Friday, December 20, 2013

Weird Stuff is Happening

This whole job thing is pretty weird, at least for me so far.  I think I'm doing pretty well with it, and objectively it's causing me way less stress than poker ever did, but that lower amount of incurred stress and more free time doesn't seem to be translating into me actually being all that much more relaxed.  And I completely don't understand that.  I have more time, yet I still seem to be struggling to get things done.  I don't have as many frustrating or anger inducing things happen to me throughout the day (in fact that number is basically zero), yet I still seem to be kind of angry a lot.  I don't make nearly as many decisions, and I don't have nearly as much social interaction in a day, which should amount to me being less tired.  But I'm still really tired all the time.  It's absurd.  I should have more time to get to the gym, but it's still a struggle.  I should hardly ever think about money because now I just go in, do my thing, and a check comes in every two week.  Yet somehow I'm thinking about it as much as I was before, maybe even more.  For the first time in over five years I am actually free to do some financial planning;  I'm making a budget for crying out loud, something I have literally never had in my entire life.  Maybe it's just because Christmas is here and holy shit (I mean holy shit) but  all of it just adds up to making no sense whatsoever.  Everything should be better and mind is finding a way to let be not great.  I dunno, maybe I need to spend more time thinking about the fact that "this is water" but that doesn't seem to help.  Is it just human nature (or my nature) to elevate whatever minor problems or stresses one has to the appropriate level of catastrophe or pain to cause yourself to feel the amount of stress and pain you're used to?  They say that more money almost never makes you happy; that never made sense to me growing up, but over the last few years I've come to believe it's completely true.  Is it also the case that "more happiness" also doesn't make you happier?  That we become so accustomed to our own status quo that no matter how many small changes we make it's almost impossible to change the way we feel?

I dunno, but this is definitely not what I expected.

This is Water

If you have 10 minutes you should watch this

Saturday, November 30, 2013

[x] Gets IT

Today I would like to discuss the concept of "IT" and specifically "getting IT".  What "IT" is is very amorphous, mercurial, and in many cases simply unknowable.  In fact, it is actually impossible to define "IT" alone, and rather I find it only possible to see when people "get IT" for themselves.  I do not "get IT", and neither do most of the people I know.  In order to "get IT" you need to be truly happy, prioritize the things that matter to you, and in general understand what you're trying to accomplish in this world.  At a minimum.  Of all my friends, I'd say Pete is the closest to "getting IT", although there are some others who are definitely close.  Juice really seems to "get IT", as does Leo.

Every once in a while I hear a song or see something that makes me thing someone "gets IT".  Mike Tomlin?  I thought he "got IT", but turns out he's just a fucking asshole who seriously thinks we are going to buy he wasn't trying to interfere with that kick return.  Macklemore, however?  I think he may "get IT".  I have been listening to While Walls and absolutely love it for some reason, even though the lyrics aren't relevant and the song is itself seems kind of annoying.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Things She Says

While watching them make little tiny donuts in apple country:

"Donuts are fried?  I didn't know that!"  

Me:  "Of course they are fried.  What did you think they were"

Her:  Pause.   "Baked"

While discussing my working at a nursery in high school, which was my attempt to compete with Juice's firing from Blockbuster and Numbnut's firing from McDonalds (for being disemborded, as he put it):

"Why do you have nurseries in Pennsylvania?  If you wanted a plant couldn't you just go out in the forest and dig one up?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Costco at Lunch is Like Driving in the Rain

And what on Earth could I possibly mean by that?  Here we go.  If you spend any time at all driving in the rain in California (and you won't, because it never, ever rains here), you'll immediately notice that traffic is always absolutely fucked (even more so than usual) every time a single drop of rain threatens to think about forming somewhere in the upper atmosphere.  Why is this?  It's not because everyone drives like an idiot, which is the conclusion everyone jumps to.  No, that's the reason that traffic is usually fucked it's normal amount.  The reason for the additional fuckage is because different people respond in different ways.  When the roads are dry, the distribution of velocities of the cars out there probably looks pretty much like a bell curve, centered around say 70 MPH.  Things are bad, but generally speaking most people are trying to do the same thing at sort of the same speed, and some flow of cars in and out of the system does actually manage to happen.  But what happens when it rains?  Some people carry on as if nothing had happened, and some people slow down drastically, say to 50 MPH or something.  Sure, some people slow down a medium amount, but generally speaking what happens is that you create a bimodal distribution, with a big chunk of the population going one speed and another large chunk going another.  Obviously this is just bad news for everyone, because now you have way more cars going past each other and changing lanes on top of the reduced visibility and stopping distances and boom way more accidents and way more traffic.

Costco at lunchtime is exactly like this.  One segment of the population is making a day of it; the members of this segment amble about nearly aimlessly, on the lookout for the next 14 gallon jar of mayonnaise they didn't know they couldn't live without until this very moment.  Then there is the other segment of the population.  I am a member of that segment, and we shop with a certain degree can I say this...urgency.  We are not looking to add things to our cart, oh no, we are simply trying to get all the items on the list that our spouses emailed to us and get the fuck out of there in time to not miss a meeting at 1pm.  And obviously when you mix two populations you basically get the 5 north.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

[x] Work

So I've actually started working.  After 62+ months of playing poker I have reported to a cubicle the past two days, and you know what?  It's going just fine.  There is a ton to learn, obviously I am a little rusty, and it's taking some getting used to, but today I didn't have much of a problem being at work from 8 to 6.  My current tasks?  Learning scala, reading about our products, and figuring out how to get the most out of the benefits package (23% off my AT&T bill?  Thank you kindly).  I have to sure is nice to come home from work and home.  It's so much easier to leave it at the office than poker ever was.  Maybe that will change in a few weeks when I have some actual responsibilities, but for right now I am feeling great about everything.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Embrace Your Past

First of all, not one, nor two, but three companies I applied to (and made it to various stages with) have shown ads on my blog in the last week.  I find this...hilarious.  I'm not even sure how it's happening, but good for you Google, good for you.  I even clicked on one that didn't bring me in.

I am taking the week to organize my office, which at present means opening up the dozen or so boxes of my things that remained and figuring out what on Earth to do with them.  At first I found this process utterly terrifying; each box contains memories, and you have no idea what they are going to be until you actually open it.  Some of these haven't been opened since 2008, and some of those very boxes contain what I'd consider actually sacred possessions.  Some of the memories are amazing and wonderful, others were kind of crappy, and all of them left me feeling a sense of loss and emptiness.  At the moment my life is pretty, well, boring.  Some would argue that I'm at a very exciting crossroads, but that's just not really the way I felt while I was opening those boxes.  I felt alone (which I was and don't like) and very sentimental.  My lady pointed out that sentimental is good, just feel happy about it, but that wasn't the way it was working.  Eventually I figured out that it was an overwhelming feeling of "loss" that I was dealing with.  I don't save things like she does; I don't have very many trinkets or even pictures from my childhood.  I haven't seen my parents as much as I'd like in the last decade.  I don't currently have many strong local friendships.

Yada, yada, yada blah blah blah.  The point was I was getting kind of down thinking about my past and what in it had led to what I felt like was "missing" from my current life.  And you know what?  That's a bunch of bullshit.  My past is what it is.  Everything I have done, even the catastrophically stupid things (and I'm not talking about poker here), has led me to where I am right now.  There is no point in looking back and being sad, that's just crazy and silly.  It makes more sense to embrace your past.  If you made mistakes, think about them, learn from them, then push them aside and live in the moment.  Enjoy your life for what it is.  Don't settle, try to make things better, but at the same time enjoy what you have and be happy about the choices you have made that led you to have it.  I mean really, why not?

Saturday, October 26, 2013


So I went out today and got myself some closure on everything.  You have to make a $100 deposit if you want a box at most casinos (in the bay area I think it was only $50) and I had a couple of them that obviously hadn't been accessed in months.  I figured if I didn't go soon, before I start working, it could end up being months or even years before I closed the things.  So after a few hours of getting stuff done this morning, I drove myself to the Hustler and actually sat down and played hour and fifteen minutes.  That's right, that's how long I made it.  I got a scan, which extends my points another three months and lets me use my $300 of Hustler bucks to do a little Christmas shopping, and closed the box, pocketing $100.  But....

For the life of me, I cannot believe I just spent 8000 hours doing that.  Seriously, it is completely incomprehensible.  It's the worst imaginable environment you could ever put yourself in on a day to day basis, and I was at Hustler where honestly the people are not that bad.  My session was unbelievably boring (I think I won maybe 3.5 pots, and am pretty sure I didn't call a single raise), and within 40 minutes I found myself looking at the clocking wondering if I had an off by one error and had actually been there for an hour and a half.  But no, it had really only been 40 minutes and every single joke had already been made, every possible bit of small talk I could muster had been mustered, and it would normally just have been time to...what?  Put in my head phones?  Text on my phone?  Pay attention to the game?  Jeeze I just have no idea how I did it, only 2.5 months removed and it's a foreign concept to me.  Mama was falling asleep between every single hand; we had to roust her every time she got cards, and each time it was as if she had just woken up on Mars instead of the place she'd been for the last I don't know 35 hours straight or so.  The guy next to me wouldn't stop explaining why he did every single thing he did.  The guy across the way needed to critique every single hand.  Honestly it shouldn't have been that bad but it was under my skin and out of control within 3 laps.  I had to get out of there.  I went to the Bike, closed another box, pocketed another $100 and then drove home.

How on Earth did I do what I just did?  Why was I so blind?  What exactly was I trying to accomplish, what was I trying to chase?  It just makes no sense whatsoever.  Now I'm not saying the job I just took (yes, I accepted a job) is going to absolutely change my life and make me want to jump out of bed every day and sing with the birds, but it has to be better than what I was doing.  It simply has to be.  Four days ago I was cautiously optimistic, yesterday I would have said nervously optimistic, but now I am just straight up looking forward to it.  I hate to be so negative here at the end, but I simply have to be.  I enjoyed my poker career, truly enjoyed it, for less than half the time it was running.  Did I make some money?  Sure, sporadically and sometimes actually fantastically.  But was there any possible justification for all of it?  No way, just no way.  If you're reading this and are thinking about being a pro (or already are), I strongly urge you to consider all your options (all of them) before you make the plunge or just keep showing up to play for another day, week, month, year, decade.  Some people love it, but some people keep doing it because they have too much inertia or no other options.  You deserve a chance at being happy in life, and for only a very small group of people can poker provide that;  make sure you're one of them before you do something crazy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


That's right, I have gotten some. Well, not officially yet, it's kind of weird, apparently in the real world they tell you they're going to make you an offer before they actually make you a verbal offer, and then they want you to accept the verbal offer before they make you an actual offer, which is all kind of strange but makes sense I suppose.

Anyway, I'm still unemployed, but I am for sure not unemployable, and for that I am truly blessed. My lady said it best to me today (I'll paraphrase) when I was sort of flipping out over actually facing the possibility of CHOOSING BETWEEN JOBS while taking a break from the UCI Career Fair.

"Remember when you decided to play poker, and you said that your MIT degrees would help you get back into the industry if you wanted to?  Well it worked, perfectly in fact.  So calm down.  Every single kid in there is trying to become you.  You did it."

I did it rather the hard way, but one way or another I'm going to be reporting to a desk sometime in the very near future.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I had one onsite interview last week and three or possibly four more this week.  The companies that seem to like my resume are quite varied, so I'm not really sure where I'm going to end up.  The process has been slow, tedious, stressful, and frustrating, but the progress has been constant and I think I am ready to go.  Here's hoping I can code up power set no problem.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I've spent the last month finishing searching my soul for what I should do next and preparing to do it.  Specifically I have decided that I am in fact going to re-launch my software engineering career, and that involves an awful lot of studying for interviews.  The thing about software engineering is that it's pretty well-known what is and isn't fair game to expect a candidate to know in an interview, and (likely similar to many other professions) the ability to answer those questions well doesn't map precisely to ability to perform the job. I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes, but right now we're just about to "go live" and actually start applying to jobs full force.

The most important matter of the day, however, is the Pirates game.  I cannot recall a situation where a fan base needed a win in a single game so desperately.  They have been so bad, so very bad, for so very long, I've read articles about the "lost generation" of Pirates fans, people born just a few years after me who cannot even remember them ever being relevant.  Tonight though?  We will raise the Jolly Roger!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thoughts on Your Job

I've reflected a lot these last few weeks about what exactly I should spend the rest of my life (or at least the next few years) doing.  And here are some dimensions I feel you should explicitly consider for your current job (or any position you plan to take)

1.  Does it scale?  Meaning "is there a way to make more money other than simply working more hours"?  For most jobs the answer here is no.  For poker the answer is definitely no.  Real estate development might be something that scaled.  Or opening a small business.  Developing iPhone apps could scale.  Anything that can generate passive income can scale.

2.  Can you make more money per hour as your skills progress?  If so, what is the ceiling?  The answer for poker here is yes, but everyone has a ceiling.

3.  Is your industry safe?  Will there be demand for what you're doing 10 years from now?  For poker, the answer is definitely "who knows?"  I believe that the games will continue to get worse, year after year, and that eventually it will be very difficult to make even $40/hour grinding out the 40/80 games.

4.  Does performing the job inherently make you more desirable in the work force?  Obviously the answer for poker is not only no, but that you actually become less desirable for almost every other position imaginable the longer you stay in the game.

I thought this post was going to be more interesting, but it turns out I'm super hungry and pretty tired, so I'm going to wrap up here with something that should just barely make you think.  In closing, it is September 11th, and you should take a minute to be thankful today for what you have, and for those who have fought bravely to give you the opportunity to have it.  Again, our country isn't perfect, but it's pretty damn good.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

From My Father

Subject:  Yogurt.  The Magic Food

I ate some of by bucket last night.  It did not all blend together.
Stayed in separate flavors.  And it was still soft.  It was quite
good.  I really took you.  It was all planned.

PS - I have eaten down through the chocolate and cheesecake but still have
all the strawberry.  And frozen gummy bears are not that bad.  Oh
Grasshopper.  You still have so much to learn.

Subject:  Big win for PSU

PSU 45 Michigan 7.  Now that is the Eastern Michigan Eagles not the
Big House Michigan Wolverines.

The PSU QB.  Christian Hackenberg.  Pure freshmen.  23-33.  311 yds.
1 TD 1 int.  Bill Obrien.  What a coach.

Now if I was USC and I had enough of Kiffen, I would say. " Mr Obrien.
 We will give you $5 mil a year plus Disneyland.  Not fuckin tickets
to Disneyland.  We mean Disneyland.

Subject:  watching

Could not watch baseball anymore.  Watching SC Gamecocks vs Georgia.
I have got to say I have a bromance with Spuriier.  Go Cocks.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What, You Thought I'd Stop?

The posts will be few and far between from now on, but I predict their average quality will sky rocket.  On me?  I am doing my best to leave no stone un-turned in the search for the next true me.  I think I already know what I want to do, but I'm not letting myself focus on it yet in case I can find something that really grabs me.

So I was home visiting the folks last week (and to go to an old college buddy's weddings) and you know what?  My mom and dad and I actually had some really good times for the three days I was there.  The highlight, however, was going out for frozen yogurt.  My dad hosted a bbq, which was quite delicious except for him over doing the steaks a tad (I'll forgive that, honestly he needed a bigger grill), and then I suggested we all go out for froyo, my treat.  So I google that shit up and you know what?  Not that many of them out there (which consequently seems to have kept the prices a little higher, as you're about to find out).  Anyway, I'm talking about the serve yourself places, the ones with maybe 10 flavors and 10 million toppings where you pay by the ounce.  So just as we're walking into (and I can't make this up) Swirlie Whirlie (literally I am holding the door open for mom and dad) my girl calls.  Shes on her way to girl scout camp for the weekend and is just about to lose cell phone reception and well there are a couple of things we need to talk about.  I can't even remember what they are, but they were mildly important and I couldn't talk to her for the next 48 hours, so I excused myself but handed Dad my wallet.  Big mistake.

After a 6 minute phone call (I checked) I walked into the establishment and hilarity had in fact ensued.  First of all upon being asked "have you been here before" my Dad responded "she has" and pointed at Mom.  Mom just kind of shrugged, and then proceeded to give Dad zero instructions whatsoever, probably because he asked zero questions.  I had promised them it was super cheap;  the last time I got it with Babar we spent $4.37 between us.  But...Dad apparently didn't know it was pay by the ounce.  In the post mortem he admitted "when I saw other people just getting a little, only filling their cups halfway up, I thought "I Know what's going on here" but by then...well, Jess, it was just too late".  My parents managed to spend something like $11.50 on Froyo, with my dad's cup quite literally filled to the brim.  "Why would you get that much Froyo," I asked him, "even if it was free?  You clearly do not want that much!"  The reply was simply "I just couldn't help myself".  Over half of his helping came home with him, after melting of course.  The next morning it was just a practically homogeneous glob of chocolate, coconut, and some weirdo Hawaiian delight flavor.  Oh and whatever toppings he put in there;  a word to the wise, gummi bears just don't taste that good frozen.  I learned that when me Dave Coleman and Maiki decided to eat an entire Vermonster the night before a swim meet in college.  Anyway....

But that's not the best part. Remember I gave my dad my wallet?  Well apparently it had exactly 6 bills in it, and wouldn't you know the first one he pulled out was a benny?  " on" and he extracts...the other benny!  $213 dollars in my wallet and he pulls out two hundos, obviously.  He told me he couldn't remember the last time he even saw one, and fumbled through an explanation to the guy that "it's not my wallet...well, son said it was his treat!"  The response?

"Must be nice"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The End

It's been two weeks since my last post, and almost as long since I've played a hand of poker.  Babar advised me not to make this as public as it's about to become, but I have always prided myself on a high level of transparency here on my blog (with just a few notable exceptions) and wouldn't feel right if I didn't give those of you reading this (some of whom, my lady points out, have been following from the very beginning) the whole story and some sense of closure.

So there it is....I'm done playing poker for a living.  No I'm not quitting the game forever;  it is my hope to play as a hobbyist at some point in the not terribly distant future, and perhaps at points actually in the terribly distant future.  When you get right down to it I still do enjoy the game itself, which is a large part of the reason I kept playing as long as I did and why I hope to play again in the future under different, better, circumstances.  Poker has turned me into a grumpy, grouchy, angry, hate-filled person.  It causes me stress all the time, even when I'm playing in games I'm perfectly (even amazingly) rolled up for.  When you get right down to it, I simply could not make peace with the hostile and negative environment at Commerce, which is why you saw the pattern repeated again and again of me striving to play "anywhere but there", first at Hawaiian Gardens, then The Bike, and finally even at the Hustler 25/50 game when I should have been playing just way higher.  The player pool at Commerce is too hostile, the negative energy too pervasive.  I have seen many good people lose their....well...goodness, I suppose....there.  Eventually I was looking around the room, into the dead soulless eyes of many of the lifers, the ones who are trapped, who can't do anything else, and decided that there was simply no way I could risk that happening to me.

To be clear, there are some people who are well suited to it, some people who seem capable of handling the environment.  Many of them simply have no other choices, no better options, and have forced themselves to stay committed to the course and do everything they can just to stay sane, but some really do seem to just "fucking love it".  And kudos to them.  I am not among their ranks, and nor will I ever be, not so long as I was grinding for a living, playing 40+ hours per week, letting my results define my own feeling of self worth (which I know is a shortcoming, but it is one I did not overcome in five years).

I am I pulling up the tent stakes and starting on the next chapter of my life.  No, I am not yet sure what it will be, although the leading candidate at the moment is a software development job of some sort.  I'm still qualified, I can still do the work, and even though my last trip around the block didn't go so well some introspection the last week has led me to believe that the primary flaws were not systematic, but rather in the way I approached the adversity with which I was met.  I felt a sense of entitlement at the time;  I felt that I had done everything I was supposed to do to get to that point, and that the Oracle job was in and of it self a great success.  Then when things started to slip apart, I got angry and bitter that something so unjust could happen to me, instead of figuring out how to handle it.  I felt sorry for myself, and that's really not the way to go.  I was young(er) and stupid(er) than I am now.  This next trip around the block, should I chose to make it, will be all sorts of different.

I'd like to thank everyone who's been here along this roller coaster ride, making it more fun, more bearable, and making me feel at least in some way important and relevant (I could argue that last part was actually just enabling me, generating a false sense of meaning in my life, but I won't bother here).  I have made some good friends, ones that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.  I won't list you all here, but if you think I could you're almost certainly right.  And most of all I'd like to thank my true loved ones, my parents and even my partner's family (whom I think of as my own) for their support, interest, love, and friendship.  Above all else, though, I need to thank my lady.  She has been here with me through all of this, the intermittent good and the seemingly un-ending bad.  She has endured, she has stood by me, through the nights I came home angry and upset, exhausting, and in general just not what she'd signed up for, all in the name of making money.  She gave me support because she knew I needed it, but deep down just wanted me to be happy, and kept hanging on, hoping I could figure out how to be just that AND a professional poker player.  Well you know what?  It wasn't gonna happen, and so now...we turn the page.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

O'Dell Lake

Everyone has heard the expression "Everything you really need to know you learned in kindergarten."  The other day as I was trying to explain my new mining analogy to someone at the 40/80 game (the 40 games are the salt mines, you see.  I had tried my luck in the diamond mines earlier in the day, and basically got thrown down the shaft with no ladder and no rope, just a pick ax dick in my hand), it occurred to me that the Commerce top section is pretty much exactly the same as the educational game O'Dell Lake that I played on Macs in the late 80s in elementary school.  The premise of the game was very simple.  You were a fish (the parallels begin already) in a vast and complicated ecosystem (see?).  The main way to play was a timed version where you assigned an identity at random (such as Whitefish) and had to navigate the lake.  Each "stage" amounted to being presented with a single obstacle and being asked to decide how to handle it.  Your choices were basically the same that you have walking around in the commerce top section on a day to day basis:

1.  Ignore the obstacle.  "Jesse, 2/4 hold 'em!"  "Roll me"
2.  Eat the obstacle.  "New game 60 hold 'em!"  "Lock it!"
3.  Run away, either deep or shallow.

Depending on which fish you were, the correct answer for each obstacle you faced changed.  If you chose the best possible option you would be awarded max points.  If you chose one that was acceptable (didn't get you killed) but was less than optimal (say running away from a fish you could have ignored, since neither of you were big enough to eat the other) you got some points.  If you missed a chance to eat something nourishing you got no points, and if you chose an option that got you eaten (such as a deep escape when staring down the dreaded Mackinaw Trout), the game ended immediately.  If it had just been half a dozen species of fish where basically big eats small obviously the game couldn't even hold the interest of an 8 year old, but there were a few additional wrinkles.  Otters and osprey needed to be avoided by way of deep escapes.  Various species of plants such as algae or plankton often drifted by;  smaller fish found these tasty to eat, but bigger ones did not.  And occasionally something that looked like food turned out to just be a fisherman's bait!

I remember playing the game a ton (which probably means like three or four times, total, given the way we often remember things from 2 decades ago) and the parallels to the commerce top section are just striking.  You are some small member of the ecosystem, and you need to figure out how to navigate the other creatures and games in a way that gives you the chance to score max points.  Some players have a short clock, others have a longer one.  The goals for each player can vary drastically, as can their abilities.  When faced with the same obstacle (opening a new 1/2 game) it can be correct for two players to make different decisions about whether or not to sit, even if they have the exact same skill set!  Obviously this wasn't modeled in O'Dell lake, but you can see how it might be true at Commerce.  My decision to sit in a new game is often based on how much longer I can stay;  big games are usually about waiting to see if they get good, and if you don't have time to do that, it's probably better to just stay where you are and finish out the day (this is another advantage people who basically live at the casino have over the commuters).  But aside from that, players with different skill sets need to sit in different games (and navigate obstacles differently) in order to achieve max points.  This is a critical thing that I seem to learn every 6 months;  I am flat out more comfortable in loose passive juicy games where 4 or 6 people take every flop than in ones where aggressive opponents end up tangling heads up or three ways with very wide ranges.  In short, a good game for someone else (attack!) might be a bad idea for me (shallow escape), and even vice versa (there are players who cannot stand the loose passive bingo fests and go on tilt almost immediately upon sitting in them).

Coupled with my Oregon Trail skills, my O'Dell lake experience should make a formidable member of the Commerce fish tank;  maybe not a Mackinaw Trout, but perhaps at least a Dolly Varden.

O'Dell Lake - Prelude with LD's Greatness

I was going to write a post (in fact I basically did) about LD's continued greatness, but it seems like this will be more fun.  To summarize, however, she limped in with the ace and the six, double suited, then called two more bets cold sandwiched between my ace ten and RU's, well whatever RU 3-bet the small blind with.  The flop cam T93cc and she again decided to call one bet then two more, then the turn came the king of clubs and RU screw played me (what an awful bet on my part...once he three bets the flop and checks THAT turn my best case scenario is he has a scared QQ/JJ and is just calling me and I am behind, but megafish with literally any two cards really blur up the picture sometimes) so she peeled off two more bets because obviously she had the ace of clubs (I actually folded here nice hand jesse) and she binked him on the river.  He probably had a set, but may have actually had QJ with a club or two, who knows.  Anyway....well, naw I'll write two posts.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In Which I Tell Tales of the SK

Back on the grind at commerce means more amazing hand reports until I get sick of posting them.

Hand 1 - Jesse Plays Like MikeL

Someone opens the gun, Hello Kitty calls, three or four more people call, Jesse calls the big blind with the K8hh.  Flop:


SB checks, Jesse donks.  Preflop raiser folds, Hello Kitty turbo calls, all fold except button who is a megafish and can have anything.

Jesse checks dark.  Trust me, I have seen this movie before.  It is not a good one for our illustrious hero.


Hello Kitty looks annoyed and bets, button calls, Jesse takes a minute to consider the insane thing he is about to do (something he's trying to do more) and....folds.


She bets, he calls, she has the South African (54s) for the flopped triples with expert smoov call on the flop.  Jesse cringes, Hello Kitty drags the pot.

Hand 2 - The SK Busts a Move

Maniac opens the gun, folds around to the SK who defends his big blind.  Then this happens:

SK bets dark.
Maniac raises dark.
The flop is revealed to be JT4
SK folds, and while doing so shows a 5.
The maniac takes delivery of the pot, and while doing so shows another 5.
General catcalling and whistling ensues.

I am not sure what chapter of SK's book will explain the details of this maneuver, but I do hope it's at least one of the English ones :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I just spent a week in Seattle and Mt. Rainier National Park with my mom.  As usual, I tried to keep it generally under wraps beforehand, but am happy to talk about it afterwards.  So no, really no poker has been played since last Friday (holy crap, 10 days?  That's not really good) and I just did my year to date statistics and all I can say is at least they'll be sending me back most of what I mailed them for Q1 and Q2 taxes.  Tomorrow morning it's back on the grind stick, with me trying to have a more relaxed attitude about everything in general.  We'll see how long that can keep on keeping on, but at least I don't have to worry about white chip as the 2/4 got kicked to 4/8 and that's just silly.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And We're Back...I Guess

Personal life and side project things have settled down (or even stopped in some cases I guess lol) and I have spent the last three days grinding away at Commerce.  And you know what?  Boy is it fun when you're on a heater.  My last 5 or 6 40/80 sessions I have won 150 bets (during that stretch I have torched off a fair bit in the 1/2 and 60 though so the actual bottom line isn't that great) and I mean I literally just can do no wrong whatsoever.  Draws come in.  Single top pair hands hold up.  I flop quads.  Set over set people and have a third player actually showdown the bronze medalist somehow.  I mean, it's been pretty unreal.  DosEquis got to witness the tail end of a bludgeoning I put on some fools today and I'm sure he can attest it was almost painful to watch (I think he may have won for once, though, so maybe not too painful? Who lost the 8k in that game cause I mean Ms. LD was in there crushing souls too).  Actually, here is a fun hand:

LD opens in MP, Dos three bets like the CO or HJ, I cap the big blind with jacks, they call.

887 or 778 I don't remember it doesn't matter.  And rainbow.  The both call.  Dos is good enough that I do not automatically have the best hand here, so I have a tough thing to do on the turn but it doesn't matter since LD is the hand we all know what is going to happen

887-3 putting two spades

I bet and she raises.  Dos goes into the tank for a bit and then eventually calls two cold.  I call, not liking it but not really considering folding the jacks at 12.5 : 1 closing the action.

Ace.  Of.  Spades.

Long story short LD has the KJss and just somehow manages to find the absolute worst possible spot to raise the turn with a flush draw and yet somehow not only have a magical 3 bonus outs with her kings that she almost never ever ever has, but also bink it and win.  Silly.

Anyway things are going OK.  Commerce hasn't been awful, but I mean I am winning every pot so we'll see how I feel when I lose 10k straight next week.  As an aside an amazing 200/400 game has been running for like 2 days straight and I mean jeeze I should probably be playing but I just don't have it in me it seems.

Friday, July 19, 2013


11 days without a post.  And not just without a post, without even a thought of considering making a post.  I dunno, I just haven't felt up to it lately.  I played a good bit this week, and had a stretch where I did this:

Hours:  38
Bets Won: 3
Dollars Lost:  8000

Today I capped it off by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the commerce 40, winning 2k in 3 hours then losing 2200 in the last 90 minutes of the session.  I did however get to play against the woman who must be the greatest LHE player in all of the universe.  Her board initials are LD (if you play at commerce she has crushed you in the 60) and she literally runs better than anyone else in the history of me.  Every single time I sit with her she has 5, 6, 8 racks of chips in front of her.  Today it was just 40 because there was no 60, which I guess cost her something like 3k in her 5 hour session because she'd have won 8 or 9 instead of just 5 or 6.  She does things like this:

Open K5hh UTG in an average 60 game.

Cold call first in with A2hh after a winning professional raises.

Call three bets with A4ss after a winning professional raises and a loose passive player makes it three bets.  In this case she will also flop the nut flush against a made straight (with open ended straight flush draw) and top set and her hand will hold up.

I mean, I guess I just need to accept the fact that she is better than me, because she won another 50 bets today no problem.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Your Thought Process

I posted a hand from the Vegas Trip on 2p2, and it actually generated some good discussion.  I realize a large class of readers can access my blog but not that site, so here is the hand:

Preflop maniac (loose passive post) opens CO hank 3! KTcc in sb nit bb 4 bets both call (5 bet cap)


Check nit bets CO raises and hank.....

The reason I posted the hand is that while Hank and I initially thought this was a hulk smash situation, a player I respect quite a bit said not only that we should call, but also that it was not close and that most excellent players would agree with him.  We talked it out and I half came around to his point of view mainly because I realized he was right about the crushers calling.  We decided to post the hand and get feedback from OnTheRail, John Locke, and DosEquis, postulated that most of small stakes would say raise while the three of them would all say just call.  And you know what?  That is exactly what happened.

This got me thinking a lot about my thought processes, or what I have previously referred to as my decision making machinery, as I wanted to understand why I was sure this was a raise (initially) while four players I consider slightly to substantially "better" (meaning "able to post a positive win rate in tougher games") were very confident it was a call.  The exact details of this spot are not super important, but I'll walk through a couple ways you could make the decision

1.  I have massive equity, so I raise!  A lot of people think this way and frankly doing so very accurately can get you pretty far.

2.  I have a massive draw and need to have some semi-bluffs in my range so I raise!  This is where I was at, and it's fundamentally flawed because of the range that hero has.  This game was played with a 5 bet cap AND capping preflop would have made no sense with any hand, and therefore Hank doesn't really get to have QQ+ in his range, meaning his value raising range for this flop is like exactly 999 (and MAYBE AQ but that's probably not a good idea).

3.  I am not winning this pot without showdown;  why would I jam a draw when doing so could isolate me against the best hand and put me in a tougher spot on later streets?  I call.  And you know what?  This is correct.

The thread went on for a long time, with some players actually advocating call, and eventually a very good question was asked.

Originally Posted by Zeke Ferrari View Post
I think this is interesting. I definitely didn't think about that until I read your post.

Back to the flop decision point: for those of us that really want to dig into this kind of situation, is the next step to try and make an EV tree to examine different lines? We've got guys saying to call the flop for various reasons, and guys saying 3bet the flop because we have a ton of equity. We should be able to find which line has the higher EV (I know the tree has many branches and we'll have to make loads of assumptions). Are we all actually just concerned about which line has the highest EV, or is there more to this discussion?

My question is more about how to think through situations like this. To those of you who are levels above the rest of us, what types of analyses are you doing to help determine your actions? Obviously a stove isn't enough to fully analyze this situation.

This got me thinking about my decision making machinery at another level, one on which I have dabbled previously but never actually set up base camp and put in work.  Specifically, it's really important that you understand how the study and effort you put in away from the table is going to translate to your in game decision making.  I can sit here and analyze this hand to death (and I have) and while I have learned something it's important to make sure what I've learned translates to play at the tables.  In college this was never really a problem;  you learn the material, you likely solve the problems on the test, you probably get a good grade.  At work I found I had holes in my swing, so to speak.  When presented with a new technology I had a harder time learning what made it tick than other people of similar education and experience did.  My lady friend is literally leaps and bounds ahead of me in this regard, and I believe it is that skill (learning about new systems, reading their documentation, making them do what you want) that has moved her from being a very good engineer to a potentially (I am no expert but I am also no layman) world class one.  Anyway...

What is it that you do when you are presented with a problem at the poker table?  I gather most people use pattern recognition to solve 90% of the problems they face, and while this works for a while, if you rely on it exclusively you're going to have a very, very low ceiling.  At the other end I know players who literally keep track of their entire range (and an estimate of their opponent's) as the hand progresses, and do things like "make sure they have enough equity in their check back range vs his range" or "add bluffs that will remain bluffs when obvious scare cards come so as to not run out of bluffs on various boards" and "count up my value bet combos, then pick which hands I need to use as bluffs on that river card."  Obviously there is a vast, vast difference in the processes that are being used to make the very same decisions here, and obviously you kind of have to know yourself and what is going to work best for you.  In practice I try to meld the two basic theories of beating poker games, which are roughly:

1.  GTO soul crushing

2.  Figure out what hand (or hands) he has and what he intends to do with it (or them) and act accordingly.  

In the hand above, both schools of thought should yield roughly the same answer if applied correctly.  I have almost zero value hands because my opponent's range is so strong on the perflop, so I don't need to have any semi bluff raises in my range.  Or, my opponent has a monster, he will never fold it, I have a strong draw, I should attempt to bink him.  

If you meld these theories you should do quite well, but you're going to have a hard time making decisions at game speed.  I mean, think about it...what do you actually think about when you're forced with a tough decision on the turn?  What goes through your head?  How could you make it better, or what kind of study could you do away from the table to make it easier?  These are important questions for which I don't even have answers for myself, let alone everyone else.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vegas? Still There

I checked it out these past 2 nights and can confirm that they haven't pulled up the stakes and left town or anything.  At least not yet.  Human beings really were not intended to survive in that sort of environment;  it was 113 degrees each of the days I was there, there is zero moisture in the air, all the casinos have smoke, it's really just not for me.  I can't imagine how I used to do it when I actually drank and then didn't sleep at all.  Those were...younger times.

I have played a lot of mixed games lately, actually.  We messed around playing 8/16 at the Venetian both days of the trip (Stud Eight, O8, and triple draw mostly), and I actually played 1/2 HT (hold 'em and triple draw) at commerce with Eagle recently.  I don't really have the knack for remembering hands from other games that I do for hold 'em, but here are some fun ones.

Eagle opens OTB, SB calls, I 3-bet an 8542 they call, and I proceed to make an 8 perfect on the first draw.  Eagle, on the other hand, draws 5, then 3, then 2, then raises me on the river and shows me 76542.  Whoopsie.  Next hand he limps in and I get to draw 3 from the SB with like 73 and bink number one on the first draw and destroy him.  Deuce is pretty fun.

From the mix at venetian, well...I got beat up pretty badly and honestly was probably one of the worst stud players in the game.  I kept getting into stud 8 hands, bricking out 4th street, then picking up JUST enough help (typically a 4th low card) to get to 7th then quietly fold or call with one pair and hope for the other half.  It was kind of a mess.  And Captain R showed me how to play rolled up 5s pretty well,  namely make sure your opponent makes Aces and Jacks and punish him.  A couple of guys showed me how to get dealt 7s.  I ran AK into KK on the K93.  Just all kinds of shitty stuff happened, but it's cool, it was only 8/16 and I had a great time with my friends.  We also did some borderline foodie things, eating at Pasta Mia and Lotus of Siam, both of which I can obviously endorse.  And that's really about it;  I'm back home, dogs are fine, fourth of july is tomorrow, things are good.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We have a rule of thumb in our house that Jurassic Park was the first good movie ever made.  It's not really as harsh as all that, but we have found that movies predating it simply don't end up being that enjoyable for us.  It could be because they really weren't as good (the Big Chill....seriously we didn't even finish it, sorry Mom), or it could just be that we can't really relate to things that happened before 1993 or so because we weren't functioning humans yet.  We are currently halfway through "And the Band Played On" and so far really like it, and our last title was "Unforgiven" which we both really did enjoy (for the record, 1992 and 1993 respectively).   The main reason we liked Unforgiven was that it was just very simple.  It didn't ask very much of the viewer;  there wasn't any nuance, no dialogue that was purposefully annoyingly soft, no plot twists really.  It was just a story.  Some assholes rough up a hooker, a reward is offered, and some tough sons of bitches go to get themselves the money.  Many die, spectacularly, and a resolution is reached.  No cliff hangers, no opening for the sequel, no wondering what was in the box....Clint just wins, simple as that.  We liked it.

Sometimes poker sessions are like that and sometimes they aren't.  Sometimes you have a plot twist every other hand (like yesterday when I was in the Commerce 40 and they just bludgeoned me as usual), and sometimes you stay right on the script and the hero simply wins.  I have heard the debate about if poker would be more enjoyable, for a pro, if there was more or less variance.  The argument breaks down as you approach the limit either way obviously, and books have suggested that hold 'em replaced stud because it has the right ratio of variance to skill (more variance), while draw games can't really catch on because they push the envelope too far (pros can't survive, their edge is too low for the money they risk; their skill advantage isn't as large, in short).  And I think the answer is that sometimes you really just want a nice boring day, and sometimes a roller coaster is fun.  I dunno, I guess I don't have much to say on this so here is a fun hand.

Mr. 40 month win streak (could be 45 now?  he told me he beat the Hustler TWENTY FIVE FIFTY GAME for 22k in May.  Think about that one) opens in the middle the button calls the small blind calls and I call with J7cc in the big blind and declare "dealer, I am thinking of a turn card!"  He of course takes the bait and jabs back "you're going to have to get there first" and I announce my intention to "peel one off and bink it"


Purrrrrfecto.  We check, he bets, we all call.  "here it comes" I declare.


Bink.  Sb checks, I check, he bets, they both call, Jack Ryan the prop declares "right about now is where we should see the raise from you" I raise, and then...crap.  He goes into the tank.  This is a protected pot obviously, and there is a flush draw, but he's not tanking with much of anything here other than god damn monsters.  I file this information away as he decides to just make smoov and the other two players call.   The pot is now hudge and I proceed to double bink


I mean, what am I gonna do but bet?  We are four ways!  I bet and Mr 45 months puts in the raise confirming what I already feared namely that he HAS IT.  They both fold and I tank for a second and decide he has either 66 or 88 and just call (as I'm chopping with that range...yes he could have 87s except I can see one of every suite of those cards so zero combos left, JJ makes no sense because of the tell on the turn, and no chance he doesn't three bet a straight on the turn so it really is just expert smoov call with the boat on the turn).  He shows me the 66 and I drag the money.

45 minutes later I have lost 2 racks and just can't figure out how it happened.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Finally Got Him

JD always owns my soul.  He just destroys me, day in and day out, and this is very frustrating because...well, for a lot of reasons.  Obviously losing is frustrating, but this guy is also pretty borderline crazy (like, actually, to the point it makes me uncomfortable sometimes to play with him) and plays like a stone cold animal sporadically.  He has a history of looking like a genius against me when really his idiotic bluff just so happened to run into the one or two hands I can't call down with.  To wit

I raise in late position an idiot calls behind me and he calls the bb.  The flop?


And he just donks right out.  Fire away...I raise because I have a pair of 8s in the hole and want the idiot to give up, then I'll just call JD down no matter what happens.  But the idiot calls instantly (he's a new idiot to me...seems super loose and passive so far) and JD of course three bets and the captain r truth of it (it always takes 2) comes into play.  I call, idiot calls, turn is a 5 and I just give up because I literally have 50 some combos of tens, all 9 sets, and 24 overpairs here it's OK to fold 88 or 99 when even the "bluffs" he has are supposed to have 8s and 9s in them (so they are reduced further) AND the idiot behind me is supposed to have a 10 some of the time and well you know how this goes idiot calls river pairs the 3 JD fires gets called and turns over J9o and the idiot scoops with the Q7s.  That's just the way it goes with JD.

But not today lol.  Today he did something silly like he always does (open complete the small blind, then act shocked when I don't raise the big blind which will happen yeesh I don't know a lot of the time).  Normally what would happen here is that since I have the 32o I will flop a pair and pay him off on all three streets.  And we start off just like that


That's literally the flop, the canonical dry board not a single possible draw in site and of course I call.

But then we depart from the script!  Instead of me calling and calling and getting shown how expertly he played his AA or whatever, we walk down one of the alternate endings.  I turn a 3, giving me bottom two pair.  I raise him and to this point we stay right on script;  he 3 bets.  I four bet, and he just calls.  We are still on track for the alternate ending of him making two pair on the river or me getting counterfeited doesn't happen!  He checks and calls the river 6 and I  We are playing 4 handed and the other two players make a big scene, one saying "you're so lucky he didn't raise preflop!" and the other saying "I guess he put you on a draw!"  It was pretty hilarious.

Friday, June 14, 2013

All That Said...

This is a funny one really.  I drove up to play today for a few hours and was deciding where to go  mid commute (an old, tiresome, and unsafe practice) which involved making four phone calls, two to each casino.  The funny part is pretty simple.  Here are the transcripts of my two calls to Commerce:

Call 1

Me:  "What limit hold 'em games do you have running?"
Anonymous Useful Floor:  "I have a 20/40, a 40/80, and a 1/2 hold 'em"
Me:  "How many handed is the 1/2?"
AUF:  "Looks handed"

15 minutes later I call back to see if the 1/2 still looks like I can get in.

Call 2

Marcel:  "Yo baby what's happenin'?"
Me:  "Hi Marcel, It's ARC.  What limit hold 'em games do you have running?"
Marcel:  "I have no games at all"
Me:  "None?"
Marcel:  "not a one!"

So obviously I drove to Commerce got a seat in the 1/2 and asked Marcel specifically to list me for the 20 and the 40.  I'm not sure why exactly he hates me.  In fact I'm surprised he even recognized my initials.  Perhaps it know what, it's me telling him he made an awful ruling last week when he made an awful ruling.  I guess that's it.  But I mean...really?

Thursday, June 13, 2013


As you can probably tell from reading this blog, my interest in poker is at an all time low.  I haven't been playing as much as I used to (which honestly could be for the best I play more than almost all the pros I know...but not more than the super successful ones I guess) and that's been for a number of reasons.  The main two, however, are that I just haven't been enjoying it even when I'm winning, and the games are just getting so much worse all the time.  Like yes, there are still good games all over the place.  But not like there used to be even a year or two ago (and even then it was acknowledged that things were getting worse).  I've been playing the 25/50 at Hustler, and even it has started to show signs of weakness.  Some Commerce white guy pros (and BB who is an honorary white dude) have started making it their home, they never have 3 games and sometimes can't even get 2, and I mean for crying out loud it's 25/50.  The commerce 40s?  Grim as usual.  I recently quit a 1/2 and talked to the south african and MikeL on the way out, who were playing in one of the worst 40 games I have ever seen.  Mike looked at my chips, looked at the MUST MOVE 1/2 game I had quit and said "that game is better than this one" and I agreed wholeheartedly.  So yeah I mean there have been some big decent games, but I just don't have the stomach or nerve for that right now, and it's not like I can just play blind steals with DosXX and Juice and pretend like I'm not at a disadvantage.

Some of this is just a lack of bodies in the summertime.  WSOP, family responsibilities, whatever.  But some of it is more than that.  Without the internet creating new players, the mid stakes games just don't get the new blood they need.  You can only rake $250/hour off the table for so long before people start to go broke, and without new blood the only ones who remain are the small winners who run OK.  And while the games are still just fine, it really doesn't make sense to play 40/80 for a living if you can only make $30-$40 per hour doing it (and keep in mind that is 1 bet per 100, or more).  I've known this for a long time, but the way of live poker is that you really just need to be crushing the games you are in (always be the best or second best player) to justify it.  If you're eeking out half a bet per hour or even less (which is undoubtedly the upper end of what I could do in the 1/2 and 2/4 games) the swings are just monstrous and can last for literally a year.  So I mean, I dunno.  2012 was my most profitable year ever, but at the same time a huge chunk of that came from one staking agreement and 1 day of 1/2 kicked to 2/4 (literally 40% of my years profits came from those two things).  I ended the year feeling like I had "succeeded" at poker, and yet that gave me the strange feeling that I wanted to maybe move on.  At the same time, I know there is more work I could do;  I know that I am capable of turning myself into a soul crusher if I want to.  The thing is I just don't want it.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm kind of thinking it could be time to consider moving on, but am not really sure what I'd do next.  Don't sound the death bells yet, but they could toll at any time for my poker career.  I realize this probably comes as a shock to many people out there, who have just been reading my blog and haven't really been here on the ground as it were to see what playing poker everyday has done to me.  To be honest, if I had this whole thing to do over again, I'd probably have listened to all the warnings, kept it a hobby and not given up on my software career.  I always said I could take 2 or 3 years off and it wouldn't be a problem.  But 5?  Five is probably going to be a problem if I want to jump back in the pool.  So for now I guess I'll do enough to tread water, keep my sanity, and wait for a flash of inspiration.  Which I've sort of already been doing for a while now anyway I suppose.....they usually do come, if you're the right amount of patient :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Workout Number 13 - Champion

Saturday 6/8
24h Fitness

500 warmup

Total Yards:  4300
Total Yards To Date:  46112

So I finished.  Danielle even came to the gym and watched the last 65 yards or so and clapped when I finished.  She got some weird looks from all the other people in the pool area (none of whom, by the way, can swim a lick, even the ones who look like they should be fast turn out to be way way slower than I am) but that doesn't matter.  I made it.  Thanks to everyone who donated, and thanks to Elizabeth for giving me the idea to do this (also congratulations are in order there, she finished her race unscathed despite three flat tires).

In terms of lessons learned or a sense of accomplishment, I don't really have a whole lot to say, which I guess says quite a bit in and of itself.  Of the 13 times I put myself in the pool, I remember enjoying myself on only two or three occasions.  The rest of it just felt like work that I had to rush through to get back to my real life.  And I mean maybe that's the biggest lesson, that I'm not making enough time for myself to do the things I want to be doing, and my life has turned into one big rush after another.

Some technical things didn't go very well which made the swim harder (the community pool being meters, for example....that's a fair bit more challenging, even though it did mean I didn't have to swim as far as I thought I did), but overall it just wasn't that difficult.  It was simply a matter of forcing myself to commit the time and mental tedium to do it.  When I did the weight loss bet I got the sense that I was "achieving "or "producing" at close to my maximum level of output.  Maybe that wasn't the case, but it sure felt that way, and I lost 18 pounds in 90 days and you can't really argue with that being an unqualified success.  But with this challenge here I felt that the hardest part was fitting it into my life, and that had it REALLY mattered, had I really needed to swim as far as possible in 7 days, if life changing money had been on the line, for example, I literally could have swum four or five times further than I actually did.  I mean, when you get right down to it I was in the pool swimming for something like 15 hours over the course of 7 days.  I did nothing but low intensity yard eating sets, and that's the only reason I was able to rack up the 26 miles.  There were plenty of times in high school that I spent more than 15 hours a week either at practice or warming up for a meet, and that was just sort of the way of things;  there was no challenge other than trying to get faster.  So I guess that's maybe why I don't feel any grand sense of accomplishment;  what I did was in the grand scope of things pretty tough, but nowhere near where near the limits of my present self (and light years behind the limits of my best former self).

All that said, I did raise some money for charity, and that's great, and I am in a lot better shape than when I started, and that is also swell.  My shoulders neck and back and knee and hip and elbows and even my left ankle are all kind of sore, but they'll be fine in a day or so, and I'll probably work some swimming into my workout routine going forward.

Game off!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Workout Number 12

Saturday 6/8
Community Pool

500 warmup

Total Yards:  2952.76
Total Yards To Date:  41811.88
Yards in 26.2 Miles:  46112
Yards Remaining:  46112-41812 = 4300

It is Saturday so the community pool will be crawling with kids as soon as the sun comes up (which in June is around 10-11am lol....I always thought Danielle's dad was kidding about "June Gloom" but he's really spot on) so I'll need to finish the workout at 24h Fitness.  4300 is more than I wanted for the last swim, but given I knocked out 7500 straight in that pool on Day 1 (in retrospect that's mind boggling) it should present no problem if I bring food with me.

I'm hesitant to write about lessons learned before I actually complete the swim, but I do have some things in mind that I'll say once it's in the bag.  One thing that I will say is that I've realized the end is going to just be the most depressing anticlimactic thing ever.  I'm just going to be cruising along swimming 100 yard free styles and all of a sudden I'll coast into the all and it'll just be...over.  Nobody will cheer.  Nobody will clap or shake my hand.  Nobody will even know.  The other 5 to 10 people in the pool area won't even turn their heads.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Workouts 10 and 11

I swam twice today in the community pool, once in the early morning and once in the early afternoon, for a total of 4500 meters (3000 and 1500)

Total Yards:  4921.26
Total Yards To Date:  38859.12

That leaves me with just a touch over 7k yards to swim tomorrow.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Workout Number 9

Thursday 6/6
Community Pool

Total Yards:  3280.84
Total Yards To Date:  33937.84

Just a touch over 12K to go and I have two days to cover it.  The plan is four simple 3k workouts.  As an aside I actually played some poker today and booked a nice win in the 1/2 at commerce.  It was surprisingly pleasant despite the complete 3 ring circus with people making fools of themselves trying to play with Eagle.

Workout Number 8

Community Pool

400 warmup

Total Yards:  2952.75
Total Yards To Date:  30657

Less than 16k to go.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Workout Number 7

This really is just awful.  I'm doing the kinds of things my swim coach growing up just absolutely would not stand for that lots of other coaches put their kids through;  low intensity yardage eating sets.  It  Anyway.

Wednesday 6/5
1:30 to 2:45pm
24h Fitness

500 warmup
3300 yards of crap (4x300, maybe 8x200, then some 100s)

Total Yards:  3800
Total Yards To Date:  23904.25+3800 = 27704.25
Yard Remaining = you figure it out like 18k or so.

Workout Number 6

Wednesday 6/5
Community pool


Total Yards:  2734.03
Total Yards To Date:  21170.22 + 2734.03 = 23904.25
Total Yards Remaining 46112-23904.25 = 22207.75

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Workout Number 5

You can barely call it that.  I got down to the bottom of the hill and realized "crap I am hungry".  I swam 1000 meters before calling it and heading back up to eat.  I was only planning to swim 2000 or so anyway, but....not great.

4:20pm - 4:40pm
1000  warmup

Total Yards:   1093.67
Total Yards To Date:  21170.22

Thank Goodness

So for the first time today I brought my phone down to the pool to use for splits.  As I was slogging through the first set of 200s I was appalled at just how slowly I was going.  On day one I started off with a set of these on 3:15, and had no trouble completing them in 2:40-2:45 (which gave me 30 seconds of rest, which was great).  Today I was coming in north of 3:00, even creeping up to 3:15, and had to put the set on 3:30.  Of course I felt slow, but I didn't feel THAT slow.  By the end of the workout an idea was well formed in my head;  what if the community pool is the second (only second) 25 meter pool you've ever seen in your entire life?

Well guess what...that fucker is 82 feet long!  I went down there with a 12 foot tape measure and walked it off and there is to quote a wise man "NOOOO doubt about it".  So I've swum 11,500 meters, not yards, in that pool.  Carry the one that's....

12576.55 yards

For an addition 1076.55 to my bottom line.

Total Yards To Date:  20076.55

This discovery could save me.

Workout Number 4

Tuesday 6/4
Community Pool

500 warmup

Total Yards:  5100
Total Yards To Date:  19000

Monday, June 3, 2013

Workout Number 3

Community Pool


Total Yards:  2400
Total Yards To Date:  13900

Swimming Update

Workout 1

Sunday 6/2
3:30pm -5:45pm
24h Fitness in Orange

500 warmup
10x200 on 3:15 (or so)
20x150 on 2:30 (or so)
15x100 (we struggle)
500 cool down

Total Yards:  7500

Workout 2

Monday 6/3
Community Pool (no clock)

500 warmup

Total Yards:  4000
Total Yard To Date:  11500

For the record there are 1760 yards in a mile, so I am trying to swim 46112 yards.   Yesterday's swim went very well;  today's, not really so much.  I have some shoulder issues and knee issues already, but from a pure effort point of view as I suspected this isn't going to be terribly difficult.  It's the time, mental exertion, and actually the biggest problem I'm having so far is getting hungry.  Both workouts have ended because I was hungry and needed to stop or risk my stomach cramping up.  All that said my previous statement applies;  it's pretty obvious that I should be able to pull this off.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Today? We Swim!

The plan for counting is actually to use change; one penny is 50 yards and I'll have two piles at the end of my lane.  What could go wrong?  My gym got it's pool back up and running (what a disaster that day I just drove there and boom no pool...i'm standing on the deck in my gear looking at yellow caution tape) so I will get lane lines and a clock and won't be in the sun for the afternoon jaunt, so that's a start.

I'm hoping to put in two long sessions today and get a good head start on things, but already there are issues.  Last night was another wedding, this one local, that involved the hora.  I ended up being one of the guys lifting the bride up in the air on a chair, and while she was basically as light as a feather my triceps are definitely sore.  I also got less than 6 hours of sleep, and in general have gotten enough sleep (by my own measure) one night in the last nine.  And there is an "open house" today for the wedding at 1pm and if I go (and I really should go) I'm going to start the week in the hole or at best on pace.  I'm pretty sure I can't let that happen, though, so I may skip it.

Elizabeth is already riding South towards us, and ideally I'd like to finish before she arrives.  They stormed out of the cow palace at 6am, so already I feel like I'm "losing" :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Swimming Update

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who donated to Elizabeth's cause.  Her fund-raising total stands at about $5200 as of this writing, and to be blunt she wouldn't have made it without all of you.  I don't have exact numbers, but I think people I cajoled donated something like $1000-$1500.  If you didn't receive a personal thank you from me it's because I missed the donation (I don't have administrator privs) or because I don't have any good way to contact you (as is the case for at least one $100 donation from this blog...thank you very much JJ), and for that I am very sorry.  It means a great deal to me when my friends and family come out to support something like this, and I have nothing but heartfelt gratitude for all of you.

Now...about the actual swimming part of this thing.  Two (but hopefully only two) small concessions are going to be made.  First of all, while Elizabeth's ride is spread over just 7 days, I am leaving open the possibility that my swim will last for 8.  The reason for this is that Sunday afternoons are my absolute best chuck of time to make progress, and I want to use two of them.  I have a commitment this Sunday that could last until early evening, but I still should be able to get a good chunk done afterwards and am not going to delay the start of the challenge.  Ideally I will complete the swim in technically just 7*24 = 168 hours, but if it ranges up to 172 I'm not going to take any flack from anybody.  There is a chance I'll finish early, who knows, but I am making it known right now that that if I use the second Sunday I'm calling it a win.  And second of all, while it was sort of implied (by omission) that this swim was going to just be me cruising back and forth down the pool for hours upon hours, that's not actually the case.  I'm going to be swimming things that resemble actual workouts, and that involves sets (things like ten 100 yard IMs on 2 minutes and the like) and on occasion, at my discretion, props.  Normal swimming workouts do include the use of kick boards, paddles, and even fins, and for some (a small percentage) of my yardage I may use things like this, especially if my shoulder flares up.  There is a pretty big difference between a kick board and paddles/fins, and I'm aware of that, but I'm always aware that we used those things not infrequently growing up and I don't consider them cheating at all.  It's my party and I'll use fins if I want to, basically.

Physically I feel OK.  I have had shoulder tightness the last two days, and I have also had some issues with my knees when doing breaststroke.  Those are both pretty concerning, but I'm confident that the swim now simple is going to come down to mental toughness (of which I admittedly do not have an excess).  I have never attempted anything like this, and while I'm sure it would have been simple in high school (I doubt I've ever swum this far in a week, but I am pretty sure I put in 15 mile weeks regularly back then) I just don't know how my body is going to hold up.  I could be in for a rude awakening of almost any sort.   I'll post regular updates here (sets, yardage totals, etc) and if things go well it'll be pretty obvious pretty immediately that I'm going to make it.

Thanks again to everyone out there for your support!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Beatings Continue

I'm sure you've all noticed the paucity of actual poker content recently.  There are reasons for it, which I'll explain at a later date, but for now you'll have to make due with two fantastic beat stories.

Beat Number 1

The game is 25/50 (yes, yes I was where you think I was) and I am on the button.  3 or 4 people limp and Mr. 40 Month Win Streak (maybe snapped?  He was playing on the 29th!) raises in the cutoff.  I cold call on the button with pocket 6s (what else could I possibly do) and we see the flop at least 7 and maybe 8 ways.  I don't know.  Lots of fucking people.


Obviously.  A stone cold idiot who has limped 85s in the middle somewhere donks, it folds to me, I raise, the blinds both call two cold, stone cold 3 bets, I cap, the blinds call again, to the turn.


The blinds check (they're both drawing dead now I'm sure) he donks and I actually consider just calling to let the blinds draw but then decide that's stupid and raise.  The blinds both fold (which in theory is good since there are like 20 bets in the pot, but I mean really nobody is folding anything with outs here unless I get like a pair of tens to go into the muck) and stone cold...three bets me.  He has an 8 and a 5 and he three bets me.  He is winning exactly zero percent of the time here (I cannot have 9s or better from the preflop at a minimum I have absolute minimum) and this throws me for a loop.  Shouldn't he know he can't win?  He should.  What can he think I have?  Tens?  I mean, really?  I actually call meekly, which given what he has is a MASSIVE mistake.  Obviously....


He bets I call he wins and has this shit eating grin on his face and absolutely no idea that he did anything remotely unusual in the hand what so ever.

Beat Number 2

This is just a cold deck really, but since it was played at 100/200 it really hurt.  It's simply really.   The lady opens and I 3 bet the aces in the small blind and she decides to cap headsup in position with a pair of 8s.  Sure.  Seems reasonable.  I'm sure she's super balanced here, and her range isn't just a decapitated piece of shit missing virtually every single monster.  I'm sure....The board comes down 833 obviously and against her range I probably have literally north of 90% equity in a 5 bet pot but instead get to lose 6 more.  Seems reasonable.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Swimming and Magic

First of all, at this point swimming is what it's going to be.  I only have 4 more days until I start the challenge, and about all I can do that will really matter here is sleep enough, eat well, and try not to hurt anything.  I haven't actually figured out any sort of schedule for the week itself, but I'm hoping it just sort of comes to me.  I guess what I'm really hoping is that I can manage to stay in the pool for 2 hours at a time some late mornings and get the bulk of it out of the way in that fashion.  I don't have a good solution for counting...and that is truly bad.  But on the whole I think I'm going to make it.  Thanks to everyone who donated (I think I thanked you all individually except maybe the blog reader who gave $100 whose name I don't really want to make super duper public but thank you very much JJ) and now it's about time to watch me struggle :)

Now on to the discussion of the magic.  I spent about 30 hours at the Camp Scherman 45th anniversary this weekend, and while I've heard Danielle simply rave about how awesome the parts of the 23 summers she has spent there have been, I had never really gotten a chance to see it for myself.  I was there in 2004 for about 3 hours, but that didn't really do the job.  I was young and so was she and I hadn't really realized what a huge part of her life it was and most importantly I didn't get the sense of the magic.  And if you don't stop to think about it and just let everything about the place and the people just sort of float by around you as an observer, you will get the distinct impression that something magical is actually happening all around you.  The way people behave.  The way things get done.  The sense of friendship, of caring, of just sort of everything actually seems illogical and impossible.

Of course it's not actually magic;  there is no magic, and that's a sad hard truth in our world.  Danielle pointed out to me that if there is any magic on earth it very likely does exist, at least for her, in that place, and while I sort of agree with her see above re: there is no magic.  If you think about the place and what's happening a little longer you'll realize that what appears to me magic is simply the culmination of 45 years of positive feedback loops doing good things.  The values and ideals of the place, the confidence and happiness it inspires, have combined over the years to make it a one of a kind location for everyone who falls in love with it.  In turn those people pass on all the goodness down to the next generation, and unlike other institutions where the leadership and active involvement lasts just a few short years (and therefore one bad generation can poison the entire establishment) "camp" has lifers.  These people come back again, and again, and again, and each time they do they are even happier to be there, even more confident that THIS RIGHT HERE is in fact the best place on Earth and they try even harder to convince those around them (lifers, newbies, and everyone in between) of that simple and obvious truth.  In other words it's not technically magic, but for all intents and purposes it might as well be.  You cannot bottle it up and you cannot recreate it.  At the very, very most you can think about it, try to understand what makes it the way it is, and learn from it.  Or maybe that's too much;  maybe you're just supposed to drink it in and let it remain a little bit of magic.

I like to think about things, though, and it made me realize that from a lot of points of view a lot of things that happen in the real world do look like magic.  If you just experience something with your logical, reasoning brain turned off then you'll see something magical every single day.  And I guess the point is that while it's good to understand things, sometimes it's better to just let them remain magical.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Random Musings

Even for me this one is probably going to be pretty disjointed.  Here we go.

Aruba was fun, but I completely understand why nobody really goes there from California.  Other than being a little bit cheaper and with seemingly a little better food, Hawaii really is just a better way to go from here.  You don't have to leave the country.  The weather is better.  The flights are way shorter and way cheaper.  Like I said I had a great time, but objectively if you're coming from the left coast just go west young man!  There were only about 70 people at the wedding, and nearly half of them were my fraternity brothers and their dates.  It turns out the guy getting married is one of the more hidden pieces of glue that holds us all together, reaching down to my class and all the way up to a good number of guys who graduated before or right when I arrived.   So that was pretty fun.

Flying really does suck.  Danielle hates it, and I usually don't understand her beef but this time on the way back I was pretty miserable.  The dude in the middle was just too big and we kept bumping each other and the temperature was wrong and we sat on the runway and I still think I have a headache from the fumes and it was just kind of shitty. And that flight from Miami STARTED about 7 hours after we left our hotel.  We did discover valet parking at the airport, which is pretty awesome.  The dude just picks you up IN YOUR CAR and takes a shuttle back to his office after giving it to you.  A little more expensive, but at 11:15pm when you've been traveling since 9am local time saving 30 minutes is worth...well...a lot.

Swimming....yikes.  I snorkeled three times in Aruba and did one of them without gear (just racing goggles, probably swam a mile or so) but I have regressed a fair bit.  I should still be OK, but it's not gonna be easy.

WSOP....It's here and shit!  I am going to avoid backing people this year, although I sure am tempted to get a piece of professor ben as I say this.

Records that likely will never be broken....In my time as a swimmer I had occasion to set some team, pool, and meet records.  I bet a lot of them still stand to this day, but honestly I have no idea.  My high school ones probably do, since we sucked.  My YMCA got torn down so those don't really count.  And the pool and meet ones who really knows.  I think I hold (or likely am tied for) the record for times quitting the MIT swim team.  I gave up twice, and I doubt anyone has ever quit three times.  Sort of like the dude who threw back to back no hitters;  I mean really, is anyone ever going to throw three?  Today I lapped a load of Danielle's laundry for a second time.  The stuff she did has been sitting in the dryer for close to two weeks I think, and I have done two full cycles as it's been just hanging out.  Lapping a load of laundry three times seems impossible.

My cat...she is upset we were gone for so long but is in super duper lovey dovey mode.  She actually purred the entire time I brushed her this morning (something I have done like exactly once, ever, before today) and is hoarse from meowing so much.  As an aside I brushed her wearing only my last pair of clean boxers, which demonstrates just an unimaginable lack of foresight.

I am working on a theory of readiness, where by some people actually become unready for an activity simply by way of time being allowed to pass (for example, in the car on the way to an event).  I saw this happen with some of my friends this weekend, and I think it is worth exploring.

That is all.  No poker content.  None :)

Aruba, Jama....Well, Just Aruba Actually

I just got back from a week in Aruba.  It was great.  I'll write more later, promise.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Humorous Interaction

So I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to get just two little things and was left in awe of the checkout girl.  First of all, for the 17th time in a row when I started reading off the phone number for our rewards cards (those things are such a freaking scam...can't you figure out a better way to track what I buy?) I was asked, after the first three digits, "is that the area code?"  You see, both Danielle and I have "not from here" numbers because we got our cell phones "not here", but the checkout persons at the store somehow think that here, in 2013, we are going to try and give them seven digits and call it a day.  I was going to ask her "when's the last time someone said "oh my mistake" and corrected it?  does anyone EVER screw this up?" not so much to be a jerk but really because I was curious.  Are there people out there that just say "867-5309" and walk away?  I realize it's almost certainly not her fault;  they do this so regularly that it has to be some sort of mandate or training they get that management has decided makes things run more smoothly.  Just as my mind settled on "you should ask, but do so in a funny, joking way" I was hit with another whammy.  My total was $12.xx you see, and when I dove into my wallet I found only 20s and a slew (but non 13) of 1s.  I say to myself "Self, you can solve this problem with gusto and flourish!.  You have been educated at arguably the finest university in all the land.  What you must do is hand her the twenty dollar bill (which alone will cover the sum of your purchases), AND ALSO hand her not one, not two, but three of the Washingtons.  You will receive a single $10 bill as change and everyone will be happier; your wallet will have fewer bills (always desirable) and her drawer will have more (always desirable).  Self, you are a master of efficiency!"

My coup is met not merely with a vacant stare.  If only that were the case!  But not here, no no, here my efforts are met with open disdain bordering on hostility!  "I don't need these...just the twenty" are the words I hear as my chin grows heavy, seeking desperately the floor, and the Washingtons are thrust back across the divider.  As the change rattles out of the dispenser two feet further down the line (those things should be against the law I forget to grab it half the time) she goes for the death blow.  Her drawer?  Out of 5s.  So what do I get right behind the three washingtons she just handed back to me to add to the six were patiently waiting in my wallet?  Seven.  More.  She practically shoves the flowers and diet pepsi (serious business here) at me straight away, without even attempting any sort of bagging procedure, as I'm still stuffing the additional washingtons into my billfold.  Ambling towards my car I am left with the distinct tingling sensation that I have just witnessed something magical.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Patience and Apathy

I seem to be on a bit of a kick here.  Confidence is good;  overconfidence is usually bad.  It's ok to be ignorant;  it's definitely not ok to be a bigot or evil.  As I was swimming I realized something else today, and that's that having the correct amount of patience in your life is something that a lot of people THINK they know, but in truth haven't really ever thought about (just like all the stuff in How to Win Friends and Influence People which by the way if you have not read you should).  It occurred as I was slowing down during a set of 10 150s (on 2:30, my progress has been just great the last two weeks) and decided to try the 5th rep making sure I took as few strokes as possible.  You see the tendency when you swim (and are out of shape like I am) and want to go faster is to take more strokes.  Strokes are the thing that make you go forward, right?  If you take more, you'll go forward more, right? Nope.  So what happened?  My fifth rep was actually faster than my 2nd (usually the fastest for me), AND I expended less energy because I had drastically increased my efficiency (for the record I was trying to keep these under 2:00) while it absolutely felt like I was moving more slowly.  Neat stuff that patience and discipline.  If I'm going to make it 26.2 miles in 7 days I'm going to need every trick I can muster;  this has been the closest development to a silver bullet I could possibly have hoped for.

Then I got to thinking on the drive home that while most people suffer from a lack of patience in many endeavors (their relationships, their jobs, poker, etc), if one were to have an excess of patience it could manifest itself outwardly as a sense of apathy.  The analogy isn't perfect, but you can probably see where I am going with this.  If you're too patient waiting for some good result to happen, but aren't actively pursuing it, what you're actually doing is being apathetic.  Sometimes the only thing you can do is wait, and when that's the case taking action can actually get you into trouble.  Letting your partner cool off after an argument is a great example.  It's fucking HARD to go to your corner and think about how on Earth you just got into a heated discussion over something that silly and just let it be for a little while.  But most of the time in that spot that's the exact right thing to do.  But waiting patiently for the situation to change, without taking action, being the correct course of action is likely the exception, not the norm (thank goodness, as I am horrendous at actively pursuing the course of action of "just wait for it").  There is a balance that needs to be struck.  If you want to affect change in your life you need to be working towards it, but at the same time you need to have patience and not get frustrated when you don't see those changes immediately.

Now it is time for a hand that I sweated!

The SK opens stone cold UTG in a pretty full game and hero three bets a few spots later with the ace and the jack of spades.  SK calls, they see a flop hu


Or something like that.  There is no straight.  SK checks and calls.


Again, I think that was the card.  Maybe it was a 3, but it was pretty much a blank regardless.  SK checks and hero..checks it back!  My immediate thought at the time is that he needs to be betting that card because he is at the stone cold bottom of his range in terms of showdown strength (I think....maybe he wasn't but I sure would have been) and has a flush draw.  Ergo he must bet.  But the more I think about it thinking about GTO stuff here is pretty silly.  He has the ace and the jack high, and we are in a decidedly narrow range spot.  The SK is going to be super good (even better than you know) against his specific holding in this specific spot, so maybe he does need to be checking.  I just don't know.

He rivers the 6 of spades because "that's the second best sweater in the business back there SK" and gets to raise and snap off two of the three remaining aces (whoopsie) and we all have a good laugh.  But I thought the turn spot was kind of interesting I guess.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Swimming Report

One thing I hadn't really taken into account was just big of a pain in the ass it is to try and swim a legitimate workout in the pool in our community.  The 24h fitness pools can be crowded (and one time I even got kicked out by a water aerobics class) but at least there are lane lines, pace clocks, and no little kids splashing around trying to get themselves clobbered (except that one time).  Seriously, a lot of people don't realize this but collisions with someone of mass actually swimming at a reasonable rate of speed can be rather violent, especially because their pointy parts are flailing all about in every which direction.  Growing up I saw not one but two foot bones broken during swim practice, just from a simple breast stroke kick.  I guess the point is that I weigh 170 pounds and even if I'm only going 2 miles per hour if my head slams into your head it's not gonna be good for anybody.  The last time I tried to swim down there there must have been 10 kids running around, and they just don't get the picture.  I'm trying to swim in the three feet of pool next to the wall and well...yeesh.  And no pace clock...not cool.  Also very sunny;  I'm getting a nice tan that I don't really want.

But it's good.  I should be able to make the 26.2 miles physically, and am now just sweating the mental side of things.  Conservatively I need to be in the water for an hour twice a day all 7 days to get this thing done; and that's a lot of boredom, a lot of driving, and an awful lot of patience.

Life otherwise is pretty good I guess.  I had more to say but I don't seem to have any idea where it went :)