Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Update, and a Couple of Thoughts

Did I say update? There really isn't much of that. Poker is chugging along. I had a horrible December, but January is (so far) coming along okay; I'm not rich but I'm not broke, either.

After winning a satellite to the Sunday Million today, I sold PokerStars Tournament Dollars (T$) for cash for the first time. I used PSmoney.com, one of the sites that spammed chat after the tournament, because of the three sites I was aware of that do this, they offered the best rate. It worked fine and darn near instantly. The only weird thing was that the "player" I sold the T$ to has his city entered as "Damascus." Assuming that's the one in Syria, am I abetting terrorism? Of course not everybody in Syria is a terrorist, but I wonder nonetheless. (Not terribly seriously; I'll still be able to sleep tonight.)

Despite the win at PokerStars, I'm mostly not playing online right now. UIGEA and its fallout has exacerbated the problem I alluded to before, that online poker and live poker are fast becoming Two Different Things. Miller talks about some of those problems in the article I linked in my last entry. I don't actually think bots are a serious problem yet, but agree that they will be. Just as bad are the multi-tabling money farmers, which seem to me to dominate online play at stakes above $1/$2 or so. Can I play against good players? Sure. But at a whole table of good players, it's much more likely to come down to blind-vs.-blind or blind-vs.-steal, which I still maintain is one of my weak points, especially in limit.

All that to say this: I'm not playing much online right now.

For those that ask "what's new about moving to Vegas," well, really, nothing. We aren't moving in January, as I'd hoped, but that has a lot to do with Gil's not wanting to spend the money to break his lease. And, truly, all three of us are a little squeezed cashwise right now, so we'd have trouble making the move right now in any case.

Thought Number One

Over the last several months I've asked myself, "What do you want out of life?" My usual response to myself was, "Yes," implying that I wish for death, which I guess still isn't really that out of line for me. But more recently I've come to realize what it really is.

I want to be free. Although it's an important part of what I mean, I'm not talking about flag-waving fourth-of-July stuff, because I've long considered our government one of the biggest threats to individual liberty. (That has nothing to do with the current war; the war on terror needs to be fought vigorously, including in Iraq.) This formulation might work better: I want to never "have to" do anything, and I want to never "can't" do anything. I don't see that working in the real world unless I have a boatload of money, but that's what I want. Things that are mandatory grate on me a lot more than things that are forbidden: If you told me "You may never travel to Maryland," I'd wail and complain and then realize that I don't really have any reason to go to Maryland anyway, so big deal. But if you told me, "You must travel to Maryland," I'd be likely to react violently against that. (Or, more likely, react the way I react to most dumb laws: I ignore them.)

There's nothing terribly profound here, except a new way of stating "what I want from life:" I want to be free.

Thought Number Two

I was driving home from the casino last night, and since the one radio station near it that's decent was airing a basketball game I didn't care about, I drove home in silence. As is my usual, my mind wandered greatly during the trip. When it was recently suggested to me that I look at a job as selling my time for cash (I understand that, anyway), I argued that part of the problem of me working a straight job is that I value my time a lot higher than any job is likely to pay me.

I ran a thought experiment: how much is my time worth? Would I sell forty hours a week, every week for the rest of my life, for $1000 an hour? (Of course, it's not forty, but actually over fifty, when you count all the associated stuff involved with a job, including travelling there and back, unpaid lunch breaks, maintaining a "work" wardrobe, and so on.)

Assuming I can't game the system—agree to this and then quit once I'm "set for life" on what I've earned—I had to admit that the answer is no. I would resent the imposition of those forty hours every week even if I was getting $1000 an hour. Since $1000 an hour adds up to over two million dollars a year, and I'd have difficulty spending anything close to that, I conclude that there is no amount that I'd be happy working for at a "straight" job.

Don't misunderstand: If someone came up to me this instant and offered me $1000 for an hour of work, I'd probably do it even if the job was particularly messy, disgusting, dangerous, or back-breaking. A single hour of my time is worth less than $1000 to me. But after that hour, it's over; the rest of my life is mine. And, if someone offered me $8000 (or even $1000) for one day's work, I'd probably take it, if I was physically capable of the work involved. Because, once it was over, my life would be mine. It's the demand that I keep doing this forever—be here from this time to this time tomorrow, and from this time to this time the next day, and so on, for the rest of my life, that I rebel against: To me, that's slavery. We use the term "wage slave" to mean someone working hard for low pay, but historically, the term comes the contrast between working for someone else and working for yourself: from people who had to sell out or close their small businesses—family farms, craft or trade shops—and take "jobs" working for someone else, selling their time instead of doing what they wanted to do.

The obvious response to this is that I should find some way to work for myself. I ran through some of that some time ago, in an earlier post, but the only thing I can think of along those lines that appeals to me is a bookstore, and that suffers many of the same problems that a job does. Besides, with Barnes and Noble and the like getting into used books, I have a hard time seeing how a "traditional" small general bookseller can compete in any way. One could specialize, but I don't think there's much call for a Gambler's Book Club in Michigan, and there already is one in Las Vegas. (It's a neat place, if you've never been there; when I was there I overheard an employee giving a customer a bunch of recommendations for which were the best books on basketball handicapping, which impressed me.)

This paragraph was going to be about relating poker to all of this, but it's either obvious, or I've said it before, so I won't.

  Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Does Poker Keep Getting Harder?

For all those hoping for a new update on my own poker travails, this isn't it.

This is a short post, because I wanted to highlight (not least for myself) Ed Miller's article, "Does Poker Keep Getting Harder and Harder?" If you read it, don't stop before reading the comments, because (as is common on Miller's site) there's good stuff in the comments, too.

I need to digest it a bit more before I come up with my own take on the subject, but overall I tend to agree with his assessment. Maybe more later.