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.