Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scottsdale, Etc

I'm about to end my 5th day in a row without playing a hand of poker, and I have to say it's been...refreshing. My mom is here for one more day, then it's off to Scottsdale for 3 days of poker and fun with the most interesting man on 2p2; leo doc. Eventually I'll get my year end stats up for everyone to see, but in the mean time have a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

No, But I'm About to Stop

Somehow it came to pass that I departed our house to go shopping tonight around 6pm. Now in order to truly understand the absurdity of this, you need to realize that when asked point blank by Danielle "When was the last time you went shopping in a mall" I was unable to even remember any such occasion since we moved down here (so at least two years). It literally was probably two years ago for Christmas, but I cannot even clearly remember that...well, as a matter of fact as I'm writing this I'm having PTSD style flashbacks of last Christmas bumbling around the Spectrum trying to find something..was it a hat? I don't know. Anyway, fast forward to 5 hours ago and I'm at the mall because two people were forgotten. And that's the real KITN, those last two people, because as soon as you buy for them you know what? Two more pop up. There are always more people you COULD buy gifts for; always. Somebody is always at the top of the list. I imagine inviting people to your wedding is like this; at some point you have to make the decision that you are inviting N people and Billy Bob and his wife are N+1 and N+2 and that's just that. So anyway I drive to a restaurant to buy a gift certificate for someone (I thought this person was already handled, and I spent 7:30 to 10:30 doing that portion of his gift, but that's neither here nor there) and that goes well. It's a mall with pretty much only restaurants, and it's just a freaking ghost town up in there. Great, phase 1 complete. Now it's off to See's Candies to buy Peanut Brittle for Danielle's Grandmother, who was currently at the top of the "get a gift for" list. I found one nearby and was on the way there and...almost gave up. I realized I was heading literally into the belly of the beast, the Main Place Mall in Santa Ana. It took me 20 minutes to park, and when I did find that pristine empty space I felt as though I was having a religious experience of some sort. As I said to Danielle "Look babe, it's pretty straight forward. We've got an empty parking spot and Occam's Razor. Under the current circumstances those basically add up to proof that God exists." So I parked, but not in the garage (that was a big mistake going into that fucking garage, let me tell you...I almost just abandoned my car, assuming I could get back to it before anybody figured out how to tow it) and walked vaguely toward the red dot on my phone (by the way, the GPS used to work a lot for some reason it always thinks I'm on road) and entered...Macy's. Sweet fucking Christ it was a mad house. Three dirty looks and one perhaps slightly bruised old lady later I emerged into the actual mall and found a directory. And then, for a brief moment, the power of THE MALL and CHRISTMAS almost overtook even me, one of the most rational and frugal people you will ever meet. I found myself thinking "well, I am here...perhaps there are other things that I need. After all, it could be years before I have an opportunity to buy such fineries again." I swear to God I was like Frodo trying to throw the ring into the volcano. Anyway, I found the directory and for once in my life (again, more circumstantial evidence pointing towards the existence of God) I read the thing correctly and turned the right way but there was not a stairway in site (and you're out of your fucking mind if you think I was waiting for the elevator...1400 people were waiting for that thing...if I was on the second floor trying to get the first I'd honestly consider jumping as a viable alternative). Eventually I found an escalator sorta hidden back behind the food court and got up to the second floor and I could see the See's Candies. At this point only seventy three thousand people remained between me and victory, and I considered the fact that many of them were rather small and weak....anyway. I got into the store and quickly obtained my desired purchases and...stood in line for 10 minutes. Apparently there was another register right by the entrance but I literally could not move to get to it because the store was that full of people. So I waited in the line of people hand selecting every truffle that was going to go into their box of chocolates and eventually, just before my breaking point, got the register. The woman helping me was pleasant enough, and asked me how I was doing. I did not respond instantly because for once the lie just seemed too much to tell. This is the Holidays, after all. I cannot just go around lying to random strangers. So I turned my eyes up to her and said simply "I'm going to make it." She smiled and nodded in appreciation, then replied kindly "So you're almost done?" The words cut me like a knife, making me realize that now two knew people had just moved to the top of the gift buying list. She could immediately tell that something was wrong and waited patiently for my response.

"No. But I'm about to stop"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's Some Positive Feedback

So for me it would appear that blogging (like going to the gym and coffee consumption) is governed by a positive feedback loop. I have literally like a dozen things I want to say, and hopefully I can get them all down on the page before they slip out of my mind's buffer and the starbuck's wears off (god damn it what a country I just love that shit) so here we go.

Thanks to DougL (and someone else on 2p2) for correctly stating that MOSFETs don't use negative feedback. Op-Amps can be built with MOSFETs, and Op-Amps use negative feedback, and that is what I was remembering from the class. So hopefully I have that correct.

To Drew, the MIT Junior who took the 6.046 final yesterday; I hope it went well, and I'm sorry if I scared the bejesus out of you. Dave, I enjoyed 6.046 immensely as well, but from a practical point of view it stretched my intelligence to (and past) it's breaking point. Some people just get that stuff; I cannot be counted among them. I mean sure, compared to the average person I'm probably a rock star algorithms guy, but that's sort of like pointing out that CC Sabathia would be the best hitter on your beer league softball team. Of course he would, and of course I kind of know what's going on I spent 5 years trying to figure it all out. Some people just get some things; I spoke to an old friend (shout out to nilekim here) who said he ashamedly just isn't very good at probability mind teasers. The guy is going to have a freaking Ph.D in a matter of months (or days, I'm not sure) and probability teasers give him problems. For me those things are just second nature and always have been. I never destroyed a class more completely than I did 6.041, and I'm sure my friend struggled with it. I'm also sure he's smarter than I am. Maybe I was just like him in algorithms, but I doubt it. I think that class truly found the bounds of my intelligence, and I am A-OK with that.

Captain R, I'll tell you who names their classes by numbers; we fucking do. It's the way it is, has been, and always will be. MIT freshmen will always be able to tell their friends at 77 that they have to get to 3.091 in 10-250, then 8.01 in 54-100 and the response will always be "OK, see you in W-20 for lunch".

DougL, why do you rant against me so? I won't repeat my response there even though I know there are people who read at work and can't....well, OK fine here it is:

Originally Posted by DougL View Post

To give jesse a justified hard time about this blog post, it would stand as an example for any student you know of what not to do while in college. It is also why a lot of "non traditional" students get so much out of school. Here you are at a world class institution of higher learning, and the cool bit is learning the rhythm of "how to beat an MIT class"? I'd guess, how to do the homework and cram just enough to pass the test.

[ ] MOSFET uses negative feedback
[x] Negative feedback key in control loops
[x] Positive feedback is bad for reasons described
[x] Feed forward cool, but need more advanced control systems class

Not to wham on my buddy Jesse (who I trust will rock the rest of the year at the Casino and bank $$$), but the whole reason to bother to show up to classes is to find cool things that you didn't know that you can learn. The name at the top of the piece of paper is meh -- in 5 years, no one will care. Tools in the toolbox matter a lot. Going to college should be about adding of tools. Most of us didn't know it when we were there, and we kind of picked up a socket set, a level, a plane, and a few other oddly useful tools while there. My friends who dropped out and then went back 5 years later got so much more out of college. A) real work is so much harder than college. B) they were interested in learning things.
I only won about 4 racks, so I may not be in quite the mood you'd hoped for.

First of all, I didn't say that the "cool bit" was learning how to beat an MIT class. I'm saying that was what I learned in my freshman physics class. Most courses at MIT (and most colleges, I'd imagine) have a set rhythm. The one I ran into the most was "Two tests, a final, and about 10 problem sets" and a need to attend recitations or so. The classes followed a pattern; there would be 3 problem sets, then a test on them, then four more, then a test on them, then 3 more where you'd get into some stuff that was pretty advanced for the class/level of kid that was in it that was designed to either scare off stragglers (in some cases, like 6.001) or engage the cream of the crop to continue in the discipline. The final was usually "cumulative" but it focused on the stuff from the last third of the class, and if you didn't have your **** down from the first two thirds you were usually in trouble just because that meant you had no shot at the last third.

College (and life) is a game. Sure you're there to learn and put tools in your belt. This was the mantra at MIT. But you're also there to get good grades, make friends, generate stories, grow socially, learn to deal with new situations, figure out how to manage your time, gain confidence, and avoid having a mental break down. I had a room mate who seriously considered suicide, and looking back I handled it TERRIBLY. That experience was worth more than any class I took and it's not particularly close. Meeting Danielle was, too.

I often hear this argument from people who are successful at what they do; where you went to school doesn't matter. They're not "wrong", exactly, but I certainly don't think they're right. The people who say this tend to be exceptionally talented and without fail have had careers that have worked out extremely well. Doug, I'm sure you fall into this category. But how much faster could have been that successful if you were afforded the advantages of having "BIG ****ING DEAL" written across the top of your diploma. Danielle got a couple of internships she never should have gotten because of it. Then she got a job at Oracle she wasn't close to qualified for, on paper, and how she's working at Google, all because her BIOLOGY degree says "MIT" on it. None of it would have been possible by the age of 27 with natural sciences degree from 90% of schools on the planet. My MIT degree is basically allowing me to shake my middle finger at the entire world while I waste my life playing poker for years on end. It helps, and if you don't think so you're being short sited. Does it guarantee success? Obviously not. Does it give you an unfair advantage in the first 5 years of your career, which more often than not you can leverage to be ahead of where you should be for the next 15? Definitely.

That's all I have to say on that, although I'm sure the discussion will continue. It occurs to me just now that Doug and I could be in a state of violent agreement. I think his argument is "god damn it these MIT kids don't know any more than anybody else" and my argument is "you're god damned right but watch how much easier life is for them the first few years of their careers." Anyway Doug let me know if I have that correct(ish). And for the record to quote Captain R I was a white chip collegiate winner, minimum.

See the buffer has leaked some and my coffee is running out...ah yes the small matter of "the cat". Today for probably the 5th time this month I cleaned up cat poop from our laundry room. You see, we have trained our cat to pee in her box and to poop...on the floor directly in front of it. Now it's not clear to me why or how we managed to achieve this, but we have. That's the state we're in, so once every other day or so one of us have to pick up 3 to 4 cat turds (that is if we can get to them before Clint eats them) and wipe down the floor and it's just fucking absurd. Really it is. As I was performing this task today I started thinking about the holidays and how they are sort of just like picking up cat shit is for me at this point. The whole process is just ridiculous. If you were an alien and saw either situation you'd just write off the entire society as hopeless and either go about your merry way exploring the galaxy or just well you know. But the thing is I've been doing it for so long (picking up cat shit and going through the circus that is the holidays) that it feels...normal. I get home and no longer think "my god what is that smell?!" Nope, I think "time to pick up the cat shit." The holiday season, in a lot of ways, is just like that.

We have reached the time in our program where I rant about football (I'm well overdue on this one so bear with me). First of all I have reached the championship game of Danielle's Short Bus Fantasy Football League and let me tell you I am 100% sure I will not win. Do you know how I know that? I have never won a fantasy league (except for the cumulative points one with her and our two fathers like 4 years ago which definitely does not count), and I don't see any reason that trend should end now. Our team is Dave's league absolutely fell apart (McFadden. Vick. Hightower. Bradshaw) and we predictably are 5-10. Honestly, We don't deserve to be much higher. But in Danielle's we come.

Moving on to the real NFL, holy shit what a piss poor failed abortion excuse for a football game the Steelers played last night. First of all they did everything they could to lose the game on their own. They missed a field goal outright and mismanaged to clock so badly at the end of the second half that I wanted to jump into my TV and slap Tomlin upside his extremely stylish head. OK, fine. Second of all, what a horribly officiated game. There were at least 3 completely phantom calls (two favored the niners, one the steelers) and several other very questionable ones. Leaping? Fucking leaping? R U Serious? But whatever, in spite of all that the Steelers deserved to lose because they just played rather poorly. They ran the ball 18 times and threw it like 157 (I could be off on one of those numbers by a bit). What the fuck is this shit? And then there is Ben....Now I'm not saying I agree with him playing that game, but I understand. Every rational person I've spoken with has said "Why didn't they get him out of there?" at the end of the game, and they have a good point. To be completely honest, maybe he shouldn't have even played the game at all. But there are just a few things you need to know about Ben to understand what happened here. First of all, he's a professional athlete, and due to actually being borderline invincible and survivor-ship bias he feels like he's invincible. Broken ribs? I'm fine. High ankle sprain? Not a problem. It's just the way he is, and the way you have to be to survive in the NFL. Second of all, he's retarded. I'm pretty sure that's not really even debatable at this point. And finally, he's likely burned all the currency he will ever have with his teammates (and if he hasn't he doesn't want to see how much he has left). He's fucked up like stupid bad several times, and everyone on the team, especially the lineman, has forgiven him and is ready to go to war with him. What's he gonna do, sit out the game because his ankle hurts? No fucking chance. So nice hand San Francisco, you won the game, I commend you, and will laugh heartily as you lose to New Orleans in the second round of the playoffs (as the Steelers are losing to New England in Foxboro).

The buffer is go back to pretending to be productive in this most unproductive of weeks of the year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Negative Feedback Loops

Ten years ago, almost to the day, I took what was at the time the most difficult exam of my entire life; the 6.002 final. It was later eclipsed by the 6.046 final, but at the time the test I wrote in Johnson was one of the most trying experiences of my life. It had 5 questions worth 40 points each, and I solved the first two completely in less than half an hour. My final score on the exam was in the 90s (out of 200), which means in the final 2.5 hours I managed to score something like 15 out of a possible 120 points. And here's the kicker; my grade on the final was "a strong B." Fucking ridiculous. Anyway, that class was super difficult, and to be honest it wasn't one of the ones that really reached you deeply and changed the way you think. 6.046 did that for me, as did 6.034 (which wasn't actually that hard) and 6.041. Even 8.01 did, in that it set up the rhythm of "how to beat an MIT class" for me. At the time he limped out of 6.002 with a B all that 19 year old Jesse was really able to think about was "Holy shit did anyone get the license plate?" Since then, however, I've realized there was a very important lesson to be learned in the class, if you could just manage to see it through all the differential equations. It had nothing to do circuits or electronics, but was taught through the class's goto device; the MOSFET. The basic idea wasn't all that interesting at the time, but since then I've realized that it's one of the key concepts you need to utilize to keep your life in order; the negative feedback loop.

You hear references to the negative feedback loop (or its evil twin brother, the positive feedback loop) all the time. Have you ever heard the expression that "a football team is either getting better or worse"? That's a positive feedback loop. I guess at this point I should maybe define some of the terms I'm just throwing around, so here we go. A negative feedback loop exists in any process where the act of parameters moving outside of acceptable boundaries actually causes those very parameters to move back into the acceptable range. I don't remember the details, but this is how the MOSFET worked; when the current (or voltage, or whatever) crossed a certain boundary something changed and it went back to what it was supposed to. What's important to realize here is that it just happens; the parameter getting out of whack causes a change in the system that moves the parameter back in range. A positive feedback loop is just the opposite. In a positive feedback loop when a parameter starts to get out of whack it causes a change in the system that causes the parameter to get MORE out of whack.

I can hear you now..."OK Jesse, that's vaguely interesting, but what on Earth are you talking about?" Well hopefully I can try to explain it a little bit with some examples from my life. An obvious one that comes to mind is Danielle's ability (or inability) to keep areas clutter free. For her the entire process is a positive feedback loop; once an area gets "cluttery", be it dishes in a sink or clothes on a floor or whatever else you want to imagine, she views the space as "dirty" on the "clean/dirty" binary scale and therefore no longer sees any reason to make any effort to keep it "clean". So what happens? The number of dishes in the sink should be zero, and Danielle has no problem keeping the number AT zero. But once it jumps to one, the positive feedback loop rears its ugly head and boom, one becomes three and three becomes seven and that's ballgame. For me the exact same process is actually a negative feedback loop (and in this case it's because I do not ascribe to the binary "dirty/clean" categorization system). For me the correct number of dishes in the sink is also zero, but once that number jumps above zero in my world the process is governed by a negative feedback loop. Eventually (and it may not be right away) I do something (open the dishwasher, insert dish) to move the parameter back inside the acceptable range. Some other intuitive examples are the process of going on tilt at a poker table; this is definitely a positive feedback loop cycle. Your mental parameters (stress, focus, rage, etc) have acceptable ranges and once you go on tilt they get out of bounds, and them getting out of range causes them to get MORE out of range. And that's basically how tilt works. The Tommy Angelo way of doing things basically suggests you set up your "process" in such a way that you make it a negative feedback loop; when you feel your parameters getting out of bounds you make a conscious decision to do things (take a break, breath deeply, be quiet, etc) to put them back in range. It's all based on the derivatives; if the derivatives of a parameter stay constant or even grow as a process advances, it's a positive feedback loop. If the derivatives change sign (first become positive, which then actually causes them to go negative), it's a negative feedback loop. Addictive behaviors (drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling problems) are positive feedback loops.

After that extremely long winded explanation, hopefully the point of this post has become pretty obvious. In your life you have literally dozens of process and procedures, and if you want to keep everything under control you need to set up most of them to be negative feedback loops. Or, at a bare minimum you need to be aware of any positive feedback loops that you have and be vigilant not to let their parameters get out of bounds. A perfect example for me these past few weeks has been my process of coffee consumption. I never drank coffee really before this year, and all of a sudden for some reason at work I decided to let myself try a small Starbucks for $1 every morning. And (big surprise here) I really liked it. For a while the process stayed in control, with me just having a single small coffee in the morning. But eventually I started getting the occasional refill; then it became a refill everyday. Then sometimes it was two coffees with one of them being a medium, or even (gasp) two refills. And just like that, boom, I have a day where I ingest close to a gram of caffeine (I mean really...that's like drinking THIRTY cans of diet coke) and (another shocking surprise) I feel like absolute shit. Positive feedback loop: 1. Jesse: zero. Another example for me of a positive feedback loop is "going to the gym". If I go to the gym, I tend to go more. If I don't, I tend to go less. The right number of gym visits per week for me is probably like 4; but I seldom hit that number. I have a positive feedback loop that I need to actively manage in order to keep things flowing along smoothly.

So I guess that's kind of it. If you want your life to go smoothly and stay manageable, make sure you're aware of any positive feedback loops that you may have and be vigilant about keeping their parameters in bounds (at levels that don't produce further change). To go a step further, try to set up your processes in such a way that they are governed by negative feedback. Even if it doesn't work, you'll be happy you thought about it, I promise. In short, everything I needed to know about life I learned from Gerry Sussman and a MOSFET.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


For the first time in a long time today I feel completely and utterly defeated. Perhaps it's the fact that I've let my coffee consumption get too high, or that I didn't sleep well last night because for some reason I met Danielle at Chipotle for "dinner" at like 9pm and I spent half the night in the bathroom (never again), or that I've just been getting completely obliterated every single time I sit down, or that now with the promotion we have going on my job basically sucks because I play literally 6 or 7 tables per shift, or maybe it's just that today I simply played some of the worst poker I've ever played. I tried an elaborate bluff that had zero percent chance of working; I snap folded the best hand on the flop in a large pot (snap folded...not tank folded or barely folded or conservatively folded....snap folded, and that's the problem). In short, I played like ass. And maybe I did that because I was tired or worried about the holidays or jealous that Dos was getting to play a 3 handed 80/160 game in which he was likely a 2 bet/hour favorite, or maybe I just let Squeaky get to me or I'm overwhelmed by the fact that one of my horses is basically completely dependent upon me for his well-being, or perhaps I'm just a grinch and the holidays have completely soul crushed me. Heck maybe the fact that they've blown up the 60 freeway and traffic has been even worse than usual (which is hard to believe) and I got trapped into playing long unpaid hours at work and going to commerce and the like, or that I couldn't stay to enjoy the holiday party because I've quit drinking and that my boss went out of his way to rub that in my face not once or twice but three times and I just didn't want to deal with that, or that I couldn't take the Big Potato up on his offer of free room and board in Vegas for the weekend just for the fuck of it, or that I had to pass on MikeL's invite to go to dinner and a movie last night (which was a touching effort to reach out to a clearly troubled soul) because I felt like I'd been hit by a bus (because of stupidly mis-managing my food and caffeine intake and you know being in hour 11 of the day).

When you get right down to it, it was all of these things. But the simple fact of the matter is that I'm 4 hours short of the 1800 line for the year, and despite the recent turn of events I'm still going to post a fantastic number for 2011 (no where near what I'd projected, but still fantastic). My leave of absence has been approved for the entire week of Christmas, so I literally only have to play four more shifts between now and January 2nd. So that's what I'm going to do; the absolute minimum that I can away with, refresh, recharge, and hopefully come back guns blazing in 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Owe You All Content

I really, really do. To be honest the holidays just have me in a bit of a funk/super busy. There's lots of stuff to do and even more things to worry about and stress out over and I just really am having a hard time finding time to get everything done that needs to happen. So this post is basically just a place holder promising some content soon and saying that I'm still alive. A cliff's notes of the last week:

1. I have started losing. Like, quite a bit actually. So it goes.

2. All my horses are in action. One was doing OK but recently got bludgeoned, another was getting bludgeoned but recently ran hot, and the third is just flat running hot. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

3. If Squeeky doesn't get barred soon, I'm not sure how much longer I can go without going postal on him.

4. Danielle bought a piano. It is beautiful. Big props to jailyard for helping out with the final selection.

OK that's all. Tomorrow is my "day off" which means I'm going to shoot to get to work at 10:30 instead of 9:50.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hatred Crystallization

Hate is a funny thing. It can manifest itself in many ways, in many forms, and in almost any level of intensity. I don't claim to be an expert, but I have learned a couple of things over my 29 years about the phenomenon, and those few things culminated in a mini "aha!" moment today. OK, it wasn't even really an "aha!" moment, really more of a "huh that's interesting" sort of thing, but here it goes anyway. First of all, hatred is almost always bad. Like, not just in that it's bad for the person or thing being hated, but it's almost always not even useful for the person doing the hating. It clouds your judgement, it makes you emotional, just nothing good ever comes of it. And second of all, hating shit is hard work. It's just flat tiring to hate someone or something for any extended period of time; it's very...draining.

So as I was thinking about these things today I realized that while they are almost always true, like most rules they have their exceptions. There have been times in my life that feeling the emotion of hate has come easily, dare I say almost naturally. It just felt like the right thing to, you know, feel. And there have also been times that pure visceral hate has not been a negative whatsoever, and probably even been a positive influence on the act of going about my business. If you take a minute to think back on your own life experience about a few times you've thought you hated someone or something you'll probably be able to find your own similar exceptions to my above truisms of "hate is hard" and "hate doesn't help."

So how does it come to pass that you can easily hate someone or something and actually get some benefit out of it? I believe that in order for either of those things to happen you have to go through what I've dubbed "hatred crystallization". The process is not easily defined, and I need to give it another good think if I want to get any further along than this vague summary, but basically this is the point of no return for hatred. To borrow a cheesy religious phrase, this is the point at which you simply let go and let God. Up until the hatred crystallizes your body and mind has been fighting it (unless you're a psychopath, generally hateful person, or Commerce Regular, I suppose, but I'm thinking about normal high functioning happy people here with first world problems), trying not to give in, realizing the two above truths, that hatred is hard and not helpful. But if the hatred builds and builds past a certain point, in a sense the scales can tip forever. You give up trying to stop hating whatever it is that has wronged you so vigorously and just let it Hatred crystallization has occurred; you're now in a positive feedback loop, not a negative one, and you're never going to un-hate this thing. An example for me is the New England Patriots. I will hate them forever, no matter what ill befalls them, no matter how many crushing defeats they suffer, even if Tom Brady right arm is chopped off in a freak lawn mower accident. Through all that, through everything that could possibly happen, through locusts and frogs besieging Foxboro still my hate will flow strongly. It has crystallized. I can't stop it, nor do I want to. It just feels so good and comes so naturally, as if things were simply meant to be this way. And I can take comfort in the fact that no matter what happens, they always will be. That sums it all up in a nutshell; once you embrace your hatred instead of trying to swallow it, it has crystallized. From there, things seem to get easier.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2-3 Whack A Mole

I got to work like 25 minutes early today and grabbed a seat in a 7 handed 2-3 nl game. I ended up only playing a single orbit, but did have a revelation. The game is basically whack a mole. Think about it. Your basic goal is to sit there and be patient enough to out wait your opponents. If you succeed, eventually one of them will stick his pointy little head with it's beady little eyes out for a breath of fresh air, and hopefully you'll be waiting for him with aces or a set or some other such monstrosity and just pummel him into submission. That pretty much sums up how I play that game, and about how much I respect the strategy required to beat it. I'm not saying no limit hold 'em isn't a difficult and rich game the way it's intended to be played. But when half the table has like 40 big blind stacks and is willing to call like 20% of their stacks pre-flop with pretty much any describable hand, well, then you've got yourself a hip hoppin' game of 2-3 whack a mole!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Suggestion Number 3

Here was Commissioner Dave the Luckbox's list of suggestions (and no, you can no longer argue, as you successfully traded Adrian Peterson for Drew Brees straight up 1.5 quarters before AP blew out his ankle):

1. The last time you did this, it turned out great, so I'll give you a different challenge: Rate how good the 2012 presidential candidates would be as poker players, without being overtly political. If you can't do that, then rate the Avengers (in the upcoming movie).

2. If you were to create a fantasy poker league, what would it be? How would it work?

3. Watch an episode of the WSOP on ESPN and describe how different it is on TV than real life.

4. Compare LA and SF. (Culture, not traffic.)

5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? (No, I am not interviewing you for a job.)

6. How did MIT prepare you for a life of poker playing? Did it? If you went somewhere else, do you think you'd be doing something else?

So here we go...first, let's dispense with the politicians. I don't really follow politics, and I'm not saying that in a "it's cool to be disinterested" or a "I don't have time for that" way or anything. I really just...don't. Maybe it's because I find it difficult to get unbiased news, or because I simply don't read that much, or perhaps I just don't care. I wish I was more involved, it's a real shame that someone like me simply stands on the sidelines, but that's the way it is. Moving right along....

I'm pretty sure fantasy poker leagues do exist for specifically the WSOP. My understanding is that you have a draft and everyone just picks players and you score points for cashes, final tables, bracelets, and total dollars won. There are probably bonus points for guys scoring points in multiple games, etc etc. This is the most practical way to do it, and has been used for many other domains, including US Weekly. The obviously problem here is that you don't have "positions" in the same way you do for other fantasy sports. One way to solve that would be to have say 6 NLHE players, 2 stud specials, 2 draw games guys, and a wildcard or something, but that's just not really practical because lots of these guys play lots of different events and it just wouldn't work. A more fun way (and completely impossible) way to do it would be to set up a league at your home casino with your friends. Six of you set up a draft and can select anybody you want on Earth. You keep score by who wins (or loses...that'd be fun also) the most money over the course of each week, playing head to head games just like fantasy football. The problem of course is that tracking results is impossible, so this is just pie in the sky type stuff. Back when online could have done a draft like this using PTR as your source of truth. In fact, that'd actually be close to viable.

OK last one before it's time to watch the Steeler's game (which kicked a half hour ago but damn it I simply cannot watch commercials anymore) and that's describing the difference between playing poker on TV and in my world. I've watched a fair bit of the broadcasts and the differences are practically too many to enumerate. The pace is much slower on TV. That's partially because they are playing NLHE, and partially because it's TV, and partially because of shuffling machines. The banter on TV is just not there. Try watching some of the old high stakes poker episodes (like the one where Hanson quads up on Kid Poker's top boat) to get an idea of how it is in my world. A big hand will happen, and at least half the table will be talking about something completely irrelevant. Everything runs smoothly on TV; the dealer never fucks up, there really aren't any arguments, basically nothing goes wrong. I'd say something like that happens several times per hour in my world. There are no seat changes on TV; in the games I play players come in and out of the game constantly, and there is lots of seat changing. The Oaks 30 game was more like you see on TV the two days a week it was pre-scheduled, with 10 players bunkering down and nobody moving for a few hours. In the course of a 5 hour shift I could change seats up to 4 or 5 times depending on what goes on (or I could stay in the same never know). And the douchebaggery; nobody other than Helmuth is a shit head on TV. Half the people I play with (at least at Commerce) are.

OK that wasn't really everything but it's time for some football.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Random Things

It's amazing how quickly time flies by and it's been a week since my last post, even when I have lots of stuff I want to talk about. I just never seem to find the time, and I'm not exactly sure why. I guess I do spend an awful lot of my days trying to play poker, and what little time is left my brain is very tired and I just want to watch Breaking Bad and/or The West Wing with Danielle. Anyway, a few random topics...first I want to address this comment:

No, you don't sound like an arrogant asshole at all. Maybe arrogant, but def not an asshole :) Just kidding... Seriously though, I was more implying in my question about the whole idea of giving up a carreer in software industry to professional (live) poker. I am sure you blogged on this subject somewhere in the past, is there a pointer? Do you find it more rewarding / stable / gives you more freedom / independence etc'? What are the goals withing 5-6 years? I heard some notes of disappointment in this last post (maybe mistakenly), so was wondering how frequently you question the carreer direction that you voluntarily picked.

Just sort of because I think I should. At this point I'd say that I have seen the man behind the curtain and just like in the movie he is simply not as bad ass I thought he'd be. When I started this venture I just assumed that I could play 2000 hours a year and make north of $80/hour playing (either at the 40 or by playing higher) and boom I'd be making $150K a year in no time and maybe I'd move up further and I'd have all the freedom in the world and it'd just be the best thing ever. I now know differently. First of all assuming you'll do something 2000 hours a year and have lots of freedom is just absurd. Second of all, truly making a big bet per hour while logging big hours is very, very difficult. Third of all, it's certainly neither more rewarding nor more stable than any number of other jobs I could find. So why do I do it? Well at this point I feel like I'm entitled to a year or two or some other length of time of "being successful", since it's basically taken me three years to get here. By any metric things are going great; the parade somehow didn't happen last week, but I did crack the $100K profits line for the year (with some fishy accounting, since I have paid some, but not nearly all, of the taxes I owe, but am including all my online profits for the year which were more than wiped out by Black Friday). I'm going to make it to 1800 hours of LHE, and I'm up over 1000 bets so far. And most days I actually enjoy going into work (although the last week or so since I fell off my $1000/day scooter ride I've been saying more and more than I need a vacation...I don't know why it's just been tough to, you know, give a shit) and in general things are just...good. So I guess the answer is that I don't have a 5 or 6 year plan, but for right now I'm going to just enjoy being successful.

I feel like I had other things to say...ah yes, that's it. First of all, my place of employment is going all in this month, paying players $10/hour to sit in the 20/40 game and $20/hour for the 40/80 (with a minimum qualification of 40 hours for the month). If you count me as a friend I would really appreciate it if you could give us a shot, because if this doesn't work I have a feeling we are all going to find ourselves in the pink slip room very shortly. And even if you don't, for shit's sake that's basically rake free poker in the 40 and a nice shot in the arm to anyone's 20/40 hourly so please just come play some poker it'll be good times trust me.

The only other thing I've got is that I figured I'd tell everyone I'm officially in the business of staking people now. I have three ad-hoc agreements with three players I trust very much (both ethically and poker skills wise) that are allowing them to get what they want out of poker (money) while dumping some risk on someone else (me) in exchange for some of their expected winnings. I don't really want to get into the details of the stakes or anything, and they are varying levels of private (from completely private to completely public I guess), and I suppose that really is that. So hopefully they won't blow me up and I'll make some money on them, but if past events are any predictor of future success I could be in for a rough go of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanks Dos

In response to my last blog post Dos left a comment. To be honest I didn't even know he read my blog, but as I'm finding out more and more a lot more people read than I think. Anyway, here's the comment:

You run good at the ***** and bad at Commerce. It's a bit silly and hypocritical to think about things like not playing the Commerce 40 because you get crushed. Remember that whole post about the guy who PMed you down below? It's one long game and I'm sure you're still ahead when looking at your total results. Go play Commerce 40 it's almost invariably a better game.

Finally, your game selection skills are almost so nitty to be detrimental. This is very much related to the driving issue. Sometimes your overall $$/hour would be higher by sitting in a crappy game than driving somewhere else to play and losing an hour or more by driving/parking/waiting to sit in a better game for 3 hours.

And it's pretty much spot on. Regarding the first section, the weird part is that I completely understand that he's completely correct, but that doesn't really change the fact that the Commerce 40 is in my head. It feels like I've played it a lot (which really isn't true, I checked, I have something like 100 hours life time, but that's probably because I've played it for a short time on a lot of days I played at Commerce for a full shift), and every time I sit I catch myself stealing myself mentally for a big loss. This is obviously horrible, and I even asked Mike about it and his advice was "well you can't play in a game where you feel like that, so either don't play it or don't feel like that." I think he's right, but not playing isn't really a viable plan. I've known for a very long time now that if you want to play LHE for a living in the LA area you need to be very comfortable in the Commerce 40. That's just the way it is, and I need to get over a little 200 bet downer grind my way back to being confident in the game. One thing I will say is that I think I have run extremely bad in terms of getting into good games over there, because I can think of a half dozen times where I sat in the must move and it was just awful and I quit and played 20 instead. But that aside, Dos is right that I just need to play the game and stop pretending I've taken a shot at it when I have like 100 hours in it lifetime.

Regarding the game selection nittery, I will cop to being quite selective about what 40 games I sit in off shift, but also offer a few reasons beyond pure nittery that I do it. First of all by the time my shift ends I am usually tired and having trouble concentrating, and taking a break to drive somewhere else is practically something I want and need to do. I'm not really sure how everyone else does it, but I'm a morning person and I function best mentally 30 minutes after I wake up and go downhill from there. Danielle is almost the complete opposite, routinely getting her best work done at 7pm, but that's just not something I can do. Second, I believe Dos and I have a rather different system for evaluating win rate in a given game. It's possible that he's correct and I'm wrong, but when I look at a game with 4 professional and 2 fish I don't see a real profit source. His argument (I think) is that I will break even against the 4 pros and take money from the fish, and that it's still possible that the fish are losing so much money that all 5 (if I sit) pros are winning something like $60/hour. The more I think about it he may be correct on this one, but my third issue interacts with this one in some complicated ways. It's hard to go from from a 9 handed soft game with lots of open limping and 5 way pots to a 6 or 7 handed game with 4 other guys who play super well. You have to completely change your thought process for most hands, thinking about your range and being combative instead of (often) just determining if you're ahead and if not if you have odds to draw. And finally, it's just kind of awkward to stay and play the 20, because it just feels, you know, weird and wimpy. On top of that a few times I've been asked to come back into the 40 game to "help out" and obviously I'm not going to say no but obviously I already chose not to be in that game and going back into it gets me a little out of whack mentally and well it's just not great.

But in general yes Dos you're completely correct and I am very grateful for your opinions. I need to play the Commerce 40 because I've tricked myself into believing that I'm cursed over there and that's just not the case, and I need to be more aggressive in sitting in games with experts, not only because it's probably often correct from a $$$ point of view, but also because doing so will make me a better player in the long term. So in short, thanks :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Results So Far This Year

It's funny, I find myself more interested in what my sheets say than in the actual amount of money I have available to me. Someone could be robbing me blind after I cash out and honestly I wouldn't notice, because I have no accounting practices in place mapping the amount of money I win and spend to the amount of money I have. MikeL said it well recently "if you play lots of poker and have lots of money, you're a professional. if you play lots of poker and go broke, you're a fish. it's pretty much that simple." Other people have given the advice to just worry about making good decisions and playing well, and the rest of it will sort itself out. Obviously the right answer and approach is somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, my results for the year so far are pretty interesting and extremely frustrating. I just crossed the 1600 hour line for the year, and over 2/3rds of them have been at my place of employment (obviously some of them before I was employed there, but still you get the idea). That's not all that surprising, I suppose. Nor is it surprising that I've played less than 500 hours of "OT" for the entire year, until you think about the fact that I didn't really have the job for two whole months early in the year, so knock out something like 300 of those hours and all of a sudden, boom. All this schlepping around I do looking for good games and the Saturdays I play and all that for the past 6 months have netted me less than 200 hours of ass in seat poker time. Pathetic. The thing is, I know that's the case, and I know the root problem of it is the driving. Today Danielle went to the drag races with her dad and I had a choice to make around 1pm after the Steelers claimed soul possession of first place in the AFC (OK technically that didn't happen until 4:15 when the Ravens finished shitting the bed in Seattle but whatever allow me my moment of glory). Did I really want to drive to Commerce or HG for a half day? Was it really worth it? I eventually decided that no, I'd take the day off instead. I went to the gym, then ended up watching almost an entire extra football game (the aforementioned Raven's fouling), etc etc. The point is that driving to a casino, be it for the day or after my shift, really just isn't the right thing to do unless you're going to play for a long time. There is just so much effort involved, as evidenced by my records that something that feels like I spend a ton of time on has netted me only 200 hours of bonus table time's the kicker....

Negative dollars :(

That's right, I'm underwater for the sum total of hours I've played away from my place of employment. Sure, the real reason is that freaking commerce 40 game just obliterating me every time I walk in the door (I'm stuck over 200 bets on the year in the game why do you think I play 20 when I go there) and not playing enough volume in other games to have any hope of recovery, but still it's just depressing. All of this really got me thinking about home court advantage and how at this point it's very difficult for me to have it anywhere but at my job. I simply can't get to any other casino on a regular enough schedule to have that intimate "feel" of the game and just knowing what everyone has and what they intend to do it with it. I suppose a good question would be "what are you going to do about this, Jesse" and to be frank I don't really have a good answer. I suppose I'll make sure I'm more implicitly aware of the math of any decision I'm making regarding leaving a casino for another one, but beyond that what can I really do? One thing that seems certain is that it makes almost no sense to drive to Commerce to play the 20 (I learned this at one point but seemed to have forgotten it), when I could just stay after my shift and play. The only reason to head to Commerce is the 40, and since I currently am scared shitless of the game I suppose the answer now is just "less Commerce." So here's hoping I manage to actually implement that, I guess.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Insert Title Here

I've got like three things I want to talk about in this post, so I'm going to write them down in a list so I won't forget to talk about all of them when I invariably go off on a random tangent and also because I like lists. And three just became 4:

1. I took a piece of howmany yesterday in a 3/6 mix game
2. I believe I still have a medical condition
3. Holy shit everyone plays bad
4. Limit hold 'em is a flawed game

First things first, a 300/600 HET game went for some ungodly reason yesterday at my place of employment, and as soon as it did MikeL and I were texting Death Donkey and howmany to alert them to the existence of such superb action. As we're doing this MikeL says absently to the table "anybody want 10% of (him)" and my hand shot instantly into the air. My boss looked at me like I had two heads, since of all the young 40/80 props I have decidedly the least gambool in me (this is something Danielle finds hard to believe, since from her POV I have a dangerously large amount of gambool), but nonetheless I booked the 10% and hoped the game wouldn't get kicked up too big too fast. You see, Mike explained that whenever a game like that goes the stakes have always been reached via compromise and invariably somebody wants to kick it up. One player in particular, he assured me, would ask to kick up the stakes every 2 to 3 hands, and once managed to turn such a 300/600 game into "700/1400 it was just completely absurd". Anyway I took 10% and for my efforts lost....well, quite a bit. Moving right along.

I used to think I had this, but now I am not so sure. Right now my basic symptoms are "my hips really ache whenever I am sitting" which to be honest is a royal pain the ass. This is neither interesting or important, but it does make me sad because I am almost 30 and my body is already showing signs of deterioration. No wonder professional athletes are over the hill at 32; I am a professional ass sitter and I'm starting to have problems in my 20s!

A player in my game who shall remain nameless played both of these hands today, one at 20/40 and the other at 40/80. I'll run the 40 hand first, because it is less atrocious and perhaps more hilarious. It folds to him on the button with me in the big blind, so we see a flop of:


I check/raise him because I have Q9 and he just calls. The turn pairs the queen and he calls. The river brings a third queen, giving me quads with a valid kicker, which isn't really interesting until I bet and he...raises! I pause for a second and then of course 3-bet, thinking that even against this guy we have a shot at the jackpot because what hand other than 55 makes any sense whatsoever? He calls instantly and says "queen is good" and shows me....Aces. You know what, in retrospect he actually didn't play this hand very badly but damn it we have to hit the jackpot eventually....anyway, now to the real beaut.

The game is 20/40 and I open somewhere in the middle. A weak/tight female employee calls behind me and villain calls the big blind. The flop comes:


He checks, I bet, she raises. Let's pause the action right there? What does she have here? Any guesses from the audience? Time's up the answer is a medium pair, most likely 8s or 9s but perhaps as big as tens or maybe 5s. That's what she has, and that's all there is to it, and since I have ATcc I'm going to take one off, miss, and fold quietly. But wait, the big blind has something to say about that plan, and it sounds like he doesn't like it. He 3 bets! I say to myself "huh, this ought to be good I wonder if he knows what she has" and fold quietly, she calls, and we see a turn of:


And it...checks through. Wow, OK. River:


Big blind bets, she calls, and he shows...AK. It's OK, go back and look at the action again if you need to, I'll wait. As she's mucking I turn to the victim and say "what'd you have, like pocket 9s" and she looks at me without a hint of sarcasm and says "No, no, pocket tens" as if to say "learn how to read hands you idiot." I mean, really...this happened.

I just remembered another hand villain played where basically the board came JJ8-A after I had 3-bet him from the small blind with one other player in. To make a long story very short he raised me on the turn with exactly an 8, basically turning his hand into a bluff, which is just so ridiculous I don't even know what to say...anyway, I play with this guy every day and it is glorious.

The last point really isn't that interesting except in that it basically explains why limit hold 'em is so popular and frustrating all at the same time; the game is just silly because you can play a hand "terribly" and only make one ftop mistake the entire way. I was thinking about a hand recently in which I had aces and my opponent held T7s. I raised a limper and he called behind me, the blinds called and we saw a flop 5 ways. I'm not going to do a stove calculation but let's just assume that he has less than 20% equity here and that he's not going to make up for what he's missing with position (while he has the best absolute position his relative position stinks in this case, since I'm going to be driving the action with AA and he's immediately after on a lot of flops its going to be one bet to him with three players having a chance to check/raise...anyway). He flopped a "pear" and then the silliness started to happen. The board is something pretty dry, like maybe KT3r or some such, and I bet and he called. This call is 100% correct from an FTOP perspective, since there are now 11 bets in the pot and he has 5 outs to crack my hand. Now the small blind calls, the big blind folds and the limper check/raises. I 3-bet immediately, putting the 16th and 17th small bets into the pot, giving him immediate odds of 17:2 to call, which he takes gladly. Once again, his call is not a mistake. The small blind abandons ship and the limper calls, leaving us with a 10 big bet pot on the turn, which is a banana, something like a rainbow 5. The limper checks, I bet, and again he calls, this time getting the same 11:1 he received on my initial flop bet for his efforts. The limper hems and haws and eventually calls, and of course we all know what happens because I know what the guy has....he binks two pair on the river, doesn't even raise me, and drags a $600 20/40 pot. Did I make money every time he called a bet? Yes. Did he make a single mistake the entire hand, other than calling preflop (which as discussed is a VERY small mistake, playing a 5 handed pot with a suited two gapper on the button) and not raising the river? Nope. He played the flop and turn perfectly against me. Even putting 3 bets into a 17 bet pot would have been acceptable, given that he would more than make up for the missing little bit of equity in implied odds. So to make a long story short this guy pushed the call button 5 times in this hand and pretty much played it "just fine", which is both extremely frustrating (for me) and extremely good (in that it keeps fish from going broke too quickly).

OK that's all I've got have a great weekend.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Random PM I Received

From time to time I receive PMs on 2p2 that for lack of a better word are pretty random. They come from all sorts of people, most of whom I've never met, with all levels of experience and understanding of poker and what it means to play the game for a living. I have endeavored to respond to all of them (although I have a "chin up soldier" one that is still owed a response) because well that's just what I should do. People have sought out my opinion, and the least I can do is give it. For some reason I've decided to turn this one into a blog post; I'm not really sure why, but as you know I've been looking for more poker related things to write about so maybe this will work out well. Here's the PM:

Hi Jesse,

I thought you'd be an appropriate person to ask this type of question because
1) I respect you as a human being (never met in RL but judging by your posts / blog)
2) I respect your understanding of poker strategy
3) You have lots of live hours logged (I hope you track results)

So the situation is that I started playing live ~6 months ago when I moved to the US. Before that (and before the BF, obv.) I played online - primarily heads up limit, but also FR. I logged some 150K hands of HUHU at 4.5BB/100 - stakes 3/6 through 15/30 and some 100K hands of FR/6 max at 0.7BB/100 - same stakes. I don't play fully pro, just a side income as I have a day job that pays me well. Basically, anything that pays me less than 40-50$/hour is not worth my time.
Now getting closer to the question: I logged 315 hours over last 6 months, it's roughly 50% 20 and 50% 80 game - some in (Casinos deleted for anonymousness's sake). My result was a loss of $29 per hour. I felt like I was running pretty bad over this entire period (like card dead then a bad setup and then card dead again etc'). But I also realize it can be very subjective. I am seriously thinking now that there's a high likelyhood that I am doing something wrongly and should reconsider my game (including the question if I should play live at all - I don't HAVE to play). Based on my online results, I want to think that I don't suck at poker in general. But would you think that my live results sample is significant enough to draw any conclusions now?
315 hours are 12600 hands or so. I absolutely had like 20K breakeven / slightly lose stretches online but live it takes like eternity in wall clock elapsed time. Thoughts ? What kind of longest break even / losing streak did you have in your live carreer?
Sorry if my questions are a little ill formed, but I think you understand my dilemma.

OK, so let's try to take this step by step. First of all I'm glad my online persona comes off as worthy of at least some modicum of respect, and yes obviously I track my results (anybody who doesn't track results, or even thinks that someone like me might not, maybe isn't thinking about things the right way, but that's not important). Moving right along, you played a ton of HUHU hands and absolutely destroyed it. This obviously shows that you have some talent/skill/work ethic and should be completely capable of beating any of the live games I frequent. However you played a lot of full ring and 6max hands and, while you did win, didn't have nearly as good results. Also, all these hands were played when you lived outside the United States, which lead me to believe you played them on lol Party Poker which from my understanding means all your opponents were borderline retarded (not that most of the people I play against are not, but crushing games on Party just isn't the same as grinding out a big WR in the Stars 5/T 6max games). Also remember that .7 bets per 100 equates to win rate of like .25 bets per hour live.

Your basic questions seem to be "am I doing it wrong" and "should I continue to play"? The second question really needs to be answered by you and you alone. Do you enjoy playing? You are in the ranks of "serious recreational player" right now, logging something like 10-15 hours a week (which I assume means you play like maybe twice during the week for a few hours, then once on the weekend for a longer session), and to be honest the choice to continue or hang 'em up should be based on your goals. Is your goal just to have fun? Are you having fun? Or is your goal to make money, and if so, is it worth the stress of losing to try to make that money?

Next, losing $29/hour doesn't really tell me much when your hours are split between 80 and 20 games. How did you do in each game? If you played 300 hours of 20/40 and lost $9,000, I'd tell you that you're almost certainly doing it wrong. I mean, you could just be running bad, but there is strong evidence that you're missing something in addition to perhaps getting a bit unlucky. However, if you actually lost $1000 playing 20/40 and $8000 playing 80, meaning you're stuck something like 75 bets, it's a fair bit more likely that you're just getting unlucky. Your word choice and the information you presented, however, lead me to believe that you're maybe thinking about this the wrong way. If I were you I'd probably stay out of the 80 until you get your sea legs under you and feel comfortable. And if you feel the same comfort level in the 80 as you do in the 20, well then trust me you're doing something wrong because that just simply shouldn't happen. In the 20 you should know what they have, what they intend to do with it, and how to win the most money almost every single time. In the 80 you should be confused about what's going on in a hand way more often. So in short, the answer is as usual "it depends."

One piece of advice I will give, at least for 20, is that you're probably showing down WAY too much and giving opponents credit for ranges that are WAY wider the ones they actually have throughout entire hands (including preflop). If you were playing 5/T huhu online and all of a sudden end up in a live full ring 20 game, this is only going to be natural (it took La Peste a little while to get used to this, but to my knowledge he is now running roughshod over the LA 20 games like a true boss). But without details, I'm sort of just guessing here.

My advice would be to stay out of the 80 and focus on playing 20 and figuring out the differences between online and live play. There are spots where default online lines quite simply are very large mistakes, and if you're not aware of this you are in fact probably doing it wrong at least to some degree. I'd also caution you against assuming you can make $50/hour playing live poker. I think that $40 is almost a pipe dream in most 20/40 games (if you're not game selecting hard core and I assume you're not because you have a life and just play whenever you can play). I've certainly had stretches like you're describing, especially when mixing stakes, so it's possible your results are just noise. However the evidence suggests that you've probably got some leaks, and it would be a good idea to try and review some hands to see if you can plug them.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Random But Hilarious

DosEquis just sent me this and it is glorious. I'm not sure if I actually agree with all of it, but the comedy factor is off the charts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time is Money

I just realized something yesterday and am sort of embarrassed by it. In general there are two basic ways to make money; you can use your time, or you can use your money. This sort of glosses over some forms of passive income, but not really because any asset you have that generates passive income (a rental home, a business, etc) could be sold for some price and therefore by not selling it you're just using money to make money once again.

The rub about playing poker for a living is that you have to use both your time and your money in order to make money. You have to grind out big hours if you want to get any where, and you need to have a pretty big bankroll behind you if you want to do so reliably with a small chance of going broke. Put another way, back in 2007 I could make close to $100K a year writing software, and I didn't need a dime in my pocket to do it; all I needed was 2000 hours. In 2011, in order to make close to $100K playing poker, I needed 2000 hours AND by all reasonable measures at least around $50K to start with (trying it with less would be pretty dangerous, although I guess you could).

Like I said, it's kind of embarrassing to me that I'm 3 years into this thing and had never realized this before.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

So many random things to say, where oh where to begin. Perhaps Halloween...yes, that'll do it. First of all six (6) of us dressed up as MikeL for Halloween and it was truly glorious. He took it extremely well (as we knew he would), and just well it was amazing. Special thanks to Joe Tall for donating a half dozen Deuces Cracked hoodies to the cause, and to DosEquis for, youknow, having the idea. The general consensus was that I nailed it best, using a pair of absurd costume glasses and stuffing an entire pillow into my hoodie to accurately replicate Mike's general girth. I'm going to go ahead and pussy out and not post the pictures because I think doing so could probably earn me a trip to the pink slip room (in our imaginations we have created a special room with a very large dot matrix printer whose only function is to print pink slips), but if you know me well enough to have my email address and want to see them, just fire one off and you'll get to see the good shit. Pete declared the one photo the most ridiculous thing he saw on all of Halloween.

Moving right along....The scooter has definitely broken. I closed out October with a pretty big loss, then was cruising along to put up a good day today when the floor fell out from underneath me. I got locked out of what had to be the best 40/80 game in the known universe for like 4 hours, then finally had a shot to get back in but decided to just not deal with it because I was in an amazing 20 and the 40 was going to get short and shitty soon and they were trying to start a must move and technically I should have helped out but didn't want to play with 4 props 6 handed so yada yada yada. At that moment I was something like a $2000 winner for the day and was off shift. Any sane human would go home, but not no. I played another 90 minutes of 20/40, lost 2 racks, then got into the 40 which wasn't as great as it had been but was still pretty good and dusted off 3 more in 90 more minutes. To quote my boss "you're doing a fine jobs, Jesse." Fine fucking jobs indeed....

So I do manage to get myself out of the game limiting the damage (it was pretty absurd honestly, I was 0/4 in pots where I personally put the cap in preflop) and decide to go through the ordeal of getting to my box (they are doing some construction, blah blah blah, big fucking ordeal, etc etc etc) because you know I've lost like $5K in two days and don't have enough to get through tomorrow. So I go to the main cage, they get a supervisor, he walks over with me through the room with razor blades strewn all over the floor, lets me into the special room and...doesn't have the key. So he goes all the way back and I just kind of sit there for a while which is fine the point of this was that it'd likely take way too long and I wouldn't have time in the morning and I needed to pick my tilted ass up out of the game and traffic was just finally tiring itself out and long story short after like 15 minutes of red tape and walking around an standing around he hands me my box and I snake a pair of big chips out of it in 3 seconds flat and he's like "that's it?" and I'm like "they're small things" and that's that. I guess that wasn't really much of a story and I was going to add something about spending 10 minutes trying to find a functional bathroom but whatever I just don't feel like it now.

OK, what else? Ah yes, the coyotes and the small matter of my retarded dog. God bless Clint, I love him to death, but there is a distinct possibility he is the stupidest dog that I (or any of you) have ever met. I probably already mentioned putting our guys through the rigors of these tests before, but Sunday night I received more damaging evidence that Clint just isn't all there while Tyson could actually be considered a genius. So it's Sunday night, pretty late maybe 11pm or so, and it's time to take the dogs for their night time walk. Now first of all, back before we had Clint this was a super duper easy thing to do. You walked Tyson to a bush, he peed everything he had on it, you walked back inside and that was that. But not Clint, no no no. This guy has to mark like 5 or 6 bushes before he's on empty, and they have to be at least a few hundred feet apart. It's a royal pain in the ass let me tell you. Anyway, I walk out the side door and am about to get the driveway when what do I see for not the first but second time on the street directly in front of my house? Two coyotes trotting along without a care in the world, then heading up the very steep hill immediately across the street. I am not shitting you; Ki, fucking, O tees, 40 feet from our front door. This is California; we live in a community of several hundred homes all worth well into the 6 (and even 7) figures. And we have coyotes running around at night. You cannot make this shit up....anyway, back to the original point. I come back inside kind of shitting myself wondering what to do, and Danielle comes out with me and we generally make a big racket and stuff and then I tell her I got it and she goes back inside kind of irritated that I was pussy about the whole thing but whatever THEY'RE COYOTES they have no rules. So I walk the dogs down the hill and when we get to the bottom I hear it; the distinct yipping of our four legged friends. And how do my two dogs react to this, you might ask? Clint immediately starts making this weird yowling sound and prancing around, then does a play bow, basically saying "Hey Jesse you hear that I can make some new friends they want to play with me can we play them huh can we that'd sure be fun don't you think." I look at him the same way I often look at opponents at the poker table and just wonder how on Earth it was that he survived 3 weeks on the lamb somewhere between Sacramento an Clear Lake. What about Tyson, you ask? I hardly noticed because Clint was acting so ridiculously, but after removing my palms from my face I notice that he is...terrified. His hair is on end, his entire body is tense, and he is above all else making every possible effort not to move. I try to calm him by petting him and he gives me this look that just screams "You fool! The savages are near, we must be very still lest we incur their wrath!" At this point I return my attention to Clint, who has decided to roll over on his back and expose his soft underbelly to the entire world in hopes of drawing the coyotes out for quick and playful wrestling match.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Suggestion Number 2: The House

This one probably isn't going to pan out all that interestingly, but here goes. In late April Danielle and I moved into a house. Specifically, we moved into a SoCal family approved house that it has been Danielle's goal to purchase for several years now. And interestingly, I have zero financial interest in the house. That's right, I'm still living life as a tenant, although admittedly paying well below market rate for my current situation. As an aside, that's the tautology that was used to convince me that I couldn't actually argue against the house purchase (aside from the fact that to be honest it wouldn't make sense to); I'm paying about the same rent to live in a nice house instead of a cramped 2 bedroom apartment in a complex I could not stand (and yes I liked our apartment up north just fine...for some reason the complex we lived in down here just didn't do it for me....maybe it was living on the first floor for the first time, or the people constantly smashing into my parked car...who knows). Objectively my life is better, so what argument could I make? Moving right along...a lot of people find it weird that Danielle and I have completely split finances nearly a decade into our relationship. I don't. I find a lot of the financial decisions that a lot of people make to be extremely weird, though, so maybe I'm the weirdo. I do play poker for a living, so right off the bat my views about money and risk are way the fuck out in left field compared to most human beings who don't work on wall street. For example I've had not one but two conversations recently with poker players who live down here that were centered around the fact that their bankrolls had shrunk and they can't replenish from family finances basically because their wives do not approve. This is probably because way back when they started playing poker their rolls were generated out of some funny money (a bonus, a Christmas gift, something of that nature) and since then the money has been behind a funny wall and the wives haven't had to worry about it. But recent circumstances, be it a downswing or using funds from the roll to cover some expenses, leaving them kind of up the creek without a paddle. Danielle and I would never be in a situation like this; even if we do get married, we will have 3 distinct pockets of money, and the "ours" will be far and away the smallest. Maybe I'm not committed, like you read about, on this, but that's just the way it is and I'm fine (in fact more than fine) with it. What was I supposed to be talking about? Oh yeah, the house.

I've decided I don't want to put up pictures because I don't know anything about what metadata would be in them and don't really want the exact location of the house out there for everyone in the world to know. This is probably kind of silly but whatever it's my silliness so that's the way it is.

I like the house a lot actually. My only real problems with it are that it's really far from the LA casinos and not situated in a place where it's easy to walk the dogs. My understanding of owning dogs in a house from my days in Pennsylvania was that dogs just did their business in the yard. Apparently that's not really the way you roll out here in the land of fruits and nuts, so we're walking them way freaking down a hill to this little public field/park space and well I mean it's fine and all but I hate it when something I like ever feels like a chore and from time to time when I'm down there at 11pm trying to convince Clint to poop well to be honest it sorta does. And as for being far from stuff, well it just kind DosEquis and I had a discussion yesterday about how far I live from him (he invited me to go house partying for Halloween) and I said 50 miles and he said 40 and we looked it up and it was like exactly 50. I mean, that's just REALLY far away from something, and when that something is "the place where two of my co-workers who should be good friends often hang out". Like growing up I lived 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh and we NEVER went there. 50 miles across LA traffic is just...epic. But yeah, in general I like the house, and I'm learning lots of stuff. First of all, everything is super expensive. Furniture, painting, carpeting....fortunately Danielle basically paid for almost all of that because you know it is HER house and everything (I paid for half the fridge actually, which mind you was super expensive, and I did point out that most tenants don't have to buy their own fridge) but things come up. And landscaping...holy shit I'm about to go on a rant so get ready for it. We got a letter from the HOA basically stating that we need to get our shit in order because we are apparently the red necks with two cars on cement blocks in this part of the world. OK so they give us a week to get landscaping done which is just fucking preposterous, am I right? A week? Seriously? Danielle starts meeting with guys and they are coming like every morning at like 8am and sometimes they are just standing outside waiting for her when I leave for work (that one was pretty funny I'm like "who the fuck are you" and he's like "I am the Mexican guy who wants to plant shrubs in your yard" and I'm like "I'm going to leave now" and he's like "....") and she's getting estimates. The guys you know have some good ideas and stuff, and the whole operation is going to be pretty pricey but you know that's the cost of doing business in Orange County where everything is coated in platinum. And then it happens; Danielle gets a bid on the work for...drum roll please....thirty eight thousand dollars. Not pesos or yuans or whatever; American dollars. This was one of those moments where I had to face the cold hard truth that I no longer live on the same planet on which I was born. I live on a planet where a guy can come to your house, spend 45 minutes walking around your yard that isn't big enough to play catch in, and with a straight face and in all seriousness suggest that you pay him THIRTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS for him to make it look nice. And this man....he's not insane. He's an upstanding businessman. He does good work, he makes good money, and likely has put several children through absurdly over priced private schools using this exact same model. And do you know why? Because people here are fucking insane and some of them sit there when he says "thirty eight thousand dollars" and think to themselves "well we really do need a 4th palm tree over there I'm pretty sure that's what will make my life complete" and HIRE HIM.

I just spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to end this post and to be honest I think there's just nothing that can be said after that. So have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

To bring you this breaking news announcement....Yesterday I posted the biggest win (dollar wise) of my poker career. I shipped a $6800 win in the 40/80 game, and even stuck around for almost 4 hours after my shift ended to round out the last few racks. It was top to bottom just a fantastic day, the kind of win that makes you remember why you're doing this.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Suggestion Number 1; Other Games

This is the first suggestion I received, so I'm going to write about it and see if it turns out to be interesting:

What non-LHE games have you picked up since you moved to LA? What was your motivation for playing them? Rate how good you are on a scale of 1-10 at each of them. Favorite? Least favorite?

To be honest, I have been completely remiss in attempting to learn other games, mainly because they simply don't exist out here. In my current situation I often have occasion to play a few hands of random other games with other casino employees (meaning mostly other professional poker players) and I haven't really been too gung ho to do that. But the total list of games I have played is pretty staggering:

Stud 8
Omaha 8
Stud Hi
Deuce to Seven Triple Draw
Badonci (invented my MikeL and I)
Chinese Poker

The list goes on and on and on. Like I said, most of the games have been played short handed with other professionals, and we usually pick one based on how we're feeling and tend to go through phases. For example we used to play a ton of deuce, but got bored and started playing Razzdugi, and are currently in a phase of Chinese (13 card) poker. From a practical point of view I have put almost no effort into improving at any game other than deuce (for which I read some posts, listened to some Death Donkey podcasts, and watched a few videos), and even that has kind of trailed off for now. If I was interested in playing NL I could probably get myself into games more often than I do, but I simply find the game unfathomably boring and slow. The small games I see, however, tend to be filled with just awful players who simply don't understand one or two very basic things, the primary one being that if the blinds are 2-3 and somebody raises to 20, calling with pocket 4s is probably not a good idea when you have $130 in your stack. And that weakness pretty much sums up how I play the $100-$300 buyin (2-3 blind) no limit game. I call plenty of small raises in position (when people raise to like $9, or some such, and get 3 callers) with hands that make monsters, and make larger than standard raises with my premium starting hands. That's about it. I know lots of players who have played lots of nl, and they generally concur that everyone is terrible and that good thinking players can get a lot of bang for their bankroll buck. Many of the props I see basically serve as an existence proof that the games are super soft; there is no way these guys are beating the 20/40 game, so they must be hiding out in the nl games turning a small profit.

Wow OK so that basically turned into me pontificating on nl cash games. To answer your question I am reasonably ok at them (I'm sure I could beat the small games) but hate them. I also really don't like stud games because they have no flow (mentioned previously), also suffer from being slow, and require me to pay lots of attention. I do however find Razzdugi to be a very fun 3 handed game, and in general like the draw games quite a bit (deuce more than badugi) because I think they are actually somewhat rich in (at least to me) interesting decisions and are just plain fun. You get FIVE CARDS and can draw as many as you want THREE TIMES! It's Also there's lots more room for creative bluffing, etc. Or maybe it's just all shiny and new to me so I like it, I dunno. While I enjoy these games a lot more than nl, I'm confident I'd have a very easy time putting myself into profitable nl spots while I could have a hard time getting into a deuce game where I wasn't one of the worst players, simply because so many bad players play nl, but anytime a deuce game goes professional seem to flock to it. So I guess I'm not going to answer your question rating myself from 1 to 10 because I'm not really sure what the scale would be based on, but I will say that I'd love to play draw games 40 hours a week but would probably lose my ass, and I'd hate to play nl 40 hours a week but could probably grind out a small profit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking Suggestions

I just received a 2p2 PM (to which, BTW, I am severely allergic) from a friend offering suggestions as to things I should blog about. His ideas were:

1. What non-LHE games have you picked up since you moved to LA? What was your motivation for playing them? Rate how good you are on a scale of 1-10 at each of them. Favorite? Least favorite?

2. Describe your new house. Likes? Dislikes? Pics?

I think both are good, and I'm opening up the floor (or comments section in this case) for more requests. What do you want me to write about? It can be informative, funny, or really anything you want. I'm listening.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blogging is Getting Hard

Like, I just don't feel like I have that much to talk about these days. I do the same thing, over and over and over again, and some days I win and some days I lose but on the whole not that much interesting happens. I have the sense that I may be playing kind of badly, at least on occasion, but that's probably because I'm actually trying to make some drastic adjustments to some of the unique characters I deal with on a day to day basis. For one thing today I tried to work on playing hands out of rhythm when the situation dictated it. MikeL impressed this on me one day when we were playing Stud Eight....I said something to the effect of "there's a lot of donking in this game" and he said "it's not donking...there is no flow" He probably said it a little more elegantly than that, but the point was made. So there are some guys I play with who tend to have monstrous pre flop ranges, and this ends up creating a lot of big multiway pots against people who basically don't have anything. These guys are animals preflop, but they aren't idiots; they aren't going to cbet the 76o they just 3 bet on the QT4 flop after 4 people check to them; they're going to take a free card and see if they can catch a straight draw, pair, or some other conceivable reason to make it to showdown. So you end up doing a lot of shit that just feels flat dumb. I've been calling way more hands in the small blind when these guys raise in late position (I try to keep them on my right, so this comes up again and again) and then have to realize that they aren't going to bet the flop nearly as often as I'm accustomed to, since they have so many shitty hands in their ranges. So like 3 times yesterday I found myself donking in a 5 way pot from the small blind with a hand that normally shouldn't have even taken a flop.

I've seen some hilarious stuff the last few days, but I just don't have the engery/desire to blog about it. My KJ chopped with 72 on an AAJ flop, where my opponent c/3-bet the flop. This same guy immediately challenged me to step outside when I laughed at his assertion that I should never have called him down with "that hand" after he "make(s) that play" which IMR how the fuck am I not supposed to laugh hysterically that's high comedy the only reason I called him down instead of re-raising wasn't the fear of an ace (which is like zero) but the fear that he'd stop barreling off and I wouldn't collect the full value. When the final board read AAJ-A-J I also started to laugh out loud. Maybe I should laugh less.

Today is a freelance day, and I think I'm going to head to commerce since that's the only place that will have any games at this early hour. So once more into the breach with me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aquathon Vidoes

Our esteemed captain Mike recently emailed me the links the videos of our Aquathon swims. If anyone is interested in tuning in, here they are:

I personally haven't watched any of them because I spent enough time watching swimming races to last a lifetime already, but what the heck.

Today was a goodish day, except for me folding the best hand like 3 times in pots of noteworthy size. Maybe. We'll never know about two of them :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weird Run Here

So I kept up my solid pace of late today, spraying off almost 3 racks in the 20/40 (most of it on shift no less), and winning about 3 in the 40. The last week+ has just been bizarre in that regard. Playing 20 or 30 I'm on a $6K downer, but every time I sit in the 40 I just cannot lose a pot. Today in 2.5 hours I won almost 5 racks in the 40, which was swell. The problem was I lost 2 racks in the 20 before that, then a bit more in the 20 after it, then decided to play overtime in the 40 and dusted off another rack and half in 45 minutes, then drove to Commerce and lost some more. It was just...strange. I can't really complain, as I've definitely winning dollars, but if I'd only played 40/80 on shift the last week or so it would have been a heater for the ages.

I remember a long time ago I had a 200 hour stretch of poker where I was up 200 bets but even in dollars. This is kind of the opposite; in my last 53 hours I've actually lost 3 bets but am up $5K. Neat.