Sloe Times

A journal of my adventures in learning and growing personally and professionally

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


General: A guide to blogging

I came across this comic today and thought it might help those folks wondering how to start a blog of their own.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Poker: 9, 8, 7, 6, & 5 Days until the New Year - Money Management

On top of being away for the holidays I also got sick. I think I caught it from the boy but in general since there's really nothing I want to do other than drown my fevered body in cold water and scoop out my eyeballs to ease the sinus pressure I figured I'd at least touch on the next topic I wanted to ponder over and that is Money Management.

Since the number two reason for me playing is to make money I should identify what my plans for all the cash I'm going to be raking in is. This last year I started off poorly and didn't expect to make any money at all. Once I did hit the black, I spent it on things that may not have been worth while (in relation to wiping out my bank roll). Since I'm challenging myself to turn $50 into $2k using the OIC formula I need to decide what to do with the 2k each time I reach it (I'm making the bold assumption that not only will I do this, but I'll do it multiple times this year).

I'm seriously wanting to look into generating some sort of passive income through investments so I think my basic strategy will be to take 1/3 (650) and put it towards some sort of rainy day savings, another 1/3 (650) to go towards an investment fund, and the final 1/3 (650) to go to some worthwhile (undecided) cause. That leaves 50 to start the challenge over with.

On the other hand, playing $0.50/$1 sucks. The players are weak and the variance is greater than I remember 2/4 or 3/6 being. I've tightened up a lot since I last played which is probably saving me a lot of bets that would have been easily gambled away. On the other hand, I play single table and now spend a lot of time putting on a folding clinic which is boring. Perhaps for my birthday I can convince the wife to get me a 19" LCD to replace my 15". I'm thinking that If I could be at 1600x1200 instead of 1024x768 multitabling becomes a viable possibility. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

The pressure to pull excess winnings out of my bank roll to cover other expenses is pretty great. For example, this last year involved a vacation and some medical expenses. I probably didn't need to wipe myself out to cover those things, but I did and I suspect the temptation will arise again this year. Hence, the plan. I think that by setting down in writing what I'm going to do with the money I pull in from this hobby it will at least allow me to mentally segregate it from other things I could/would spend money on. To that end I'm looking to get involved with an investment club locally. Since I know little to nothing about investing for short term returns this should be an interesting challenge as well.

Something else for me to keep in mind is that if I do achieve my goal of making the 2k challenge multiple times, I'm going to have to seriously look into the tax ramifications for this income. There could be worse problems to have, but the last thing I need to do is be on the bad side of the IRS.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


General: Holiday Absence

I should be pumping out Day 9 of my 12 days till New Years but things are a mad house around here as we're gearing up for pre-christmas family events, christmas, and post-christmas events. That being said I'll hold on to Days 9,8, and 7 until Sunday. That gives me a little more time to figure out what I'm going to write. Have a good holiday and I'll talk to y'all on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


General: Blogger tweaks

More tweaks to my template and blog. The last week has had its share of long posts and I often find myself just wanting to scan the page for something I wrote and I've found that in the last week all that scrolling makes my finger ache. I found this trick to make expandible posts that I'll use for anything over a few paragraphs. Hopefully it's not too annoying for the reader at large.

In other news I noticed on stat tracker I cleared 10,000 hits which is cool, I'm closing in on 5k unique visits as you can see at the bottom.

<The Mask Voice>They read me, they really read me!</The Mask Voice>


Poker: The Bloggers Guide to: Online Poker

With all the collective brain power in the poker blogging community and not to mention talent, why is "The Bloggers Guide to Online Poker" not on bookshelves? Here's a rough draft that could be a solid money maker with some help.

This is a parody, no offense to anyone named or otherwise is intended. In fact if you were named, I have nothing but the deepest respect for you and I'm only roasting you because I ran out of chestnuts. I'm also dimwitted, I didn't roast nearly everyone (or myself for that matter) that could use it so if you can think of some appropriate chapters that would likely be included (and of course an appropriate author) please let me know and we'll get it into the second edition printing. ;)

The Bloggers Guide to:

Online Poker

Chapter 1: Online Poker Concepts
1.1 Money Matters by anonymous
Because Uncle Sam has not become enlightened to the tax income benefits of legalizing online gambling you're going to need to work with a middle man to launder deposit and withdrawal your money in online card rooms. Neteller is probably the most commonly used system plus they have a little lottery going all the time that you can use the points you get from all the deposits and withdrawals you'll be making while bonus whoring.

When it comes time to pay the bills you'll want to make withdrawals in smallish amounts to avoid tripping up the income alarms. You don't want to be paying any unnecessary taxes.

1.2 Bonus Whores by Grubby
Unless you've got a pile of your own money to be funding your bank roll online, you'll need to become a bonus whore. What this means is that you take advantage of the various online casinos deposit bonuses to increase your stake by playing blackjack a game you can either minimize the houses edge or beat solidly in the case of micro-limit poker. These bonuses are generally worked off against an amount wagered or a quantity of raked hands. These programs vary from casino to casino so be sure to read the fine print.

Chapter 2: Playing online
2.1 Necessary Equipment by theMaroon
To be a top online poker player you have to have the right setup. To make those millions from playing poker you're going to be spending a lot of time on your ass. Get a comfy chair like that $4000 massaging chair from Sharper Image. Next you need a computer and more importantly a good display. I recommend the a quad CPU Xeon box. You don't really need that kind of horsepower but the only way to take advantage of how rigged online poker is, is to have a more powerful box than the site you play on. For a display I recommend the 96" plasma wall mounted display. You really need to multi-table properly and since the only game you're able to crush is the $0.01/$0.02 on Paradise, you're going to need lots of tables open. You'll also need a remote keyboard, mouse, and catheter. Natch.

2.2 Where to play online by Ignatious
If you are not playing on Party Poker, you are retarded. I'll take pity on you and give you a deposit bonus if you use bonus code IGGY when you sign up. Oh the humanity!

Chapter 3: Starting hands
3.1 The Hilton Sisters by Dr. Pauly
All of the real players are laying down the monster beats on the fishes with pocket queens. If you have this hand, ram and jam all the way. Fold everything else.

3.2 The Hammer by Grubby
The Hilton Sisters can really help your win rate, but if you really want to bust people up, you have to play The Hammer. 72s or 72o is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. Like playing the Hilton Sisters you want to ram and jam with this starting hand.

Chapter 4: Alter your poker client
4.1 Beautify your client by Chris "Martha Stewart" Halverson
The default poker clients are just so ugly. I've found these wonderful skins which add just the right color and style to your drab windows. You can download my custom skins at

4.2 See everyone's hole cards by teh 1ee+ hax0r
Hay foo! pwnz teh llamerz wit dis patch to yo poker warez. You can DL it from to be able to see all of your opponents hole cards.

Chapter 5: Playing Poker
5.1 Aggression by SirFWALGMan
Everyone says that you can't win all of the time. Well, they're wrong. If those fish are sucking out on you and winning with any two cards like AA or KK while you're playing The Hammer or The Hilton Sisters you need to set those losers straight. Nothing proves the might of your skill and power of your game like jumping from the $0.05/$0.10 tables where those bastards don't know how to fold and playing in the $40/$80 game heads up with Skalansky. If you deplete your bank roll don't be afraid to recharge, because you can't be aggressive with an empty account.

5.2 Dealing with Maniacs by AlCantHang
Tilting out sucks but sometimes those maniac fish always seem to catch their hands. None of that phases me and I'm going to share with you dear reader my own personal secret to becoming tilt-proof. Southern Comfort. You'll need to begin a strict regimen to work up to the necessary 3 or 4 bottles a day to become bulletproof like Superman. Once you have accomplished this level of stone faced play the final table at the WSOP is in the bag.

Chapter 6: Making a career change
6.1 Sidelined by HDouble
You might have had an active life before but that recurring hang nail has kept you from your dream job. That's ok, I've been where you are. Since I'm the only legit writer in the bunch I invite you to come drink from my font of wisdom. Reading my stuff will make you a better poker player and soon you'll wonder why you ever thought of doing anything else with your free time.

6.2 Going Pro by Ignatious
I quit my day job and became a professional poker player and you can too. Wait a minute, you haven't signed up at Party Poker yet? This is your last chance to use bonus code IGGY or you will need to start riding the short bus with Phil Helmuth. Don't even consider going pro until you do this!

Acronyms by UWannaBet?
Many times we use acronyms to communicate online, especially in the blogger world. Recounting the many bad beats, monster pots and general situations typically are bettered by tossing in an acronym to get to the point. I was working, daydreaming the other day and thought about all of the acronyms that people might and might not be aware of...

nh= nice hand
gp= good play
gg= good game
SNG= sit and go

These were some of the first ones that came to mind but like all good bloggers I knew there was much more to the list.

TPTK = top pair top kicker
PDTTG = please don't tap the glass
YPTC = you played that crap
WTTBTSTSTTF = welcome to the blogger table said the spider to the fly
YPQ3ORW = you play Q-3 off really well
TFRYCF = thanks for raising you clueless fish
VIAB = variance is a bitch
YRSTC = you really should try checkers
NHYHYOOOTRA = nice hand you hit your only out on the river again
MRMBJC = minimun raises make baby jesus cry
ONDPIPPWPA = Oh no Dr. Pauly is playing poker without pants again
WTTBTSTSTTF = welcome to the blogger table said the spider to the fly

Lord, I apologize for that and be with the pigmys down in New Guinea. Amen. -- Larry the Cable Guy


Poker: 10 Days to the new year - Mind and Body

The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become. -- Ben Herbster

The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, thats the day you start to the top. -- O.J. Simpson

I am not the picture of health. The irony with that statement is that I know (from experience) that if I were in shape that I would have more energy, be able to focus better, and not really wonder when my heart attack is coming. On top of that I look good when I'm fit.

So you might be wondering what the hell this has to do with playing poker so I'll get to the point. One of the biggest villains against consistent play is fatigue. More mental fatigue than physical, but both take their toll. Mind and body are the behind the scenes distractions that can knock you off your game. And since I would like to find myself at the final table in major tournaments I need to find ways of helping what little talent I have and making the vision a reality.

Kyle I just checked the scale, I'm weighing in at an even 272 lbs. In the back of my mind I hear Kyle saying "Dude you're a fat ass!" To put that into perspective, when I hooked up with my wife some 10 years ago, I was 90 lbs lighter and honestly structurally smaller (shoulders didn't widen out until my early 20s). If I hadn't been maintaining a 270-275 lb weight for so damn long I'd console myself that it's just age and actually eating real meals that crept up on me. The reality is, that it's a lack of activity. I'm a firm believer that if your body is sedentary, your mind becomes sedentary. No reason to think quick, your reflexes are already shot and blood just isn't flowing through your brain like it should. Again, with this stuff weighing (no pun intended) on my mind, it's just one more distraction for when I'm sitting at the desk or on the couch playing poker. For the record I once tried to rig up my elliptical machine so I could play with my laptop on the book rest... ummm lets just leave it at this is not a good idea.

It seems the best solution for this particular problem is to make an effort to eat right/better and make time for working out. I happened to catch a piece of that show "Biggest Loser" a few weeks back. Did you know that those folks work out 4 hours a day? Granted apparently they're off at fat camp so there's not much else to do but still, how can you just put your life on hold and go off and mess around like that? Well, I can't just put my life on hold just so I can work out so something has got to give or I'll have to finish developing the 26 hour day.

On the eating better front this isn't too hard. I can get oatmeal at the office from the deli down stairs in the morning each morning I go in. I need to bring that routine home and have a stash of oatmeal in the cupboard for weekends and WFH days. I've recently started picking up the "Healthy Choice" frozen meals for lunches at work... cheaper than buying lunch out every day in Chicago. Ok, that takes care of two major meals but there's a couple of other things... snacks and dinner. I'm thinking I should bite the bullet and just buy a bag of fruit or something and basically have a fruit basket at work to resist the urge to hit the candy aisle at Walgreen's. Dinner is a tough one. Not to hard to pack the meat in I like chicken and beef so just about anything made with one of those would be fine, the trouble is that since I don't cook (me Tarzan, you Jane. ook!) I need to convince the wife to make healthy things that she generally doesn't eat (veggies) and not in portions that could feed everyone in a large 3rd world nation because I'll eat em if they're there.

How about working out? According to Men's Health a fit person can do 40-50 push ups in 2 minutes, 35-40 sit ups per minute, 45 squats before form breaks down, have a cardio step score of 60-100, be able to flex 2-6 inches past your feet with your hands out, do the shuttle run in ~10 seconds, and have a vertical jump of about 20 inches. I think I want to avoid getting a gym membership again, though having a personal trainer to help keep motivation up would be helpful. The grandparents sent $50 for Christmas, I think I'll be picking up some free weights to be able to do strength training at home. Between the jump rope and elliptical machine I think I've got cardio covered. The last time I had a work out routine it involved hitting the gym at 5 or 6 in the morning with a buddy. I like working out in the mornings, it really sets you up for the day and gets to blood pumping. So, the day is going to start at 5 and alternate between cardio and weights for 30 - 60 min 6 days a week. Even the great googly-moogly had to rest on the 7th day. Spring is coming and I think I'm going to make a serious effort to join the soccer league that has indoor and outdoor fields near by. I've always found it easier to do the things I should when I have an obligation to something or someone.

The toughest part about dieting and working out is building the routine and sticking to it. The benefits on the other hand are undeniable. It's hard to let things drag you down when you feel good and for poker that means a step towards tilt-proof and keeping a sharp and focused mind on the game. The holidays suck. Especially if you don't have much self control around good food (me) and a major sweet tooth (also me). It also doesn't help when family unconsciously sets out to sabotage you by buying you things like Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (have I mentioned that these are my all time favorite candy/snack in the world next to Gummi Bears?), cookies, and chocolate goodies. So to that end, I'm not even going to try and fight it and end up kicking myself for being an undisciplined wimp. I'll do the traditional thing and hold out for new years day where I've got some space to build the habit, routine, and discipline to control myself around those types of things.

The important thing is keeping the goals realistic and manageable. For example, if I lost 1 lb a week by the end of 2005 I would be at my goal weight. Seems easy enough. I know that on the front end the pounds will fly off relatively quickly where on the back end I'll have to fight for every pound. The irony here being that by doing strength training I'm going to put muscle mass back on (yay!) and muscle is heavier than fat (boo!). However, strength training burns fat faster than just doing cardio and losing that belly fat is a high priority to reducing other major health risks/issues.

To bring this little show to a close here is my goal. My goal, to improve not only my poker skills/play but my life in general, is to lose 50 lbs by this time next year by developing discipline in eating and in exercise. To be able to do all of the things a fit person should be able to do (as listed above) or at least as close to it as humanly possible. To do this I'm going to cut back an hour a day where I would normally be surfing the net and dedicate it to working out at least 6 days a week and not let my diet slip out of laziness or convenience.


Poker: Weak!

So my Neteller EFT deposit finally went through yesterday so I was ready to throw $50 into my account at Party to kick off the New Year. I am a weak man. I logged into Party last night and lurked at the Blogger tables and tried mighty hard to resist playing. Well I resisted temptation last night but I just couldn't do it any more today. So, in goes $50 to Party and oh looky I get a micro bonus. I should clear that off really quick, so I'll play some 7-stud since those pots always get raked. Color me stupid why dontcha?

I cleared all but 10 hands before I finished donating $25 and I had already crippled my challenge bankroll. Oh yes, I is the smart one. Well, I have conclusively proved that not knowing how to play the game will definitely make you a loser in the long run. I think my trouble with 7-stud is that it seems easy. You see lots of cards on the table and with a relatively good memory I can remember how many of a suit I saw when I'm looking for a flush or trying to figure out if someone chasing theirs had a chance of catching or not. I think overall I was doing ok for the first 30 minutes and was even up about 15 BB. Then I let my concentration slip back to work, chased some things that I shouldn't have, tried to bluff a calling station, and shazam! I'm thinking to myself WTF? Was this really such a good idea?

Now that that little experiment is over I figured there is no reason not to either attempt to correct the downswing or bust out completely (all or nothing baby!). So I take my remaining $25 and go find a 'juicy' table. To make a long story short, the juicy table turned into a rock garden, but not before I had run my chipstack up +37 BB. With the 10 added on from the bonus (which I will use some creative accounting to claim as a stupidity deduction from my 7-stud tax) I'm sitting at +22 BB for this level ($.50/$1) and need to add on 28 more BB to go up to $1/$2 where it will start all over again.

50 BB per level seems like a nice achievable number in that context. I think the mental troubles come in when you start relating those BBs to their dollar value. Definitely a tough thing to avoid but no sense in dwelling on it now.

My card playing (7-stud not withstanding) was a little rusty but over all I was happy with my results. There were two times where I wasn't paying attention and paid someone off after getting a read on their hand too late and early on (first 30 hands or so) I wasn't playing nearly as aggressive as I should have PF but that got fixed quickly. Rusty but not bad for what's been basically a 3 month hiatus from card playing. I haven't really even been playing in the college poker championships since I already qualified in the super satellites for the satellite that's now been scheduled for March I think. Funny, I start school back up in March as well... maybe not so funny. :(

I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to write for my next "12 days till new year" article, I'm sure something will come to me, if not I'll make it up and blame the results on a drunken haze and some loose women. Speaking of women, Pauly is pimping hard for Elisha but I'd have to say my belongs to Kate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Poker: 11 Days to the new year - Edge

Being a winning poker player means having the advantage of the odds on your side more often than not when at a given table. Since I'm not psychic, don't have x-ray vision, or ESP, I have to employ other tools of the mind and in this case of the computer to get the edge necessary to achieve my expected/desired win rate. So in this post I'll examine my tool bag for getting the edge. At a high level, there are two types of tools to use, tools that are helpful offline in home games and B&M games as well as online and then there are tools that only help with the online game.

Offline Tools
  • Books - While I tend to be a more visceral learner, preferring to experience things over reading about them, can be a costly way to learn things in poker. To that end I have invested in what I consider to be a decent library (seen on the left there) of books that approach the game from many different perspectives. I make the effort to commit at least an hour every week to reading (or re-reading) some part of my books. What I read generally depends on what I feel I'm having trouble with that week, or areas that I might want to explore in my game in the future.

  • Trainers - Lots of computer software out there that plays holdem. Some of it good, and some of it not so good. Right now my software collection consists of the fun but not so good variety. Apparently the Turbo programs by Wilson Software are about as good as they get in terms of electronic trainers. I haven't purchased any of them and will probably use some portion of my winnings in the coming year to acquire their library. Meanwhile I'd just like to say that I pwnz Treasure Island, The Mirage, and Bellagio in the Bicycle Casino game! Woot! ;) While this isn't the best training (and honestly after the initial fun wore off I don't play this much any more) it does at least make me analyze my hand, pot odds, etc in a pseudo online fashion.

  • Community - If you can not experience something directly yourself, the next best thing is to experience it vicariously through someone else. This is generally more reading, but also can come in the form of water cooler talk with friends. Simply, this involves hearing and exploring other peoples play to uncover the keys to good play, traps to avoid, and generally play Monday morning QB and analyze how you would want to behave if put in the same situation. The best places for partaking in this experience are many of the hundreds of poker blogs or the more popular forums like 2+2

All of these 'tools' basically just get your mind in the game. The best way to be able to make the right choice when you have to make decisions at the table is to feed your brain with all of the data you can when you're not in it. Practice prepares you for the real thing. That being said, even the best practice can be wasted on a brain that functions more like a sieve than a steel trap so when it comes to playing online, there are some other tools that I'll want to bring to bear to increase my edge.

Online Tools

  • Record Keeping - Not only to track wins and losses, but also play performance and opponent history. Having the cold hard facts of my play helps prevent my mind from editing history when I'm doing particularly bad or good. This will help fill the holes in my game. Keeping records of my play will also help in tracking the people I play against so I can identify the tough players from the typical players. No shame in getting an edge by surrounding yourself with fish at the table. To do this I'll be using Poker Tracker which creates a nice foundation for the other online tools I'll be using.

  • Odds & Outs - When I first started playing online this year I'll have to admit that I sucked. I, like many before me, figured that my success in the few random home games or casino outings was due to my obviously superior skills and large brain. $500 later I learned that I was mistaken and probably had creatively modified my playing history to make myself feel confident in playing online. If I was going to keep playing I needed a crash course in good starting hands and odds of hitting my hand (at the time I was playing a lot of NL SNGs). I made a small investment in a piece of software that would help me in real time called Online Holdem Inspector. Turn an "Any 2 cards will do maniac" into a solid player in moments. After a few months of using this little aid I had odds and starting hands basically beat into me. In fact I owe the quick recovery of my initial losses to this tool as well as the education it gave me for my future winnings. It's still a useful tool to keep handy since its stoplights can save a weary or tilted mind from making a chip stack crippling mistake.

  • Know thy enemy - I know myself pretty well but it's the other players I'm worried about. Thanks to recent changes in how hand histories are archived locally by the Party client it is easier than ever to have real time Poker Tracker information about how you're performing and how you're opponents are performing. Add now into the mix GameTime+ and there's no excuse in not knowing when the previously fishy waters have turned into a rock garden or knowing that the bigger shark that you've tangled with in the past is now sitting to your left.


General: A Texas Chili Contest

My aunt and mom sent this to me and I thought it was damn funny. Funny enough to share even. Being a Texan and living in Illinois makes it even funnier. Mostly I don't get to cook whenever there will be other people eating the food besides myself, perhaps this has some clues as to why. :)

The following notes are from an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.
Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted.

Here are the scorecards from the advent: (Frank is Judge #3)
Eddie's Maniac Monster Chili
Judge # 1A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

Austin's Afterburner Chili
Judge # 1Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Ronny's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili
Judge # 1Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Needs more beans.
Judge # 2A bean less chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3Call the EPA ! I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit- faced from all of the beer

Dave's Black Magic
Judge # 1Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds ? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-lb woman is starting to look HOT . . . just like this nuclear waste I'm eating ! Is chili an aphrodisiac ?

Lisa's Legal Lip Remover
Judge # 1Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.

Pam's Very Vegetarian Variety
Judge # 1Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb !
Judge # 3My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I shit myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.

Carla's Screaming Sensation Chili
Judge # 1A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should note that I am worried about Judge # 3! He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Karen's Toenail Curling Chili
Judge # 1The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor fella, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 

Monday, December 20, 2004


Poker: 12 Days to the new year - Motivation

It's really unclear why I've imposed the break from poker on myself like I did. It's not like I busted out and needed a time out. It's not like I got tired of playing the game either. So what happened? I think the answer is that I lost my motivation. I was playing but had no reason. I wasn't trying to get better, and in fact just before I cashed out and stopped I believe I had posted that I was purely trying to "make money for the next doodad I wanted to spend it on." Ok, that's nice but there are easier and faster ways for me to make money. My non-poker skills definitely generate more coin than my meager draw from the poker tables. But I still want to play poker damn it! That's all well and good, but why?

I spent some time with one of my under-read books, "The Psychology of Poker" and decided that perhaps I should try and answer the questions posed and understand why I want to play in an effort to be more realistic about what I would get out of playing as well as to find ideas or attitudes that I want to change about my play. The first two questions right out of the gate are "Why do you play poker?" and "Why do you play the way you do?"

Taking the second question first, I had mentioned previously that I had looked at my stats from last year and had PokerTracker auto-analyze them. It's determined that my play-style was Loose-aggressive and gave me a fish icon. Trying to be honest with my play and reading the description in TPoP I just can't agree with that type of a rating. I'm not as patient as I could be when I play, but I also do not 'crave' action. Upon further examination of the numbers a couple of things become apparent. First, not all of my play is reflected. PokerTracker has come a long way this year, but with quite a bit of time spent whoring around on sites, many of which were not PT friendly, a lot of my history is missing. The other thing I noticed is that my session time was on average between 30 and 60 minutes. Maybe 100 hands dealt during that span of time. Hardly a staggering number and I modified my play style to work with that. By this I mean step one is play a couple of orbits pretty loose (maniac) to set up a bad image and then spend the next half dozen orbits or so trying to punish peoples assumptions. Then it's time to go take care of the boy, deal with work, wife, etc. So basically, I'd adopted a maniac bait and switch play style to compensate for how little time I could actually play.

Getting back to the first question I tried to reflect honestly on it (which is harder to do than you'd think) and I'd have to say that the number one reason for doing so was status. Both my personal view of how I was doing ("Must be a winning player!") but also how others viewed me as a player (Damn them blog reading hordes). The second reason was the money. If I could win a lot of money, I could pay for other stuff. On that second item, boy did I. Let's see, last year I got set of 1000 nice clay poker chips, a set of fancy KEM cards, spent some on miscellaneous doodads, and paid for most of a vacation dedicated to gaming(not the casino type) all on my winnings. To round out the top three reasons for playing, I would have to say I played for the fun of it. That's a pretty generic statement that encompasses the thrill of risk, winning, losing, meeting new people, getting involved in blogging, and just playing cards.

So looking towards the new year I'm trying to put a plan or strategy together that will help me overcome the weaknesses that exist within my game but still work towards my overall personal goals. I think I've moved past the point of having something to prove. I think from a performance perspective last year I proved that I could learn from my mistakes, overcome my lack of knowledge and apply raw talent to new knowledge and become a winning player. So taking this from page 35 of TPoP I'm rating my motives for playing this next year:
Make Money20%
Socialize, meet people15%
Get excitement of risk15%
Test self against competitive challenges25%
Sense of accomplishment from winning15%
Pass time0%
The breakdown for each one:
  • money - No denying this, no sense in playing poker if there isn't money involved somewhere. I got plenty of other fun games I can play if I'm not interested in the money.
  • socialize - Hell yeah. This makes it fun. If it weren't for the bloggers I've met this last year, I probably would have just up and quit a long time ago out of sheer boredom.
  • relax - It seems odd but I've always found playing games with something on the line relaxing. I think it's a release valve for other stresses
  • risk - If you're not really living if you're not exposing yourself to a little risk. I don't mean this in the gambooler sense. I mean it in the sense of taking on tougher games or opponents where you're the underdog and taking the chance to heroically come out on top
  • test self - I'm going to use the challenge/step program to try and improve my overall skill. I think that by doing it I will have to use many different skills in different combinations to be successful. The result is that I should become a more fierce competitor as time goes on.
  • accomplishment - regardless of what others think about my progress or abilities, when I reflect back on my play I want to feel like I moved in the right direction for improving myself as a player and reaching my goals.
  • pass the time - There are far better ways for me to pass the time than play cards, if I ever feel the need to kill time, you won't find me at a card table because that's the wrong attitude to have

Ok, this felt good getting down and helps focus the mind on what I want to achieve but I've neglected to put into words what my personal goal is. It may seem silly to some but I want to be like Richard Brodie. Just in case there is any confusion I mean that in the financially free, comfortable, jet-setting way. But I'll get to that in a different post.


Poker: Home Game Terrorists

I'm a huge fan of live friendly games for their social factor. By and large it's cheap entertainment and a good way too hook up with old and new friends. This notice that showed up on Pokerati is kind of annoying but I figure it's more a case of when, and not if, with this sort of thing. Or to clarify, if you're having fun "The Man" has to come put you down. "We got laws against a good time around here you know."


General: The more things change....

The more things change, the more they stay the same. About a year ago I heard a mix from some Euro DJ and he had used a monologue over some nice beats. After listening to the monologue I got to thinking about how true it is and wondered where he found it because it was "relevant." Ok, so some time passes and I was never really ever able to track it down probably because I wasn't remember the exact phrasing to be able to google it. Fast forward to this evening (morning?) I've got Rhapsody going in the background while I'm working and I decide to load up the current Eminem CD, "Encore", into the playlist and during the track "Yellow Brick Road" he used a sample of the same monologue that I had heard a year ago. Well, now that it was fresh in my mind (and I could rewind and get the phrase exact) I load it up into google and this is what I found:

“Sometimes it appears that we’'re reaching a period when our senses and our minds will no longer respond to moderate stimulation. We seem to be approaching an Age of The Gross. Persuasion through speeches and books is too often discarded for disruptive demonstrations aimed at bludgeoning the unconvinced into action.

The young – and by this I don’t mean by any stretch of the imagination all the young, but I’m talking about those who claim to speak for the young – at the zenith of physical power and sensitivity, overwhelm themselves with drugs and artificial stimulants. Subtly is lost and fine distinctions based on acute reasoning are carelessly ignored in a headlong jump to a predetermined conclusion.

Life is visceral, rather than intellectual. And the most visceral practitioners of life are those who characterize themselves as “intellectuals”. Truth to them is “revealed” rather than logically proved. And the principal infatuations of today revolve around the “Social Sciences”, those subjects which can accommodate any opinion and about which the most reckless conjecture cannot be discredited.

Education is being redefined at the demand of the uneducated to suit the ideas of the uneducated. The student now goes to college to proclaim, rather than to learn. The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated in a contemporary antagonism known as the “generation gap.”

A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as “intellectuals”.

-- Vice President Spiro Agnew in Houston, Texas on May 22, 1970

In my mind, sage words to be sure. However, you have to wonder what it takes to not only listen, but to act or put into action a real effort to change and improve society. I think like all things the biggest road block is overcoming people's perceptions about what is important. I say people because you can talk to an individual and present a logical argument based on reason and common sense that when all things considered could change their mind. People on the other hand are more difficult to sway without some extreme event to galvanize them into motion. Damn sheep. I'd like to think I'm a smart guy but I can see where some of the ideas I've held in the past were not really my own, but more in the "go along to get along" vein. Granted, more often than not, it's easier to keep the peace than it is to stick your head up. The thing I think that makes us individuals is being able to determine what is "important" in a reasonable and realistic manner and not compromise on those things when they might go against the mainstream. A compromised life, is an unfulfilled one.

The year is winding down and it was great and disappointing all at the same time. All this deep thinking isn't really for making new years resolutions but more accurately a new years plan and strategy. In case I don't post again before next year, I wish all of you a happy holiday and I hope that you are able to find a way to make your desires reality.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


General: One for the good guys

In the past I've commented on the topic of spam and the issues that I and a friend have had dealing with it. Well, it seems that some fine detective work and a lot of tireless effort has finally paid off for him. He finally had his day in court and adding insult to injury with the laws in Iowa and having a nice little Federal RICO applied it came out to quite a judgment. I can only hope that this brings some understanding to the general public that spam is not a victimless crime, and that the knobs who do this are not nearly as anonymous as they think. It was personally crushing to watch the enterprise that we built get crushed under a load that never should have existed and that there were not really funds to deal with properly. There were a number of times that I advised him to just fold up shop more because of the mental strain it was putting on him and his family and partially the financial strain it put on the business because numerous outages caused customers to bail. I'm extremely happy for him that he got this victory. No, it doesn't put a stop to it, and no it's not hitting the lottery, but it does mean that the efforts that he's gone through do mean something and that he's not alone in thinking that there ought to be some recourse against spammers.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Poker: Open Internet Challenge

After watching(reading?) Chris's account of participating in the OIC3 at The Gaming Club a couple of things occurred to me. The first is that the challenge is pretty interesting from the stand point that assuming you play well enough to go from the bottom to the top you're going to encounter just about every type of player there is. Then a second thought occurred to me. Yes, yes you are playing different levels and lots of different opponents, wouldn't it be nice to super-compile all of that data from each person into poker tracker?

So now I'm fully off on a tangent and am wondering if it would be feasible to coordinate a blogger version of this and have a three-fold purpose. First, a nice friendly challenge among bloggers to demonstrate skill and fill time between blogger tournaments. Second, as part of the challenge have each participant contribute their hand histories both as the tracking mechanism for progress but ultimately a nice opponent DB to be shared with the community. Third, some prize(s) for the winner(s). I'm thinking a seat at the next blogger tourney, a book (cert to amazon to pick up your desired poker tome), or something along those lines. The trick about that third part is paying for it. I've no idea how to find sponsors and convince them to fund ventures like this. However, if the opponent database would be considered worth something, perhaps there could be a modest "entry fee" that would grant the participant license to use the compiled data from the event and whomever coordinated it all would then use the entry fees to pay for the prizes.

Obviously I'm getting psyched about playing again in Jan. and a nice little recurring challenge like this seems like a good way to keep the skills sharp against a wide variety of opponents as well as a good way to put some real analysis into finding the leaks in my game since in theory it's a doable task and trying to figure out why I can't (if that's the case) will probably be very beneficial.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


General: Gen Con SoCal 2004 Trip Report

So I survived SoCal and in general it was fun. The Con itself was pretty weak when compared to Indy but I suspect that is to be expected. No real eye candy and the way we ran DMs for True Dungeon didn't make participating in many (any) of the gaming events a real possibility. Not that I couldn't have had my schedule made a little more flexible, but the reality of it was, after thumbing through the schedule of events there wasn't much I was interested in doing.

The highlights:
Thanks to what I would consider some hard work on my part and stepping up to do whatever needed to be done (not to mention being in the right place at the right time) I was promoted to a Head DM role for the event. Mostly that just meant being there a couple of hours early for previous day review and current day adjustment meetings and then being responsible for making sure that the other DMs were comfortable running my room that they were assigned to for the day. My room was the Training room which at first blush doesn't appear to be that big of a deal, but in reality I think it's one of the most important since you're introducing game mechanics and concepts to the players as well as answering all kinds of questions so that they can try and be successful in the dungeon. I also got to run the Split Decision (Treasure/Oracle & Zombie Crypt) room and the Handbook room (Final room). A real upside to the one DM per room was that it allowed us to really focus on exactly what happened in a specific room and be really intimate with making adjustments and making the room run consistently throughout the whole event.

As for the con itself, SoCal is tiny. I think attendance was projected to be at 5,000 (as opposed to Indy's 30,000). Just to put it in perspective for you, take all of the gaming (minis, CCG, board, etc), the art show, and the dealer room. Now put all of this in a hall the size, if not a little smaller, of the dealer room at Indy. Chairs out-numbered the people in the hall greatly so it looked like a lot of wasted space. While touring the dealer room I got to spend a lot of time talking to the Lucas Arts PR folks that were there showing off SWG: JtL (As well as other LA games) and since I helped introduce/demo the JtL expansion to interested folks I got a couple of free books as schwag which I appreciated much more than some of the schwag I've gotten in the past like posters or card packs. Hopefully the contact that I made there will also get me in on the Combat Upgrade Beta Test for SWG. I met up with the folks that ran the poker tournament at Indy. It sounds like things are going to be bigger and better in 2005 so I'm looking forward to playing in it again and hopefully this time taking my rightful place at the top of the heap.

Things I found interesting:
There was a booth in the dealer room with a Porn star hawking her vids and pics. One the one hand this seems somewhat in-appropriate (young audience for many things) but on the other hand, it's probably the right demographic market for her product. Not my type, but more power to her.

I did find at least a couple of new games that were worth playing and at least one I'll buy before Indy. The first was Anachronism by TriKing in cooperation with the History Channel. Imagine "Celebrity Death Match" with historical figures. It's a pretty cool concept and the game can be played in 5 - 10 minutes (if you really drag it out). Anachronism is due to be released sometime in early 2005.

The other game which apparently has been out for awhile but I've just been introduced to is "Munchkin" by Steve Jackson Games. Promoting the best(worst) combination of power-gaming and rules-lawyering this was a great game to play. I got to play the standard Munchkin which parodies D&D and like genre games, movies, etc. I also played Munchkin Bites! which parodies the Vampire and like genre games, movies, etc. There's apparently also a version called Star Munchkin which parodies Sci-Fi stuff, as well as Munchkin Fu which parodies kung fu movies and games, and in case that wasn't enough there's Munchkin Blender which allows you to combine all of the sets (Std, Star, Bites, and Fu) into one giant game. I'm currently hunting down on ebay a set of 8 of the games (4 games w/4 expansions) which I plan on bringing to Indy if I win them. Easy to play and great fun to win and lose so that basically meets all of my criteria for a good game. :)

Sunday, December 05, 2004


General: SoCal Sightings

So the trip to SoCal is winding down tonight, I fly back to Chicago in the morning. Aside from the standard fair of Sci-Fi types that you would see at a convention like GenCon I did have a couple of miscellaneous Star sightings/meetings. First was John C. Reilly who happened to be flying back from Chicago (presumably returning from their Thanksgiving travels) to LA. It took me a few days to remember his name even though I could remember quite a few of the movies I had seen him in. The second one brought out the fanboi in me a bit as Wil Wheaton made a trek through True Dungeon (what I've been working on all week). Anyway, pictures and more trip report later, time to go help break down and finish packing.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Poker: Royal Vegas 1k Freeroll

Being in California does have at least one interesting benifit. I'm in Pacific Time which means that events that I would normally not participate in I can due to the time differences and event start times working well with my other commitments. The freeroll this morning is interesting in that you can do a $2 add-on/rebuy in the first hour. I think I'll just iron man this and see how far I can go with just the starting stack. The field size is 7783 and they're paying down to 130th place but really only the top 10 get any money above the single digit range. It does occure to me that I may have to get up at the 2hr 30min mark, but we'll see if I even get that far.

Then again, with the lag and getting dumped multiple times, I guess it just wasn't meant to be. Aw well.


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