geek stuff Uncategorized

Finally! I advance to Day Two of WSOP Event #12.

I have made it through to Day Two of the $1,500 limit poker event. I think somewhere in the area of 180 players remain and a bit less than half of those will get paid. I had a great level nine and a grueling level 10. I ended the day at 18,300 where average is around 14.5k or so. Early on, my edge on the field was comically vast. Many of these players had a very limited grasp on some fairly basic limit concepts. As Matthew commented to me, by the first forty minutes he had seen at least one mistake by every player at his table. There were so many hands I don’t think I can even remember most of them.

I made some plays that I consider fairly standard that seemed to put other players on tilt. In one hand on level 6, I raised with TT from the hijack and the SB three bet. I figure he wants to isolate me and price the big blind out, so I four bet him which he caps (five bets is the cap here). The flop comes down AK5 and when he bets, I raise. My thinking is that if he has QQ or JJ, I might get him to fold to continued aggression and if he doesn’t then I might get to showdown cheap. This seems like a pretty normal line to me, but he really hated it. The turn is a Jack, which gives me a gutshot draw to add to my collection, so I check behind with three overcards on the table. The river is a Queen, giving me the nut straight. He bets, I raise, he calls and shows AK for top two and he develops a significant attitude problem. I also made some three bet isolation raises with small pairs that also tilted people and some very standard calldowns with middling pairs on boards that missed their range most of the time.

One thing I saw was that river bets were usually extreme strength or total bluffs. If you have a good idea of their range, you can often tell which it is.

I think I pretty much kept my stack above average the whole way down. I was the last man standing at my original table, which never broke all day long. Barry Schulman was one of the last ones to bust from my original table. He was a pretty good limit player, much better than the average standard, but he was still fairly predictable post-flop. I’d say he didn’t put me in a lot of tricky situations post-flop, like many Stars players at 30/60 and above will do. As the tables broke, my table got considerably tougher. I played with a guy who looks a bit like Mark Newhouse (but isn’t) who was clearly a fairly skilled limit poker player. I’m pretty sure one of the two Asian lags at my table is a name pro, but I don’t know him.

Its obvious to me that Limit poker is my best game. I felt quite confident I knew what I wanted to do and what the other players were doing pretty much the whole time.

Matthew busted sometime after the last break. He stopped by and said that he had Aces cracked. Hopefully I can keep it up tomorrow.

live updates Uncategorized

Almost done with the evil kitchen!

I’ve played a little bit of poker, but am hopelessly off the pace. I think I’m at 4,100 FPP at this point. I’m about to fly off to New York, so I will probably not play this weekend at all. On the plus side, the kitchen is nearly done. We’re probably going to get different outlet covers, refinish the floors and need to do a few trim items, but it is nearly there.

We’re pleased with the granite (click for high-res):


Half of the new granite installed!

Its kind of a good news/bad news thing. We really, really love the way the new countertops turned out. Unfortunately, the installers managed to crack the longest piece all the way through. In the thin piece just in front of the sink, there is a noticeable crack that runs all the way through it. I’m pretty sure they did it while they were trying to manhandle it into place. They offered to replace it or give me a discount on the price and I went for the replacement option.

Here is a semi-blurry photo of the new counters:

Once they install the backsplash (Thursday!), I’ll post up a few more pictures.  I may even break out the good camera, so you can see it!  Torch will note that the fridge is indeed counter depth.  I don’t like to admit it, but I think he was right.  It would look odd if it wasn’t.

I’ve played very little poker, but I did get in a few hands last night.  Nothing spectacular to report.  In fact, I actually don’t even know if I’m up or down for the month.


Home Renovation Progress at last!

This blog entry is essentially devoid of poker content.  Sorry about that.

My Dad came up to help with the electrical projects.  We took down the old kitchen light fixture, poked a new hole across the room, ran wire between them and installed new new ceiling boxes (as well as reassembled the old light until the new track lighting goes in).  We added an outlet in the new mud room closet where we set up a charging station for all our cameras and cell phones and various gadgets.  That one was a challenge since there were studs everywhere, including some that were inexplicably sideways.  We tore up a chunk of drywall, but fortunately that will be covered by the backsplash, so no real harm there.  It all went so well that we added an additional project to the mix and installed a three way dimmer switch on the mud room lights.  That one was actually a pain in the neck because the wires that were supposed to be plainly labeled as to which was which no the switches and color-coded on the insulation were neither.  They didn’t use standard wire colors and they painted over the switch so you couldn’t read what terminal was what.  To add insult to injury, my multi-meter gave up the ghost.  I was pleased to discover that a new one was only like $14, so not even a small blind.  Once we got a new meter working, it went pretty smoothly from there.  I had to fuss with the switches to get the faceplate to mount properly, but it all looks great now.  We also cleaned up some work in the fusebox from where we removed the old circuit for the electric oven and upgraded the bathroom to a 20 amp circuit.

Even better, the granite guys are bringing our new counter tops Monday!  We have been very eagerly awaiting this day.  Having the counters installed will really change things from feeling like we are living in a construction site to having a new kitchen.  I’m so pleased with how things have gone, I might even play a little poker tonight.

poker Uncategorized

The coolest music video I have ever seen.

Reggie Watts: Out Of Control from Jakob Lodwick on Vimeo.


I am completely buried.

Me being me, I can’t really just sit back and watch someone else do the new kitchen. I have very specific ideas about proper carpentry and I find than not many people share my particular brand of fussiness. Therefore, I feel the need to stay directly involved so that I can steer the project in the direction I want. This has forced many of my other outside activities to the background, which includes blogging, playing poker and damn near everything else.

A before picture of the ITH crowd in my old kitchen:

Old kitchen

A view of my new kitchen about three days ago:

New kitchen

I’ve got some current pictures, but they aren’t handy at the moment. At this point, all of the upper cabinets and base cabinets for the main part of the kitchen are in place as well as most of the appliances. The wall where the fridge is sitting in the bottom picture will get upper and lower cabinets added, but they aren’t installed yet. I’m exhausted.


The problem with a goal to play a certain number of hands per month

I have stalled at 9,000 FPPs and I’m not sure when I’m going to play again this month. I was in New York this weekend checking out the auto show while Suited shopped and now I’m in the middle of the remodel. To top it all off, I’m getting ready to take a nerd certification exam on Monday. I’d hate to lose my Platinum status since it results in about 5,000 VPPs a month or about $80. Maybe if I find a free moment or two, I’ll 8 table short-stack NL or something to get them really fast.

The car show was fun and I did it much smarter this year so that I got to see absolutely everything and avoided the crowds as much as was possible to do. New York is just far too many people in far too little space for my tastes, but I did get to see some cool stuff. I got to sit in a M3 convertible, which would have been a fine choice if I didn’t get the 911. There were a number of new models, most notably the “G8 sport truck” (El Camino, to me, the Solstice coupe (actually better looking than the drop top, I think), the new Maxima (yawn), Hyundai Genesis (try as I might, I couldn’t get down with the idea), a beefier Challenger SRT8 with a 6 liter engine that looked shockingly good. There were a number of things that might not have been new, but were new to me like the BMW 1 series, a bunch of AMG Mercedes stuff, the stupid Honda Fit, Acura TSX and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. There were also a number of absurd and cool concept cars that will never be built in a thousand years. There was one plane/car with fold down wings that fold up into an elaborate and huge spoiler when in car mode. This was a favorite of my nephews who love transformers and found the idea of a flying car perfectly normal. They wanted to know why I didn’t buy it. There were a variety of stupid hybrids and a low-rider type Scion that is, if this is possible, even more boxy and silly looking than their current line-up. My favorite exhibits were a smashed-up Taurus that was used in an offset crash test and rolled onto the floor. They cut out the passenger side and rigged up a plasma TV to watch from the interior that depicted the crash test in detail. It was very cool and the car was remarkably unscathed after the wreck. Toyota had a Tundra tuck that was very precisely sawed into two pieces down the middle. They even sawed the tools in the bed in two. You could walk between the two pieces and check out transmission guts and everything. It was quite awesome.

We also had a couple of good meals, including a blowout wine pairing tasting menu extravaganza at Cru. Their wine list covered two very fat leather binders about the size of a phone book each. It was not filled with mediocre wines either. Most everything from Burgundy was a Grand Cru or Premier Cru and for some of the better wines they had an amazing selection. The Château Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape had a vertical of about 20 different vintages spanning about a century. Of course, they were all the best years: 1995, 1990, 1989, 1978, 1970 and so on. I can remember having a conversation with my friends about a local grocery store’s promotion where you had a certain amount of time to fill your grocery cart as full as you liked for free. We worked out what we believed to be the ideal strategy. Today, I imagine what wines I would buy for the perfect meal if my fairy godmother was paying the tab. You’d have to start with a 1982 Krug, I mean the Queen herself serves that one, so that’s easy enough. It was on the list along with tons of Dom vintages. With the fish courses, we’d have to do a beautiful old white Burgundy, let’s say an Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet. For the beef, we’d need to stick with the classics: perhaps a 1949 Mouton-Rothschild? Of course, with our dessert, we’d only consider a d’Yquem for we are not savages. I could have done all this and more at Cru, but I would have been forced to sell at least one kidney.

Then of course, there is the remodel.  My previous endeavors as a carpenter have taught me enough to be a bad customer and everything that I see done wrong irks me.  Even though I know it doesn’t matter and will  not show in the end, I somehow still feel cheated when I see something is not done the way I would prefer.  I’m trying not to be too obnoxious, but it is difficult.

I have a draft post that actually talks about poker.  I want to talk about the line where the pre-flop raiser is check-raised on the flop and just calls, followed by a turn raise.  It has a fairly specific meaning and I see people handle it poorly quite often, so I think it will be a somewhat interesting discussion, but I just can’t focus on poker at the moment.  I’d be happy to address any wine issues you might have, however.


A brief diversion from poker to cover “The Wire”

First of all, let me get this one thing out of the way.   The Wire is the best television show ever made.  Not just good, the best.  Some of you think that M.A.S.H. or The Sopranos or some other show is the best, but you are wrong.  If you haven’t watched The Wire or you tried to catch a few shows two or three seasons in and you couldn’t make sense of it, you are excused for not knowing this.  If you have watched them all and you don’t agree, you are simply wrong and are no longer permitted to vote on matters of taste.  Also if you aren’t obsessed like me and haven’t seen everything but the season finale already (I watch the episodes as soon as they get loaded to pay per view), don’t keep reading.  I’m sure I’ll give stuff away that you won’t see until Sunday.

Watching The Wire hurtle towards its grand finale and reflecting back on the conclusion of The Sopranos makes me much more confident in my appraisal.  Remember all the capital D drama that they used when a main character got hit on that show?  Compare the melodrama surrounding the hit on Christopher with the way Omar got killed on The Wire.  As Clay Davis would say in his awesome rolling baritone,  Sheeeee-it, there is no comparison.  I say this as a huge fan of Tony and the gang — they aren’t close to what The Wire does week in and week out.

One of the most effective devices used by The Wire is demonstrating the parallels from one organization or character to another.  In Season One, they showed us (to great effect) that the complex criminal enterprise of the Barksdale drug dealing crew was remarkably similar to the enterprise of the Police Department.  This year, they have done the same with the newsroom.  In years past they have shown the tragic failings of the political system, the educational system and trade unions.  In every case, there are smart and likable people who usually start out with a goal to make things better, but the constraints of the system they operate within conspire to thwart those ambitions and serve to highlight the worst of their greed and ambitions.  The idealistic Mayor becomes as much a part of the problem as his predecessor, the heroes are all flawed.  The scenes where you watch Bubbles emerging from his tragic life interspersed with his young doppleganger Dukie starting down that same path are as powerful, tragic and moving as anything I’ve watched in my life.

I think this nuance of character is what makes the show so great.  Detective McNulty is as close as we have to a hero in the story.  He is the guy who most represents the struggles against the oppressive bureaucracy that is one of the main villains in the Wire (the most notable others being poverty, greed and ambition).  He is the guy who goes outside the system and makes things happen.  But he is also an enormous fuck-up.  He’s a womanizer, a drunk and this season has concocted the most outrageous web of lies and nonsense that will probably lead to his own tragic end.  The drug dealers themselves aren’t any one thing — they are a lot of things at once.  Some are greedy and ruthless, but most are nuanced and complex, just like you and me.  In one of the less subtle moments of the show, Dukie realized there was no alternative path for him — you make it within the game defined by the drug trade or you don’t have a place.  This undoubtedly is overly simplistic, but they do a great job of showing that many of the drug gangs are the best and brightest kids in that environment — adaptive kids who learn the rules of the game and beat it.

I have my concerns with the new season.  Some of the characters are a bit one dimensional.  For instance, the editor Gus might as well have a halo.  He is so much the perfect, saintly news guy that it seems a bit beneath the usual standard for the show.  The fake serial killer plot is a bit contrived, but just like Hamsterdam I’m willing to overlook it because it is a plot device that drives the drama where it wants to go.  Sure, it is probably a bit far-fetched, but damn if it doesn’t do a great job of exposing things and people for what they are.  My mind was not made up on this season until Omar got got and the next to last episode just blew me away.  It is TV for the thinking man.  Where else will you see someone drop references to Euripides and use “Dickensian” ironically?    I’m going to be so sad when it ends.  With the conclusion of The Wire, The Sopranos and the untimely demise of Deadwood, I’m not sure what HBO has for me now.


Paul and the Mexicans

My favorite story of the trip so far involves my man Paulif. It is quite late at night and we are both feeling quite good as a result of many whiskeys, good food and overall joy at being alive. As background, you need to know a bit about Paul. I have noticed that when people start to reach a certain age, they lose all sense of maintaining a distance from strangers. Most little old men will strike up a conversation with every random stranger they meet and might be telling them details of their children’s lives or their own health problems or quite literally anything within minutes. I sometimes wonder if this is a kind of progress, where you simply no longer have the slightest concern for any judgments the other person would make, or if it is a kind of regression to a more childish state where you just cheerfully say whatever pops into your head. I’m inclined to think it is more likely an improvement, because you gain hundreds of serendipitous moments every day where you learn fascinating things about your fellow man and have so many more opportunities to find hidden delights in every encounter. Well, Paul is one of these people. He could get a lamppost to talk to him. Whatever your mental image is of the reserved Brit who would sooner pluck out his eye than “share his feelings,” Paul is exactly the opposite.

So, Paul and I step out of the casino and are preparing to split up and head our separate ways. As you know if you have ever been to Las Vegas, the streets are dotted with Mexicans who get paid some paltry sum to stand on the sidewalk and distribute little glossy cardboard cards festooned with lewd pictures of hookers and phone numbers that you can call to spent some quality time with the young ladies depicted. Although I assume the photos are of some gorgeous model and the actual hooker might well be beastly, but advertising is the great American art, so they should be forgiven this, I think. In any event, these guys take advantage of a powerful instinct. They reach into your path and hold out the card at just the right height to tempt you into some kind of automatic response where you grab the card without thinking. When I am on the sidewalk, I feel that I am engaged in a game of sorts. Whenever I walk past without falling for the automatic tendency to grab the card, I have won. If the guy manages to get me to take the card, he wins. I know that I am not the only one, because the street is littered with cards that people have dropped a few feet later after they lost the battle to avoid the clever hooker card guys. This is a simple game with very few rules. The most clear rule is that you never make eye contact with the hooker card guy. That encourages him. You walk by the hooker card guy as if you don’t even notice he is standing there. The hooker card guy is well aware of your plan, so he slaps the cards loudly together in an effort to startle you into looking at him, which is your first step towards losing the game. I am very good at this game and haven’t been sucked into a hooker card in years.

Paul advises me that he is staying at Harrah’s and we confer briefly and I conclude that Harrah’s is still a block or two towards downtown. Paul is not convinced that I actually know what I’m talking about, so he decides to confer with an expert and walks up to the nearest hooker card guy and asks him if he knows where Harrah’s is. I’m struck mute by this blatant violation of the rules of the hooker card game. If you are not supposed to make eye contact with the hooker card guy, clearly engaging him in conversation is a complete and total victory for the hooker card guy. Just as I expect, as Paul offers his question, the Mexican grins and deftly slips him a hooker card. Score it Hooker Card Guy — 1, Paul — 0. The hooker card guy beams as this may be his biggest victory of the day. He does a look a bit puzzled as Paul continues to chat with him. When Paul winds down his explanation of where he wants to go and why he wants to go there and stares at the hooker card guy waiting for a response, he becomes a bit confused. This is not in his script. Paul is supposed to continue down the street, a loser in the hooker card game. Whatever skills the interviewer sought when he hired the hooker card guy, the ability to engage Englishmen in conversation on the street was not regarded as a key performance metric. He tries “no entiendo” to explain to Paul that he is not able to give him the directions Paul seeks, but they are not having a meeting of the minds. The hooker card guy has a buddy a few feet away and hooker card guy #2 and I have exchanged looks where hooker card guy #2 let me know that my friend had lost, but he knew I was too much of veteran to be drawn in now. Neither of us were comfortable with the direction this was taking and we both closed in — I was intending to move Paul to different goal and explain that nice hooker card guy was never going to provide him directions unless Paul started the question with “Donde esta” and hooker card guy #2 I assume had similar instincts to help his friend. Somehow Paul managed to engage hooker card guy #2 as he came in for the rescue and asked him where to find Harrah’s before he could get to rescue his friend. Sensing that they were going to have to tell Paul something or risk talking to him for the remainder of the evening, hooker card guy #2 pointed downtown and said “three.” It wasn’t clear if this meant three miles, three blocks or three casinos, but his answer was clear enough. I’m not sure if he really knew where Harrah’s was or if he correctly deduced that saying anything to get Paul to move was in his best interest, but he was right so I’m going to say he was honestly helping my man out.

Now came the finest moment in the hooker card game I have ever witnessed. Paul thanks hooker card guy #2 warmly and smoothly hands him the hooker card from hooker card guy #1. As you may know, I have been studying facial expressions and what emotion they reveal and this was the most perfect display of disgust I have ever seen. The hooker card guy immediately realized his mistake — the last thing in the world he needs is another hooker card. It was the exact same face you see on tourists every day as they realize they have been scammed into taking a hooker card that they never wanted. I laughed out loud and hooker card guy #2 looked forlornly at me, realizing that he had well and truly lost the hooker card game. The reversal of fortune is clearly worth double points, making the final score, Paul — 2, Hooker Card Guy #1 — 1, Hooker Card Guy # 2 — 0.

poker Uncategorized

General poker malaise.

I seem to have relatively little interest in poker the past week or so.  I’ve played very little and not really been very into it when I did play.  This may be because I had one of those sessions where I lost set over set every time I turned around, or to some insane suckout.  More likely, I’m just in a phase of disinterest.  I’m thinking about playing some more MTTs for a while.  They seem to amuse me lately.