Thursday, April 21, 2005

Perspective Tidbits

Yesterday was a good day for gaining a bit of perspective. Whether it was one of the poker deities sending signs, God himself, or simply the all too human need to see patterns or signs where they don’t necessarily exist, I got a bit of the perspective I try to always look for. I just hope I can make it last more than a week.

The last 2-3 weeks have been a combination of the cards not running so hot combined with some admittedly sub-optimal (see: Idiotic) play. Last night is a good example. I jumped into a $10 + 1 PL tourney on Stars, just the type of tourney I normally excel in. Good hands were few and far between, but I was hanging tough, and with blinds at 150/300 I made a completely rotten bluff. I didn’t even have a longshot draw when I did it…dumb,dumb,dumb. So there’s my brief example of poor cards + poor play. More details would likely send you running away screaming from these pages.

The flash of perspective came while watching the final table of the US Poker Championships on ESPN before I headed off to work. John D’Agostino had his nearest competitor at the table outchipped over 4 to 1 and was well on his way to cruising into the win for over 700K. I won’t go into too many details and ruin the show for those who Tivo’d it or anything, but aside from one questionably played hand, D’Agostino proceeded to get drawn and quartered on every single good holding. Insult piling up on injury, culminating with Hoyt Corkins going for a blind steal (all-in with 87o), D’Agostino calling with pocket 10’s, and Corkins getting quad 7’s. D’Agostino lost it (but regained composure with admirable speed), and went home with 50K or so. A decent amount of money, to be sure, but when you have a seeming lock on the top 3 for a six figure payday, that pill must be VERY bitter.

Perspective? It happens online, and it also happens live, time and time again. I am not special. I am the all-singing all-dancing crap of the poker world (yes, that was a blatant Fight Club reference).

I also overheard a guy yesterday telling someone that he was facing eviction if the student financial aid bureaucracy didn’t quit dragging their asses, he was basically living off of a good portion of that money. The guy wasn’t some kid, he was mid-40’s, at least. Now, I’m reasonably sure that several poor choices along the way contributed to him being in this spot in the first place, but nonetheless it snapped on the bulb illuminating the good fortune I do have.

Perspective? Granted, I’ve put in a lot of work, but I’m still very fortunate to be in a position to sit around and play poker like a struggling donk, whine about running bad, brag about running and playing well, etc. There’s a lot of folks out there that have things much worse.

Well, it’s that, or the entire thing is rigged to the tits and I’m seeing lessons and patterns where none exist. Again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Long and Completely Fantastical

Not sure how creative this will be, but what the hell (and please pardon any grammatical errors)…

Like anything momentous in a person’s life, there is always that one hurdle that had to be surmounted before gathering ones self and pushing towards the top. My hurdle was the WPBT blogger event for the $1500 NLHE seat. Winning a tournament is difficult in the best of circumstances, but luck was on my side, and coupled with some major patience, I made it through.

I am unfadeable. (Check your hip hop lingo dictionary if this term is unfamiliar)

As we arrive at the Golden Nugget, the history of old Vegas begins to do a slow creep into my bones. It speaks to me in that primitive way that cannot be heard, it can only be felt. For the first time in quite a while, I am the Chosen One. I only have a few hours before I have to sit in the first major tournament I have ever played in, and there are a couple of things that must be done beforehand…..

I must find Iggy and AlCantHang.

The desire to find all of the other bloggers coming to Vegas is there, but the time to do it is not, so I have to prioritize. Before leaving for Vegas I was sure to make all of the appropriate burnt offerings to the various poker deities, but if I don’t complete these last two things, there’s no telling how it could affect my fortune. (For the record, the poker gods consider throwing several fish on the grill appropriate) I needed to be blessed by a couple of the degenerate saints that inhabit this community. Showing up without my blessings would be akin to…well…showing up to a WSOP event with no pants. What blessings, though?

I need to shake Iggy’s hand and say ‘Thanks’ for setting the whole thing up. I also want to give Otis my thanks as well since I know he had some kind of hand in the thing. Perhaps they will be together and I can kill two birds with one stone, ensuring rock solid karma. Shit, I have no idea where Iggy is at………but Al probably does.

Time to head over and search all of the bars at the Plaza. This is where I will likely find him and accomplish my first task: Drink a double shot of SoCo with the master. I’m not such a big fan of SoCo, but after reading the stories, I know that it has carried Al through many days, both good and bad. If it can carry him, it can carry me.

I should have known. I don’t need to find Iggy or Otis, they are right there at the bar with everyone else, where Al is holding court and putting giant dents in the Las Vegas liquor supply. In one swift shot, literally and figuratively, my tasks are accomplished and I get to quickly meet all of these great folks before I have to head over to the event. To my surprise, everyone is coming to the start of the event, and the weight of representing the community well gets a bit more noticeable. The SoCo is kicking in though, reinforcing the fact that….

I am unfadeable.

The community arrives. Someone from ESPN comes up and asks something inane about the arriving ‘blogger crew’ they have heard about. I quickly admonish the person, clarifying the small but important fact that this is a contingent and not a ‘crew’. After all, any loose associations to “The Crew” are unwanted and unnecessary. This group will win your money, not swindle you out of it. So admonished, the crew member skulks back to the hole from whence he came. .

The play begins, and the most surprising thing about it is that very few people are playing much better than a drunken monkey at a $5 Party Poker table. Like chaff being separated from the wheat, the monkeys are separated out and we are in the money within a record breaking short period of time, and play for the day ends, finding me with a healthy stack.

After weathering a long night overflowing with amounts of nervous energy and very little sleep, it’s time to play the second day. Pocket Kings get cracked in the early going, and I spend the rest of this day fighting with the “Fuck it” guy in my head and stay patient. I manage to double a couple of times in the face of withering aggression, and end the day with a spot at the final table. My stack is short by comparison, and no one, least of all me, can quite believe it. TV crews seek bloggers for interviewing; Iggy gets outed when he is ambushed by a UPN TV crew. No one can figure out what the hell UPN is doing there, but then someone realizes that no one watches that channel anyway, so it’s not like he really got outed. All is well. As far as the rest of the world knows, Iggy is still a dwarf.

It’s final table time. I really want to crap my pants, but I can’t, seeing as how I travel commando, and all. Al tries an infusion of SoCo, but this time it doesn’t help. I have a short stack at the final table in a big event, and nothing will cure the nervous shakes. Then, like rays from heaven, I look into the beaming and serene face of one Mr. McGrupp.

“Looks like you need a bit of help from Mr. Leary”, he says, as he passes me a note only slightly larger than the edge spots of the chips I will be handling in a few minutes time.

As I take my seat, the unwritten words of the note begin a full frontal assault on my senses, and suddenly, I know everything I need to. As my everyday consciousness recedes, I find myself correctly translating words and actions which were previously hidden. Losing time causes all play at the final table to be a blur, except for snippets of called all-in bets with me serenely walking over to the rail to receive a fortifying double SoCo from Al as the flop, turn, and river are dealt. Coming out the other side, I find myself heads up with…….. The Hammer.

I raise big, but I get reraised a middling amount. The wisdom of the tiny note imparts to me the knowledge that I already posses; my opponent is holding Aces or Kings. There is quite a bit of money between first and second, but the second place is still nothing to sneeze at. Boy that bracelet sure is nice. I know I can outplay this guy and win, but I feel the weight of the community. They would want to see the hammer, so I push.

And lose.

I didn’t really expect to beat that pair of Kings. After all, it is the worst hand in poker, but that doesn’t mean that my read was incorrect. In showing the courage to pick up that Hammer and wield it with strength, only the minimum attention is paid to the winner. People want to know about bloggers and The Hammer, Vegas is fairly buzzing at this rare display. Party Poker begins discussions over getting rid of the High-Hand Jackpot and instituting a Hammer Jackpot. Al picks up an endorsement from Southern Comfort due to the shots he handed me on the rail. His new moniker is “The SoCo Sidekick”, and the company will be sending him on drunken world tour to promote their product. No one really knows where Mr. McGrupp went off to. Most likely he’s wandering a twilight desert discussing Nietzsche with someone’s ghost and writing fantastic accounts of the events he is supposed to be covering.

Me? I’m still unfadeable, and will be for the foreseeable future.

(Good idea BadBlood, that was fun)

Min Bet Monkey Swarm

Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve been this happy about it being Tuesday. Yesterday was farkin awful, which makes me kind of happy since it makes it even more unlikely that the rest of the week could be worse. Then again, you never know…

You know it’s time to give up on (insert day of the week here) when the best thing on TV is Steven Seagal. Granted, it was Marked for Death which was the coolest movie ever when I was 14, but that was nearly 15 years ago; not so much anymore.

What to do? Fire up the gambling machines. Mrs. Head is still plugging away at the $5 SnG’s and her game is making quite a few leaps, even if her starter bankroll is not. She’s taken some vicious beats over the last month, culminating in her first ‘my opponent hit his one outer’ beat. It was brutal, but to her credit she keeps her head about her a lot better than I do in similar situations, taking a 3rd place finish last night. I fired up a $1/2 table and a $5 SnG and ended up taking a 2nd place along with ending up about 5BB at the Limit table, which was pretty rocky, but what the hell I wasn’t there for very long.

OK, enough with the long windedness concerning trivial things. While the Mrs. and I are playing and discussing the bad, horrible, atrocious, appalling, etc. play on the $5 level, both of us tried to come up with an explanation for the latest epidemic on the low limit SnG’s. This is something that has always been around to some extent, but it seems to have gotten much worse as of late.

Example: Early stages (10/20) and someone raises to t100, which 4 other nits call, of course. The pot is t500 or so, monkey min bets, is raised to t220 and calls. Turn comes and the monkey min bets again, gets raised and calls. River comes….oh, another min bet from the monkey! Of course, another raise comes and monkey calls to show bottom pair and lose.

It gets even more amusing when other players try to bluff the min bet monkey, and they do try frequently. Don’t think I’m complaining, these players are absolute gold, but what’s the deal? I am seriously curious how this technique is being perpetuated as good practice. Regardless of who is teaching that this is good NL technique, and regardless of the conditions causing the increase in it’s acceptance, it’s getting pretty bad (or I should say good). In the last three tiny buy-in SnG’s I’ve played, four or five of the nine players were min bet monkeys.

Human Head Tip of the Day: If you want to relax with some poker and make a bit of money while not having to invest more than peanuts, take some time and frustration out on the recent swarm of min bet monkeys. It’s good fun, very relaxing, and doesn’t do damage to the roll.

Seriously, mini-Blood could run over most of these. Well, maybe that’s not a good example. Judging from the stories, he’d likely wipe the floor with me, as well.

Monday, April 18, 2005

More Cube Chronicles

I am Nick Burns.

I wasn’t always like this.

When I came into my job, I was really pumped. Sure, I have to deal with some users every now and again, but how bad can that be? I’ll just educate them, help them out, and all will be well as time goes by. Then I can devote my time to system improvements and other problems that are worth fixing, right? I’ll be nice, gently guiding my users down the path to personal tech enlightenment, and together we will achieve workplace nirvana.


I’ve known it all along, but today it finally dawned on me with weird sort of finality. Users are frikkin’ incurable idiots. What makes it really bad is that they are idiots who care very little about their idiocy, and even less about trying to gain enough knowledge to propel them up from ‘complete vegetable’ to ‘mildly functional retard’ user status.

Sure, no one knows everything about everything, least of all me. But damn, is learning how to not hit ‘Reply to All’ on an email really that difficult? How about dragging and dropping? Sometimes I wonder, do these same people end up frozen in their driveways on random mornings straining with effort and whining at the huge intellectual leaps required of them to start their car?

I used to think Nick Burns was just a pompous uber-techie, but I was wrong. He is simply resigned to his fate until he can get promoted further down the techie rabbit hole, that wonderful place where there are no users. Being nice is simply too much wasted effort, and now I am him and he is me.


(If you are reading this, no matter how dumb you think you are, you are not one of the folks I speak of. You can find and read a blog. If I said the word “blog” around any of these, they would likely think I was swearing at them in Klingon or talking about a strange foreign food. Thanks for reading about my frustration.)