Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Two (basically)

A quick note as I wait for Everquest II to install and patch.

I went up to Little River in Manistee yesterday (Tuesday) partially for their tournament, but more for the post-tournament cash games. I finished the day $18 to the good, which counts as a positive result as much as a day $18 to the bad counts as a negative result, and my "streak" had several of those results.

I've only participated in that tournament one other time, some months ago, perhaps even before I was officially a pro. (I could look in my old posts here, but that would take effort.) My opinion at the time was that the blinds escalated too quickly, and stack sizes were too small relative to the stakes, to make the tournament anything beyond a glorified crapshoot. After yesterday's tournament, I still feel that way, even though I think that the way my game has changed in the last couple of months increased my chances of moneying such an event.

In the first hour of the tournament, when the blinds were (relative to stack sizes) about where they should be for the middle of a tournament, I either hit with my big aces or got the other guy to lay down his cards if I didn't hit, and built my stack up from T$300 to about T$900 at the first break. It helped that we had a new player on my right, who knew the game but whose style was only appropriate to a home game. He blew off two rebuys that he, well, shouldn't have, and fortunately I caught much of it.

But even with the T$1000 add-on after the break, my stack wasn't in great shape for the T$50/T$100 and T$100/T$200 rounds, and neither was anyone else's, and so it was a crapshoot. I got overcommitted with an AQ that missed and basically busted out of the tournament, although the second break hit right after that hand and I had then a single black chip. I did triple it up, but still didn't have enough to pay the big blind, and so before it came I threw my T$300 in with 89o, missed, and then waited for the cash games to start.

The cash game was interesting only in that the players seemed all to be of roughly equal skill. Nobody made out as a huge winner, but a couple of people dumped a lot of money. Since none of the players won big, I have to assume that those donators were basically paying our rake for us.

Still, I cashed out $58 in profit from the ring game, seven bets, which made up for the $40 I spent in the tournament, so that with gas included I ended up with basically a break-even day. Ahh well, can't win them all.

  Monday, November 08, 2004

Yay, me!

This is, I believe, the fifth time this has ever happened:

***** Hand History for Game 1154113788 *****
$2/$4 Hold'em - Monday, November 08, 12:40:42 EDT 2004
Table Bad Beat Jackpot #971356 (Real Money)
Seat 6 is the button
Total number of players : 10 
Seat 7: LordGeznikor ( $164.75 )
Seat 6: Kaboomy ( $146 )
Seat 10: VIIXIXXI ( $64 )
Seat 1: play___moni ( $81.5 )
Seat 8: ksenzee ( $88 )
LordGeznikor posts small blind [$1].
ksenzee posts big blind [$2].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to LordGeznikor [  A K ]
toughtobeat1 folds.
VIIXIXXI calls [$2].
play___moni raises [$4].
Kaboomy calls [$4].
LordGeznikor calls [$3].
ksenzee calls [$2].
VIIXIXXI calls [$2].
** Dealing Flop ** [ Q, 4, J ]
LordGeznikor bets [$2].
ksenzee folds.
play___moni calls [$2].
Kaboomy calls [$2].
** Dealing Turn ** [ 4♠ ]
LordGeznikor bets [$4].
play___moni calls [$4].
Kaboomy folds.
** Dealing River ** [ T ]
LordGeznikor bets [$4].
play___moni calls [$4].
LordGeznikor shows [ A, K ] Royal Flush.
play___moni doesn't show [ A, J♠ ] two pairs, jacks and fours.
LordGeznikor wins $39.5 from  the main pot  with Royal Flush.

Yay, me!

One ... and One ... and One

The streak of poor results in live play has ended. Then, the new streak of positive results in live-game play ended at one, as did the next streak of negative results. The upshot is a positive weekend of live play marred only by large swings.

We already knew that Gil wouldn't want to play on Saturday. At least, he wouldn't be able to; he had a gig. I suggested that we play on Friday, but it took a spur-of-the-moment decision on Gil's part before we actually did so. I'm glad we did.

I got a chance to play a few hands of Stud before my $6/$12 seat was called, although on second thought perhaps "play" is too strong a word. I was dealt maybe seven or ten hands and didn't see a single one past fourth street. Even some of the fourth streets I saw were iffy; I had a baby pair or a three-flush with two of my cards dead, but in both cases I was able to take off fourth street for the bring-in only. Fourth street didn't help, and I folded. Then, of course, they called my $6/$12 seat.

It had been a while since I'd played $6/$12 in Mt. Pleasant, or really played live at all above the casino's lowest limit. As regular readers know, I've been broke, and my play has been staked by Gil. Gil's own bankroll is such that he can only stake someone into the casino-of-the-day's lowest-stakes game, so that I've mainly been playing $3/$6 of late.

I've gotta say, $6/$12 is a whole lot different than $3/$6. At $3/$6, I most commonly search out the players with a clue, in search of whom to avoid. At $6/$12, my job is exactly the opposite: My opponents are mostly assumed to have a clue, and I'm searching out the weak players to find out whom to attack. Overall, this seems like a more successful strategy, plus, I'm catching cards. So, even though Gil starts playing $3/$6 and only joins me at the $6/$12 table later in the day, we still both end up posting wins, me around $250 and Gil around $50.

The conversation is also a bit more mature at the $6/$12 level; you don't hear as much "How could you stay in on six-four?" because the eight decent players at the table understand that what goes around, comes around, and when it does, it'll hit you hard.

I sound as if this is the first time I've played anything other than $3/$6. That's not the case, of course, but being broke for the last couple of months has made me appreciate the niceties that a higher-limit game provides. Interestingly, the $10/$20 game there doesn't seem that much more difficult; it's a lot of the same players, with the added advantage that the it's-all-gambling mindset is more likely to sit $10/$20 than $6/$12. (Actually, they're most likely to sit a no-limit game, but a true no-limit game is spread in Michigan only at Greektown in Detroit. I've talked about that game before; it attracts sports figures and celebrities who have what can only be termed Too Much Money. As in Rounders, "The stakes attract rich flounders, and that in turn attracts the sharks.")

... and One

I returned early Saturday morning, without Gil, to partake in the $6/$12 game again. Early on, there was a drunk on the table, who was a big contributor; I took a couple of pots off of him and got out to a quick $200 profit. But I bled that back over the next hours, even though the drunk's seat was filled by another (lesser-caliber) maniac. A couple of tough beats, coupled with poor play on my part, pissed away my profit and $165 besides, before I decided that it was entirely possible that I was the fish at that point, and cashed out my measly $35 in chips and went home.

The second day at the casino was interesting; there were several people there who I recognized from the night before, who hadn't changed clothes, and were probably on the tables all night. One of these was a fellow who was a donator while he was on my $6/$12 table, who had migrated to the $10/$20 game. I didn't have enough cash to sit the $10/$20 to take advantage of this, but I kept an eye on his stack. He never had a mountain of chips in front of him, but neither did I see him reload.

I also saw a former regular in Manistee, Boris, a young Russian who still loves to pull out Teddy KGB lines, because he's, well, Russian. (He says Malkovich's accent is horrible, but it is John Malkovich.) Although it didn't happen, I was looking forward to playing with him, because he's far too loose, especially in the defense of his blinds. I did see him reload at least once while I was there, on the other $6/$12 table.

... and One

I had planned to take Sunday off from live play, to play online and return to the casino on Monday, probably to play in Manistee's tournament. But Gil decided early Sunday morning that he did in fact want to play in a casino, and that his business wouldn't so much allow him to do that on Monday or Tuesday. Gil's original thought was to go down to the Trump to play, but that's probably the longest drive of any of our "usual" casinos, so I talked him out of it. We ended up playing in Manistee, their usual $4/$8 game. This was profitable for both of us.

They only got one game going all day, and when we got there it was still short-handed. Gil and I sat down, and a few minutes later the last empty seat was filled by James, the best player in that room. But nearly every other position at the table was filled by a new player, most of whom were horrible. Unfortunately, they all busted out pretty quickly, but on the plus side I made a few nice pots off of them to jump out to a $200+ profit. My luck turned when they left, though; tough beats got put on me again and again, sprinkled with a few tiny pots I grabbed when nobody else seemed interested in them. Fortunately, another new face sat down eventually and blew through $450 or so, to bring me back to a $50 profit on the day.

Gil never had the big downswing during the day, although he finished $100 or so off his peak. Even so, his day provided a good $200 profit, so we each had a profitable weekend.

Surprisingly, one of my opponents in Sunday's game, a loose-aggressive one who can either kill you or get you healthy in a hurry, showed up on one of my $2/$4 BBJ tables this morning. His luck seemed to be pretty similar to how he did on Sunday; he left down around $40 in the 20-30 minutes I sat with him. But then, it doesn't seem to be my day, either.

  Friday, November 05, 2004

On Politics

Well, Bush won, by enough that his victory seems outside the margin of litigation. I'm sure fraud still occurred, but it seems not to have affected the outcome of the election. I'm a little disappointed, though, that a conversation didn't develop on my idea for ending fraud in elections. It would work in eliminating fraud (I think), but it's so radical that there would surely be many unforeseen consequences. What are they?

I voted for Bush, even though Michigan as a whole did not. So, while I'm pleased about the outcome of the election, I'm thinking about rerouting the Detroit River down Eight Mile Road so that Detroit finds itself in Canada. Then it doesn't matter how screwy Detroit votes.

I've been lurking on some Democratic message boards the last day or two, and it's been interesting to listen to the chest-beating, the despair, and the what-next. The despair is the most telling; people who assume that people in Mississippi, Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas are illiterate hicks who believe anything they're told, which is why they "believe Bush's lies" and vote for him.

The chest-beating seems to be based around a number of conspiracy theories, most of which sound like grasping at straws. Perhaps the electronic voting machines were set at the factory to deliver precincts for Bush. Perhaps the networks called Ohio too quickly. (Fox and NBC called Ohio for Bush a little before 1, so I don't see this one at all—how would that affect the outcome in Ohio?) Perhaps they called Michigan and Minnesota too late. (Dunno about Minnesota, but the last precincts in Michigan to come in are always Detroit, so Michigan could have been called for Kerry when he had a lead with about 70% of the precincts in. But maybe someone could say the same about Iowa and New Mexico, I don't know.) Perhaps Republican poll-watchers intimidated voters into not voting. (There's a story in Michigan of a couple of UAW workers who attempted murder against two Republican poll-watchers. As I heard the story the UAW guys are clearly guilty of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, and probably guilty of a hate crime.)

The what-next is the most interesting. The most thoughtful posters are saying that they have to build a movement the way the Republicans did after Goldwater's 1964 loss. But if their success matches the Rs' demonstrated success after Goldwater, the Ds' won't take Congress back for thirty years. The slightly-less-thoughtful are advocating a sharp turn left or (less often) a sharp turn right for the Democratic party. Either one is disastrous for their party, but they can't stay where they are, either. And of course there are the people who advocate armed rebellion.

Strangely, I think healthiest for the country in the long term would be if they turned both right and left at once, even though it would split the party. The left-D's would become avowed Socialists, and the right-D's would become, mmm, I don't know what, exactly. Probably something like the "moderate" R's are now, kind of wishy-washy don't-stand-for-anything muddleheads, although it would be healthiest if they became a civil-rights party. In the short term, that would mean that the Republicans start winning every single election, because their party would hold for a while, but in the longer term they would also split into two factions, the "social conservatives" (religious right) and the "economic conservatives" (business interests).

Even longer-term, the (now) four major parties would find it in their interests to coalesce back into two parties, but I think (hope) it would realign so that the "economic conservatives" and "social liberals" coalesce into a libertarian party, and the Socialists and religious Right coalesce into ... well, remember Hitler?

Week ... um ... A-One?

I have reached the end of my first semi-pro week of poker, up $425 despite no play in the last two days of the week.

Monday night at work, I had an OK session where I ran myself up over $100, but came home for my "late" session (around 8:30 AM) and played so cosmically stupid that I didn't play for two days, pissed at myself. Fortunately, it only turned the day into an $11 loss, because I hit enough cards to keep me from throwing away all of my money, but I was annoyed just the same.

The hotel has about fifty strikebreakers staying there at the moment, who will stay there as long as a strike lasts at a nearby metals plant. Besides these guys being a giant pain in the ass, they're up really early (4-5 AM), which cuts into my poker time at work. They tell us right now that they expect to be in the area for 90 days, which, from my point of view, sucks; I took this job because it's supposed to be low-stress on the overnights.

During my off week, which I guess is Week A2, I expect to play a lot more live poker than I could during my "on" week. I'm hoping that my next couple of posts aren't titled "9ine" and "10en," that my streak of bad results at the casino finally ends. Tomorrow (really later tonight), depending when I awake, I will likely head to Chicago or Detroit, knowing that the games when I get there at Midnight or 1AM will likely be pretty good. If I get there earlier, though, it'll likely be to Manistee that I go, because I like that room better. It doesn't hold the advantage of being a 24-hour room, though. Monday or Tuesday, I'm attempting to talk Gil into a run to Manistee partially for their tournament, but mostly for the ring games afterward, which include a low-buyin NL game. I'm convinced I need work at NL, but Gil should do pretty well.

  Tuesday, November 02, 2004

They Haven't Counted the Vote Yet

I had a thought this morning. No matter who wins the election that is taking place today, I am going to have zero confidence that the results are not manipulated by fraud. Even if there weren't concerns about fraudulent voter registrations, or poorly-designed ballots, or people improperly removed from the voter rolls, the people who count the votes are human, and are hardly impartial.

But I couldn't think of a solution. Electronic voting just gives the power to rig elections to the hackers who wrote the software. Handwritten ballots wouldn't be as irrefutable as they might seem (how do you count a vote for James H. Carry?). And even if the idea of "registering" to vote seems silly, the alternative would allow people to easily vote multiple times. Even the early voting that's so popular this year seems to be rife with opportunities for fraud.

Then I thought of a solution, and it would work, and cut fraud to zero, but it would be a huge break with tradition, and would probably cause a number of other problems. (I can even foresee a couple of them.) The idea is this: Eliminate the secret ballot.

That's right, you read that correctly: Your vote must be cast publicly. I imagine that every vote as it's cast goes onto a web site which says "John Smith, of 123 Fourth St., votes for the Sensible Party. Mary Jones, of 125 Fourth St., votes for the Silly Party." This way, every voter knows that his vote has been counted and counted correctly; there's no anxiety that an unscrupulous or incompetent poll worker may have "lost" your ballot.

Even better, it would allow a very close vote, as in Florida in 2000 and likely in more than one state in 2004, to be resolved far more quickly. If a voter is stupid and can't read the ballot, he will have immediate feedback: "Hey, I didn't want to vote for that yutz!" If a voter says he's been disenfranchised, someone can point and say, "See, here, Mark Johnson, 678 Ninth St., Silly Party." And if fraud appears to have occurred, we can see if Zebadiah Pinchleyfeather really lives at 765½ Dung Beetle Alley, or if in fact such a person even exists, or if there's even a house with that address.

Now, I can foresee problems with public voting. For one, dissenting voices are less likely to vote if that vote is published for all to see. For example, while I praise the rise of the black Republicans as a huge step toward putting racism behind us, black Republicans are still a small minority within the "black community," and there may be social or even financial consequences to voting for the "wrong" party. The same could be said of a Democrat in a heavily Republican area. A long-term result of this could be that precincts tend toward turning in 100% of the vote for a particular party.

I think, for purposes of fraud, public voting is foolproof. Am I wrong? And what are the other unforeseen consequences to doing away with the secret ballot?