I've run into the same thing with other games. When I was younger, I was incredible for my age at chess. But as I got older and joined the chess team, other kids started studying openings and defenses and really put some time into it. I wasn't willing to commit the effort to getting really really good. I had other interests like football, pinball, and girls. Chess hurt my chances of pursuing any and all of those. In that way I was a bit of a dichotomy. I was a kid in chess club who would violently kick your ass if you made fun of it. I'm still better at chess than 99.5% of the population without really trying, and that's good enough for me. Similar thing with pool. I got to a point where I was going to have to learn advanced english technique and start practicing if I wanted to get better. To quote Homer Simpson, "If something is really hard, it's probably not worth doing." Or to quote my uncle Homer "If at first you don't succeed......fuck it."
I wanted poker to be different. I started reading people's stories about poker, and it seemed like everyone was winning. Everybody seemed to be fleecing novices, winning piles of money, and moving up in both stakes and tournaments. I now have an inkling that perhaps people exaggerate their winnings slightly in blogs, bars, and casinos. Much in the way people are always bursting into bars waving a scratch ticket talking about how they just "won" $500. I've never once seen anyone rush into a bar saying "I just blew $120 on scratch tickets and didn't win a goddamn thing! I just couldn't stop. Now I don't have money to buy my girlfriend a birthday present. Shit, I don't even have enough to get drunk now. I'll be at home crying myself to sleep if anybody needs me."
And I've spent a lot of time in bars.
There's an outside chance that it's human nature to brag about successes and gloss over failures. Just maybe. One exception is the Poker Grub, who I respect for his honesty, and root for whole-heartedely. Good luck Grub!
The average skill level at hold 'em has definitely increased by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and I haven't kept up. In the past, I actually had some success in ring games and tourneys. I even won a couple. That was before I knew how bad I was. At least I was having fun (and winning a couple bucks). Now it's a grind AND I'm not winning at all. I guess a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Well, we shall see if I can get my lazy ass to buckle down and do some research and play disciplined. I'm not doing myself any favors by playing at (what's the polar opposite of nosebleed?) tables and dime tourneys. Even when you make good plays, you have 3 or 4 idiots coming all-in behind you, and it's tough to win those races. I've always done way better at live games than online, so we'll see how my upcoming Foxwoods trip goes. Yeah, that's what I'll stick with! I'm more of a brick and mortar guy. Yeah, that's the ticket. After all, I have plenty of casino winning stories, and the losses well, they ah,.....what losses?
Thursday, December 24, 2009
"Jesus went all-in for you." Classic! I just wish they were marked with shekel denominations.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The specialty blogs cover a wide variety of topics; poker, sports, baking cookies, homeopathic remedies etc. They are pretty straight forward. If you don't like Nascar, don't read Bubba's Jimmie Johnson tribute blog. Being totally objective, they tend to be a lot more interesting because they have more focus. If it's a subject you like and it's moderately well written, you'll enjoy it.
The pet blogs are a whole different world. In my small sample group, they were by far the majority. They tend to be written from the point of view of the animal, which can be fairly amusing, or sickeningly pathetic. Things like "Mum came home late tonight. She gave me a special treat though! I love it when Mum rubs my belly...." etc. etc. My absolute favorite was the blog "written" by some lady's 6 pet rats. I had a pet rat as a kid. They are absolutely adorable, affectionate, and smart, but even I was a little freaked out by that blog.
The final category is the family blog. 90% of them are boring run of the mill Tad did this, Porche made the cheerleading squad, here's a photo of us in front of the fireplace with our sweaters, aren't we just the perfect well adjusted family. Almost all of them have found Jesus (I didn't know he was hiding) and it is reflected in their kids names. Michelle Faith, Shelley Grace, John Holier Than Thou, and on and on. I find these blogs absolutely tedious. Maybe if I knew the people....no. They'd still be boring as shit. The other 10% were the ones that got my attention. They dealt with a child, or family member that is really sick. Sometimes they document their battles, and sometimes they just want to celebrate their loved ones while they are here. These are some of the most touching and heart wrenching blogs you will ever read, because they are so real and so passionate. My heart goes out to everyone who is going through that, and I hope their blogs bring them some joy and peace. Most blogs are so self centered, it's uplifting to read some that are dedicated to preserving the memory of someone else.
Isn't that what a blog is anyway? A chance to share something that just has to come out one way or another? Most good writers write for themselves anyway, they don't cater to a specific audience. So really it's the writing that's important, not who, if anybody, reads it. I'm actually reassured in a way that my writing is just rattling around out there in the big internet box, like one Tron hyper-bike with nobody else playing (yes I'm a child of the 80's). It doesn't really matter if anybody reads it, the important thing is that it's out there. Bouncing around off the walls. Amusing itself.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Last night I was playing in a .10 cent, 360 person turbo S-n-G, and 3 people were all-in. It was A-J vs. 7's vs. A-Q. After the hand was over (A-Q won), a player who wasn't in the hand said "F'ing Donks." First of all, if you're not in the hand, shut the fuck up! Don't you have some kiddie porn to be watching or an American Idol chat room you could be on instead of boring us with your pathetic chatter? Secondly, those were perfectly good plays by all three players for their positions/stack size. Learn how to fucking play poker before you start passing out critiques you fucking inbred pig-fucker! Thirdly, Donks? In a 10 cent sit and go? Gee. Ya think, Einstein? Of course there are going to be donks in a fucking dime turbo you retarded douchebag. And fourthly, get some new fucking material please. Enough with the donk this, and the donk that. Give it a fucking rest already. And the first 20-30 pictures of various donkey avatars made me kind of chuckle......but come on. Enough already. And speaking of avatars, what's with people using pictures of their mewling, snot-nosed, cross eyed bag of mucus babies? I'm playin' poker...I don't wanna look at a fucking picture of mini-you. What, am I supposed to feel sorry for you because you knocked up your fat ass, Benson and Hedges smoking, TGIF waitress, fucking excuse of a high school girlfriend? Give me a break! Your mistake, not mine. Am I supposed to not win a pot cause I'd be taking the strained beets out of your diaper-fillers mouth? Fuck you! If you love your kids so much, get off the fucking degenerate poker site and go play with them! In the meantime I take great pleasure in Block Image, Block Image, no more babies.
So, for all you big money poker pros out there playing on the 2-5 cent tables, take your bad attitude, your rapists wit and flawless poker skills, and go play Isildur1 for christ's sake, and leave us poor peasants alone! Of course I could chat back at these assholes, but I think you can figure out my position on that.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
"No officer, I absolutely have not been huffing paint. Why would you ask that. I have definitely, 100 percent not been....why are you holding up that mirror...ohhh. Yeah. I've been huffing paint."
Last, just a shout out to my beloved Vikings, who appear to be back on track after a rough loss to Arizona, and the rougher loss of E.J. Henderson. Is this their year? I can only hope. I've been down this road many times before. I know better than to take anything for granted. Go Vikes!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
-Trivia question an old timer asked me during a dealer change on my last trip to Foxwoods. Answer at the end of this post.
I'm getting really psyched for my upcoming Foxwoods trip. I'm going right after New Year's and got a sick deal on a room at the Twin Pines. I will definitely spend more money tipping the waitresses for tiny watered down drinks than I'll spend on the room! Online poker is fine, but it simply can't compare to live play. I'm also looking forward to playing Pai Gow for the first time and sitting at the video poker bar for a drinking session with some friends I haven't seen in awhile.
I've been reading all the updates from the blogger get together this past week in Vegas. Derek's recap is particularily entertaining. Can't wait for my first trip to Vegas. Maybe next year I'll make it out for the WPBT. It would be great to get to party with some of these crazy characters that I've read so much about. Vegas for the first time, and meeting that crew might be overload though!
Well, it's back to PokerStars in a few minutes. I've been playing like shit. Maybe some time off would help recharge the batteries. Sometimes it's easier to handle my poker addiction when I have a really bad session. It seems a lot easier to log off and do something productive like getting some writing done, or cooking, or even just watching a movie. When you're winning it's so much harder to shut the laptop down and do something else. After all, as Jefferey Tambor says in The Hangover, "You ....NEVER... leave the table...when you're on... a heater." Well that's the nature of the beast.
Trivia answer: You can't get the 5-9 straight because in that case you'd have the 6-10 straight instead.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Chapter One: NEVER fold an Ace!
“The Ace is like the highest card in the deck! Nothing beats an Ace, so it doesn’t matter what the other card in your hand is, just call everything! And if FullTilt.com has taught me anything, it is that an Ace always comes out on the river……”
Chapter Four: Inside Straight Draws (and why you should bet the farm on them).
“It’s such a good feeling when that miracle card pops up once every 80 times or so (I don’t know the exact math) that it’s worth losing your entire stack the other 79 times (or so)……..On a related note; if you have one heart in your hand and the flop has two hearts, make no mistake my friend, you are on a flush draw! Stick it out to the bitter end- you only need two more hearts after all.”
Chapter Seven: ALWAYS Raise with Queen-four.
“I don’t know what it is about that hand, it just seems lucky…….and if it’s suited- forget about it! Suited hands are ALWAYS worth playing even if it’s 9-2. The flush is one of the highest up hands you can get……”
Chapter Thirteen: Keep your sense of humor.
“….Whenever somebody hits a horrible suck out on the river, it is always appropriate to point and laugh at the player who lost. It’s imperative that everybody keep their sense of humor. After all, poker is supposed to be fun right?.......On the other end of the spectrum, every once in awhile after a bad beat, flip the table over, chips and all. It let’s the other players know you are both passionate and deadly serious about winning. This is easier done in a home game, as the casino tables tend to be bolted down…..”
“Remember; if you win, poker is a clever psychological stategery game, and if you lose, it’s a worthless game of chance for greasy dandruff riddled pedophiles. Keep this in mind and you will never have a bad day at the tables!”
I highly recommend this book. It is available wherever Jersey Rob’s car trunk is. If you follow this book’s advice meticulously I can honestly say that I would love to see you across from me at the poker table! Happy Gambling!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Doyle Brunson said "You'll never be good at poker until the money doesn't matter." Although he didn't say that to me directly, it struck me very personally. I tend to think of poker as a route to money, not a fun clever game in which the score is kept with money. And while the financial risk/gain aspect is what makes poker poker (otherwise I could just as easily be addicted to Canasta, Pinochole, or Euchre), my best play is when the money matters least. To acheive this, I have taken to playing micro micro stakes to try and free my poker mind from it's fiscal shackles. Alas, while there are quite a few solid players at this level, there are also complete jokers and novices. By the time you figure out who is who, it's usually too late. Somebody else takes their money, or they leave the table. The notes on PokerStars are very helpful though, in case you run into them again. Unfortunately, I also tend to play down to the level of the stakes I'm playing at. I had more success when I played higher entry fee tourneys, because people would actually do what they were supposed to; fold when they should fold, bet a strong hand, etc. etc. Unfortunately, I don't have the disposable income to play in those tourneys for awhile.
Well, the bottom line is that the bankroll I started with a thin dime is still alive. I need to take a break and recharge the batteries. Start concentrating and playing smarter again. Every year I look back on the previous year and cringe at how bad of a poker player I was (even though at the time I thought I was pretty good). Hopefully next year I'll look back and cringe again.....
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Artie Lange wrote in his recent book that the best part of doing coke was the ride to go get it. The same can be said of the two hour drive from Boston to Foxwoods Casino. Everything is optimism as you fly through Rhode Island, past the pink palace and deep into the Conneticut woods, where the casino rises up through the trees like a pre-fab Native American Disneyworld designed by Chief Uses-ToomuchTurquoise. After we drop off the car at the free valet (“Free??” we say; “This isn’t Vegas” sneers the surprisingly cheerful valet), we head through the outer casinos with the droning, chiming, mantra of thousands of slot machines whirring away. All the coins have been replaced by voucher tickets, so the metallic harbinger of jackpots is the only thing missing. Seeing people smoking indoors (that’s right, inside a building) is shocking and sooo retro. We play poker for a few hours, and then Gene heads back to Boston and I head to the Twin Pines hotel (it’s actually called The Two Trees, but Twin Pines sounds much more like something out of a David Lynch movie). Let me tell you something about the Twin Pines: they have heat/sun lamps built in to the ceiling of the bathroom. The feeling of that warmth beating down on you after you get out of the shower is….is…..well, I’ll say indescribable because I can’t think of anything else to say. I simply don’t think I can go back to my peasant existence devoid of bathroom heat lamps. I play in a tourney the next morning, and do pretty well, but bust out when my pocket aces are all in against ace-jack of diamonds. Yeah, of course three diamonds came out, but you don’t want to hear my poker sob stories. The only thing more boring than poker bad beat stories are baby and pet stories (“…then little Tad spit up on the concierge. It was so precious…..” “Fluffy did the cutest thing this morning….”). Lunch is on the casino. That’s right, there is such a thing as a free lunch! I use my Dream Card at Fuddrucker’s and all is good! Imagine that; you drop a few hundred bucks here and they give you a free sandwich. I don’t know how they stay in business. The Dream Card used to be called the Wampum Card, which I found much more delightfully un-PC. I thought they should have gone full out and called the gift shop the Indian Giver. I hit the race book to bet on some horses and kill a couple hours, and end up having the most fun of the two days hanging out there drinking complimentary cappuccinos and strawberry shakes (if you’re ever at Foxwoods, do yourself a favor and get a strawberry shake) and screaming at 70-1 longshots on the big screen. Now it’s time to head to the bus lobby and go home. If there is a more miserable, bedraggled murderer’s row of DNA and societal wrong turns than a casino bus lobby, I don’t want to see it! I’m craving a Dr. Pepper, but at this point in the trip I don’t really have that kind of money to throw around. It’s either a soda or a trip home, but not both. I choose the trip home. I pay the driver my last crumpled $21, and settle into my seat, tired, disoriented, broke, and a little strung-out on bad air and cappuccinos. As we pull out of the Rainmaker parking lot I think to myself; I wonder if Gene wants to come back next week………….
Friday, December 11, 2009
I feel like I am embarking on an exciting new journey of discovery in poker, and you're invited to come along too. It might lead to disgust, burnout, and frustration, or it might lead to a new world of opportunity. And you can say you were there way back when.....
My new found devotion to poker is a funny story in itself. This year I moved to rural Maine to get healthy. Boredom is the number one cash crop out here. Thank god for online poker. I started playing quite a bit every day. My results were the same as they had always been. I would go up and down, but slowly and inexorably my account would dwindle to zero. A couple months ago, my friend Rob (who introduced me to hold 'em) sent me Action Dan Harrington's book on poker. What a revelation! I would read Harrington's book while playing at PokerStars and apply what I was learning. It felt like I was at a party and I had just been led onto a balcony where I could look back at all the other clueless partygoers. Of course, there's still the VIP rooms in back that I haven't made it to yet, but I'm working on it. Why did I wait so long to read a book about poker?!? Probably my natural stubborness. I'm the kind of person that wants to learn everything on their own. I worked my way up from dishwasher to executive chef. Fuck culinary school! I'm a self taught painter. Those pompous art school profs can shove their rules and trends up their asses! Unfortunately, I was one of the worst kinds of poker player: one who thinks he's good, but isn't. Very dangerous to your bankroll, that technique is!
Flash forward to Thanksgiving of this year. I'm a big fan of Tao of Poker, and Pauly was hosting the 3rd annual Turkey Cup. I had to play in it. So, I took my last $5 and popped it down on the tourney. It was a blast. Everyone was either a blogger or a fan, so the level of play was very good. It was nice to be at a table where people chatted and complimented each other, instead of criticizing and insulting. I busted out in 40th out of 84 after making a dumb pre flop call with 8's against BadBlood's all-in with kings. After I was out, AlCantHang moved into my seat and said he was worried about a contact high. How the hell did he know I was smoking?! Then Pauly said that I was fake GMoney (my screen name was GMONEY722 for lack of anything else being available. Are there really 721 other GMoneys out there?). I remember sitting there and thinking "Wait....I'm not really me?" Funny existential moment. I was too baked to respond in time. No wonder everyone was being so friendly and saying "hi" etc! They all thought I was their fellow blogger Gmoney. Anyhoo, the Turkey Cup inspired me to focus more, and try to move to the next level of play. After the Turkey Cup ended (congrats Joanne), I put my last 10 cents on a 180 S&G and came in third place, winning a whopping two or three dollars. I took that and ground it up on the micro micro table's to $80 as of writing this. FELT UP will be about my love/hate relationship with poker, how poker is life, and where that dime will take me..........