Sunday, August 22, 2004

Poker Occurs

Not many posts of late as my poker play has been sharply curtailed. My bankroll is so close to zero as to basically be zero, leaving me only an occasional opportunity to play a sit-and-go, perhaps. Some of those have gone well, some haven't.

But I did make it to Manistee yesterday, because Gil wanted to go and he offered to stake me. I'm glad I went.

The room is the same as ever, with the same pool of 30 to 50 regulars of which 10 to 20 show up on a particular weekend night, mixed in with a crop of people who I think of as having "wandered in from the casino floor," although this includes people who are visiting from other places that have poker rooms, so they aren't all bad players.

My day was respectable, +$64 or eight big bets in the six hours or so we were there. I was up and down from that mark, of course, but never was in serious danger of going out nor was I ever up hugely. +$150 was probably my high-water mark and −$30 was probably my low-water mark. And this was against a table made up of players who mostly knew what they were doing, although there were one or two calling stations which turned the rest of the table on to "let's see a flop" mode. A preflop raise, though, would as often get called in six places as it would narrow the field; there were a number of people who like to play big pots. I have to determine in my mind how to adjust to that.

And that's about all of the poker that's gone on this week. My bankroll is pretty much zero, so I've been playing the occasional sit-and-go but mostly doing other things in preparation for hitting the pavement this week.

Unless, of course, someone wants to stake me ... $2000 should cover my bills and give me enough bankroll to get back into the swing of things. Hint, hint, hint ...

  Saturday, August 14, 2004

The Word of the Day ...

The phrase of the day seems to be deus ex machina, Latin for "the god from the machine," which today generally means (from Webster's Tenth) "a person of thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty." When Spock was blind for the entire episode, and then they suddenly remembered that Vulcans had another eyelid, that was deus ex machina.

The phrase comes from the Greek θεος εκ μηχανης, which is also "the god from the machine," and refers to plays in which the actors got into some big-ol' mess, and they physically lowered an actor from a crane, as a god (a Greek god, as it happened), to get them out of the mess. The god from the machine.

Man, you can find a lot of neat stuff on this-here Internet thingy.

  Friday, August 13, 2004

Notes from Readers on the Six Month Wrapup

The tale of woe I posted last night has drawn some good comments from longtime readers. Haloscan deletes messages after three months, though, and I think there's a lot here to respond to, and to learn from. So I thought I'd do it in another main post.

From "dankhank":


I have been reading your blog for your entire pro career, and it is definitely near the top of my list of favorite sites. My interest was piqued the day you quit your job (at Home Depot I believe it was) and said you were going pro. I can remember being slightly skeptical about your chances at the time, I forget why, but maybe it had something to do with your profits mainly coming from a big multie-table score or two, and the notion that you could be a pro playing low limit tables like 3/6.

My skepticism waned as you started off well, posting profitable weeks. Sometimes you wouldn't make your "nut" and you would be unhappy about that, but your "nut" was slightly higher than your bare-minimum needs so it didn't seem to be a big deal.

As you started to slow down in profit, you started leaving your comfort zone and trying new games and limits. At one point you got desperate and went to 15/30.

In my own experience, as the bankroll dwindles your decision making becomes more desperate and bad. As the bankroll enters a comfort zone your decision making is steady, right, and grindingly profitable.

As I've read your blogs these last few weeks I didn't really think you were in a desperate situation. You said you weren't winning as much, but you still seemed to have lots of winning days, both online and live. But when I read that you only have $800 in your party poker account and that you're doing this for a living, I immediately said to myself that you're in a desperate situation. $800 isn't enough of a bankroll to play with every single day, even at limits of 2/4 and 3/6. And if you have bills hanging over your head that is even worse.

Basically I don't see how you can make good clearheaded poker decisions in the shape your bankroll is in now. If your bankroll got back to the comfortable level of week15 then I think you would find the game more profitable. I know this is an intangible connection, but I believe it to be true.

What to do? Two things: 1) I plan to play poker professionally some day, and I've had a great year, but going to a job every day that pays all my living expenses allows me to come home at night and play poker basically stress free. I sit down, I play my game, and even if I have a losing session I see my bankroll growing over time and I don't worry about a thing.

2) Regarding your own situation I will give you some advice from Mike Caro that I really like: "If your bankroll is big that means it's harder to re-create via non-poker methods. Protect large bankrolls. If your bankroll is small you can be more wild with it, because it can be rebuilt from non-poker methods."

What does this mean for you? Well, it could mean a couple things. One, you might want to play 3/6 or 5/10 and try to turn that $800 into a solid bankroll again. Or, you might want to get a job and recreate a $2500-$3000 bankroll. Or you could just trust in your +EV poker game and keep playing 2/4-3/6 with $800 and slowly grind out a living/existence.

In some of your non-poker posts about the type of person you are I can tell we have a lot in common. If nothing else we're both from Michigan. So I understand what a bummer it would be to start on a new life, to enjoy it immensely, and to then have to admit defeat and do something else. But the thing is, at least you do have a bankroll right now. At least you do have a roof over your head, an income stream, etc. It could get worse. It could get better.

You can either do some things in your life (ie job) that will increase your future odds to make a big positive step forward, or you could take a chance and try for a quick positive step, or you could continue on doing exactly what you're doing.

In closing, I'm sure you have many years to live, and Vegas will still be there in 2006. Poker is a great game and isn't it nice to be good enough at it to turn a profit?

My Response:

Well, Okay, Yeah, Vegas will still be there in 2006, or 2007, or 2008. The main reason I originally thought I'd move there in "the fall" is that it sounded conveniently far enough away that it would be doable.

Here's an analogy. Let's say that I was working or not working, but my biggest love was skiing. Now, Michigan has places to ski. They get better the further you go from town, but even the best in Michigan isn't a great place to ski. Skiing in Michigan actually boils down mostly to standing in lift lines, because the mountain is so short that it seems like that's all you're doing. That's not the point, though. If I were a skiier, I'd want to be in Colorado, or maybe Vermont or California or Utah, but probably Colorado.

I'm a poker player. There's poker being played in Michigan, but it's (legally) played only very far from town, and even the best poker room in Michigan is far from the best place to play poker. The rake is higher here, the rooms aren't as well run, and mostly each room offers at best two or three tables per game, so game selection leaves a lot to be desired. My favorite room in Michigan often has only a single game running. If I'm a poker player, I should be in Las Vegas, or maybe Atlantic City or Los Angeles, but probably Las Vegas.

This is what makes waiting so distasteful. I feel like I'm 14, and I want to visit a friend, but my mom won't drive me, and I can't drive myself because I'm not 16. I feel like I'm being cheated about doing what I want to do because of those two years on the calendar. Maybe that analogy's not great, because I sound like I'm being petulant about it, and maybe (in this scenario) my mom has a good reason for not driving me; I was mean to my sister or something.

It might seem backwards by pop-psychology standards, but it's not admitting defeat at poker that is my hangup here. I'm OK with admitting that I might be pretty good at poker, but I'm not great at poker. There are a lot of things that I'm good at but not great at. Most video games with online components, I don't play online, because there are so many people online who will completely dominate me and capture my battleship in two moves, or blow up my headquarters, or reach the center square. I might be good, but I'm not great.

My hangup is going to work. I probably have to do it, but I am unbelievably depressed by the prospect, rubber-room level depressed. The last couple of days I've been hoping for some deus ex machina to swoop down and save me from a fate that to me is literally worse than death. Literally.

I ask myself if I can put up with it for six months to rebuild a bankroll. I'm not sure; six months to a year is historically how long I last on a job. But more than that, I have tasted the sweet nectar of freedom, and selling my indentures back into servitude is not exactly thrilling me. Could you have told the US' slaves in 1865, "Hey, if you guys could just go back to slavery for three more years, then I promise after those three years are up, by then we'll have this really great plan worked out for you." The slaves would have said, rightly, "Fuck off, chump, it's MY plan, now, motherfucker!" At least, that's what they would have said if it happened in a Quentin Tarantino movie.

I admit freely that I leapt before I looked last February, when I left Lowes. I didn't have a real plan, and I wasn't really good enough. I figured $100 a day was doable at lower limits, with just the bankroll I had, but mainly I couldn't stand another day of getting up at 5:00 to work my ass off pointlessly. The money was good, but that was all; I was looking for deus ex machina to save me from that situation, too. Fortunately I found another option, and for the first few months, it seemed like a good option.

This is turning into more whining, and I don't mean it that way. Most of what you say is valid; I should be able to descend into hell for a relatively brief period in order to rebuild my bankroll. I just don't look forward to it.

Your semi-suggestion of taking a desperate gamble is an interesting one, but I don't think poker is the right way to do that, at least not the ring games. It would probably be either to dump all of my money into a single long-shot tournament, or pull my money into a casino site and bet it all on Black, and probably to let it ride once. The second option, stupid as it is, might actually have a greater chance of success.

By the way, I appreciate strongly your response. I don't want to give the impression that I disrespect anything you said. If I'm worthy of criticism, please criticize. It's either valid or it's not, and if it's valid I'd do well do pay attention to it.

Where in Michigan are you, actually?

From Denis

[some formatting mine, LG] I continue to read your blog regularly and it's disappointing to see someone who depends on poker to pay their bills to be on a bad swing.

I understand that you don't want to have a job, who does, right? Everyone wants to be their own boss and wants to enjoy what they're doing. I think the best thing for you would be to get a job, but get something you enjoy doing, something involved with poker, maybe? What about getting a job as a poker dealer in a casino?

Yes, you have to be there at a certain time, so your alarm clock will be ringing, but it won't be something you'll dread. And, you can have fun on the job at the same time. This way, you'll have a steady income doing something that interests you, so that when you do have free time at home, you can play poker and not be as stressed about making a certain amount of money a week from playing online poker.

My Response

If I lived near a casino, I'd probably do this. As it is, though, the closest casino is more than 90 minutes away. I've done commutes of an hour in the past, and I know people who have 90-minute commutes, and the route wouldn't be a stressful traffic-filled one, but: That's the closest casino. If they didn't hire me, the next-closest would be over a two-hour commute.

I've thought about this. Yes, I could probably deal poker, and I'd probably enjoy it, for a while. But my understanding is that there's a hierarchy of dealers at most casinos, with poker dealers pretty much at the top. If I were to hire in, they'd probably have me dealing in the pit at first. And I would not enjoy that. I don't know that the local casinos have such a hierarchy, or if they'd decide that someone who knows poker (including a lot of the goofy rules) should be dealing blackjack and pai gow.

On the other hand, the standing up would be good for me.

If I had the cash to chuck it all and move to Vegas and get a dealing job there, I'd do it, but I'd probably face the hierarchy problem there, too. I don't know a lot about the politics inside Vegas casinos. I also suspect they do very little hiring off the street, preferring to hire someone with references from another casino or from a dealer school.

By the way, I've been in front of a judge a few times on traffic misdemeanors—that wouldn't screw up a background check, would it?

  Thursday, August 12, 2004

Six Months Later: A Tale of Despair

I promised a total taking-stock six-months-in post, and this is it.

I'm not sure how long it's been since I've posted my numbers. Weeks 23 and 24 were both up $450ish, which is fine, even if I need a couple of $1000 weeks. Then I kind of went into the crapper: up $200 in week 25, up $300 in week 26, and down $450 in week 27. So, three weeks of zilcho when my bankroll is already at ruinous levels.

The numbers that best illustrate the problems I've been having are these:

Cumulative winnings, Weeks 4–15: $4,73822
Cumulative winnings, Weeks 4–27: $4,82457

Yup, that's right, twelve weeks in a row where I managed only to break even. I was reasonably bankrolled at the start of that run, but didn't also have a roll for living expenses, and so over those three months I have been drawing down my bankroll to do things like, say, eat. I haven't even been doing that as frugally as I might; most of my meals include a bar tab. Anyway, I find myself now with the $800 or so that I've got in my Party Poker account, and that's it. I also find myself with about $1000 worth of bills I've pushed back during my recent funk.

I realize that I've done a lot of this to myself. My flirtations with $15/$30 a couple of months ago were the biggest thing that acted to derail this train. More recently, I've taken shots at the $5/$10 bad-beat tables on Party, which are horrendously loose, but manage to kick my ass up and down both sides of the street. Let's see, as long as I have my spreadsheet open ... well, it's worse than I thought, but not much; I've lost $124475 lifetime at the $5/$10 BBJ. It would seem that 124 big bets is beyond what can be explained by variance, but I know how to adjust my game for a loose game, and still I was way down at this. That's not even the point; the point is that I returned to the scene of the crime despite my losses there.

With the lower bankroll, the last couple of weeks I've (mostly) been playing below my usual game, namely that I've been playing $2/$4 rather than $3/$6. I've said a couple of times that I've found $2/$4 to have about the same upside as $3/$6 without nearly the downside, but now I'm not sure that's true. Te upside is smaller; I can't find a case where I've pulled $200 off a $2/$4 table, but that would happen fairly frequently on the $3/$6 tables. On the other hand, I think I'm right as to the downside; my biggest loss at a single $2/$4 table seems to be about $75, which is half my biggest win at a single $2/$4 table. At $3/$6, my biggest win is about $430, and my biggest loss about $260. That sounds like a lot bigger swing, relatively, but I've had more than ten times the $3/$6 hands to acquire some outliers on the ol' bell curve. The point is, that playing lower limits, I'm cut off at the knees as far as rebuilding my bankroll.

There seem to be two possibilities. Either my play is sound, or it isn't. If it is sound, then the appropriate action is to find a backer. (Anyone want to volunteer?) If it isn't, then the appropriate action is to quit playing poker and get a job.

At the risk of courting a drunken comment from a prominent member of the blogging community, I'll reiterate my intense hate and disgust at the second option. A job might be necessary, but it will return me to the despair I felt before I began this pro career. "Despair" is the right word; the idea of getting up when the alarm tells me to every single day for the rest of my life to spend eight or ten hours at a job I hate drove me to suicidal fits of the blackest depression. Go back and read my January archives; almost every post contains something to the effect of, "God, I hate my fucking job."

Yes, I know it's something that people have to do, and that other people don't seem to mind so much. This is an impenetrable mystery to me. I can conceive of no job where one must conform to someone else's schedule, or even really any schedule at all, that would not become hateful in a matter of weeks or months. I can conceive of no boss or manager whom I would not resent and loathe for telling me what to do. (I really hate being told what to do. I'll listen to advice, but compulsion really pisses me off.) There are a lot of hard words there, but that is how the world looks to me. I've been told it's childish, I've been told to "relax," but I fundamentally don't understand how people are able to resign themselves to a lifetime of a job they hate and end up with a house and two cars and a wife and kids and a timeshare in Colorado. I simply and truly and fundamentally don't get it.

Contrast this misery with the last six months of poker. I've been able to go to sleep when I want, wake up when I want. If I don't feel like taking a shower, or I feel like going to work in my bathrobe, I can. If I feel like reading the newspaper on the job, well, it might not be the brightest thing I can do, but nobody's going to say "boo" about it. In fact, if I want to write a lengthy semi-hostile blog entry, I can do that, too. If I break for lunch, I can go to lunch for three hours, and not have to worry if the boss will smell beer on my breath. I can even justify a midweek Tiger game, despite the stadium being three hours away, because I can play poker afterward (or beforeward). (Okay, I haven't been in a couple of months, but you get the idea.) Overall, I've been a lot happier the last six months than I have in probably ten years.

Nonetheless, I find myself in a position where I (probably) have to find a job. One of the thoughts rattling around in my noodle is to move to Vegas to get said job; if moving there is my goal anyway I might as well get a crappy job there as here. I'd have to work out what the bare minimum is as far as moving expenses, but I'd guess it's around $1000, if I moved with someone with whom I could share those expenses, and around $2000, otherwise. Even so, that'd be living pretty much on the wire for a few paychecks, and I'd be jonesing from lack of poker until I got those paychecks. Especially being in Vegas.

Looking Back

I was all set to post this, but that's not the complete tale of the last six months. There are some positive things that have happened over that time. When I began, I was a player who would call after a raiser with King-Ten offsuit, and now that's a hand I hardly ever play. My hand-reading skills have improved, my ability to adjust to different games has improved, my ability to play simultaneous games has improved, and overall I'm a better player than I was when I started. I look back now and think that I wasn't truly a good enough player six months ago to turn pro. But it's also likely that if I look back in another six months, I'll be amazed at how much my game sucked back last August, and conclude the same thing.

A journey through my spreadsheet, which avid readers know starts in week four, shows me beginning with two tables of $3/$6. However, week one started with me single-tabling $5/$10, since I figured I could make my $100 a day goal a lot more easily at $5/$10, and I hadn't yet begun multi-tabling regularly. At some point, $5/$10 started kicking my ass, and I dropped back to the $3/$6. At another point, I began two-tabling it, and that's where we find me in Week Four.

It looks like Week Seven was when I began three-tabling, still on $3/$6, and it looks like my first three-tabling session set a nice pace. But it also looks like I started spending too much money on multitable tourneys around this point.

I began four-tabling in Week Nine, still at the $3/$6 level, and continued to pile the hands into PokerTracker. It wasn't until Week Fourteen that I began experimenting with moving up in limits, by replacing one of my $3/$6 tables with a $5/$10 table. It looks like that started out great, but when I had three bad $5/$10 sessions in a row, I seem to have decided against including the $5/$10 table. It looks right now like that decision was a bit hasty, though.

In Week Sixteen I moved much of my play to Intertops, a PartyPoker skin, because their tournaments had such great overlay. They probably still do, but when my bankroll problems began, I withdraw my entire Intertops stake to plop it into PartyPoker. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I picked up any of the overlay in their tournaments; I won a seat in a qualifier, and I won a four-person cash tourney (Omaha, no less), but I didn't money any cash tournaments with overlays.

Week Seventeen seems to have been the beginning of the end. On the fifth day of the week (Saturday), I plopped onto a $15/$30 table, posted behind the button, and flopped 666TT my first hand. The $447 pot, $252 of profit, that I pulled down was the biggest pot I'd ever dragged at that point, and was a big part of my downfall. "I'll tell you what, son, you want some of what I'm selling? Let's consider this one a free sample. You want more later, this is my usual corner." I was at the Trump in Gary the next day, but the next day I played nothing but $15/$30. It was three short sessions, to be sure, and it was an up day, but barely one big bet an hour.

I began Week Eighteen losing $800 at $15/$30, in two days, which isn't really that big a deal for $15/$30 but still more than I could afford to lose. I wasn't bankrolled for $15/$30, all along, and so playing at that level is and was stupid. The following day I played $2/$4, the first time I used $2/$4 as my "retreat" level of play. Even though I didn't make a lot of money, I returned to $15/$30 the next day, and somehow managed to make enough that even losing $177 at Greektown in Detroit left me about even for the week. Variance was kinder than it could have been.

However, my weeks end on Monday. On the Tuesday that began Week Nineteen, I had my single-worst day ever, blowing $996 at $15/$30, which blew me off the $15/$30 tables pretty much permanently (for now). Before that, I was merely unsatisfied with my earn; after that, I was in deep shit. And I've been in the shit ever since, trying to find the game that would get me out of the crapper.

I started off with $2/$4, and lost money. Then I went to $3/$6, unsure why, and lost money. Then I went to Single-Table tourneys, and decided I was so far out of practice with these that I'd have to lose a bunch of money to get back into shape. Then I tried some no-limit ring games (50¢ big blind or $25max buyin), and found them profitable. At last, something that was profitable. However, it had been a rough week overall, and I was down over $1300 on the week.

Week Twenty was thus an all-no-limit week, trying out a couple of limits but mostly playing the $25-max. I also had the first Lithuanians game (profitable) and the Hanging Chads game (unprofitable), so I was finally finding home games. The week ended positive about $450, so I seemed to be rebuilding.

In Week Twenty-One, the NL games were much less profitable, but mostly I discovered the $5/$10 Bad-Beat Jackpot tables. These are, as I said earlier, horribly loose games, but they nonetheless kicked my ass, and I had another way-down week, this time to the tune of $850. Since I plan for +$500 a week, that's $1350 down from my goal. And, truth be told, exceptionally non-good.

In Week Twenty-Two, the no-limit tables were beginning to frustrate me, so I returned to $2/$4, and eked out a $250 win for the week. Yay me. That left me free to return to the $3/$6 in Week Twenty-Three, and I managed a $450 win, in a lot more hours than I used to put in when I played $3/$6 regularly before I started to derail. I stayed there in Week Twenty-Four, and did about the same, despite a significant money in a multitable tourney—I ended up spending those winnings on entries into other multitables, figuring I finally had those licked. Apparently not.

Week Twenty-Five was another weak showing, despite one of my best-ever days at the casino, a $519 win playing $4/$8 at Little River Casino. I gave about half of that back the next two days, including my first-ever no-limit ring game live. But, staying up north bled away some of my winnings, as well, spent on hotel rooms in Manistee. I didn't pay a lot for a room in a tourist town in the summer, but it should probably be counted against the week's $200 win.

In Week Twenty-Six, a bad day at $3/$6 pushed me back to $2/$4 for bankroll reasons, and though I did okay at $2/$4 I dropped $200 playing a no-limit ring for the second time. This convinced me that I need to learn a lot more about no-limit ring games, because I felt totally outclassed. I think I published my big $50 fuckup earlier, when I blogged that game. So, another weak week, so to speak, where I earned only $300 in profit.

It's not truly part of the six months, but Week Twenty-Seven has passed, which was a down week for two basic reasons. First was playing at the Trump last Saturday. I wasn't supposed to bust out of that game; the $3/$6 there is usually a good game even if the rake is high. That essentially blew $200. Then I blew another $250 in desperation on the $5/$10 BBJ tables again, figuring a loose game really should be adding chips to my stack. The answer is still no. Between those and a breakeven week at $2/$4, I had a week down almost $500 and I'm at the point I talk about above.

Now I'm stuck how to end this. Ordinarily I'd "look to the future" but that's above. So I'll end it with an Iggyesque random link:

If you're going to drink and drive, do it better than this

  Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Other Things I Do Sometimes: The Chaos

Unlike the last time I published a poem, this is not of my own design. But m7 recently put up a list of oddities about the English language, and it reminded me of a similar (longer) thing that showed the same thing. It is attributed to "Charivarius (G.N.Trenité)," and I found it in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, by David Crystal, ©1995 Cambridge University Press.

As I told m7, English does have a lot of oddities but the alternatives are worse. I went into more detail in his comments but oddities like these will happen until we either regularize spelling or regularize pronunciation, and either one would cause a whole host of other problems.

You'll note as you read this that you have to give a lot of words the British pronunciation to make the rhymes (or "rimes") work out, but the poem is amusing nonetheless. Note that it wouldn't be nearly as interesting if it were read aloud (although it could be); the poem relies on the way that words look alike but sound different.

The Chaos

Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my verse
   Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
It will keep you, Susy, busy.
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
   Tear in eye your dress you'll tear.
   So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
   Just compare heart, beard and heard,
   Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain,
(Mind the latter, how it's written!)
   Made has not the sound of bade,
   Say—said, pay—paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
   But be careful how you speak,
   Say break, steak, but bleak and streak,
Previous, precious; fuchsia, via;
Pipe, snipe, recipe
and choir,
   Cloven, oven; how
and low;
   Script, receipt; shoe, poem, toe,

Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
   Typhoid; measles, topsails, aisles;
   Exiles, similes, reviles;
Wholly, holly; signal, signing;
Thames; examining, combining;
   Scholar, vicar
and cigar,
   Solar, mica, war
and far.
From 'desire': desirable—admirable from 'admire';
Lumber, plumber; bier but brier;
   Chatham, brougham; renown
but known,
   Knowledge; done,
but gone and tone,
One, anemone; Balmoral;
Kitchen, lichen; laundry, laurel;
   Gertrude, German; wind
and mind;
   Scene, Melpomene, mankind;
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
   This phonetic labyrinth
   Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;
and flood are not like food,
   Nor is mould like should and would.
is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with 'darky'.
   Viscous, viscount; load and broad;
to forward, to reward,
And your pronunciation's O.K.
When you say correctly croquet;
   Rounded, wounded; grieve
and sieve;
and fiend; alive and live;
Liberty, library; heave
and heaven;
Rachel, ache, moustache; eleven.

   We say hallowed, but allowed;
   People, leopard; towed,
but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
   Leeches, breeches; wise, precise;
but police and lice.
Camel; constable, unstable;
Principle, disciple; label;
   Petal, penal
and canal;
   Wait, surmise, plait, promise; pal.
Suit, suite, ruin; circuit, conduit

Rime with 'shirk it' and 'beyond it'.
   But it is not hard to tell,
   Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular; gaol; iron;
Timber, climber; bullion, lion,
and storm; chaise, chaos, chair;
   Senator, spectator, mayor.
Ivy, privy; famous, clamour

And enamour rime with 'hammer.'
   Pussy, hussy and possess.
but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf; countenance; lieutenants

Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
   River, rival; tomb, bomb, comb;
and roll and some and home.
does not rime with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
but foul and gaunt, but aunt;
   Font, front, wont; want, grand,
and grant,
Shoes, goes, does.
Now first say: finger,
And then: singer, ginger, linger.
   Real, zeal; mauve, gauze
and gauge;
   Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
   Dost, lost, post
and doth, cloth, loth;
   Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
   Seat, sweat, chaste, caste; Leigh, eight, height;
   Put, nut; granite,
but unite.
does not rime with 'deafer',
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
   Dull, bull; Geoffrey, George; ate, late;
   Hint, pint; senate,
but sedate;
Scenic, Arabic, pacific;
Science, conscience, scientific;
but our, and succour, four;
   Gas, alas
and Arkansas!
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm; Maria,
but malaria;
   Youth, south, southern; cleanse
and clean;
   Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
with battalion,
with ally; yea, ye,
   Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

   Never guess—it is not safe;
   We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf!
Heron; granary, canary;
and device, and eyrie;
but preface, but efface,
   Phlegm, phlegmatic; ass, glass, bass;
but target, gin, give, verging;
Ought, out, joust
and scour, but scourging;
but earn; and wear and tear
   Do not rime with 'here', but 'ere'.
Seven is right, but so is even;
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen;
   Monkey, donkey; clerk
and jerk;
   Asp, grasp, wasp;
and cork and work.
Pronunciation—think of psyche!
Is a paling, stout and spiky;
   Won't it make you lose your wits,
   Writing 'groats' and saying groats?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
and Isle of Wight,
   Housewife, verdict and indict!
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
   Finally: which rimes with 'enough',
   Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
has the sound of 'cup' ...
My advice is—give it up!

  Monday, August 09, 2004

Tourney Victories, and Tourney Losses

Congratulations to BadBlood for his 10th-place finish in Sunday's morning $5+$1 tournaments. It was only worth $65, but that is thirteen buyins, and they started going up quickly at that point. That's why I wonder if his shoving in with Ace-little after several limpers was a brilliant move, because every place he moved up at that point was worth several buyins. But on the other hand, I haven't had a final table in a multi in a while, so who am I to say?

I did sit the Anniversary Special tournament Sunday night, having won a seat as I mentioned earlier. The tournament was bigger than the ones earlier, with 1251 players, paying first place $75,000, and even 70th place made over $1000.

Because of the freerolls attached to this tournament, my main goal was to make the top 40% of the tournament, or at least 500th place. It didn't happen. I've decided I play the early stages of the multitables a bit too aggressively; I ended up putting someone all-in when I held JJ to an AAx board. He didn't have the Ace, as I figured, but he had QQ, chopping my legs out from under me. I was up against a slowplayed monster on my last hand, but that didn't matter as much as losing with JJ vs. QQ. And I'm chastising myself about that play anyway; Jacks aren't that great a hand when someone's calling you down. Oh well. Even if I didn't get into the $100,000 freeroll next weekend, I'm in a $25,000 freeroll, and that's the one likely to have the worse players. But still, dammit.

  Sunday, August 08, 2004

LordGeznikor = bust, therefore Midwest Blogger Open = bust

Notes from Halverson left it clear he wasn't going to arrive at the Trump in Gary before Saturday, and recent downswings have left me again shortstacked, so I scotched my original plan of going to play Friday night and staying over.

Instead, Gil and I left Grand Rapids on Saturday morning, arriving at the Trump a bit before noon local time. The only $5/$10 table running at the time featured a giant flaming maniac, but even though people were leaving that table not enough left to get us onto the table. I wanted to follow the maniac onto $10/$20, but I didn't have $500 to buy in comfortably.

They opened $3/$6 before they opened another $5/$10 for us, so we sat $3/$6. My intent was to sit there at least a couple of orbits before moving to $5/$10, but I don't think I was ever positive at this table. Eventually I blew $184, mostly through getting poor cards. I did see a few decent hands, but they all ended up losers, even a KK late in the day. The hands I did win were gifts to my obviously tight nature, because I totally missed the flop but so did everyone else, and so they folded to a bet by Mr. Tight. Unfortunately, these were all tiny pots.

The pot that finally busted me is wholly my fault. I had KQo, and the flop was Kxx. One of the blinds bet out, and the player on my left spotted a tell: "Look how his hands are shaking." Now I, in my stupidity and my eagerness to finally win a mother-grubbing pot, called him down to the showdown even though I knew he had KK. Okay, yah, I was right, points for me, but why on God's Green Earth didn't I lay those cards down? I was playing my cards, not his, like a total newbie, and busted out of the game thereby. Damn me.

Gil, on the other hand, was getting hit in the face by the deck. He had to post a kill about six times in a row, amassing a huge pile of chips in the process. He colored up his white chips three times and still had $100 or so of white, standing up when they called the no-limit game having pulled $325 out of a $3/$6 game. He said many of those pots he bought, as people didn't want to go up against the rush, but it was still impressive.

Gil then went to sit the no-limit game, when they called it. He bought in for the minimum, $200, while others at the table bought in for as much as $1000. The game has changed to $5/$10 blinds rather than $5/$5 as it was last time I saw the game spread there, which changes the game a lot more than you'd think. Gil won a $50 pot early, but then a few hands later he ended up all-in with AQ and a Queen-high board, having the best of it, but a JJ who called for some reason hit another Jack on the turn or river, wiping Gil out. There was someone else who was in the pot, too, and Gil had him dominated as well. It was a huge pot; Gil would have profited over $500 if his Queens had held up, but as it was he was suddenly ready to go home.

This wasn't cool, because Halverson wasn't there yet. I borrowed Gil's cell-phone to call him, and it turned out he had just got to Metro Chicago, having pulled onto I-294 (the Tri-State Tollway). This put him about 45 minutes or an hour from the casino, barring traffic delays. I talked Gil into getting back onto one of the Limit lists, $3/$6 and/or $5/$10, and we were ready to continue and to play with Halverson and any other bloggers that showed up. (BG and Casino Gosain were possible attendees, but I didn't know much about when—or if—they were expected.)

Unfortunately, it was only about fifteen minutes later than this that I had the stupid hand above that busted me out, and we really didn't have much choice other than to call it a day. I called Halverson again, and he was now about half an hour from the casino, and we resigned ourselves to missing one another. Gil and I got buffets comped, though, so we ate dinner, and when we were done Halverson had got to the casino, so we were at least able to say hello. Not an auspicious occasion, this Midwest Blogger Open, if its promoter (me) ends up leaving early.

Anniversary Special

I won a seat in tonight's Anniversary Special tournament, a $300+25 tournament on PartyPoker where the Friday and Saturday events each drew just under 1000 contestants, for nearly $300,000 prize pools. While it would be nice to money this tournament, the reason I tried so hard to qualify for it (I probably spent $100 in satellite entries) is that there are two freerolls attached to it. Merely being one of the first 2000 people to register across the three tourneys gets me into a $25,000 freeroll next weekend, and a top-40% finish in this tourney will gain me entry into a $100,000 freeroll the following day. So, this tourney is like a three-in-one shot. It would be exceptionally nice to money the main tourney, but if I don't I've got (hopefully) two others that I can take as second-chance tournaments, all for one low, low price.

But man, it'd be nice to money the big tourney. In Saturday's, 60th place was worth $1000, and the top prize was over $60,000; I could use a nice little windfall.

  Saturday, August 07, 2004

Coming Soon

I haven't updated in a couple of days, but most of the neat things that are happening haven't actually happened yet.

—I'm heading in an hour or two down to the Trump Casino outside Chicago, there to meet a couple of fellow bloggers. Gil should also be coming, but not Cactus Dave. I should have a trip report early next week.

—Week 26 of my pro career has passed, half a year, and it makes some sense to put a longish post together about how it's gone. (The short version: Not very well.) I'll probably have that up this coming week, also.

—I've said already that we could begin our Nomic game as soon as Monday. If you're interested, sign up on the appropriate forum and let us know. Unless someone signs on with a surname earlier alphabetically than "Baker," Dylan will be able to take the first move on Monday. (I haven't heard any strong objections to beginning with Suber's set, Initial Set 1, so I'm assuming that's what we'll start with.)

—Speaking of the fora, a degrees-of-separation guy suggested a forum for posting bad beats. (Humm, I may be about to have one right here, eight people in for two bets and me with AK.) Anyway, if you feel you have to vent, now you have a place to do it. This is probably more useful for readers than fellow bloggers, since fellow bloggers already have a place to vent.

—I'm about to walk across the room for some of my morning coffee. If I don't end up with anything else to say, I'll blog about how good or bad my coffee was. I did have to open a new package of coffee filters, and you never know how something like that will affect my coffee ... (shudder)

  Tuesday, August 03, 2004

No-Limit: LIVE! (part II)

A winning week assured, I returned to Little River on Monday for the no-limit game I was sure would be dealt after the day's tournament. My intent was to burn off some comp points and stay at the casino, and play the same game Tuesday.

The drive up was an adrenaline rush. The weather was hot and humid when I left the house, but basically clear. However, I drove through two big thunderstorms on the way up, the kind where people either pull off to the side of the highway, or put their flashers on and drive at 40 MPH in horrible visibility. I chose the latter option, because I'm a masochistic fool. The second one was a bit scarier, since it was on US-31 north of Muskegon in the Whitehall area. Once you get a few miles north of Muskegon, US-31 is expressway for another hour (to Ludington), but gets very little traffic. I had enough visibility to see the road, but there weren't any cars ahead or behind to the limit of my visibility. Why this was worrisome is that whenever there's bad weather (rain or snow), there is always a contingent of drivers of four-wheel-drive vehicles (usually) who drives at close to the speed limit. And even though they usually use the left lane and I was in the right, since I didn't know how far back the car behind me was, there was a chance that one of those scoff-weathers would roar up behind me and plow into me from behind. It didn't happen, but it gave me something to worry about. The weather cleared in a few minutes, so that when I pulled off at the Whitehall rest area to call ahead to get me onto the game lists (I don't carry a cell-phone), the only "rain" I had to deal with was what the wind blew off the leaves of the nearby trees.

Man, isn't talking about the weather interesting?

In any case, I got there, and the tournament was down to the final table, but just. That meant that the five or so people who were waiting on the rail (including me) were waiting for a couple of people to bust out so that they could open another table. They did and they did, and I saw maybe three orbits (won a little, lost a little) before someone busted out of the no-limit game that I didn't even realize was going on behind me, opening a seat for me.

I saw several players, maybe even most of the table, that were also on the game the week before. A couple of them were very good, including the player to my immediate left. I had an AA early in, limped in UTG, got a number of callers, but only one to my $10 bet postflop. When the turn was also a blank, I bet $20 and won a small pot. I might have one one other pot in a similar situation, where the flop hit my hand, but won only a small pot. Otherwise, I got raised over-the-top of my raises with AQ and AJ, and laid them down.

I made one stupendously dumb play out of my first buyin, and then I compounded the mistake. I called a $10 bet with AT, and the flop came with two spades. The action checked around, and the third spade hit the turn. An early-position player went all-in for $47. There was about that much in the pot, and I expected another caller (and I was right), so I called with somewhat short odds. But that wasn't the huge mistake. Figuring everybody was all-in, I flipped up my cards—to see the Ace of Clubs! Of course, it was the overcaller that had the Ace of Spades, although I did have the ten. Even that wasn't my biggest mistake, though—did you catch it? The original better was all-in, but the overcaller and I still had chips left, yet I had flipped my hand up. There was really no way to remedy the situation: I took my hand back, the dealer turned a non-spade, and I said "check," laughing as I did it. The overcaller didn't bet either, and the dealer shoved the pot to the original better (who of course already had the flush). I pulled the rest of my chips from the $4/$8 game out of my rack and put them on the table, and fortunately the server had arrived with my beer, because after that dumb a play, I really needed it.

The other play I made wasn't quite as dumb, but it cost me the rest of the money I had before I hit my stop-loss. (It wasn't so much a stop-loss as a stop-loss-because-I-don't-have-any-more-money.) I flopped an open-ended straight draw out of the big blind, and the fellow who was betting the hand kept betting small amounts, giving me the odds to chase the straight. I hit it on the river, but my straight card was also the third flush card. The original better made another small bet, and downstream someone went over-the-top for $50 or so. Clearly he had the flush, but I only had $11 left, and the pot was big, and maybe he didn't have it, and what the fuck, anyway. As it happened, he was making a play at it, but the original bettor turned out to have the flush himself, a baby one.

I had a minor decision to make. I had another $100 in my wallet, but I needed to buy gas, which meant that I couldn't lose it. I might have sat the limit game if I saw a seat, but I didn't. I had them comp me some dinner, and I bought a paper and read it at dinner. I tried the trick with that same slot machine again (the car still hasn't been won), but had the much more common occurrence of losing the $20 I put in. So I went home.

I end up concluding that I'm not as good at no-limit as I like to think. Partially, this is because of my short attention span; I don't see everything that goes on in a hand that I'm not in. But mainly, I think it's my hand-reading skills; another player demonstrated how horrid they actually are. Last week, he was on my left, and after an over-the-top and an all-in at the other end of the table, he said "she has AK, he has Queens, maybe Aces, but probably Queens." I wasn't really watching, but that was darn impressive. It was more impressive that he was right. No wonder people know when to go over the top of my raises with AQ and the like; before my poker-playing days I used to pride myself on being an open book, and I'm not sure that I'm not still just as open.

The thing about that, is that I'm not sure what to do about it. A wait-for-the-nuts style doesn't seem as efficable in the live game as it does in the $25NL games online. But if I'm unable to make plays because they're obvious, then I'm not sure what to do about it. This is especially frustrating because I think that I've become a good limit player live (which hasn't always been the case). And so, even though at the Trump on Saturday there will almost certainly be a no-limit game going, a $5/$5 game, I think that I shall not sit it, and instead sit $3/$6 or $5/$10 limit holdem. I'd like to give $10/$20 another shot, but I think I'll be short-stacked when I'm there, especially after my poor showing in Manistee yesterday.

  Monday, August 02, 2004

Lossed, Victories, and a 32" Color TV

No, I don't know why there's a 32" color TV in that headline. Why do you ask? Well, then, screw you too!

Now that I've worked off tonight's quota of random statements and a borderline challenge, I can continue by talking about the last few days' play.

Tuesday's $3/$6 play left me down almost $300, mostly through my own stupid play. I paid off when other people made their hands, and rarely made any of my own. Something about my play on Wednesday made me constitutionally unable to press the "fold" button when I was clearly beat. So, I stopped my play early to avoid tilting away any more money, having played only about three hours, and in fact took Wednesday night off as well.

Sometime during that down time I determined that to get back in the game I'd have to drop limits, as my bankroll was again at dangerous levels, and so when I sat down for Thursday night's play I opened up $2/$4 tables rather than my usual $3/$6.

Once again, I found the $2/$4 tables to be a vast difference from the $3/$6 tables, in that the $2/$4 players are so uncreative and undeceptive that they might as well be playing with their cards face-up. I just opened my ring-game stats in PokerTracker, so in three or four minutes I should be able to tell exactly how good the night was, but I was up over 113 big bets, more than $450, in less than four hours. —It looks like the result is that I was up 13.41 big bets per 100 hands, which was unsustainably high, but fun.

I do remember that early on I was getting a lot of big cards, but I don't feel like my cards were spectacular after that. And even in the early going, most of those big hands didn't drag huge pots. I did feel very much that I was on my best game, and that I was making great reads, knowing when my second and third pairs were good and when they weren't. But overall, if even half Thursday's total were sustainable, the $2/$4 game would actually be more profitable than the $3/$6. I have reasons for thinking that even that level isn't sustainable, though. Mostly, it's all of my previous $2/$4 play. So, while I like $2/$4 at the moment, and I'm having a nice little run so far in today's play, I won't go so far as to claim that $2/$4 is my game now. I've made too many similar pronouncements over the last couple of months for my own comfort; going back and reading them I sound wishy-washy at best. I'll more flatteringly look at it as attempting to play the best game rather than the biggest.

In any case, with the week now on a good note, I departed Friday afternoon for Little River casino, intending to play some $1/$2 no-limit against the irregulars in the weekend crowd. The small room makes poker less intimidating to new players, I think, and the floorman can occasionally walk over to the rail and troll for players. While this is true on weeknights as well, on summer weekends there are a lot of railbirds, and the only thing that can prevent many of them from getting into a game is the possibility that they may be stuck on a long list. (The room has had a dealer shortage of late.) As the night goes on, the patrons get drunker and more willing to risk a new game, and the folks who spent most of the day playing cards begin to drift off to their hotel rooms, so there are usually seats for the railbirds, and I hoped they'd give no-limit a try.

Of course, nobody knew how the game would go, since this was the first weekend that Little River's license allowed them to deal no-limit. As it happened, there were usually six or seven names on the list, all weekend, but they were all on other games, so if they called the no-limit game, they'd have to break a $4/$8 game, and then when the no-limit game broke after just a couple of hours, there's be a long list for the $4/$8 game. When they called the third table of $4/$8 on Saturday, that killed any chance of seeing a no-limit game go that night.

Since I was short-stacked, my plan was to go home after Friday night if I finished the night even or down. When they closed the room at 3:30AM, I was down $16 after my AK failed to turn into anything on pretty much the last hand of the night. So, I went and had some eggs before going home, for some reason not having it comped but paying the $8 or so for the breakfast. On the way out, I dropped $20 into a slot machine, since one of their progressive-jackpot machines is at a historically high level and it's always the same machine in the bank that hits it. (And I do mean always: the machines are right outside the poker room, so the poker room staff is intimately familiar with those machines—especially since they make an obscenely loud racket for half an hour after the car is won.) I didn't win the car, but I did win $75, and the $55 profit put me into the black for the day, so I could do the thing I really wanted to do anyway, get a room and play again on Saturday.

I slept 'til almost noon on Saturday, despite some difficulty in sleeping, and showered and was back in the poker room at 12:30 or so. Their first game was going, full of rockish regulars so that I was glad to miss that game. But the second game didn't get going until about 2:00, so I had plenty of time to drink coffee and read the newspaper. (The poker room is small enough and I am enough of a regular that I can spread out at an empty table, even though it's probably against the rules.)

Probably the time when there was the greatest number of new or weak players on the table was when the table was first opened, including George, a man who regularly plays three hands of blackjack at a time for $100 to $500 a hand, and so (predictably) he sees $4/$8 holdem as an opportunity to socialize and gamble it up. When he hits, he wins monster pots, but he'll raise on any two cards, so alert players are willing to three-bet some questionable hands from his immediate left. I three-bet a KQ against him, and actually got to five-bet him after the river with a board of 89TJx. I might have been a little too forceful when I said that we could keep raising "until one of us runs out of money," because he only called my fifth bet, and we didn't get into one of those rare limit situations where someone does end up all-in for dozens of bets in a contested pot. (I've never been in that situation, but Gil has.) He turned over the Queen, of course, and my King-high straight beat his Queen-high straight.

After George left, the table wasn't as good. It still wasn't horrible, but there was a greater percentage of good players. In a Vegas or California room, I'd be looking for a better table or a better casino, but the casinos here are spending a lot of money in their attempts to shut out further casinos and further competition. (How this didn't happen in Las Vegas is a mystery to me.)

It was probably a bad idea, but I mentioned that I wanted to move "west" in October, and answered truthfully when asked where and why. Surprisingly, I didn't get the derision I would have expected, although maybe people were keeping it to themselves. I did hear a comment that it "takes bank" to move out there, and I answered that I knew that, that I didn't have the "bank" yet, but I half-expected and half-hoped that I would by then. And, indeed, if I can amass between five and ten thousand dollars by then, I will make the move. But I'm not there yet, and in fact it's not even very likely that I will get there as things stand now. I need a plan, and I need to stick to it, to make this happen.

Reminder: August 7, Trump Casino, Gary, Indiana

𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥𝅮  Indiana wants me, but I can't go back there. Indiana wants me, but I can't go back there. I wish I had you to talk to ... 𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥𝅮  

Some people requested that I plug away again about the Midwest Blogger Challenge (or whatever I called it before) at the Trump Casino in Gary (outside Chicago) this weekend. At the moment I expect to head down there Friday night, assuming there's a room available, and play until my fingers bleed, or at least until I don't feel like it anymore, and be up to play again on Saturday. I expect to meet the attendees in the poker room; you'll know me by my Detroit Tigers jersey with the number 13. (If, by some amazing coincidence, there are two people there with current-design Detroit Tigers visitors' jerseys with the number 13, mine will be the one which doesn't have Lance Parrish's name on it.) We have two bloggers confirmed, one semi-confirmed, one not-at-all-confirmed, and one would-be-confirmed-but-doesn't-have-a-fake-ID. All are welcome, bloggers and readers alike.