Monday, April 29, 2013

Delusion and Arrogance

The world really does run on delusion.  We have all heard that something like 90% of drivers think that they are above average, and we can all see that obviously this is completely ridiculous.  At a minimum 40% of people are getting the answer to a true false question incorrect here (and that's if 100% of the people who actually say they are below average actually do suck at driving).  There should be a little bit more signal, or so you'd think, but that wouldn't take into account the fact that most of the human population is completely delusional when it comes to rating their own competency.  I read somewhere that only the clinically depressed do well when it comes to accurately assessing one's strengths and weaknesses.  That's pretty absurd, if you think about it, but it kind of makes sense from an evolutionary point of view if you make the simple assumption that confidence helps us survive.  And while I'm not necessarily sure that was true millions or even thousands of years ago (you can make cases both ways, obviously.  being confident that you can catch the prey or win the fight helps, if you're right...), it is definitely true in modern society.  Confidence in men is most certainly sexually selected for by the finer sex, and therefore it stands to reason that as we go down through the generations we should end up with more confident people and fewer with low self esteem;  those guys just have a harder time getting laid, right?  Or at least that's what women's magazines would have you believe.

None of that is really the point that I'm trying to make, though, so if you disagree as usual I'd say you could well be right and read on anyway.  What I want to talk about here is how our society, and particularly the segment of it that I wade through day in and day out, is set up to take advantage of this chronic over-confidence.  For an easy example let's take the housing boom.  What fueled that?  Well OK a lot of shit fueled that but one of the primary problems was that confident, aggressive people were SURE housing had nowhere to go but up (despite the fact that since our population was not sky rocketing it made no sense that "space to live" was doubling in value) and therefore made not just an effort to become more exposed, but rather a herculean one.  And what happens when people make a herculean effort to buy something they probably shouldn't?  Businessmen bend over backward to sell it to them, that's what!  Bang...housing bubble!

What about poker?  It's sort of the same thing as the preposterous driving statistic from above (for the record I believe that my "A" driving game is probably in the 75th percentile across all humans, perhaps slightly lower if you account for the fact that good drives drive more miles...My "B" game, however, degrades rapidly).  I have never done a study on this, but I'd be willing to bet that something like 90% of poker players over-estimate their skill (and edge) in a given situation.  There are lots of reasons for this.  People who run poorly to start their careers tend to quit;  those who run hot tend to stick around and then assume they are running badly for the next 15 years.  People who think they are losing players don't have much fun and therefore quit.  People who think they are winning players enjoy their time at the club and come back again and again.  Pros don't realize that they are in tough games where people just aren't making idiotic mistakes.  People get drunk and don't realize how bad they play when they do (except Medium Bob....that dude plays SOLID when he's drunk.  And honestly 8 mile too....props guys).  I mean just run the numbers on how much money is going down the hole in your average 40/80 game at Commerce and it'll make you cry.  40 hands per hour, almost no chops, 5+1+ tip that's something like $250-$280/hour.  That's $30 EACH!  You have to win about 1 bet per hundred hands just to break even;  what percentage of the population is capable of that?  10?  20 seems absurd.  And yet there are routinely 4, 5, 6 games at that level, not to mention a 60 or two, and a half dozen other games.  And let's not even talk about 8/16 and below which I am close to convinced is completely unbeatable.  The point is that people think they can win, they really do, and the owners of the casino are very, very happy to just let them try their hardest and wonder why they never seem to catch that big hot streak.  Good lord I can't imagine how badly some fish can run, given that in theory I am one of the people who does win and I have taken 300 bet downers.  Imagine if my "true win rate" was actually -1 instead of +.5 for those 150 hours!  I'd have lost another 225 bets!

I was planning to pick some more things to talk about but honestly this post is probably long enough.  Make sure you assess your own skills (and your ranking among your peers) accurately.  Confidence is probably a good thing, but when it creeps towards arrogance or delusion it can really get expensive.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Another week has gone by and I've had nothing to say.  Danielle and I went to the happiest place on earth last Wednesday to celebrate her birthday (for a second time) and as usual it was a lot of fun.  Not as usual, however, we got what in my opinion was a perfect day.  High of 64 degrees or so, zero sun whatsoever, just overcast and "dreary" all day, with even a few sprinkles here and there.  It was glorious, honestly.  I wasn't hot all day, and after she made me run down main street to make rope drop, then run halfway across the park to get in the front row on the first run on matterhorn, the rest of the day was very peaceful.  We ate way too much way too bad food, but that's to be expected at Disney Land.  We rode splash mountain 3 times, which is great since it's a very fun ride and she used to be unwilling to go on it.  We hit all the usual suspects, but some of them were closed due to osha (sp?) violations (lol....if Walt had to deal with those bastards I wonder if we'd even have Disney Land).

Swimming is going still just sort of OK.  By now I need to be swimming something resembling real workouts, or at least half real workouts, or the week itself is going to be very tortuous.  It's  My goal is going to be to ramp up to about 2 miles a day from my current...1....over the next week or so, then get up to swimming some two a days so that the actual marathon itself isn't that big of a jump.  I should be fine, it's just hard to stay motivated to keep swimming after about 30 or 45 minutes.  Why would I talk about poker?  If I had something I wanted to say on that subject I'd have written in before now :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Data Structures and The Hungry

So as I was browsing through netflix to put something reasonable at the top of the queue (last night we watched The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and if I took no action The (original) Manchurian Candidate was inbound....these movies are not awful but I mean...we can do better.  We have the technology!), I got hungry.  Then I began browsing our reserves in the kitchen and it occurred to me that, sadly, our food is basically organized as a stack.  As I was rooting around for my old stand by favorites and striking out on one after another, I realized that I was basically digging deeper and deeper down the stack.  No soft tortilla shells to make a cay sah dilla?  OK.  No yogurt (except the big container Danielle admonished me not to eat because it was for her you only have to tell me once that by the way expired in mid march), no double fiber wheat bread from the store, already had like three pieces of the loaf the bread maker outputted yesterday.  Out of tuna?  For serious?  Eventually I found myself eating baby carrots (in theory expired weeks ago but they seem fine), almonds, and a bowl of cheerios.  After that I was still hungry, so I ate a bowl of...Lucky Charms!  I don't even really like lucky charms, but they were there, and I was far enough down the stack to dig right in!  Dinner of champions!

In other news....well, there really isn't much other news.  I haven't been playing very much, have been working out a fair bit.  Played a softball game Wednesday and didn't make an ass of myself (two good plays at 2nd base, no errors, two hits and three runs).  And I guess that's about it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Real Set

First of all, my straight swim warm ups are getting longer and longer.  I don't really know how to describe this, but when you're in shape and swimming regularly you can just sort of swim forever, kind of just like walking.  It gets boring (very boring) but you can just sort of go and go and go and you don't really get tired if you maintain the right pace.  At the peak of my powers I'm sure I could have just jumped into the pool and swum 3 or 5 miles straight with no problem whatsoever, and gotten out of the pool and honestly not even felt that worked;  doing so at a slow pace would have been far easier than the work outs we swam.

Swims like this will eat up a large chunk of the mileage I need to cover, and I was a little scared the first day when fatigue set in around 75 yards.  Today I was cruising though five hundred yards with really no problem, and if I keep at it I should probably be able to do a mile straight without much difficulty.  The actual plan for getting the 26 miles done is going to require two workouts a day (or maybe even three on some days) just so I don't go insane.  A four mile session is just more than I can handle right now without some companionship (a master's team).  If I can start them with long paced swims, that'll help tremendously.

Today's "main set" was 10x100 IM on 2:00, and you know what?  Piece of cake.  I swam them in about 1:20-1:25 (with cheating back to breast flip turns...there are no flags yo!)  The problem I'm running into now is exactly what I feared;  shear boredom.  All the injuries are under control;  not a hint of shoulder problems (the only real potential show stopper), elbow is doing just fine, and my wrist is actually getting BETTER from all this.  So that's just great.  I don't miss that itchy tingling bleached feeling I seem to have every day, and Danielle has complained once that I smell like a fish tank, but it is what it is.  I suppose my next goal is to be able to a set of 200 IMs, but that's probably a fair bit off unless I don't take the butterfly leg very seriously.

Poker.  Meh.  Who wants to talk about poker?   Fine, fine, fine, I share a story of the KK's greatness!

The KK is stuck and running out of time, and therefore playing almost every hand.  I love it when this happens (as an aside my track record setting on the left of maniacs is getting so bad I am seriously questioning if I'm doing something seriously wrong...not in this hand though), and bust his balls to no end.  I think he honestly thinks that his strategy of hit and running the game for $600 seven days in a row, then playing stuck 60 bets on the 8th is optimal!  Anyway....he opens in the cutoff and I three bet on the button with the king and the nine of clubs.  It is what it is, yes it's probably a LITTLE lose but it's CO vs Button with huge whales in the blinds who...wake up with monsters.  The SB calls three cold (could be anything) and the big blind caps a range so narrow it makes me want to cry.  KK calls, blah blah blah, four ways.  Remember, he's stuck 50 bets and just trying to steam his way even.


Bing.  Action happens.  I think the big blind bet/3-bets and I raise/cap.  The small blind calls two cold twice, and KK gets four bets into the pot on the 1-2-1 installment plan.  Let's do this a little differently and look at the hands, shall we?

SB - The man with blue tooth holds an Ace and  Queen.  He has called 4 times so far, three of them being multiple bets.

BB - Aces LDO

KK - The King and the Ten of Hearts.  That's right.  The king.  And the ten.  Of hearts.  No pair.  No draw.  Cannot win on the next card and somebody has a flush draw.

Me - 40% equity in a four way pot about to get a free card.

So on the turn we see:


And I do exactly what I'm supposed to do and take a free card.  Honestly, and this is just amazing, given the hands out there and that none of them were raising I actually had a value bet.  You all know where this is going though....

River Ten, the blinds both check, KK bets, I fold, they both call, KK wins.  He's the best.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Man I Don't Know

Blogging is just getting to be kind of tiresome.  Lots of things are getting to be kind of tiresome, to be honest.  I probably haven't been on two plus two in two weeks, and to be honest I don't even really miss it.  I kind of miss my friends, but the ones that I really want to talk with, I try to go out of my way to call on the phone or talk to on skype.  And if I haven't reached out to you in that way I apologize and would like to point out that email communication goes both ways and I guarantee a response within a few hours of reading your message.  The two plus two party in vegas is officially not happening (from what I can gather) but I will still try my best to head out there if everyone else is going.

Turns out I haven't written a blog post (or even considered writing one) in 11 days, and Danielle has actually been harping on me to provide training updates and what not.  She seems to think that people will be more likely to donate if I put up some sort of counter or something on here;  I dunno, I don't really feel like doing that to be honest.  Elizabeth has donations of over $3k now, and I think she should be able to get to the $5k she promised in order to compete in the event.  Some of you out there have donated, and for that I am very grateful;  honestly I was expecting a little more money to flow in a little more quickly, but I completely understand.  Some of the people I emailed probably hadn't heard a word from me since the last time I asked them for money almost 2 years ago, and this cause is a little different than the Aquathon so quote a wise man....I understand.  If you're considering donating, though, go ahead and do it now on Elizabeth's page.

My training has been going pretty much OK.  I am considering joining up with a Master's team of some sort to make a real push, and I think right now I could actually survive such an endeavor.  It comes back pretty quickly, and to be honest I feel great.  I've been doing real sets and stuff now pretty consistently, although my workout tends to last only 45 minutes or so simply because I get so damn bored.  Today I did a set of 8 150s on 2:30 without much trouble at all, finishing them in around 2:00 flat.  Back in high school that would have been decidedly loafing my way through a set (such a think would have been a viable warm up before a meet actually), but for a now 31 year old who hasn't swum a real workout in a decade.  Decidedly not awful IMO.

And another thing.  I'm getting old and to be honest it's getting pretty old.  Like, seriously?  I'm 31 now?  It's 2013?  There has to have been some sort of mistake or clerical error that can account for these seemingly preposterous statements actually being, apparently, rock solid facts.  I'm coming up on FIVE YEARS as a professional poker player.  That'll be longer than I've ever done anything other than swim and play baseball in my entire life.  All kinds of scary going on.  I did recently share a childhood memory with Danielle about hitting a grand slam to mercy rule our arch rival baseball team;  one of the proudest singular moments of my life, honestly, it was just so awesome.

And then there is this thing that happened in Boston.  You know what, actually I'm not even going to go there.  It was fucking awful that's all I'm going to say.

So that's about where I'm at.  Poker is just sort of...going.  I have won a bunch recently, but my yearly results are still pathetic.  They officially shuttered the bike 40 game (they will no longer spread the game for us) and that's just a kick in the ass.  Of the like 5k I have won this year, 18 of it was in that game apparently.  Yeah that's not good...not good at all.  I was just always so, I dunno, comfortable there.  So now I must, as my swim coach always used to say, adapt, improvise, and overcome.  And that's exactly what I'm going to do :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hand of the Day Number 412

Somebody limps and somebody raises and I 3-bet with AKcc and the blinds come along and we're about 5 ways, it's not really important, big pot is all.


I bet the SB check/raises me everyone folds and I call.


He bets, and I call.  What else could I possibly do?


He looks at the board (which has 5 red cards and 4 hearts), then realizes what's going on and refers to his hole cards.  He is obviously looking for a heart, and even more obviously doesn't find one, and then checks. I realize that I hold precisely the nut no-flush, so I fire a value bet.  He disgustedly calls.  I turn over the AKcc and he turns over the ATss for the stone cold nut top boat.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Random Thoughts

Swimming is going well.  I am getting stronger and the only injury that seems to be threatening to linger is the sore elbow.  But it's also the most manageable one, so I should be fine.  Donations have started somewhat slowly, but thank you very much to the people who have already chipped in.

I played a softball game this week.  It was fun, but sadly the team already had an old fat short white guy with double knee braces, so second base was occupied.  This means they had to put me in right field, where not only am I not comfortable, but also the balls tend to spin funny and break back towards the line off of right handed bats.  One did that and probably also hit a divot (these fields are not what you could call manicured),  made a hard right turn and got past me to turn a bases loaded single into a grand slam.  But the next three guys hit doubles, so it's not like it mattered a whole lot.  My performance at the plate was unfortunately 0-3, but with solid contact all three times (one hopper to short, line drive to second, grounder up the middle that the short stop booted).

Poker...well...Some funny shit happened yesterday in what had to be one of the worst logistical nightmares of my life.  I won't go into details of that, but here are the stories.  First, after our must move game broke a player managed to get himself taken off the board and then be at the end of the list when it restarted.  He waited patiently the whole time and made the call right before the game started (75 minutes after it went down and oh by the way of course I was 1st up the whole time).  I told the floor this.  He told me what happened.  I told him that was an angle shoot.  He told me "that's what I told him" to which I responded "but you let him do it?"  He looked at me like I had two heads.

Our next story is a bad beat.  I was winning a ton and decided to play another hour or so, and so obviously raised a limper with 55, got 3 bet, and my favorite showdown bound maniacal lag called 3 cold on the button.  Big blind calls 5 ways:


Checks thru.  Seriously.


I bet, the lag calls and so does the big blind.  Obviously I lose the pot to a small diamond on the river, but here is the fun part.  The lag shows me KJdd.  Not shit box diamond diamond.  King.  Jack.  He was on the button and checked back the AJT flop after calling three cold with the KJdd.  In a 15 bet pot.  Then of course I get the spectacular asshole card on the turn to lose three bets and I end up making a comment I shouldn't make but I mean really...this guy wonders why he loses 8 racks from time to time.

I could tell KK stories all day now but I just don't feel up to it.