Rants


This is not a blog, I don't post pictures of my lunch. Forgive my typos, I don't use a spell-checker.

The older rants are semi-regularly moved off this page. You can always read the old rants here if you're a masochist. If Google sent you here, it's wrong. You can see some of my photos at Yahoo .


12-06-05 [poker]

Wow, lost another $200 today. I made one 5th place, but other than that no cashes. It seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong. When I get QQ, I get allin and someone has AA. When I get KK, I get allin, someone has TT and sucks out making their set. When I bluff, they have it, when I have it they don't call, or do call and suck out. People keep making horrible horrible calls when I bet my good hands and sucking out on me. At the same time, my monster draws keep missing. Three times today I had straight flush draws on the flop and all three missed. There's like some voodoo curse on my poker game.

One of the things that continues to put me horrifically on tilt is when people make ridiculous move and get lucky and then try to justify it. When I made the 5th place today, I had a decent stack. I pushed allin on the flop with top pair, my stack was roughly pot size. The big stack called with middle pair and hit a runner-runner flush to knock me out. Afterward he said "had to call, I had pot odds". Arrrg ! Charles smash !!

I've noted this before I think, but I think one of my problems with my bankroll is that when I'm winning, I tend to stop playing, because I get a high from a win and want to go run around and do stuff. When I'm losing, I keep playing because I want to get a win so I can quit on an up-note. That means I actually play a lot more on the days that I'm losing, which is the opposite of the ideal. Now obviously I don't believe in luck being sticky or anything, I don't believe you can have an "unlucky day", but it is true that when you're running bad and getting unlucky, you play worse, because you remember how you got sucked out on, you don't want to gamble, or you push too much, etc. plus it's true that if other people see you losing a lot, they'll attack you more and be more willing to play pots with you. All these factors do make it so that winning & losing really does come in streaks, and when you're losing sometimes you just need to quit for a while and try to come back later.

I think I've certainly had some bad luck, but I've also made some big mistakes. In a few of these, if I didn't make the one big mistake at the end I would have cashed, which on the whole would've made me +EV for the past few days instead of a big negative. I just keep acting without thinking the situation through carefully, and I can't seem to stop it.

I've been trying to channel the spirit of Chris Ferguson - for every decision, stop and rethink it through, take your time. It may seem like an obvious move, but just slow down, run through the whole thing again, think about the hand, the stacks, the timing, okay, now make your move. If I could just make myself do this, my game would improve dramatically.

I am still mostly playing really great. The problem is you can play great for hours and build a nice stack, then one horrible play and you blow the whole thing. I've played with Drew a few times lately, and no offense intended to Drew, but it's really shown me how my game has progressed. A year ago when Drew left, he and I were roughly on the same level in poker. He was more aggressive and clever with the bluffs, I had the edge in maths, but overall comparable. Now I can see just another level of play; Drew's still a really good player, but he's not thinking about all these other things - stack management, how much to gamble when, the blinds pressure, how to adjust for what type of opponent, etc. etc. Of course Drew's still much better than me at the cash NL game because of his intuitive knack for bluffing.


12-06-05

We got "Six Feet Under" in NetFlix at many people's recommendation. See, we've been going through withdrawal from the lack of Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes, since we don't have HBO and have seen all the Curb DVD's, so we're looking for something to tide us over until the new season is out. Anyhoo, I thought "Six" was a big waste of time. The setting is vaguely interesting, but it's basically a soap opera with a few thin laughs here and there. It felt a lot like "Party of Five" or something of that ilk and caliber. Yes, the production values are very high, but that doesn't make up for annoying characters and repetetiveness. I feel the same way about most of the so-called better shows on TV these days, like "West Wing" for example - the milieu is interesting and sophisticated, but the stories and characters are the same old melodramatic soap opera shit.


12-05-05

Yesterday the UPS guy showed up with a CD I orderd at Amazon (My Morning Jacket). Now, my house is all glass, the walk way comes right up to big wall-size windows where you can see into the whole house. It was late, maybe 6 PM, and Dan and I were fucking on the couch; the UPS guy walked up and knocked on the door and left the package. Fortunately he didn't wait for me to walk over and sign for it !!


12-05-05

I just got my Tojiro blade from Japanese Chef's Knife - shipped from Japan, it arrived in five days (!!). It's a beautiful knife, well balanced, comfortable in the hand, and just incredibly sharp. Japanese blades are not intended for heavy work - cutting bone or metal or whatnot - but are razor sharp, perfect for fine work on meat & vegetables. I used it for the first time today, and it was a joy. It can slice onions and not give you tears at all because the cut is so clean. They've got a 10% sale on, go buy something. Just reading the web site is a joy - the craftsmanship and care is evident, the pride in fine worksmanship.


12-05-05

"NFL Live" is going off the air !? Fuck! It's the best show on ESPN. Chris Berman and Tom Jackson recap the football highlights, brilliant!

I know they want to set the schedule in advance and all, but too often the Monday night game is a piece of shit. They should set the schedule, but put all the games on Sunday. Then, each week, the game where the two teams with the best record meet Monday night, which an exception where one team can't appear within 4 weeks, or something like that. Too often the best game winds up being some random game on Sunday that isn't shown nationally.


12-05-05

Here's a google challenge for ya : find the website of the band "Piano".

The winner is Colm Mac Donnchadha, but he cheated by knowing of the band in advance.


12-05-05 [poker]

Six tournaments today, not one cash in any of them. Oddly, I feel like it's the most solid overall day of poker I've ever played. I think I played well almost all day. I made one definite mistake (the aforementioned head-in-ass scenario), and a few little mistakes here and there, but almost all solid good play. So I'm down $200 on the day. Not good for the hourly rate!!


12-05-05 [poker]

God damn, I made another stupid move. I'm getting stuck on hands and not reevaluating correctly. I need to get my head out of my ass (it smells bad in there).

A good thing about tournaments is that they're very technical and require awareness of M-theory, stack sizes, payouts, etc. which many people will get wrong. That's +EV for those who consider those things. The bad thing about tournaments is that you can't just play against fish. That is, the fish are usually weeded out early and give their stacks to the better players, so when you get down to the final few, it's usually the better players. Ideally for max profit in poker you always want to be playing against the absolute fishes.


12-05-05 [poker]

Poker quiz for you, let's see if you've learned anything from the recent discussion. This is a 3-table $30, the payout is $270,225,180,135,90. Ten players left. I get TT, what should I do and why. Consider the stack sizes.

Seat 2 is the button
Blinds (100/200)
Total number of players : 10 
Seat 1: chukb ( $1443 )
Seat 2: FlipJames ( $2487 )
Seat 3: rustyhanson ( $6236 )
Seat 8: E_Normus ( $4879 )
Seat 4: havic333 ( $1400 )
Seat 5: CountyLiner ( $725 )
Seat 6: Lack2311 ( $1375 )
Seat 7: Desertbugsy ( $1280 )
Seat 9: Karuna ( $2980 )
Seat 10: Sweetness224 ( $7195 )
** Dealing down cards **
CountyLiner is all-In  [725]
Lack2311 folds.
Desertbugsy folds.
E_Normus folds.
Karuna is all-In  [2980]
Sweetness224 folds.
Dealt to chukb [  Td Ts ]
	?

I'll give you a hint - your real money EV before this hand started was $55.


12-05-05

For some reason my dandruff has been ridiculously bad the last few days. My skull has been itching, and I've flayed it with my fingernails, so that now it's slowly oozing blood and forming scabs which clump the hair. Of course then the scabs itch and I'm compelled to scrape them off.


12-04-05 [poker]

Fuck, I made it down to 4-handed again in a two-tabler and made another disastrous mistake. These are dumb moves that if I could just clear my mind and make a judgement, I would know the right move, they're easy decisions. I just get caught up in the action and act fast without thinking and it fucks me. Maybe I should try a Ferguson-like ritual. Each time I have a decision, stop and take my time, every time, whether I think I need to or not.


12-03-05

It's weird when you have albums where one song is like so fucking great, and the rest of it is kind of "meh". If you could do that for one song, why not the rest? It's true that one song often has some super-producer or co-writers who helped out, but couldn't they help the rest?


12-03-05 [poker]

Rotten day of poker. Played a bunch of $30 tournaments and only did well in one of them. Never got anything going. People were playing so bad, but I never had the cards to punish them. I made two big mistakes, which sucks. The worst was in the one tournament I got deep in. I got down to 4-handed in a two-table tournament, and managed to get the big stack. I then made a crucial error, trying to catch a bluff with a weak hand, really stupid. All last night I was thinking about the way your tournament EV critically depends on how well you play the final table, and even the last few places. If you can play great early and make the final table, but then play badly at the final table - you're a terrible tournament player, since so much of the money is in the top few places. Just cashing is a really bad result, you need to place high. If everything was equal, but I could dominate at the final table, that would make me way way +EV.

It's just a critical error to make a mistake late. Say you buy in for $30 and make a huge mistake early - you lose $30. If you get to the final few and make a big mistake there, you're losing $100 or more in value. That's disastrous. It's wrong to think that it doesn't hurt because you already made some value, you need every bit of EV you can get to balance the variance over time.

Another funny thing happened today. There was a bot in one of the tournaments. His name is "JIMBO860". Oddly, he was in one of my $30 no limit tournaments, and he was obviously a *LIMIT* bot. He would always bet & raise the minimum, and made a lot of plays that were obvious limit plays. It looked like he might be playing by the Wilson TTH rules or something like that. Needless to say, he eventually got crushed, because he had no concept of call size and called off his whole stack with a pair of aces. I don't understand why the bot developer would play his limit bot in a no limit tournament. Perhaps it was a mistake in his automatic table seating algorithm.

I got called by some nutty shit today. One BB called my allin with 23o !? One called with 78. I guess I just have to play super tight at the end. This is quite the opposite of Harrington/etc. style play, and it goes against my instincts.


12-03-05

The NYT last week had some more moronic articles about how Bridge and Chess are more valuable than poker and should have a resurgence, bla bla bla, written by lovers of those games. They go on about how women are becoming more common in Chess, more kids play bridge, how televised coverage could make those games more interesting, with dynamic players and color commentary. Do they really still not understand? Poker is a uniquely sexy and appealing game for many reasons. See my old article here - The Texas Hold'em Craze . Perhaps the most important difference to a game like Bridge or Poker is the variance, which gives every shlub poor player the dream of winning the big one. We'll see Monopoly or Backgammon become popular before Bridge or Chess. Backgammon is actually a very interesting game which is a big gambling game in Europe, but it's still missing a lot of factors - the outlaw history, the ease of understanding what's going on, the bluffing, the hidden psychological component, etc. it's a much more mathematical gambling game.


12-02-05

It's been warm most of the last week; I went out for a bike ride, it was sunny and lovely. Now the cold has settled in, for the duration I suspect. It's been gray and windy, like fall is supposed to be. I've been lighting a fire at night, and with the christmas tree across the room it feels like a proper northern christmas.

Take the Christ out of Christmas. Just celebrate "mas" (pronounced "muss"). No fuss, no "mas".


12-02-05

Chris Berman does this "Swami" thing on ESPN, picking football games. It's really funny, because the whole thing is actually about picking games against the Vegas points spread, but they never say anything about it. If you just watch his routine without understanding, it's very weird, he'll pick Denver, and predict Denver 23, Kansas City 24. Why did he pick a team which he's predicting is losing? Because he's picking against the spread, which is also annoying because they don't actually show the spread he's picking against. I guess there must be some law that they can't talk about gambling?


12-02-05 [poker]

One thing you have to remember about end-game situations and the way pros play - it's all about who you're playing against. I'm mostly playing with donkeys, so I just need to play very tight in end-game scenarios. In terms of pure value, gambling and risking elimination is very very bad for your expectation. Against good players, they will all be playing very tight and trying not to risk elimination. If you know that, then you can use it by attacking them in big pots. I've never been in a game with good enough players where opening up like that is +EV. Note that I'm not talking about stealing small pots, of course you do that, I'm talking about reraising allin on a bluff, things like that. Good players who don't want to gamble will fold to avoid racing, even when they're pretty sure they have the best hand.


12-02-05 [poker]

I'm learning a lot from this real money equity stuff. Here's another interesting one, the same 3-table structure.

Seat 2: JPN42 ( $4988 )
Seat 4: chukb ( $4248 )
Seat 5: lalalaloser ( $20764 )
Blinds (750/1500)

	end of the game, JPN and I are both fucked, M around 2

** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  Jh Qs ]
lalalaloser folds.
JPN42 is all-In  [4238]
chukb is all-In  [2748]

	I figure QJ is a pretty good hand, I may be ahead and if not, I'm not far behind.
	Almost half my stack is in the BB already, so I fold.

Before the hand started, my equity was $208, but now I post the BB. If I fold, my equity goes down to $198. If I call and lose, I get $180 (3rd place). If I call and win, my equity goes up to $234.46.

So, what chance of winning do I need for calling to be break even ?

198 = P * 234.5 + (1-P) * 180 = 180 + 54.5 * P
P = 33%
So, clearly I have to call, but also, I hate this situation - just by being in the big blind here I lost several dollars of value.

Unfortunately, this only came up because I made a disastrous error on an earlier hand. I pushed with KJ when I had the big stack, which was an unnecessary risk, since any ace-high is beating me.


12-02-05 [poker]

One of the rotten things that can happen in tournaments is that one guy's bad play can really hurt your value. Today I was in a 3-tabler and we got near the bubble, 7 players to go. I was way the big stack, but one other guy ("lalalaloser") was pretty close in the 2nd stack. Everyone else was much shorter, in danger of going out on the bubble. Now, the best +EV play for me and lala would be to avoid each other, and attack all the short stacks who are trying to just fold their way into the money. Instead, lala went to war with me. Whenever I'd make steal raises to attack the short stacks, he'd frequently reraise big. This sucks for me, I had to change gears and switch to just playing very good hands, but it's also very bad for him. His play is -EV for both of us, and the people who gain the +EV are all the other short stacks, who profit from the chance that we'll knock each other out. He was reraising my limps and steals with hands like A3, which is reckless and foolish, but also terrible for me, because it forces me to stop stealing and to also gamble with him and risk racing, which I really don't want to do.

Anyhoo, I wound up making 3rd place, which made up for all the bad beats today. I was only able to make it there with a few key suckouts. It just reminds me of the variance and randomness in poker. It's incredibly unlikely that you can make it through a tournament without any suckouts. You're either going to suck out on them (and hopefully) or get sucked out on (and probably lose). As I've pointed out many times before, if you only get into 80/20 confrontations, it's only 50/50 that the favorite hand wins 3 out of 3 races. I played three tournaments today, the first two I took rotten beats and didn't cash, in the 3rd I gave some rotten beats and cashed.


12-02-05 [poker]

I've given up a lot of pots recently where I was ahead because of an overcaller. Basically it goes like this - someone bets pretty big at the pot. I think they may be bluffing. I have a decent, but not great hand. Someone between the better and me calls the bet ! I fold, thinking the caller must at least have something good. I know it's possible the caller can have a draw and the first guy can be bluffing, but it seems unlikely. Well, it sure seems to have come up a lot recently. It's really hard for me to get in the head of people who play badly/illogically.


12-02-05 [poker]

Another tricky hand late that I'll analyze for real money EV. This is another 3-table $30, the top 5 places pay $270,225,180,135,90. Ten players left and I'm a medium to short stack, about half average.

Seat 1: agreen2194 ( $2305 )
Seat 2: perry998 ( $1355 )
Seat 3: jshooter05 ( $5965 )
Seat 4: ankleband ( $2215 )
Seat 5: chukb ( $1780 )
Seat 6: jpk1928 ( $3460 )
Seat 7: Mikarriva ( $6450 )
Seat 8: ChrisAllen1 ( $1630 )
Seat 9: kustak ( $2880 )
Seat 10: platte77 ( $1960 )
Blinds (75/150)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  Jh As ]
perry998 folds.
jshooter05 raises [600].

	jshooter05 has been open raising a very wide range of hands, like TJ or Q9

ankleband folds.
chukb is all-In  [1780]

	I've been waiting for a decent hand, here AJ, to catch jshooter05, this is my first chance.
	I push.

jpk1928 is all-In  [3460]

	Fuck! Someone behind has a hand!

Mikarriva folds.
ChrisAllen1 folds.
kustak folds.
platte77 folds.
agreen2194 folds.
jshooter05 folds.

jpk had KK and I lost, out 10th. If I were just against jshooter, I'm sure this is +EV, the question is, how does the presence of the live people behind change it? Was this just bad luck, or should I be more aware of the danger of live people behind picking up a hand?

People behind will roughly play the top 5% of hands, that's 99 or AQ or better. Against those hands I'm roughly 25% to win. There are 6 others behind, so the chance all fold is 0.95^6 = 74% . I'll assume only one plays, and if they do, jshooter05 will fold.

If they do all fold, I'll assume jshooter05 folds 50% of the time. The 50% of the time he calls, he's a slight favorite on average (I know he calls here with hands like AT and KQ, which I'm beating, as well as hands like 88 which are 50/50), we'll say he's 55% to win over all.

So, let's compute EV. If I just fold I have 1780 chips, and my real money expectation is $62. Just in terms of chips first :

0.26 * ( 0.25 * (1780*2 + 825) ) + 0.74 * ( 0.50 * (1780 + 825) + 0.50 * 0.45 * (1780*2 + 825) ) = 1979

That's a nice +EV in chips even counting the live people behind. How about in real money ?

0.065 of the time I have 4385 chips (from jpk), for $126
0.37 of the time they all fold, and I have 2605 chips, for $85
0.165 of the time I have 4385 chips (from jshooter), for $123
0.40 of the time I get zero

The result is $60 real money expectation. Definitely negative! If there were no one behind, this would still be positive, but the combined factors of the risk of people behind, plus the risk of going out and losing the tournament equity of survival makes this a bad gamble.

This is also interesting because you can see how better players make their value in tournaments. It's little by little, hand by hand. At the start of each tournament everyone's real money expectation is the same - $30 in this case. Each hand you're faced with decisions that might take your value to $29 or $31.


12-01-05 [poker]

The live poker was no good tonight. In the normal game, I was mostly up on a big stack all night, hitting some big hands, but then I lost my big race near the end, my AK got beat by A8, and I was suddenly on the short stack and battling.

Played two games in the heads up challenge against Dustin, and he won them both. Now I'm down 0-2 and need to win 4 out of the next 5. That's almost impossible even if I severely outplay him, which I haven't been. In the first two games he had the cards on me and played better. Every time I'd try a big bluff, he had something really good. In the second match I hit some big hands and got way the big stack, and he proceeded to double up twice and take the chip lead back, after which I got bled down and lost it. I think there were some hands I could have pushed harder and taken down with bluffs. It seems I won't catch the cards I need so I'm gonna have to win by out-bluffing him.

For some reason, the losses feel a lot worse in the live game than they do online. Online I can shrug it off pretty well, it's just bad luck, try again. In the live game I feel like I got robbed or raped.


12-01-05

Picked up Bonnie Billy's "Greatest Palace Music", which is all covers and very nice. Also got Sufjan Stevens' "Illinoise". For a long time I've had Sufjan recommended to me, but I listened to him online many times and didn't really like it. Finally I was at Best Buy and just said fuck it and bought the CD. Guess what, it's great! It's quirky, fun, musical. Sometimes you just have to trust recommendations more than your own ears. Some albums take a proper listening at home to find the appeal of them. BTW I think Sufjan is pronounced "Soof-Yawn".


12-01-05 [poker]

Ugh. I just lost a series of disastrous hands. I don't think I can even learn anything from them, it was just rotten play. In all of them I was ahead on the flop, and they hit their draws, and I paid them off. I pretty well knew it too, I just felt like I should somehow win the pot.

Well, I made up for it by taking 2nd place in the next one. I got to the heads up outchipped roughly 2:1 and proceeded to get schooled by Duffy38. I do need to practice my heads up, fortuitously I have a heads up matched scheduled with Dustin.

Often in poker you run into the same type of problem you have in Risk and Diplomacy and other games - there are a bunch of players, and some move needs to be done, but you can't do it yourself, you need someone else to do it. Now, that move may be in their best interest, but for whatever reason they don't do it. The result is that someone else prospers. In Risk you have this where some bully is trying to take something, and someone else just lets him; you're not in that part of the world, so the bully gets a continent, and now you're fucked even though you weren't involved.

In the game today, Duffy38 was running over the table near the end. The two of us had the big stacks, and Duffy38 was open raising just about every single pot. I would re-pop once in a while, but since I was on the #2 stack, I can't afford to tangle with him, I need to pick on the other short stacks. The short stacks, however, should be taking advantage - they should push allin against his raise with any ace, or even KJ. His over-aggression is a really bad play if the short stacks would just do the right thing. Unfortunately, they did not, they laid down and let him run over the table, so he was able to gather that massive 2:1 chip lead on me. I could have tried to also run over the table and take my share, but that would have led to confrontations with Duffy38 which I was trying to avoid. Of course, just sitting back and letting Duffy crush them is great +EV for me in terms of real money value, so I can't complain.


12-01-05 [poker]

Ugh, I just played this hand like a moron. I was on auto-pilot, just betting my good hand, I could have made a lot more perhaps.

Dealt to chukb [  Ks 8s ]
spider2084 folds.
grrry folds.
Uldini raises [30].
Alien114 calls [30].
Lokijohn folds.
eddievr folds.
chukb calls [30].

	I'll call a min raise K8s , the implied odds are very good

couchguard calls [30].
whale1917 folds.
mousy2 calls [15].
** Dealing Flop ** [ 8c, 8d, 9d ]
mousy2 checks.
Uldini bets [15].
Alien114 folds.
chukb raises [100].

	I flopped trips.  Uldini is a moron who min raises and min bets even his monsters, he could have any two.

couchguard calls [100].

	He must be on the flush draw or str8draw, TJ, QJ, diamonds.

mousy2 folds.
Uldini folds.
** Dealing Turn ** [ 9h ]
chukb bets [250].

	I have the house now.  Either he has me tied or beat (with a 9), or he's drawing almost dead.

couchguard folds.
chukb does not show cards.
chukb wins 625 chips

Clearly a dumb bet on the turn. No worse hand calls me there, and I don't want to force out draws. Perhaps I can make more money if he decides to bluff, or even better if he hits his flush and thinks it's a good hand even though there's two-pair on the board. Very dumb.

This reminds me of something I've thought about a lot recently. Classic poker doctrine says that hands like K8s or 22 or 67s really want to see a flop cheap, and multi-way for maximum implied odds. That's okay if you can get that situation, which you often can in limit, but in no-limit I find there's a nice value of calling raises in position with these hands. Say someone open raises 2x or 3x. It folds to you on the button, you call with hands like this. Now, in standard analysis you don't have very good odds here, but your implied odds can be very good if the stacks are deep. If he was on AK or AQ or something and you have 22 and the flop comes A72, you'll probably get his whole stack. In fact, I really *want* to be dominated in this case. I love it if he has KK and the flop is 972, then I'm sure to take his stack with 22. Many people play cute when they flop monsters, so if your 67 flops a draw, he'll often check to you, and you can just check behind if you have a draw. These kind of miracle flops only happen about 1/20 times, but if your stacks are around M=30, that means you're getting good implied odds to see a flop here. Also, in position you'll have good opportunities to steal the pot, if he open raised AQ and the flop is low, or if he opened raised 99 and the flop is high, in either case you can take the pot. When you play this, you need to remember that the vast majority of the time you are losing money on these hands, you shouldn't get too attached to them, you want to either hit a big flop or get out (and of course bluff if he tells you he doesn't want the pot). One of the stupid traps I sometimes fall into is calling with something like A7s, looking for the flush, then the flop comes 872, and I start thinking my 7 might be good. That's danger.


11-30-05 [poker]

This is the hand I went out on, and I'm going to analyze it in a fancy way. I'm going to look at chip EV vs. actual tournament money EV, because I think this is one of those cases where it may matter. This is a 3-table $30 entry tournament, the top 5 places pay $270,225,180,135,90. There are 7 players at this point and I'm the short stack.

Before the hand starts, the stacks and expectations are :

stacks :
Seat 1: pokrprofesr ( $3460 ) - 
Seat 2: HARLEYGUY814 ( $5535 )
Seat 3: Gatormancc ( $3090 )
Seat 4: baystar ( $2525 )
Seat 6: chukb ( $2250 )
Seat 7: euming ( $6400 )
Seat 9: bobsway ( $6740 )

dollar expectations :
pokrprofesr : 117.846351
HARLEYGUY814 : 155.915487
Gatormancc : 108.856359
baystar : 93.473993
chukb : 85.243610
euming : 167.340767
bobsway : 171.323433

First, I'm surprised how high my dollar expectation here was. It's only slightly under the $90 for last place, so certainly I should not give up easily just because I'm short stack.

Now, here's the action :

Blinds (100/200)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  5h Ad ]
bobsway calls [200].
pokrprofesr folds.
HARLEYGUY814 calls [200].
Gatormancc folds.
baystar folds.
chukb is all-In  [2150]

	I'm in the small blind, there are two limpers before me, and the big blind behind.  I figure I need
	to take a shot and they probably have weak hands, so I'll push my A5.

euming folds.
bobsway calls [2050].
HARLEYGUY814 folds.
bobsway shows [ Jc, Js ] a pair of jacks.
As it turned out, bobsway limped jacks, and busts me. But what was my actual EV ? First of all, let me say I think this was a marginal move by me, just because my stack was actually big enough I could have just limped or folded here. My M was 7, which is not terrible. If my M was 4, I should have definitely pushed here, with M = 3 or 5, it's borderline. M = 2 is actually too low, you can't make anyone fold. M of 6 or 7 is high enough that this is not necessary.

So, let's look at the EV. First of all, I'm going to assume that the 3 guys in the hand will call with AT or better and 66 or better. We'll ignore AA and say that in all those cases I'm 30% to win. That's roughly the top 10% of hands they're calling with, and they limped maybe the top 50%, so they're calling with 20%. The chance that noone calls is 0.9*0.8*0.8 = about 60%. We'll ignore multiple calls. (actually I'm assuming here that they always limped their good hands, which is not true at all, so really the chance of them calling should be even lower).

So, in terms of EV, if I fold, I have 2150. When I push, 60% of the time, noone calls and I get 2150+700. 40% of the time when someone calls, I will win 30%, and wind up with 2250*2 + 400 = 4900, and lose 70% and wind up with 0. The overall EV in terms of chips for pushing in is : 0.6 * 2850 + 0.4 * 0.3 * 4900 = 2298. Slightly +EV.

What about in terms of actual money EV ? I'll assume that the caller is bobsway. If I just fold and bobsway wins what's in the pot, my EV goes to $82.33 . If I push and noone calls, I'd be up to $101. If I push and win, I'd be up to $142.83 . If I push and lose, obviously I'm down to $0. So my money EV overall is : 0.6 * 101 + 0.4 * 0.3 * 142.83 = 77.739 . Clearly minus EV !!

So, that's very interesting. This is one of those clear cases where tournament EV is different from just chip EV. In this case, if I fold the negative EV is not very bad, I still have a good shot at last place money. Also, the positive EV of the double up is not worth that much. You see when I more than double up in chips - from 2250 to 4900 - my money EV only goes from $85 to $143 , not nearly a double up.

So, clearly I should have folded and made a big mistake here. In bubble situations, it's not worth taking gambles, because the value of having any chips at all is so great, and the value of doubling up is not that great.

(btw the money EV's here were computed with GoldBullion using the correct tournament equity algorithm I described earlier).

Also note that this tournament payout structure is really exceptional for this type of hand. There's a big jump from $0 to $90 on the bubble, and then the payouts above that just increase linearly, not exponentially like they usually do. In more typical multi-table tournament payouts, you don't see nearly such a big affect, because the large prize for first place makes money EV much closer to chip EV. Also, the jump from bubble to cash is not usually so big, here it's 3x the buy in, more typically it's just 1x the buy in. If you ever need to play cautious on the bubble, it's in this type of payout structure which doesn't reward gambling late.

The basic key principle here is that larger stacks are worth less in terms of dollar EV. When you double your stack in chips, you much less than double your dollar EV. If everyone else's stack is the same, when my chips go from 2000 to 4000 to 8000, my dollar EV only goes from $83 to $128.50 to $176. You can see that getting allin, even as a 60/40 favorite, is a major disaster, and the bigger your stack the worse it is.


11-30-05 [poker]

Just bubbled in a three-tabler. This is the hand that burned me from a decent stack to a short stack. It's a tricky one to play right.

Seat 3: chukb ( $2650 )
Seat 5: Maug13 ( $2130 )
Blinds (25/50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  Ad 8d ]
MrTonyB40 folds.
HARLEYGUY814 folds.
chukb raises [150].

	Standard 3x raise with A8s in middle pos.  I'd like to just win the blinds

pegdlg31 folds.
Maug13 calls [150].

	Hmm.. I haven't seen this guy much, but he's a bit on the loose side.

HawkMan555 folds.
alka5 folds.
Gatormancc folds.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 4h, 4d, 8s ]
chukb bets [150].

	Top pair, top kicker, very nice.  I'm surely good here, maybe he has two overs.

Maug13 calls [150].

	Yup, must be two overs.

** Dealing Turn ** [ Jc ]
chukb bets [250].

	I'm a little worried by that jack, but he can still have a lot of losing hands.

Maug13 calls [250].
** Dealing River ** [ Ks ]
chukb checks.

	Hmm.. He called the turn, a pretty solid bet.  Could he have like 99 or TT ?  Maybe 9T !?  Or AK

Maug13 bets [500].

	That's a pretty big bet, about half pot.  If he just had a mediocre hand like KQ or TJ or something
	wouldn't he just check it down?  He must have a real big hand or nothing.  I think AQ is possible,
	so is 55-77.

chukb calls [500].
Maug13 shows [ As, 4s ] three of a kind, fours.

Ugh, I guess it was just a bad call. There's no way I can put him on A4, but I was worried about AK, AJ, KQ, QJ, etc. there are enough of those hands, it should be a pretty easy fold. Checking the river like I do sets him up to bluff at me, though, which means I have to call more often there to catch the bluffs. I could have bet more on the flop to drive out overcards, and then I could have bet a little less on the turn, I don't need to bet half pot, and then I could have just check-folded the river.

I had another rotten hand this game where I had 99 and was thinking about calling, and suddenly I was folded !? I guess my timer ran out and I had no time bank because it was used up while I was AFK pissing. That cost me a double up.


11-30-05 [poker]

For some reason I'm really dominating the 3-table tourneys, but I can't do very well in the big multis or in the NL cash games. I think I know my main problem in the big multis - I have trouble playing patient & focused for long enough, those things take hours. I'm not sure what my problem is at the NL cash tables. They're a much deeper stack situation than I'm used to in tournaments. On party you typically have around 100 big blinds at the NL cash tables, an M of 67. I find myself getting my top pairs busted and getting bluffed off winning hands.

Today I played a 3-tabler and wound up making 2nd place. At the end there was a tough player named FLMAN1945 who was playing basically my style of poker, and it showed me how tough it is to play against. He had the big stack and was just dominating the table. He was stealing lots of blinds, and when other people tried steals he was frequently reraising them allin, stealing their steals. He had the ideal scenario, I was on the 2nd or 3rd stack, and there were some small stacks, so we medium stacks had to play it safe to make sure the small stacks got knocked out. By the time it got heads up he had me chipped 3:1 and I had little hope.

The power of the open-raise is at its best when the stacks are around M = 10. You can open raise a standard 3xBB. Now, the problem is anyone who calls know they're risking their whole stack. If they reraise, they're basically pot committed at that point. Just calling sucks because you don't hit your flop often enough for it to be worth fishing around. The great thing for the open-raiser is they're applying pressure without committing very many chips. If you reraise allin (any reraise is essentially allin), the opener can now decide whether to call or not. This is crucial - they get to decide when a hand is actually a big allin or not. That lets them call with their big hands and fold their weak ones. If they fold they don't lose too many chips, and they make up for it with the blind steals, and of course when they actually get a good hand and bust you.


11-30-05

I was sickened by how the Steelers played on Monday night against the Colts. I thought they had a real chance. The Steelers type of team is one of the few that has a chance against the Colts. The Colts are small and fast, and their defense can get busted up by a power runing team, maybe not in the first half, but in the second half when they get worn down. In order to win, you have to keep it a low scoring game (play good defense), and play a tough running game. The Steelers gave up on the run way too fast, started running risky pass plays.


11-30-05

Beers that start with "Mac" are delicious. Of course "Mac & Jack's" in Seattle is a lovely, drinkable, fruity, hoppy, draught. Mackeson's Stout (now at TJ's) is a very rich, sweet chocolate stout, almost like one of those lovely Belgian dark beers, and Mactarnahan's amber (also at TJ's) is a good balanced amber, sort of similar to like the Red Hook ESB or Bass.


11-30-05 [poker]

These are my lifetime stats that GoldBullion has seen :
chukb           hands:9023 plays: 32%(K8o) raises: 45%(A8s) steal:447/599 bbf:136/224 cont:308/433 big:803= 8% 

There are various little todos in Goldbullion to improve the stat tracking, but the big thing is to try to use the AI to watch the way people have played hands to build a better Bayes-based read on them. That is, given how they've played various situations in the past, what do we think they have based on their play so far in the current hand.

The basic way of doing this, as I've outlined in the GoldBullion AI notes, is to have a parameterized AI model for opponents. eg. the model has various parameters a,b,c,d, etc. which influence play. They start at some basic setting which will give "standard" play. Based on what you see of a person's play, you adjust the parameters so that the AI model will make actions that match their play in those situations. There are two primary ways to adjust the model. One is statistically - that is, if you see the % of hands someone calls, folds, raises, etc. you can tweak the model so that it will generate those same statistics over all. The other way is with specific hands. When you see someone's hole cards, you see how they played a specific hand, and then you can tweak the model so that it plays that hand in a similar way.

This is all very complicated by the fact thats that - 1) poker is a game of very sparse statistics, so you will only get very scattered data on their play, not enough to build your model without a lot of assumptions, and 2) there are lots of extra circumstances that affect people's play, eg. are they on tilt, what are the stacks and payouts, etc., and 3) people will occasionally make very strange plays that can throw off the model if you weight them too strongly.

Of course none of this is very exotic, this is just what I'm doing myself when I play.


11-30-05 [poker]

It's really hard to play against bad players until you have a read on specifically how they are bad. Poker is all about estimating what your opponent has, which you can only do from their betting pattern if you know how they bet which hands. Given no more information, I have to assume they're a basic reasonable player, but that often burns me and makes me lay down winners.

Seat 1: bahbo112 ( $2647 )
Seat 2: TxHoosier ( $2649 )
Seat 3: hardg ( $1955 )
Seat 6: chukb ( $1232 )
Seat 7: natural0153 ( $570 )
Seat 8: perry998 ( $1300 )
Seat 9: Lacrs11 ( $790 )
Seat 10: joejamesjr ( $1067 )
Trny:17830262 Level:5
Blinds (50/100)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  Jc 2h ]
natural0153 calls [100].

	natural0153 is on the short stack, with an M less than 4, and he limps utg !!??
	From a good player this can only mean one thing - a monster, like AA or KK.
	Now, I know he's not that good, but I can't believe he's limp on such a short stack
	with a really bad hand, it must be a pair or ace high or something.

perry998 folds.
Lacrs11 folds.
joejamesjr folds.
bahbo112 folds.
TxHoosier folds.
hardg calls [50].
chukb checks.

	I check in the BB.

** Dealing Flop ** [ Ac, 6s, Jd ]
hardg checks.
chukb bets [150].

	I flopped middle pair jacks, I want to see if I'm good.

natural0153 calls [150].

	natural0153 just calls !?  Half his stack is now in the pot.  He must have a weak ace, maybe
	something like QJ or KJ.  Pairs lower than J are possible too.

hardg folds.
** Dealing Turn ** [ 3d ]
chukb checks.
natural0153 is all-In  [320]
chukb folds.

	It's only a halfpot bet, but I don't think I can possibly be good.  If he doesn't have an ace, my
	jack must be out-kicked.

natural0153 shows [ Tc, Qc ] high card ace.

His plays were pretty reasonable if you ignore the fact that he was on a super short stack. I suppose on the turn I can still put him on pairs below Jack and maybe call for that, but there's no way I can put him on QT (I did think KQ was a possibility). This type of hand could be easily dismissed, saying he's a donkey, he's a bad player, but of course that's the point - I shouldn't be losing money to these guys. I've been losing a lot of important pots like this recently, where I have what's really a very weak hand, and someone playing very strangely pushes me off the best hand because I haven't got the right read on them. Simple bluffs are not that hard to pick off, the things that really trip me up are when people call in crazy situations.


11-29-05 [poker]

I've got my "GoldBullion" poker watcher working pretty well now. I still can't get it to click the damn PartyPoker buttons reliably, but the watcher is good anyway. I've got some code in there to look for specific common situations and actions and track how often people do certain things. The most basic are the most useful - how often someone sees the flop, how often they raise, how often they take a steal chance preflop (eg. raise from the button or cutoff when it's folded to them), and how often they bet continuation on the flop. One of the interesting things about this has been watching my own stats. My stats vary depending on the texture of the game, but when I'm really playing my ideal game and dominating the table, they look something like this :

sees flop 40% raises 60% steals 11/12 continuation 5/7

That 40% see flop is pretty loose. That's because I'm open raising a lot with hands like J9s, etc. You can see I'm almost always taking a steal chance, and almost always betting continuation. Obviously that only works when the table lets me, but they often do. (that raises percentage is how often the open preflop is a raise vs. a limp). When I see these stats it's obvious that anyone watching me must know I'm stealing and betting continuation.


11-29-05

I noticed at the time that Bonnie "Prince" Billy did a cameo in "Junebug". How odd.


11-29-05 [poker]

This was a mistake. It's pretty subtle though, it hinges on the texture of the game and the history of this guy.

Blinds (50/100)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  4d 5c ]
IAM4USC folds.
Cougat33 folds.
Big__Nuts folds.
TxHoosier folds.
z_balata raises [300].

	z_balata makes a 3x raise on the button.  We both have decent stacks.  He's been raising
	almost any two cards, especially in steal positions.  We can rule out 72, but J5 is possible.

Mattotto3 folds.
chukb raises [700].

	I have junk, but I figure he'll fold maybe 90% of the hands he open raised, so I'm gonna try a
	re-pop to take the pot.  That 700 is on top of the 100 I have in, so it's 500 more to him.
	Maybe I should have raised a tiny bit more.

z_balata calls [500].
** Dealing Flop ** [ Jc, 8c, 2s ]
chukb bets [700].

	Of course I missed the flop, I have junk.  I want to try a stab here in case he doesn't have anything.
	If I check he's sure to bet, and there's still a good chance he has nothing.

z_balata is all-In  [1890]
chukb folds.

	I figure he must have hit the jack.  It's possible he has the str8draw or flush draw, but I can't call
	in any case.

I think that overall, this move is +EV, but there are two big problems with it (aside from maybe not raising quite enough preflop). 1) I'd never seen anyone reraise this guy, so even though I knew he was open raising any two cards, I didn't know if he was capable of folding them to a raise. 2) The game was very soft and nutty, so I certainly could have gotten my chips in as a big favorite in some other scenario. If the game was very tough, this move coud be more called for, but not in a soft crazy game.

Which reminds me of all this talk that you have to push edges and gamble to win tournaments. That's a lot of horse shit, especially against bad players, and if you do it you're a moron.


11-29-05

We got our christmas tree; it's a nice noble. Oddly, my cats don't seem to care. Last time I got a tree, a few years ago, the cats went absolutely nuts, attacking it and playing in it. I think the peed around the base once too. This time they sniffed it a bit and went back to their business of eating and sleeping.


11-29-05

I've been trying to hook up my damn TiVo to the ethernet. I finally found the problem. I've been trying to use a LinkSys USB200M , which should work, except that I have a Version 2 and only Version 1 works. Of course the package isn't labeled with the version at all and no online retailer distinguishes between the two. Wonderful!

I got Dan's computer (my old Oddworld computer) set up with WiFi. I got a DLink DWL-G510. Her computer is about 100 feet away from the router, through one wall, and the signal strength is around 30%. She gets about 20 MBps. Not bad at all, WiFi is the shit. I wish we could have everything wireless, but as we talked to about at Oddworld a few times there are some problems. Clearly keyboards and mice and such can easily be wireless, and that's possible with Bluetooth stuff now. Video is a big problem, the bandwidth is astronomical. To do even 1600x1200 at say 100 fps is 6 billion bits per second uncompressed. Fast wireless is now 100 Mbps, so we're still off by an order of magnitude or two. Power is another issue. Of course Tesla used to demonstrate wireless power and dreamed of a world-wide wireless power system , but there are a few major problems with it.

It's got a $10 mail-in rebate. I hate fucking mail in rebates so much, but it isn't much work for $10, so I have to do it. I missed the $30 mail-in rebate on my damn cellphone because I forgot about it and the time expired.


11-28-05 [poker]

There are a lot of moves in limit hold'em that work because it's limit. One example is the raise to isolate. A LAG (loose aggressive guy) open raises, you reraise with mediocre hands to isolate on him. In No Limit this is risky because it makes him live again to reraise you big, in limit if he reraises you it's an easy call. Similarly, semi-bluffing draws is very different. If someone bets in limit and you raise on a semi-bluff, if they have a really good hand and reraise, it's still an easy call for you to take a card off. In no limit, if someone bets and you raise on a semi-bluff, they can reraise big and take you off your draw. This is why sometimes you have to just call behind in no limit, because letting someone get live can be a disaster.


11-28-05 [poker]

Yes, I'm proud of this play. Three-table, I'm the big stack, 3 players left. I've watched hopper888 carefully. I know he only calls raises with good hands, and he'll bluff if they don't hit. He's also been fighting back well against my steal raises.

Seat 3 is the button
Total number of players : 3 
Seat 3: chukb ( $14756 )
Seat 4: hopper888 ( $8736 )
Seat 8: TRIPSET ( $6508 )
Trny:17800797 Level:11
Blinds (400/800)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  Ac 4d ]
chukb raises [1800].

	Standard 2.5x button raise with an ace high.  I'd be happy to get all in with the short stack in
	the big blind.

hopper888 calls [1400].
TRIPSET folds.

	SB calls, BB folds.  hopper888 must have some kind of decent hand, like KJ minimum.

** Dealing Flop ** [ 4c, 2h, Kc ]
hopper888 bets [800].
chukb raises [2400].

	He min bets, I have a pair of 4s.  If he had a king, he would have check-raised me here.  This
	min bet might be the club draw, or just AJ or AQ or something like that.  I raise to charge the
	club draw.

hopper888 calls [1600].
** Dealing Turn ** [ 8d ]
hopper888 checks.
chukb checks.

	I check here because I'm almost certainly good, but I don't really want to bet.  He won't fold a better
	hand.  Maybe I should charge the club draw, but I figure let's see the river.

** Dealing River ** [ 7d ]
hopper888 is all-In  [4536]
chukb calls [4536].

	He leads allin.  That sure looks like a bluff.  I'm not scared of a big hand, the main thing I'm scared of
	is something like 55 which is basically a bluff but would still beat me.

hopper888 shows [ As, Qh ] high card ace.
chukb shows [ Ac, 4d ] a pair of fours.

Hooray for me! Checking the turn let him bluff at me on the river.


11-27-05 [poker]

Fuck. I played really badly in the 100k freeroll and I'm out 1000th out of 2000 players. I'm such a fucking moron donkey, how could I make such a stupid fucking amateur mistake?

On the plus side, the field was incredibly weak, as expected. If I didn't play like a fucking donkey it would have been easy to go very deep, probably to cash without trouble. With the player count, it means if everyone is equal an entry is worth about $50, but with the weak field I'd say an entry should be worth about $150 or $200 on average, a pretty darn good value for a freeroll.


11-27-05

"The Squid and the Whale" is a brilliant movie - funny, touching, sweet, realistic but absurd (reality is absurd). I think if you've never been around that intellectual, superior, literary crowd then maybe it wouldn't be so funny to you, but it captures those people perfectly.


11-27-05 [poker]

I hate how weakly I played this hand, but it's one of those special situations. This is a $30 three-table and we're near the bubble. I'm big stack by far, and I'm trying to avoid tangoing with the #2 stack who could hurt me. I want to get in battles with everyone else, who are all short stacks. In this hand I get in with the #2 stack and I play it like a pussy.

Seat 1: shescot43 (3380)
Seat 2: Jodantc (2420)
Seat 3: chukb (10930)
Seat 4: Piscato (5875)
Seat 5: cardiackid1 (3165)
Seat 6: semaj78 (2525)
Seat 10: terrpetz (1705)
Piscato  posts small blind (150)
cardiackid1  posts big blind (300)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 8h, 8d ] 
semaj78 folds.
terrpetz folds.
shescot43 folds.
Jodantc folds.
chukb raises (900) to 900

	Standard 3x button raise with the 88

Piscato calls (750)

	The #2 stack calls me.  He's been reraising with very good hands, so I mostly rule those out.
	This is probably like KQ or Ax or a low pair or something like that.

cardiackid1 folds.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 5c, 9h, 2s ] 
Piscato bets (1200)
chukb calls (1200)

	He leads out half pot.  I think there's a very good chance I'm good.  A set would probably check.
	I'm basically ruling out overpairs because he's been reraising them.
	
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 6d ] 
Piscato bets (3775)
Piscato is all-In.

	I'm almost certainly ahead.  His bet is less than pot size.  I think AK is possible.  A9 is the only
	hand I'm really worried about beating me.  I think hands like 77 are possible, as is A5.

If he was a good player, he'd know not to tangle with me unless he had a monster. He wouldn't want to go out on the bubble because he fucked around with the big stack. Of course if he was a really tricky pro, he might attack me just because I know that he shouldn't play with me without a monster, but we can safely rule that out. I think he was actually a moron not considering the bubble and the stacks, so all those considerations just don't apply to reading him.

In any case, I folded to get in a better situation later, which I got. I put him allin when I had two pair and he had one pair, of course the board later paired and he won with the higher kicker.


11-27-05 [poker]

Any talk of playing tournaments for "survival" or to "gather chips" is all foolishness. Except in rare special cases near the bubble or when stacks are low and the money jumps are big, the only thing you should do is play for maximum chip EV. That is, you basically play like it's a cash game and try to maximize your chip return with each decision.


11-26-05

I've heard a lot of people defend Dannenman's play at the WSOP. He wasn't horrible, but he also wasn't good. Consider this hand -

Brad Kondracki open raises around 500k with a stack of only about 1M. Dannenman moves allin with AQ, he has about 4M. There are about 6 live players between them, some who have Dannenman covered.

What in the fuck is Dannenman hoping for here? Kondracki is pot committed and has to call. He must have AK or a pair, so in any case Dannenman is behind, and he's risking a ton of chips with live players behind who could bust him if they pick up a big hand. This is a major fish move. It seems like Dannenman was just just pushing any decent hole cards, not taking into account the situation and the chip stacks, etc. I think folding AQ here would be okay, also just calling would be okay.

There are several other hands where he pushes in with ace high after the flop, big overbets when it's very likely he'll get a call from a pocket pair.


11-26-05 [poker]

This hand is kind of tricky, it's one of those situations where you have to decide whether to semibluff or not.

Seat 1: DirtyBirds4 (1285)
Seat 2: Soliton (3230)
Seat 7: chukb (5245)
Seat 8: Roscoe451 (5705)
Seat 10: SNK21 (4535)
Roscoe451  posts small blind (150)
SNK21  posts big blind (300)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ts, 4s ] 
DirtyBirds4 folds.
Soliton folds.
chukb raises (750) to 750

	I'm on the button and both of these guys have been folding their blind much more
	than normal, so I'm going to raise with almost any two cards.

Roscoe451 folds.
SNK21 calls (450)

	He's been folding his BB a lot, so calling does mean he has a little something.  It
	could be ace-low, or something like 67, but he's not calling with just any two.

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ Ah, As, 6d ] 
SNK21 checks.
chukb checks.

	I don't like to bet continuation on a flop like this because it's not believable.
	I felt like I might get reraised, so I just check and see what happens.

** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 2s ] 
SNK21 bets (400)
chukb calls (400)

	I have the flush draw now.  He just min bet.  It's possible he has the ace and is slowplaying it,
	but that's pretty unlikely.  He would also have something like 67 that hit the 6 on the flop.
	I decide to just call and see if I can hit my flush or my ten, or see if he'll just check the river.

** Dealing River ** :  [ Kd ] 
SNK21 bets (800)
chukb folds.

	The hand is basically over for me, when I didn't raise the turn I had to catch.

The question is whether this is a good semibluff situation on the turn. Of course if he has the ace, then I really want to just call, it would be lovely to hit the flush and win a big pot. Probably he doesn't have the ace, but would he believe that I do? And will he fold whatever weak hand he does have? It's possible he just have something like KJ on the turn and might even call a raise with the king kicker. I don't think my check on the flop takes away from the believability of the semibluff. If I actually did have the ace, I might check the flop to try to get action.


11-26-05

I'm still trying to make a deposit in PokerStars. It's been a nightmare trying to go through "Neteller". Party Poker's "IGMPay" is far far superior, you can immediately get money in and out directly from your bank account. Neteller has taken forever and required several contacts with customer service. Some day we need a decent internet cash scheme.


11-26-05

Why do they never run the option in pro football? Clearly it's not a good thing to do often, your QB's aren't usually great runners and you don't want to risk injury to them. Also defenses are a lot smarter and can cover it better. Nonetheless, if you had a great running QB like a Mike Vick, it seems like the option could be a nice option, as it were, especially for short yardage and goal line situations.


11-26-05 [poker]

This is the closest thing to a mistake I made today :

Soliton  posts small blind (200)
chukb  posts big blind (400)
** Dealing down cards **
Roscoe451 raises (900) to 900
SNK21 calls (900)
Soliton folds.
chukb calls (500)
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 2d, 6s, 6c ] 
chukb checks.
Roscoe451 checks.
SNK21 bets (1400)
chukb folds.
Roscoe451 folds.

He min raises, so I call with almost any two cards in the BB. (I had KT, but that's irrelevant). On the flop, SNK bets and I'm almost certain he has nothing, probably two overs. I thought about pushing, and wound up deciding to fold. Certainly it's possible he has a low pair, but it's more likely he has something like A7 or TJ. One of the things that worried me most was not that he had a pair, but that he might call a push with something like ace high, which would be beating me. Of course an argument could be made that they were playing so badly there's no need for me to risk my chips here, that if I fold I'll be able to get them in later in a much safer scenario (which I did).


11-26-05 [poker]

Today I played a tournament almost perfectly for the first time in a long while. I don't think I made any big mistakes, and I made a few very good plays. Of course I lost when I took a massive suckout when a guy made a ridiculous bad call. Oh my god, I just played another and played so fucking great and took another rotten beat. What the fuck is wrong with the fucking world these days? I'm not talking about stupid "bad beats" like a guy hitting a flush draw, or a lower pair drawing out, those are part of poker. I'm talking about getting in on the flop when I have a flush and the guy has top pair, and he hits a runner-runner house. Or the last one where I make a strong play, I have J8 with top pair 8s and I know I'm good. The guy raises me allin and I call, he shows 55 and hits his two-outer. My bankroll is now in bad shape and I'm stressed and angry and feel sick. My head is spinning, I feel feint, it's hard to breathe or focus my eyes. It's especially frustrating because I made some bad plays yesterday, and I felt like this was my chance for redemption, I was playing so well and got deep in both tournaments with big stacks only to be robbed of my reward. I was playing so well and so carefully, in both tournaments I never got in a single race, and the only hands where I got allin I was a huge favorite and they were the hands I got knocked out on.

I despise people who talk about bad beats when they slow-play their aces or something like that. That's not a bad beat, that's a donkey play, you moron. Today I took a "bad beat" that most people wouldn't recognize. UTG min raised KK like a moron. 3rd position just called with AA !! I limped with 77. The SB then went allin with KJ, a very tiny reraise that couldn't possibly force anyone out. Of course UTG reraised allin, and I had to fold. Flop had a 7. Thanks to the donkey play of the SB, I missed a chance to triple up my stack. That's a rotten beat! I was in a perfect spot to punish the horrible play of those guys playing their big hands so badly, and I got robbed.

Oh well. The $100k freeroll is tomorrow on Party and I'll be in it, I won a qualifier. Hopefully I can keep up the solid play like I did today and just get lucky when I need it, or at least not get ridiculously unlucky, pretty please.


11-25-05 [poker]

This is one of those rotten situations that's so hard to play. This hand is pretty deep in a tournament, but the blinds have gotten huge and my M is down to 10, so any pot I play for significant chips will be my whole stack.

Seat 8: ait66 (14138)
Seat 10: chukb (9865)
ucijavelin  posts small blind (300)
dantmann  posts big blind (600)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ad, Qh ] 
WordPlay folds.
ait66 calls (600)
cuzknd folds.
chukb raises (1800) to 1800

	AQo in middle position.  I have to play this hand and I might get all-in.  I figure I'll make a standard 3x raise and see what happens.
	Perhaps a slightly bigger raise would've been better to force out more worse hands.

azzkckr999 folds.
xsocceroosx folds.
gusar99 folds.
danandchar folds.
ucijavelin folds.
dantmann folds.
ait66 calls (1200)

	The one limper calls.  I'm guessing he has a weak ace, low pair, or some kind of connector.

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ Js, 7d, Tc ] 
ait66 bets (600)
chukb calls (600)

	He leads out with a min bet.  What the fuck?  I can't possibly fold.  Some people will min bet with monsters, like JT.  Some people will min bet with draws,
	like KQ maybe.  Some people min bet very weak hands, like T9 maybe.  If I had a junk hand, I'd raise here, but I have a lot of outs - an Ace, King, or Queen,
	so I just call.

** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 3c ] 
ait66 bets (2600)
chukb calls (2600)

	That card looks like a blank.  This is the turning point of the hand.  He min bet the flop now he bets big.  I've seen this guy in the past make big
	bets as a bluff, so this looks like it could be a bluff.  It could also be a bet with TJ or something like that.

** Dealing River ** :  [ Jd ] 
ait66 bets (2400)
chukb folds.

	He bets about the same size again.  At this point I have no idea if he's continuing the bluff or value betting a jack.

** Summary **
Main Pot: 13300
Board: [ Js 7d Tc 3c Jd  ]

Sick hand, worst of all I'm not even sure if I made a mistake. Certainly I played it weakly, which I hate, but I can't say that's wrong. The worst part of the hand for me is the call on the turn. I think I need to fold or move in there. Either I'm beat and don't have odds to draw, or he has nothing and I need to move in to stop him from drawing or bluffing me on the river.


11-25-05 [poker]

Making somewhat odd plays that aren't horrible in terms of solid value can be occasionally very profitable.

Unbelievable rotten day of poker today. I made some mistakes, and when I had good hands I took unbelievable suckouts from unreal calls. One of my raises today was called by J2, and the guy made two pair with it. The hard thing is they're not consistent. If they would just always play with junk, it would be easy, but they don't. One hand I get AA and raise and they all fold. Another hand I get KQs and make the same raise and get five callers, with hands like A2, etc.


11-25-05 [poker]

The FullTiltPoker Invitational yesterday was disappointing. It was a 7-handed full tournament, they showed every hand, and Howard did his usual great job commentating. The play just wasn't very interesting. The blinds got big fast and there wasn't much play. Everyone was way too tentative early, which DevilFish quickly identified and started running over the table. The others then had great chances to repop him, and they didn't take them, like a bunch of pussies. It has nothing to do with cards, when someone is raising every hand, you pick a good situation and repop with any two. Helmuth made the only donkey play with the TT, what a moron. I thought Ferguson was perhaps playing best, just playing his solid game like he always does. I'm not sure about the A2 call that crippled him, I really hate calling allins with Ace-low even when the blinds are huge. If you put your opponent even on any king, any ace, any pair, you're dominated most of the time. In order for it to be a good call, you have to think he's moving with any queen as well, or perhaps any suited connector.


11-25-05 [poker]

Ugh. I made one of my own least favorite mistakes - semibluffing when you know the guy won't fold.
chukb  posts small blind (10)
squashball  posts big blind (15)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ac, Ts ] 
frostyjfk folds.
samba31 folds.
Snelliest folds.
yockey21 calls (15)
thejanitor7 calls (15)
BigandHairy1 calls (15)
marathon222 calls (15)
up_and_down1 calls (15)
chukb raises (90) to 100

	(these guys are real loose limpers and very aggressive raisers with any decent hand; the AT is almost
	certainly best here and I'd like to just raise and take the hand down from the SB; the cautious play
	would have been to just call and wait to make my hand, if I hit an ace I'm most likely good and can
	try to just win a small pot).

squashball calls (85)
yockey21 folds.
thejanitor7 calls (85)
BigandHairy1 calls (85)
marathon222 folds.
up_and_down1 folds.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 7c, 5c, Jc ] 
chukb bets (200)

	(I flop the nut flush draw.  The jack scares me because the hands they call with likely include a jack -
	QJ, KJ, TJ, things like that.  I was thinking I'll go ahead and bet and define my hand, if they don't have
	a jack, I might just take it, if they do have a jack, I'm still on the nut flush draw.)

squashball folds.
thejanitor7 raises (400) to 400

	(min raise, I'm thinking he has the jack.  In retrospect I suppose the jack might have moved in to defend
	against the draw.  The min raise could also be the Kc or possibly a set like 55 or 77.)

BigandHairy1 folds.
chukb raises (985) to 1185
chukb is all-In.

	(I can't fold here, I'm thinking I have at least 9 outs and probably 12 outs, so I'd have to call 200 to
	win a pot that would be 1230, which means I only need to be 16% for a call to be right.  If I just call
	I'd have 785 left.  I decide to go ahead and push into a guy who can't fold a better hand.).

thejanitor7 calls (510)
thejanitor7 is all-In.
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 9h ] 
** Dealing River ** :  [ Th ] 
thejanitor7 show [ Tc Qc ] [ a flush, queen high -- Qc,Jc,Tc,7c,5c ]

So, he flopped the flush and I was drawing to 7 outs. Now, there's no way I could know he flopped the flush, and of course he made an absolute rotten call preflop with QTs. Still, I made some pretty huge mistakes in this hand. On the flop, there's no need for me to lead out. I should just check and see what happens. Then if there's action, there's no need to semibluff. Anyone betting has at least a jack and will probably not fold to an allin (these guys are loose, there's no way they fold like a QJ here). So, I have to just hope the bet is small and I should just call and take another card off if the odds are right. I was frustrated that I got called by a bunch of worse hands preflop and that made me get overly attached to the nut flush draw.


11-24-05 [poker]

Two big overall mistakes in my earlier play : 1. The belief that you have to make "moves" to play good poker and win. That's completely false; usually superior technical play is the best way to win. 2. The belief that the increasing blinds force "action". In reality the blinds simply provide a much larger starting pot, hence you want to play more hands, and they increase the EV of playing now vs. later, but that's a very small effect except when your stack is very tiny (M<=3).

I played well in the live game wednesday night, so I'm happy to sort of be back on track. I never got great hands and even made a small suckout in a 60/40 where I had the 40. Best of all, I took the green light when people told me the pot was free for me to take. I'm trying to get back to elementary bluffing 101 - that is, don't go after pots that someone is telling you they really want, just look for pots where they're begging you to bet so they can fold, and just give them what they want. I got very unlucky to run into AA in the hand of a very loose allin raiser when I had QQ. He was literally going allin with any pair, so 2 hands dominate me, and I dominate 10 hands. I had a perfect read on the guy and got the situation I wanted and laid the trap and - he had aces. I made a bad play with 55 in the second game - hey doofus (me), low pairs suck, fold!!


11-24-05

"Network of Trust" would also be a superb way to do online personals. Instead of just searching for people you know nothing about who lie about themselves, you could find people who were rated highly by friends of friends, you could perhaps see comments on them from other people with trust/no-trust ratings, etc..


11-24-05

Why in the world would you use a double boiler to melt chocolate these days? It's such a pain in the ass! Microwaves work perfectly well, just don't overheat it (which would ruin the chocolate). Heat little by little and stir, until just melted.

There's no need to stock things like "light brown sugar" and "dark brown sugar", or "light corn syrup" and "dark corn syrup". Just buy some molasses, and you can make any shade of sugar.

Cooking For Engineers has a good review of chef's knives .


11-24-05

My persimmon tree has lost its leaves, and the bright orange fruits are ripe. Blue jays feast on them outside my window, flying from branch to branch in order to land just above a fruit. They bend down and peck at it, jabbing their beaks in and pulling out morsels of the sweet flesh. The jays are always in mating pairs. One will eat while the other keeps watch and chases away other birds, dominating the smaller sparrows. ( funny result for searching "sparrow" on google )


11-24-05

Wow, what a trip. I somehow didn't realize this, but I used to go to the original Uptown Espresso in Lower Queen Anne . It's got pretty crappy coffee, but it has cool antique furniture and it's open onto the street which is cool. Tiffiny and I used to occasionally walk down to LQA from the top of the hill, grab a bite or something and walk around, and a few times we stopped at the Uptown there. I didn't remember the name at all. Of course, now in San Luis Obispo there's an Uptown Espresso franchise (one of the very few outside of Seattle; perhaps the only one?) which I often frequented, and where I met my current girlfriend.

Cafe Ladro and Vita were much better of course. Cafe Vita is one of the best-tasting brews I've ever had. I used to live on the top of Queen Anne hill, and we'd walk over to Ladro in the cold, bundled up in scarves and hats, with a fine mist of rain often falling. We'd sit in Ladro and read in The Stranger about all the great music happening in town, and I'd look at the hipsters and wonder what exciting cool things they do. We'd walk over to the little bench at 5th and Lynn that overlooked Gas Works and Lake Union and sit a while before the cold and rain drove us home. Writing this I realize how much I miss Seattle and how badly I need to get out of this shit-hole of a little town.


11-24-05

Thanksgiving is really great in my imagination, and I suppose we had some great Thanksgivings when I was young, but in reality these days it usually sucks. Everyone is sort of a pain in the ass at Thanksgiving. They all want their horrible dish that they're used to and they're so inflexible. Steve insists that he has to have Stove-Top Stuffing, not the homemade stuff, since that's what his mom did. Alan wants the yams with marshmellows, and Gloria brings cranberry sauce from a can (while Susan pouts because noone is eating the fresh-made cranberry sauce she brought). Passive-aggressive wasps snipe at each other over the crappy things they brought, or someone who hasn't contributed fairly, or someone who's getting more credit than they deserve. I remember times when I would do something like heat up the bread someone else brought, and someone says "oh, the bread's great Charles", and the person who brought it has to chime in and point out who deserves credit. The time up until the eating is all stress, and then you eat as fast as possible with the hostess harassing everyone and people getting up and down all the time. Yes! I have everything I need, leave me alone, if I need something I'll ask or get it myself! The bits of food that were actually good are ruined by sitting out too long, getting cold. Someone's hurt because noone is eating their horrible jello dish. There's an interesting conversation over at the other end of the table, but I can't really hear it or chime in, and the ladies around me are talking about the weather.


11-24-05

Ooo - I just had a good idea, maybe. Fantasy Poker. You buy players, maybe in some kind of auction or some pricing scheme based on their previous results. Then their cash winnings are your score. You build a good stable of pros and we track their tournament results and see how your crew does. The scoring is a lot less screwy than Fantasy Football, and the stable actually makes sense with the variance of poker. Actually, pricing the guys differently maybe isn't necessary at all. Just let you pick ten-man teams or something like that.


11-24-05

There are some real gems of art deco architecture in LA. The Argyle is one.


11-23-05 [poker]

It's strange, the $20 and $30 sit-and-go multis seem to have gotten much wilder & weaker in the last week. There are a lot more guys reraising preflop with K9 , things like that. The only way I can respond to this play is to tighten way up, but that's a game I struggle with.

The 1 PM 30+3 rebuy tournament on Party Poker is the craziest weakest tournament I've ever seen. You just have to try to play super tight and double up with the nuts. It's pretty high variance, because you're gonna have to show down hands. Certainly guys with flush draws & things like that will call allins on the flop. In most tournaments I'd guess my buyin has an EV of about 1.5 buyins, but in this event I think I'm more like 3 buyins.

Unfortunately, in my weak moments I struggle with the tight game. I think to myself, clearly this guy has a weak hand that he'll release if I just put one more bet in. No, he won't, and that was my bad play, I'm a donkey.


11-23-05

I'm disgusted by video game ads that use pre-rendered CG to simulate gameplay. That was kind of okay 10 years ago when the game play looked like X's and O's in black and white, but it's so not okay now. For one thing, the CG they do is usually extra low-quality, and the real-time graphics should be able to look that good. Of course for these games, the real-time graphics are usually even worse. I've seen it recently with some WWF game, with Call of Duty 2, etc. etc.


11-22-05 [poker]

I can't stop thinking about the big home game last weekend. I just wish I could go back and do it over again. Khan !!??


11-22-05 [poker]

I guess I screwed up on this hand.

Seat 2: TARPONHUNTER (5955)
Seat 7: jverson1984 (8965)
Seat 8: chukb (5080)
chukb  posts small blind (150)
TARPONHUNTER  posts big blind (300)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ac, Qh ] 
jverson1984 calls (300)
chukb raises (750) to 900
TARPONHUNTER folds.
jverson1984 calls (600)

	(pretty standard 3x raise with AQ, maybe I should have raised more because I'm out of position and there's
	a limper before me)

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 8h, 4c, Jh ] 
chukb bets (1100)
jverson1984 raises (2200) to 2200

	(normally I'd be thinking semi-bluff; he could have the hearts or the str8 draw, but I've never seen this guy
	semibluff before.  Normally he's just calling his draws.  Of course he still might be semibluffing).

chukb calls (1100)

	(ugh.  I hate my hand now, but it's beating a lot of things he might have here.  Of course he may have the jack.)

** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 5c ] 
chukb checks.
jverson1984 bets (2200)
chukb folds.

	(he bets enough to put me allin.  3/5 of my stack is now in the pot, so I can't fold, can I?  I'm worried he has
	the jack, and if so I'm maybe on a 6 outer, and definitely not getting the odds for it).

** Summary **
Main Pot: 8700
Board: [ 8h 4c Jh 5c  ]
TARPONHUNTER balance 5655, lost 300 (folded) 
jverson1984 balance 12365, bet 5300, collected 8700, net +3400
chukb balance 1980, lost 3100 (folded) 

I think the key moment was on the flop. I probably should have gone allin or folded right there. If he calls I might have some outs, and he may be on the draw. I suppose it's also possible he has a hand like 77, any pair below jacks, which is actually beating me but might fold to an allin on the flop.

I guess I also could have just checked into the flop, I didn't need to lead at him. Then I could have seen what he would do, maybe check-raised him or check-called or just folded and got out with a good stack still intact.


11-22-05 [poker]

One of the nasty little poker situations I've run into today is when you're 3-handed (or more) on the flop and someone bets too small to defend your hand. It goes like this :

Suppose you see a flop 3-handed. You have a strong hand, like top pair, but there are many draws possible. For concreteness, let's say you have KJ on the button, the flop is 89J with two spades. The player in the blinds checks, and then the other guy bets, but it's only 1/4 of the pot. Now you have to act with a guy behind you. Certainly you're not going to fold, but if you just call, the guy in the blinds has great odds to call with any kind of draw. Furthermore the original better may just be betting his draw to get a cheap card. The trouble is if you raise, you've made the initial better live again to reraise, and your hand can't really stand a raise, you'd much rather just call.


11-21-05

The NFL this week had some of the most lopsided scores I've seen in recent history. They looked more like college scores - KC 45 Hou 17, SD 48 Buf 10, and of course the two big shutouts - Cleveland over Miami 22 to 0 and Denver over the Jets 27 to 0 ! The Dolphins and the Jets are both suffering from injuries to their 1st and 2nd string QB's, which is mighty unfortunate, but it seems that across the league the "parity" of recent years has slipped away, and there are a lot more rotten teams, and teams with no decent backups.

This compendium of predicted lines is a pretty nice betting tool.


11-21-05

This recipe for braised lamb shanks is good. The fancy stocks aren't really necessary, and the cook time doesn't need to be that long. Just cook at 350 for two hours and it will be tender and falling off the bone.


11-21-05

One of the silliest things in language is all the words for groups of animals. A pod of killer whales. A pride of lions. A flock of seagulls. A pack of wolves. A herd of cows. A gaggle of geese. Can't we just say "group" for all of them?

Fedor Emelianenko is by far the best all around fighter I've ever seen. He's trained in Sambo , which is the Russian offshoot of Japanese Judo and Jiu-jitsu. Sambo was developed for the Russian military and KGB, and is extremely practical and effective. Fedor is the most relaxed fighter I've ever seen. He doesn't fake laugh or put on a poker face like some, he's just really calm and in the moment, loose and able to respond and think clearly in the heat of the moment.


11-21-05

I can't believe they didn't show the Colts/Bengals game here. One of the best games of the year and we have to watch the rotten local teams. The stupidest thing is that it's just a lose-lose situation here. Fox and CBS have the rights to the NFL broadcasts, and they both own plenty of extra cable channels where they could show more games. All the many Fox Sports outlets could be showing other games. That would bring in more advertising money for everyone involved. It's just moronic that they're not doing it. There's no way that the bowling and shit they're showing is bringing in more revenue. They already have the video stream for those other games, because those are the main game in other markets, they just have to route it to that channel!!


11-20-05 [poker]

The big local live game was today; I made 3rd place for a small profit, but I had the chip lead with four players in, so it was a very disappointing finish. With 4 to go, I had about 150k out of 350k total chips. After that I got completely cold-decked. I rarely got a decent hand, and whenever I did, it didn't work out (like I got TT once, and Dustin hit his ace on the flop). Worst of all, I made a few major errors. There were a few big pots I could've taken down with bluffs, where I had a really strong read that all I had to do was raise and I'd take the pot, and I just didn't pull the trigger. That's a major error, when you see a pot that's free for you to take, you have to take it. Worst of all was this big hand :

I'm in the BB with KJs. SB in the 2nd chip leader with nearly as many chips as me. I really don't want to get in confrontations with him, but KJs is an ok hand. Folds to the SB and he raises to 3x. I call. Flop is KT7. First thought is I'm in pretty good shape. He bets out about half pot. That could be a lot of hands, so I raise a solid big raise, about 3x more. He reraises, about 2x my raise. Now I'm thinking whoah, what's going on here. He opened raised and now reraises. He must have a king, or he could even have TT or 77, maybe he has KT or KQ or AK. I don't see a lot of hands that he can do this with that I can beat. I fold. (the main hand I can think of that would do this that I can beat is QJ, the straight draw, but I figure there are a lot more hands that beat me).

Later he admitted he had K8. I really don't have a good read on what he was doing; I guess he thought he was value-raising with K8, that it was actually a good hand. I have a lot of trouble against players who think that any top pair is a very good hand. They put a lot of pressure on you because they won't fold even to reraises when they have what are actually mediocre hands, so it's very hard to tell when you're ahead or not. After this hand I was just hoping to hit a good hand like top pair 2nd kicker so I could bust him, but I never got a hand that good. The best I got was Q8 with top pair Q, and that's a trouble hand. Again he reraised me, and I can easily be beat. I'm one of those players who likes to keep the pot small when I have a decent top pair, and I'm succesptible to being moved off the hand.

I think an allin rereraise by me would have been a good move on this KJ hand. Against a solid tough player, I'm surely beat. But, consider that there could be three types of guys I'm up against - a loose fish will have a worse hand and either fold or call with a worse hand, a super tight rock will fold even better hands, only a tough, tight, smart (or lucky) player will call here and beat me. On the odds, pushing is +EV.

Anyhoo, the whole thing made me feel sick. I played okay most hands, but in some key situations I played badly. Clearly in my climb up the poker ladder I've slipped a bit.


11-20-05 [poker]

I think I'm not getting maximum value on my best hands. If there are draws to better hands I hate to give free cards, which is sometimes a mistake. Letting someone perhaps catch up is a risk you have to take, just like getting in with AA over KK is a risk - you lose 20% of the time - letting someone draw when they have maybe a 10% chance of beating you is sometimes the right move. Here's a hand where I perhaps make this mistake :

tennisprobry  posts small blind (10)
brasattack  posts big blind (20)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 9h, Jh ] 
pjschav folds.
Roscoe451 raises (40) to 40
eceed folds.
Fold_Deuces calls (40)
showell calls (40)
TL1981 folds.
chukb calls (40)

(I call on the button with a nice flop-seeing hand.  I actually like the fact that one guy min-raised,
because it means he might have something good enough to pay me off if I hit my hand)

tennisprobry folds.
brasattack calls (20)
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ Ah, 3h, 9d ] 
brasattack checks.
Roscoe451 checks.
Fold_Deuces folds.
showell checks.
chukb checks.

(I've got a huge draw - the flush draw + a pair drawing to trips or two pair, I certainly want to play.
I'm worried that if I bet here it will kill action.  Furthermore, this table has been nutty with people
reraising allin, so I'd like to go ahead and hit my hand before I have to get allin).

** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 7h ] 
brasattack checks.
Roscoe451 checks.
showell bets (60)
chukb raises (180) to 180

(I've hit the flush.  Annoyingly showell has bet very very small, well less than even half pot size.  I'm worried
someone has a higher heart and will certainly call that tiny bet.  I want to charge higher hearts, and hopefully
someone has an ace and will fight for it).

brasattack folds.
Roscoe451 folds.
showell folds.

Not very successful. Maybe I should have bet a little on the flop to start sweetening the pot. Also on the turn I could have just called, and maybe the others would have called behind. Then, most of the time I'm still winning on the river and can try to milk it more at that point. If showell would have bet bigger on the turn I would have just called and hoped he would bet again on the river.


11-20-05

Wide receiver may be the most over-rated position in the NFL. The difference between top-level receivers (Owens, Moss, what have you), and 3rd string guys (like a Brandon Stokley or Chris Henry) is pretty insignificant. Receiving performance has far more to do with the QB, the offensive line, the running game, and the play calling. A 3rd stringer can have a huge game if those other components are good. Analysts who say "Moss needs to have a big game" are morons; Moss has very little influence on whether his game is big or not, it's all those other factors.


11-20-05 [poker]

Ugh. One of the worst feelings in poker is playing with super-loose donkeys and not getting hands. You have to show down good hands to these people, it removes all your play. It should be a very +EV game, but it takes your fate out of your hands and puts it in the luck of the deck, and when your cards go cold it's just so frustrating.


11-19-05

This nonsense about putting rosemary in your oven or grill so that it gives off savory smoke and flavors your food is useless hype. The affect if any is negligible. You'd be far better off just putting some rosemary directly on your food. Even worse was the suggestion to use rosemary twigs as skewers for shishkebobs. Not only do you not get any rosemary flavor (which is in the oil in the leaves), but rosemary twigs will burn and give the food a foul flavor.


11-18-05

I've been trying to get a basic folder bot going again, but I just can't get the automated button-pushing to work reliably in Party Poker. I'm pretty sure the button in question is push button window created by MFC. Its window class is "afxwnd42s". Drew's old code to use SendInput() works sometimes, but it relies on the window being on top & other things like that which are hard to gaurantee. I've been trying to send button messages directly to the windows in question.


11-18-05 [poker]

Played a very fun $33 three-table this morning, and wound up with second place. I got short stacked early, but fought back and soon got a massive cheap lead and started to absolutely dominate, running up a massive chip lead by the time we got to the final four. Then I lost a few chips, and the 2nd place guy knocked out the 3rd and 4th place guys, which gave him a stack suddenly very close to min. This was "walla5", a very good player who I'd guessed would be my competition.

The heads up with walla5 was a great challenge. At first I was playing more aggressive, stealing more pots, and I ran up to a 2:1 chip lead, which is a nice spot to be in because I can put him allin to try to knock him out and still be in a decent spot if I lose. He suddenly turned on the gas and started stealing and restealing a lot more and we got back to almost exactly even stacks. The blinds were very low - 200/400 with our stacks around 15,000 - that's an M of 25, which is unusually high and meant we had a lot of play. When I was raising preflop I'd usually make it 1400 to go, a pretty standard 3.5x raise. walla5 was usually making it 3000 to go. This is a major overbet, and a mistake I was hoping to capitalize on, but I could never get good cards any of the many times he made this raise. The interesting thing about this raise is that it's a powerful inflection point that puts the pressure on me. When I would raise to 1400, he could come over the top to resteal for about 3500. I would usually fold then unless I had a good hand, and if I reraised there, he could just fold, because 3500 is not too much of his 15,000. On the other hand, when he would come in for 3000, in order for me to put a decent raise on that, I have to make it 9000 to go, which is over half my stack, and now I'm pot committed. So by making that size raise, he's forcing me to fold or go allin. Then if I go allin, he can choose to call or fold, calling with his monsters to bust me and folding and just losing 3000 with his steals. This is a powerful play in general - forcing your opponent to make the decision about whether they go allin or not, without actually putting too many of your chips in. This is DoubleA's theory of "pressure points". Of course he was overbetting, so the correct response is just for me to fold and wait for good hands and try to bust him. Finally I did get a hand that I thought was good enough to play back - AQ. I moved in and he turned over AK and he won (he had the chip lead at that point, 15100 to 14900 !).

My two and three table play continues to be very strong. I tabulated my results for the last two months. I've cashed in two & three tables 140% more than random. That is, in two tables 4 out of 20 play, you would cash 20% of the time randomly, I'm cashing 20%*1.4 = 28% of the time. In two tables I also have a very strong record for first places when I cash. 70% of my cashes are for 1st place, as opposed to 25% if it was random. In the three tables, my first places are much closer to random, 33% instead of the 20% it would be if random (5 cash in the three tables). It's possible to make decent money at these sit & gos but you can't make great money because the highest buyin you get regularly is $30. At a 140% return my EV for a $33 buyin is $42, or +$9 per go, which is not much. You have to play at 110% just to match the rake. This stretch has included some streaks of bad play by me, so I think 150% is certainly possible, and maybe with perfect play something like 200% might be possible.


11-18-05 [poker]

Scott Fischman recommends that when you play a multi-table, just focus on the table you're at. Don't worry about the average stack size, the chip leader, how many people are in, etc. (not until very close to the bubble anyway). Just beat the guys at your table, and grow your stack. Play good poker for chip value. While I think Scott is a douchebag, he's also a great player, and this is very good advice. I find myself getting caught up in keeping track of where I'm at in the tournament, and it's really just a distraction.


11-18-05 [poker]

This is one of those hands where I'm pretty sure calling was +EV, but I thought it wiser to save my chips for a better chance. It paid off, the tournament was full of donkeys and they doubled me up on my good hands.

my03harley  posts small blind (50)
chukb  posts big blind (100)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 7s, 3s ] 
zico10pele folds.
winoid folds.
cardrack007 folds.
murfie82 calls (100)
joedee39 folds.
ashbauc folds.
sponge3000 folds.
KarmoE folds.
my03harley calls (50)
chukb checks.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 5d, 3h, 9h ] 
my03harley checks.
chukb bets (200)
murfie82 calls (200)
my03harley folds.
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ Jd ] 
chukb checks.
murfie82 bets (1103)
chukb folds.
** Summary **

I have junk in the BB and flop bottom pair. I like to lead with these kinds of hands on the flop to see if I can just get a fold. When he just calls, that tell me I'm probably winning, he most likely has overs. The jack on the turn sucks for me, but I can't really be scared of that. Probably I should have gone ahead and led out o nthe turn as well. Checking the turn let him bluff at me. He bets enough to put me allin on the turn. I really think I'm ahead. He's been pretty loose, his preflop limp doesn't imply good cards. I eventually decided to save my chips for a better spot.


11-17-05 [poker]

Good day at the poker tables. I made one mistake - I once again called a big overbet on the river, thinking I was catching a bluff, and the guy turned over a monster.

Over the past week I've lost a ton, and it could have been avoided with one simple control - when I'm losing and not playing well, I have to stop playing. Just walk away, take a small loss on the day, play again the next day. When I'm playing well, there's no need to put a limit on the play, I can keep going, but when I'm losing (because of bad play), I have to get out.


11-17-05

"Gozu" is kind of a cool weird interesting movie up until the part where the girl is introduced. Then it just sort of becomes pointlessly bizarre. It's still sort of interesting after that, but it ruins the subtle, creepy, surreal feel of it. Aside from that problem, it also suffers from going nowhere and not really having any characters or plot.


11-17-05 [entertainment]

What the fuck happened to nice night spots? From 1900-1970 the mainstay of nice nightlife were variety clubs, where you'd go, sit in a nice place, maybe have dinner, drinks, and watch a variety of entertainment - comedians, dancers, great musicians. These places are almost completely gone, replaced by seedy bars, dance clubs, pick up joints. Where do adults go out at night? Nowhere at all!? I see old movies where these clubs are just part of the background, a setting, the scene, and they're so lovely and fantastic!


11-17-05 [entertainment]

The shysters and profiteers (aka capitalists) of America are converging on New Orleans (those that aren't already busy in oil or military contracts). Seems to me that New Orleans real estate is a super-prime investment opportunity right now.


11-17-05 [poker]

As usual, Party Poker has thoroughly fucked up on its deal making algorithm. They use a totally incorrect formula which doesn't take the prize structure into account correctly at all.

The correct way to do it is to first assume that each person's chance of winning 1st place is equal to their chip count divided by the total chip count. Then you look at the remainder assuming each of those did happen. eg. assume player 3 won first place, now assume that the chance of winning 2nd place if that happens is equal to each person's stack divided by the total remaining chips (with player 3 gone), and recurse.

So, I just coded this up and put in the GoldBullion poker suite. (but I haven't uploaded the new code yet).

For example, the correct payouts in the example they provide are :

Teddybear : 1556.918743
JellyFish : 1141.400077
Ace       : 1041.893275
Commandor : 572.407355
Fantastic4: 517.167609
MrRomeo   : 458.542746
TangoKing : 347.258367
Gladiator : 345.989316
Franklyn  : 340.909027
Bluesky   : 227.513486

The big difference there is a lot less for the chip leader and a lot more for the smaller but not smallest stacks.


11-16-05

Rimjobs (aka eating ass) should henceforth be known as "Hersheys Kisses", as in "Hey baby, give me a hershey's kiss, will ya?".


11-16-05

Hiked from Partington's Cove in Big Sur up Tanbark Trail to the Tin House.

Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. What an amazing road !? Who knew it was so beautiful ! Sycamores changing color with the fall. The road itself is wonderfully windy, great fun in a decent car. My Prelude SH is not fast, but it's a monster in the curves, and we whipped up and down the mountain road. Crossing back through the army base, there was a huge herd of these deer-like things right near the road. They look like Caribou, but that's not possible is it? Caribou are only up in the cold.

Big Sur Bakery , just north of Nepenthe, is fantastic. They have gas pumps outside, and some of the best scones I've had inside. Get there before noon while they're still bringing out all sorts of fresh-baked goodies.


11-16-05

Hiked the "Hi Mountain Trail" , which is short but very nice in a secluded ranch neighborhood. Did I ever mention the Los Osos Oaks preserve is also quite idyllic, small but feels wilder than many of the hikes around here. It's funny how after all this time and exploring there are still so many little spots I haven't been.


11-16-05 [poker]

I've been doing fantastically well in the local live game, and very poorly online recently. I could read a lot of nonsense into this - maybe I'm too distracted when I play online? maybe I can read people in the live game? maybe I'm more patient and don't want to show embarassing bad moves in the live game? - but I think the real answer is that I've been catching cards in the live game and have been ridiculously cold-decked online recently.


11-15-05 [poker]

We finally get to see the end of the 2005 WSOP Main Event on TV. What the hell is Andrew Black doing to himself at the final table of the WSOP? Any time he has a solid hand, he advertises it obviously. He takes his glasses off, smiles, chats, smiles and is very comfortable. Similarly Aaron Kanter obviously advertises his bluffs and weak hands; he looks like he's about to break down, he swallows hard, his mouth is clearly dry as a desert.

One thing was drilled into my head again - solid straightforward play is rewarded, and trying to be clever almost always works out as being stupid. All of the really bad donkey plays at the final table occur when people play unorthodox and try to make weird moves. The guys who just wait for good hands and push them get paid off and do well. Dannenman is the perfect example of this. I think the guy's understanding of poker is very poor, but he plays solid straightforward value poker, doesn't make any stupid flame-out donkey moves, and does extremely well.


11-15-05 [poker]

Racing against "good" hands (the top 10%), 99 and AJs are roughly equivalent, at 55% to win. AKo is about the same as TT. The low pairs are really bad. 22 is only 40% to win, which is worse than A2s !!

Note to self : stop pushing in with low pairs late in tourneys.


11-14-05 [poker]

The Poker Superstars II final is some of the better televised poker ever. Neither of those guys are really fun to watch, but they both play well. I actually think Todd plays better, but Johny just gets some ridiculous cards, AA, KK, QQ twice.


11-14-05 [poker]

The commentator on RoyalVegas is such a fucking moron. He's supposed to be a pro, but my god! The coverage is just as rotten as the ESPN WSOP coverage. 90% of the air time is player profiles and allins. I think we get to see like two hands actually played. It's a damn shame because the tournament structure is really great. Low blinds, deep stacks, and almost all pros in a small field.

There's a key hand at the end of the 2nd show with Phil Ivey and Tony G. Our commentator has already commented on how Ivey played his 93o like such a genius. Umm, no, not really, he just bet it. It's pretty easy to just bet all the time, which Ivey does. The hard thing for a player like Ivey is to avoid getting trapped and to know when your mediocre hands are actually good. Anyway, the hand goes roughly like this :

UTG limps, and many limpers follow. Ivey limps 44. Tony G in the BB finds AKo. I don't know exactly what the stacks are, but it looks like the BB is about 300, and the stacks are around 30,000 , so the stacks are very deep. Tony G wisely raises from the BB, he raises to 2700, 9x the BB. All fold except Ivey who calls. I think this is a pretty questionable call. Tony G most likely has a higher pair, he could also have AK or maybe AQ, but most of the time Ivey is dominated, and he's calling 1/10 of his stack to try to hit a set.

The flop is a miracle flop with Ivey - A45. Tony has top pair top kicker and Ivey has a set of fours. The commentator is talking about what a genius Ivey is. No, he just got really lucky. Tony checks. I assume he was planning on check-raising all along. Ivey bets out 5000, about half the pot. I like Ivey's bet here, since he bluffs so often it's clearly correct to bet his good hands - in fact if he checked here that would be a real warning sign. Tony G raises to 15k. I love the check-raise here. Most of the time Ivey is beat, and will bet it, and you just got his coin. The commentator is saying how check-raises are wrong in No Limit because they don't provide information. People who play for information are morons. You play for chips, and check-raising against a hyper-aggressive player is exactly the right move. In fact, if you wanted to be really cute you could just smooth call and check-raise the turn, which Ivey would surely bet again.

Ivey calls on the flop. Now, that's a bit of a warning sign, he would usually give it up there if he had a weak hand, but even a hand like 67 is possible. I'm not sure why Ivey doesn't just reraise here. Maybe he puts Tony on a hand like TT, which would fold to a reraise fearing the ace, so he's hoping Tony will lead at the turn so Phil can call. At this point Tony G is basically pot committed. The pot is around 40k and Tony only has 15k left. The hard thing against Ivey is if you're beat in this spot you almost have to pay him off, because he messes around so much.

I can't believe how badly the "pros" play against Ivey. Hey douche-bags, read this : when you're playing with a super loose-aggressive player, this is what you do : tighten up, play premium hands, and come in for strong raises. If you hit much, bet it hard, try to get allin. Check-raises are good, and usually check-raise allin so that he can't rebluff. Yes, this increases your variance and you'll pay off his great hands, but that's gonna happen anyway.


11-14-05 [poker]

Leaks in my game I need to fix :

Today I got back on track and played pretty darn well, but still lost a lot of money due to just unending horrific beats. I got a 2nd and 3rd place in small tournaments, but that doesn't pay much, you really need 1st places. Oh well, I still feel good that at least I got my game back on the rails, hopefully we'll see some profit tomorrow.


11-14-05 [poker]

Just went out super early in a tournament on this hand. I don't think I could have avoided this. For reference, JakTheKipper has been super loose aggressive in the few hands I've seen.

I get A3s and try to limp. I always want to limp suited aces in the early low-blind play. When Jak raises, often I'd fold here because I don't like playing low aces, but Jak has been raising so liberally I have to call, and if I hit my ace I may be stuck depending on the action. Again, when he leads at the flop, that might be a hand, but it could easily just be continuation. I now have the nut flush draw + probably an overcard, and I want to see where I'm at. When he reraises allin, I know he has something, but I have 12 outs and now I'm pot-stuck.

Blinds (10/15)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  3c Ac ]
karodd3 folds.
lanwin calls [15].
Decee3 folds.
salsa95 folds.
Scarrineau folds.
chukb calls [15].
x_neow_x folds.
nfin1 folds.
tencars calls [5].
JakTheKipper raises [45].
lanwin calls [45].
chukb calls [45].
tencars folds.
** Dealing Flop ** [ Kc, 8h, 2c ]
JakTheKipper bets [100].
lanwin folds.
chukb raises [300].
JakTheKipper is all-In  [1100]
chukb: ugh
chukb: I cant fold
chukb is all-In  [610]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 8s ]
** Dealing River ** [ 4s ]
chukb shows [ 3c, Ac ] a pair of eights.
JakTheKipper shows [ Ks, Qc ] two pairs, kings and eights.

The call at the end is certainly right, I'm 44% to win and getting 2:1 odds. Perhaps the most questionable play is the raise to 300. The funny thing about it is I'm pot-committing myself so that I have to call, even when he reraises and tells me he has it. Any smaller bet though and he won't fold junk. Of course bluffing here is rather suspect since he wont fold many better hands than mine, maybe he'd fold better ace-highs.


11-14-05 [poker]

This 2+2 anthology of forum posts is very nice.


11-14-05 [poker]

Could you play winning poker without looking at your cards? Consider that in NLHE pots almost never actually get to a showdown. Assume that you're not up against super-loose players where you'd have to show down a lot, and assume that others don't know you're not looking. Basically you're playing "Indian Poker", you just judge if you're ahead or not by the way the other guy bets.

How would you play? Well, basically if someone open raises, you fold, except if they seem like they're stealing a lot and raising in a steal position, then every once in a while you come in for a nice reraise. You limp or call small in your blinds, and if the flop looks junky, you lead out. Once in a while if the flop is like Q42, you check, if they bet what looks like a bluff/continuation, you put in a nice raise. When it folds to you, you make steal raises in the late positions a reasonable amount. Every once in a while you make a nice raise early and get ready to play a big pot.


11-13-05 [poker]

This guy has a pretty good poker blog which gives you a good feel for the NL cash game and the variance involved. One thing he's right about for sure - sets are Gold Bullion in the NL cash game.


11-13-05

"Kontroll" is a beautiful movie; surreal, full of wonder & strange beauty, grimy, soft-hearted, whimsical, full of energy. The story in the end is rather thin, but everything else makes up for it.

"Intermission" was surprisingly not bad. Usually I hate big ensemble movies; they suffer from too many characters, none of them really developed, lots of thin stories standing in for the lack of one good one. This movie does not disappoint in that way. Colin Farrel turns in his best performance that I've ever seen, playing an Irish misfit/lowlife hoodlum (very good casting to type, I'd say). Colm Meaney also does a nice job; you can sense him having a laugh, really relishing making fun of the type he portrays.


11-13-05

This hand is sick. For background, StubomAnn is a real weird fishy player who will do odd things like auto-bet pot size with 55 when it's KT3 on the board. StubomAnn also seems to have no concept of bet sizes and pot odds, will fold to really tiny bets, things like that.

Seat 1: hero_2_zero (1755)
Seat 2: chukb (1795)
Seat 4: jalanh4680 (1065)
Seat 5: StubomAnn (1815)
Seat 6: dsmith3622 (2475)
Seat 7: annieduke99 (2895)
Seat 8: Danielcerda (2825)
Seat 9: srains (1005)
Seat 10: uncletaka (2060)
StubomAnn  posts small blind (25)
dsmith3622  posts big blind (50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Qs, Kh ] 
annieduke99 folds.
Danielcerda folds.
srains folds.
uncletaka folds.
hero_2_zero folds.
chukb raises (150) to 150
jalanh4680 calls (150)
StubomAnn calls (125)
dsmith3622 folds.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ Qh, 7s, 2d ] 
StubomAnn bets (1665)
StubomAnn is all-In.
chukb calls (1645)
chukb is all-In.
jalanh4680 folds.
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 3c ] 
** Dealing River ** :  [ 3h ] 
Creating Main Pot with $3790 with chukb
Creating Side Pot 1 with $20 with StubomAnn
** Summary **
Main Pot: 3790 | Side Pot 1: 20
Board: [ Qh 7s 2d 3c 3h  ]
StubomAnn shows [ Qd Ah ]

It's such a weird play, it's so hard to say what to do here. I'm not sure if I made a good call or an absolute donkey play that only pays off better hands (two pairs and such). There's absolutely no draws for her to defend against, but I guess it worked. This seems to be a major leak in my game, I'm paying off better hands when they ridiculously overbet.

I'm on a terrible losing streak in the last few days. I've lost about half the big winnings I made in the last week. It's hard for me to tell how much of it is bad play and how much is just variance and bad cards. Certainly any time I lose a big pot or go out of a tournament, it's usually a "bad beat" because I'm usually in with the best of it, but that's just because I play tighter than the average on party poker (the above hand is an exception, of course).


11-13-05

Loose limps sink chips.


11-13-05

How in the world do ziplocs keep food fresh? There's tons of air inside your typical ziploc, so it's not just contact to air, it would seem, and yet they do indeed work. Maybe they keep out the unfreshness fairies that visit in the night.


11-12-05 [poker]

Oh my god, the fucking donkeys are killing me. I put a short-stack guy allin with 87s and he called with A2 and starts talking about how dumb I am (this is when the blinds were huge, but he was nowhere near pot committed). People who don't understand tournament equity, gap theory, risking your tournament life, etc. It's such a fucking minefield, you have to dodge smart crafty players, and then people who just have no idea. This is even in the $30 tournaments, which I thought would be better but don't seem to be much different.


11-12-05 [poker]

There's a lot of stupid poker tricks that are actually very effective. Anything that distracts your opponent from the play is good for you. In live games that can just mean dressing funny, talking strangely, being annoying. Personally I don't like needling very much, because it tends to make your opponents come after you, play more wild hands with you, which is ok, but it's not really what I want, I'd rather have them be afraid of me and fold too much.

Some simple things you can do online : 1) Bet weird amounts. If you were going to bet 100, instead bet 107. This is really dumb, but it makes your opponent think about something other than the hand. 2) Chat weird nonsense during the hand. You need to do this consistently and randomly in order for it to not give away information. 3) Have a distracting name, like "loosecaller". Whether or not you are a loose caller, it will distract your opponents.


11-12-05 [poker]

Arg. I just made another one of the donkey mistakes that I thought I'd cleansed from my game. The mistake in this case is semi-bluffing on a good draw when there's little chance of the opponent folding. A lot of people flop a nut flush draw and immediately think "semi-bluff". That of course, is wrong. Semi-bluffing is only a good move if there's enough chance your opponent will fold. The first thing you should be thinking about is how to see cards cheaply, and also hopefully get paid if you do hit.

This hand is in a $20 tourney and there's a very dangerous mix of good players and complete donkeys. Everyone limps so people can be on almost any two cards (limpers in this game are very loose). I'm in the BB with A4s. I flop top pair with a good draw (11 outs against an overpair).

Seat 8 is the button
Total number of players : 10 
Seat 2: steerpike_x ( $585 )
Seat 3: alcher74 ( $530 )
Seat 4: Tempest61614 ( $2605 )
Seat 6: sdtaft348 ( $180 )
Seat 8: ruffster111 ( $1520 )
Seat 9: Silverdog ( $590 )
Seat 10: chukb ( $720 )
Seat 1: TIMETRAIN ( $1605 )
Seat 7: outformoney ( $2440 )
Seat 5: zurk11 ( $1715 )
Trny:17350698 Level:3
Blinds (15/30)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  As 4s ]
TIMETRAIN folds.
steerpike_x folds.
alcher74 calls [30].
Tempest61614 folds.
zurk11 folds.
sdtaft348 folds.
outformoney calls [30].
ruffster111 calls [30].
Silverdog calls [15].
chukb checks.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 2d, 4c, 3s ]
Silverdog checks.
chukb checks.
alcher74 checks.
outformoney bets [300].
ruffster111 folds.
Silverdog folds.
chukb is all-In  [690]
alcher74 folds.
outformoney calls [390].
** Dealing Turn ** [ Ts ]
** Dealing River ** [ Qh ]
outformoney shows [ Kc, Ks ] a pair of kings.
chukb shows [ As, 4s ] a pair of fours.

There are several problems with this semi-bluff. One, I don't have enough chips to make them fold a better hand, so any kind of bluff is inappropriate. Two, the pot before the action is not that big, so it's not worth fighting over. Three, by the betting I can be pretty sure "outformoney" is on an overpair. I can't imagine that a moron would limp KK like that, that's a terrible play, but I could certainly imagine a medium/low pair. There's no way an overpair will fold here, so basically I'm running all my chips at 35% odds on a pot that's not offering that.

Perhaps the best play would have been to lead out with a probe bet on this flop, then when "outformoney" come over the top, I can either fold or call if the pot is then giving me enough odds. The pot after the flop was 150, so if I bet 90, it would be 330 and 600 more to call, so again clearly not the right odds and an easy fold.

Now, outformoney was a bit of a bluffer, so there was some chance that she just had two overs, but I don't think it was enough.


11-12-05 [poker]

This article at 2+2 by Nate "donkey" Meyvis is a great example of justifying horrific plays with after-the-fact rationalization. In reality what happens here is the UTG guy makes a really really bad donkey play, which pays off Nate for making his slightly less bad donkey play.


11-12-05 [poker]

Today I'm playing like a fish, paying off all the big hands I keep running into. You know when the board comes with that 3rd suit card on the river and you think to yourself "oh well, if you hit your fucking flush, you win", well, he did hit his fucking flush, and yes, he does win.

This hand is early in a two-table tourney and my lower house pays off the higher house.

Blinds (10/15)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [  6c 8c ]
ejf1969 folds.
pktrkts75 folds.
SportsHec8 folds.
jecttu calls [15].
alban71 calls [15].
BriLariche folds.
krhegg calls [15].
J_P_King folds.
chukb calls [5].
tonygaw checks.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 9s, 9h, 8d ]
chukb bets [55].
tonygaw calls [55].
jecttu folds.
alban71 calls [55].
krhegg folds.
** Dealing Turn ** [ 8h ]
chukb checks.
tonygaw checks.
alban71 bets [95].
chukb calls [95].
tonygaw calls [95].
** Dealing River ** [ Jc ]
chukb checks.
tonygaw is all-In  [990]
alban71 folds.
chukb: wow
chukb: you do know houses beat straights right?
Your time bank will be activated in 5 secs. If you do not want it to be used, please act now.
chukb will be using his time bank for this hand.
chukb is all-In  [895]
chukb shows [ 6c, 8c ] a full house, Eights full of nines.
tonygaw shows [ Kc, 9d ] a full house, Nines full of eights.

The thing that fucks me up is the way he moves allin on the river. He's played it slow the whole way, as he should, but that could also have been TJ or some nonsense like that. Then he's allin on the river, a massive overbet. He doesn't try to milk it at all, so I think there's a reasonable chance he's bluffing. There are only 2 nines in the deck, so it's much more likely he has any other hand. On the other hand, he can't really have any other hand - I have to fold here. It's just too much to risk for not a very big pot.

When people overbet a pot, it may be a mistake, it may look fishy, but the only proper response is to fold unless you have a really big hand. You may lose some pots that you could have won, but you stay alive and get a chance to double up later when you actually do have it.

I've been playing so well the last 10 days or so, today I've taken a big step back. I'm back to making mistakes where I'm thinking in my head "don't make this donkey mistake", and then I do that exact thing.


11-12-05 [poker]

Here's another old hand. This is sort of interesting, because it's about how the odds are affected by hands people might have.

***** Hand History for Game 3002739247 *****
30/60 Tourney Texas Hold'em Game Table (NL) (Tournament 17240452)  - Tue Nov 08 13:28:19 EST 2005
Table 2 - Table(509831) Table 2 (Real Money) -- Seat 6 is the button
Total number of players : 6
Seat 1: timm_ (1800)
Seat 2: nolgrtrkr (635)
Seat 3: so_standard (855)
Seat 6: chukb (1235)
Seat 8: SADHP (2145)
Seat 9: r821546 (3330)
SADHP  posts small blind (15)
r821546  posts big blind (30)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ac, Kc ] 
timm_ folds.
nolgrtrkr raises (125) to 125
so_standard calls (125)
chukb raises (1000) to 1000
SADHP folds.
r821546 folds.
nolgrtrkr calls (510)
nolgrtrkr is all-In.
so_standard folds.
Creating Main Pot with $1440 with nolgrtrkr
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 5h, 3s, 3c ] 
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 3d ] 
** Dealing River ** :  [ 8d ] 
** Summary **
Main Pot: 1440 | Side Pot 1: 365
Board: [ 5h 3s 3c 3d 8d  ]
nolgrtrkr balance 1440, bet 635, collected 1440, net +805 [ Qh Qc ] [ a full house, Threes full of queens -- Qh,Qc,3s,3c,3d ]
chukb balance 600, bet 1000, collected 365, lost -635 [ Ac Kc ] [ three of a kind, threes -- Ac,Kc,3s,3c,3d ]

We have a guy early who comes in for a 4x raise. That's surely a pair or a good ace. The next guy just calls. Again surely a pair or good ace, possibly KQ or QJ. I look down and find AKs. In the game, I push in here, because this was just a day after I folded AKs like a moron so I'm damn well not folding AKs. However, I think I made a big mistake here. I think probably the best play here is just calling. Usually I hate just calling with AK, but here I think it's right. If they both have pairs - that's good for me. If one has a pair and one has an ace, the pair is a big favorite, especially if the guy with the ace folds. Instead of having a 45% shot to win, I only have a 33% shot. If I just call, I can see the flop and if there's an Ace or King, I'm in good shape, if not I can get out.


11-12-05 [poker]

Most of the hands that I save as "troubling" are in fact pretty obvious when I go back and look at them again. Here's a typical example -

20/40 Tourney Texas Hold'em Game Table (NL) (Tournament 17294387)  - Thu Nov 10 12:45:54 EST 2005
Table Multi-Table(509675) Table 38 (Real Money) -- Seat 1 is the button
Total number of players : 9
Seat 1: steeler535 (900)
Seat 2: schwatzz7 (2050)
Seat 3: cliffnotes14 (990)
Seat 4: decatur247 (420)
Seat 5: chukb (785)
Seat 6: RMangham (2685)
Seat 7: ukfan20 (1315)
Seat 9: Bgworm68222 (345)
Seat 10: Benini747 (1975)
schwatzz7  posts small blind (10)
cliffnotes14  posts big blind (20)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Jd, Ac ] 
decatur247 folds.
chukb raises (50) to 50
RMangham calls (50)
ukfan20 folds.
Bgworm68222 raises (345) to 345
Bgworm68222 is all-In.
Benini747 folds.
steeler535 calls (345)
schwatzz7 folds.
cliffnotes14 folds.
chukb folds.
RMangham folds.
Creating Main Pot with $820 with Bgworm68222
Board: [ 9h 4s 9c 3s 5h  ]
steeler535 balance 555, lost 345 [ Ks Qs ] [ a pair of nines -- Ks,Qs,9h,9c,5h ]
Bgworm68222 balance 820, bet 345, collected 820, net +475 [ Ah 7h ] [ a pair of nines with ace kicker -- Ah,9h,9c,7h,5hAh(kicker card) ]

This is very early in a multi-table tourney, the blinds are still tiny. "steeler525" has just been moved to the table so I don't have a good read on him. "Bgworm68222" is a fish - if it was just him, I'd have called. I make a standard open raise with AJ, one short stack comes ott allin, and a moderate stack cold calls him. That sets off alarms in my head, he must have a big hand, so I fold. Turns out I had the best hand and would have taken a nice pot. At the time I started going "gosh, should I have called?". No, of course not, just because calling was the right move here doesn't mean calling here is good in general. In this situation I have to assume "steeler525" at least has a higher ace or a pocket pair like TT or better, so I'd be racing with bad odds.


11-12-05 [poker]

Recently I've run into a lot of people late in tournaments who call my all-ins with too many hands. I've had QQ called by A8, 77 called by A4, A2 called by K9, and AT called by 97 (all losing of course - by definition, since they're the hands I go out on!). Now, the hands they call with might be okay move-in hands, but are not ok call hands because they're risking a lot of their tournament life (I'm actually short stack in these cases, but never was my stack so trivial that they could call without risking half or more than half of their stack). There's a nice article by Tysen Streib in the latest Two + Two online magazine about this. Basically what happens when they call too much is that BOTH of us badly lose EV, and the people who gain EV are everyone else who's not in the hand, since it greatly increases the chance of one of us going out, hence everyone else placing higher in the money. By calling here, they certainly hurt my EV, but they also hurt their own EV.

The fact that people are playing this way, especially near the end when the blinds are big, seems to put the lie to the gap concept and Harrington's end-game strategy. That all works when everyone is playing sensible and tight, but not when they're calling with these types of hands. The result is I have to tighten up and play more of a double-up game rather than blind-stealing. Which sucks for me too.


11-11-05 [poker]

Just got out of another tournament. 540 players, I made 42nd for a tiny bit of cash. All the cash is in the top ten, so I barely tripled my buyin for three hours of work. I was near the big stack with 60 to go, and then took a series of bad beats. I was getting exactly the situations I wanted - allins against the very short stacks where I was a good favorite, usually around 60/40. I took a beat with AT against 97, and suddenly I was an average stack and had to scrap, and blew out with another rough beat (A3 beat by K9). God damn, I'm doing so well in these things and can get deep almost every time, but then I can't make a high place, I keep getting the wrong luck at the very end.

This is the only hand in the tournament I think I made a mistake on. This is just after I've been crippled down to an average stack, the blinds are very big. The big stack "goblue2524" has just been moved to this table so I don't know much about him, but I think he's open raising with a wide range of hands. I make the call in the BB here reluctantly - I have a nice hand to see a flop, and it's good odds to call, but it's a tenth of my stack to call.

***** Hand History for Game 3020638716 *****
1000/2000 Tourney Texas Hold'em Game Table (NL) (Tournament 17325343)  - Fri Nov 11 18:08:10 EST 2005
Table Multi-Table(509870) Table 2 (Real Money) -- Seat 7 is the button
Total number of players : 9
Seat 1: goblue2524 (26072)
Seat 2: burlysmurf (4094)
Seat 4: NOLUK222 (6850)
Seat 5: C_Land (8876)
Seat 6: aaaabbbb573 (7955)
Seat 7: counterspy5 (4225)
Seat 8: zzramsay (6539)
Seat 9: chukb (10871)
Seat 10: Lucky1314 (13173)
zzramsay  posts small blind (500)
chukb  posts big blind (1000)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 5d, 4d ] 
Lucky1314 folds.
goblue2524 raises (2000) to 2000
burlysmurf folds.
NOLUK222 folds.
C_Land folds.
aaaabbbb573 folds.
counterspy5 folds.
zzramsay folds.
chukb calls (1000)
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 9s, 8h, 9d ] 
chukb checks.
goblue2524 bets (2000)
chukb folds.

The mistake I think is that I should have led out all-in on the flop. Another option would be to just fold it preflop, which is the safe simple option. He almost surely has two overs and probably won't call. In any case, I think this is a relatively small mistake. Calling preflop and folding (as I did) is one of the only options that should be ruled out.


11-11-05

So, we were talking about ridiculous boob jobs and one thing led to another and I found this hillarious page - Super Pam . It's very bizzare to me that anyone even considers Pam Andersen in the least bit attractive. Before her boob jobs she was somewhat attractive, but not very, her face was very plain and a bit on the dog side, her body was good but not better than thousands of other models that are much hotter. Since then she's just been revolting, and her face has only gotten worse.


11-10-05

Old movies almost always disappoint me. Maybe they were groundbreaking at the time, but now they have a host of problems. Aside from technical issues, film-makers today are far more versed in a wide range of cinematic techniques. Acting is also much more realistic now, actors are used to film cameras and not theater stages. Today I was disappointed by "Ikiru" (Kurosawa). I know Kurosawa's supposed to be this genius, but I find all of his films unwatchable. I'm happy to let Tarantino watch them and adapt them in much more enjoyable modern versions.


11-10-05 [poker]

I think I'm going to finally buy some poker chips, mainly just to be able to riffle while I play online. These are insanely cheap . I think they're the standard uber-cheap chips that have been around a while, and they don't have the best feel. I don't know quite what distinguishes the nicer chips. Weight seems to be a red herring. It's sort of like the twenty-blade razor, everyone's making heavier poker chips to give the illusion of "quality", but real casino chips are only like 10g or something, so the common composite 11.5g is already heavier than that. Real chips cost like $1 each, which is rather much. You may as well just go to a casino and get a bunch of real $1 chips and walk out with them, since you can always go back and redeem them for cash, it's a free rental. There are things like this - 13gm pro clay which maybe are better?


11-10-05 [poker]

In terms of juice/vig, satellites in general are a bad investment. For example, a one-table 10-player satellite might charge $11+1 , and the winner gets a seat in a $100+10 tournament. So, to get a $100 valued seat, $120 was paid to the house instead of the usual $110. So, satellites are great for the house, but if you're a good player, that may not matter to you, since any time you play you make money. By playing the satellite, the house takes an extra 5% juice, but your return by playing is perhaps 50%, so you're making 45% instead of 50%.

"Steps" tournaments are even worse than satellites, because each step of the way they take juice. This waters down the prize money dramatically. For example, Step 1 might be a 20 player event at $11+1, and the top 4 places provide entry to step two, which is $50+5, so $240 has become $200 in prizes, and what's worse that's watered down again and again at each level. In a 5-step event, that original $240 becomes just $150 in prize money - near 50% juice which is pretty horrific.

This is actually one of the advantages of playing big multi-tables over a series of smaller tournaments. For example, if you play a "shootout" tournament, you put in $10+1 to play a series of single-table eliminations. At each step, there's no more vig taken, it was all in that $1. Compare to if you just play a normal $10+1, then if you place you take part of the prize and play another $10+1, etc. - at each step more juice is taken. You can think of a regular large multi-table the same way. As you advance it's sort of like getting into a higher-buyin event, but you aren't paying more juice, which you would if you just played a series of smaller events.


11-9-05

This Khronos projector nonsense sounds cool at first, but is actually trivial and nonsense. You can imagine some cool effects for music videos though. For example, a stationary camera pointed at a city street for a while, then think of the video stream as a 3d block of images, now each part of your target screen can be taken by passing a fluctuating manifold through that 3d block; this creates sort of cool spatially isolated temporal fades.

I love these eye trick things


11-9-05

So, apparently, if I write a book, and someone writes a 3rd grade book report and posts it to slashdot, that equals instant moolah. I haven't actually even seen the book, it may be great or not, but this review is really hilarious.


11-9-05 [poker]

I played a freeroll today with 503 entrants. I made 25th place. Not bad, but only the 16 top places paid. The hand I went out on, I had about 1/3 average chips, an M only about 6, so I was in trouble, but maybe, just maybe, could have folded to the money. I went out with 77, I was in the BB, and there was a min raise in the cutoff (looks like a steal), I moved in with the 77 and he called with A4. That's a terrible call, and no I'm 70% to win. The question is, is that a good move? I have to look at -

Chance of placing if I fold with an M of 6
vs.
0.7 * Chance of placing if I win and now have an M of 13

But that's very hard to estimate. I don't have a good feel for my chances of folding to the money in this situation - if my chance of folding into the money was 100%, then taking that 70% shot was a mistake. In fact, my chance of placing with an M of 6 has to be 70% or less for it to be an ok move. I have a feeling that in online play, the chance of folding into the money is pretty high, since even the big stacks seem to blow themselves out on marginal hands.

I was trying to just play very tight at that point. I have no experience in just trying to place - I'm always playing for 1st, and I don't have a good feel for how to creep into placing. Obviously folding is good, but you may have to play some hands, and what exactly are they is hard to say.


11-9-05 [poker]

You're short stacked and considering moving in utg with a pretty weak hand. If you move in, you'll almost certainly be called by someone who is about a 60/40 favorite over you (sometimes better, sometimes worse). If you fold, you'll be blinded off and get to see another round. We'll assume you find something decent to move in with then and you do push and again get called, this time you're a 60/40 favorite (rather optimistic actually). We'll work in units where the BB + SB is "1" value, so your stack is M.

move in now with M at 40% -
	in pot is 2M+1 - assume blind isn't caller, your EV is .4*(2M+1) = .8M + .4
move in after with (M-1) at 60% -
	most likely caller is big-blind
	in pot is 2*(M-1) + 0.5 = 2M - 1.5, your EV is .6*(2M - 1.5) = 1.2M - .9
when are these equal?
	.8M + .4 = 1.2M - .9
	1.3 = 0.4M
	M = 3.25

So if your M is better than 3.25 you're better off waiting for something better. If it's 3.25 or less you need to move utg with almost any two cards. This is very rough, there are a lot of other possibilities, eg. everyone might fold, you might get called multiple times, etc. but it's a pretty good rough answer. Of course with an M of 3.25 you should have already moved in earlier in the round if possible.


11-9-05

I like to think that if I walked past someone being assaulted, I would help out, I wouldn't just stand there and watch it like most people do. Recently, I've proved that not to be the case.

Back in May when I was in New York, it started with a sort of unrelated experience. I was staying with my sister in the Bowery, the little slum between Nolita and the East Village, right next to vagrant hostels and housing projects. I would walk around alone late at night because I'd have to move my fucking car in New York's ridiculous parking scheme. One time I walked past what I think was a drug deal. As I walked up on the sidewalk, there were two black guys talking, and two other guys standing to either side of them on the sidewalk. The closest one to me said "Just keep walking, keep walking", so I did; the two in the middle stopped talking and watched me pass, and as I passed the other guard he said "keep walking" too.

Recently, the weekend before Halloween when we went to Santa Barbara, we walked past some sort of gang violence. Walking out of downtown to our car, through a very nice neighborhood, around 2 AM with lots of other revelers stumbling out of the bars, we walked along a sidewalk through a group of perhaps ten Mexican boys. They looked about 16-20 years old, some on bicycles, again with lookouts or guards posted further away from the group. As we walked up they all became silent and we walked through the group. I would have avoided them but we were kind of drunk and it was very dark so I didn't really see them until we were suddenly in the group. It was then I noticed one of them was lying on the ground near the gutter with blood on his face, with another big guy who looked like the leader standing over him. We sort of noticed what was happening and just kept walking on through.

Now, jumping in here would have been incredibly foolish, there were 10 of them, I was with a girl, and I was drunk, so I would have been hurt badly. What I should have done was note the location and immediately call the cops, not that they would actually arrive soon enough to do anything, but at least it's an attempt.


11-8-05

Most of the times that I type "lol" there was no actual out-loud laughing.

Thwart Poker is fun for about two seconds. (it's a computer game only vaguely related to poker; strategically it's a broken game, and it suffers from that classic Risk-style problem that someone's gotta block, but everyone wants it to be someone else).


11-8-05 [poker]

Really rotten luck in the past two days. Today I got a funny hand - AA on the very first hand of the tournament. I got all-in on the first hand against two other guys, one with KK, one with QQ. Of course, I lost. More generally I've been having problems racing against loose/wild players. Generally my goal in tournaments is to build a stack by betting without showing down, and then to only get in races with people on much smaller stacks. The problem I've been having is that at every table there's been at least one very loose, wild, aggressive player. With that guy at the table, he becomes the captain and my game has to become a trapping game. The nasty thing is he'll very often get a big stack from his wild play, so he can take me out, and I can't push him off pots, so I have to show down with him. I don't get AA often enough, so I wind up showing down JJ with him, and he'll call with cards like A8, which is ass, but scary and I have a good chance of going out right there. It's even worse of course when I'm not actually ahead, since even loose wild players get great cards sometimes.

BTW anyone who says they'll fold AA is a moron. Even folding KK online is pretty insane. The guy who called with QQ here, however, was clearly wrong. The other two of us provided ample evidence that we had monster hands with a series of raises, and he was the last to call allin.

Well I finally got a run of cards and took a 1st place at a two-table. It's funny, I can play the exact same way in two tourneys; one I don't get cards and I feel like a moron and start questioning myself, the other I get cards and feel like a genius. It's sort of like biking with the wind - you bike with the wind at your back and you feel like a speedy fit god, you bike with the wind at your face and you feel so slow and out of shape.

Ugh. I just made it really deep (140th) into a 1000 player tournament. I had a nice big stack, and this horrible donkey moved in on the flop against me. The flop was all low cards (ten high). I called with QQ, he shows KJ ! No pair, no draw! Of course you know the answer. Hours of work and a solid chance to make a good place and instead I'm out on my ass. Oh well, try again tomorrow. Do these guys even know how to spell poker? Moving in with KJ preflop is pretty bad, but moving on the flop with no pair, no draw, etc. is just unbelievable. This was also a guy that I had pegged for moving lots of chips with bad hands, so I knew I was ahead. On the plus side, I felt like I was playing really well, and had corrected some recent mistakes. I was playing well against the wild/loose players and the big bluffers, so much so that they were getting angry at me for stymying them.


11-7-05 [poker]

The Superstars semifinals was indeed very interesting. Mortensen and Nguyen both played so badly I can't even comment on them. Scotty played his usual game, trying to be way too tricky, always trying to trap, he doesn't push when he's ahead and he lets his opponents catch up, and then he pushes weak hands in big bluffs. In fact, Scotty seems to bet exactly the opposite of how you should - he bets (bluffs) his weak hands and checks (traps) his good hands. That might work against morons, but not against solid players. You might say heads up is very random, blah blah blah, but the blinds here were quite small, 10k/20k with stacks of 1 million - that's an M of 33, quite enough to make normal size raises and lay down hands that aren't that strong (like A8, Carlos).

Watching Johny Chan play heads up was the highlight of the show. Johny plays a very straightforward game, just like me. I think he makes a few mistakes, but they're small mistakes, just when he decides to get a little tricky and limps some big hands. Other than that he just plays very straight up and makes good decisions. Actually I think Johny's last decision calling all-in with the QT was a mistake. He correctly knows Scotty isn't on a very good hand, but that doesn't make QT good enough to call with. Based on the chip stacks, I think you need like A8 or KJ or better to call there. Even more importantly, he was dominating Scotty in play, so there's no need to take a big gamble there (note that it would be different if he was the aggressor - I have no problem being the aggressor with QT).


11-7-05 [poker]

I have a really bad tendency against loose/aggressive/wild players, I tend to loosen up too, playing hands like KJ trying to catch them, since indeed KJ will be good against them often. That's a big mistake. The proper play is to stay correctly tight and just play back more aggressively. So, in a normal situation where you might call with AJ, instead you push a big reraise against them.

People wax poetic about the long rounds at the World Series, but the truth is that you probably play almost as many hands in 15 minutes online as you play in 2 hours at the world series. The big difference is in the stamina and patience needed to sit and fold so much in a slow live event like that. (also the starting blinds to chip stacks are very different)

I think they can stop explaining the rules of poker in every poker broadcast now. They don't explain basketball at every NBA broadcast. And did those little crap explanations ever help anyone anyway?

The "royalvegas.tv" championship looks promising. TiVo it. I can't believe some of the ridicously bad plays some of the pros make. When you have two pair on the turn and the board is double suited, you RAISE!!

Maybe I should do my own commentary for poker broadcasts and put the modified video online.


11-7-05 [poker]

Playing satellites seems rather pointless to me. They generally just pay even value; for example a satellite to the $10k world series might provide one seat for every 100 entrants and cost $100. So, you may as well just play cash tournaments and buy into the main event with cash. The advantage of playing cash is you can do what you want with the winnings, you don't have to use it to get into another tournament, which is just inherently better because of the flexibility. Satellites do tend to have a much steeper payout than ordinary cash tournaments - the top few places get a huge payout and everyone else gets nothing. I suppose this is desirable if you think you're one of the top few players in the field.


11-6-05 [poker]

M around 10 is the hardest region to play. Your stack is big enough that you're not desparate, so just moving in when it folds to you is a mistake, but on the other hand your stack is small enough that you don't really want to get in a pot unless you're good enough to get all-in, it's a bad move to limp and try to see flops because you're giving up too much if you fold. You wind up playing a lot of hands like AT, where you open raise, miss the flop, and suddenly you're in a big pot for a lot of your stack and you have a pretty shitty hand.

Another big tournament, I took 35th. Worse place than yesterday, but I feel happier, because I just played well and got a bad run of cards at the end, got short-stacked and lost my race. After the game yesterday I felt like my brain had been scrambled; thinking so hard for so long and then melting down at the end; I got a headache and felt dazed and depressed.


11-5-05 [poker]

Fucking hell. I just got 8th place in a big tournament (1530 entrants), but I fucked up so bad again. I was playing really great up until it got to the final 9. I had roughly an average stack at that point, and each step up in the places provides a real big jump in the money. I proceded to play like a fucking moron, just making one bad play after another. I guess my brain was just tired from playing well for the last 7 hours. All the plays, right after I did them I went, "what the fuck did I just do?". What's worse is lots of the people on the final table were donkeys and I could have easily moved up and made a run at 1st place.

The first rotten play I made was calling with A7s. It folded to me in the BB and the SB moved all in. The blinds are big, so I need to call here pretty liberally, roughly the BB was 40k and I had about 400k in chips, the other guy had about the same stack as me. Calling with A7 is a major donkey move here. AT is probably the lowest thing to call with, but really given that there were other short stacks and bad players I should have only called with AJ.

After that I was short stacked and struggling the whole time. The next donkey play I made was folding AKs. In this case I was the 2nd short stack, blinds of 80k and my stack only 200k. The other shorter stack was about to be in the blind, so I was hoping he'd get knocked out. Someone before me moved allin, and I fold the AKs. Again, that's such a ridiculous donkey play. The chance that the other short stack will go out on the next hand is not good enough reason to give up so much value. I might have been racing for my tournament life, or I might have been a huge favorite to double up and get back in it. Unbelievable!

The final donkey move I made was moving in with 33. I was on a really short stack now and in the SB. One limper and it's my turn, I move in with the 33, limper calls with AK and knocks me out. With 33 I'm at best racing. Better to fold the SB and hope someone goes out before I pay my BB.

On the plus side, other people at the final table made much much worse plays, and I played much better the whole day before that point. God damn; last time I made a big final table I did the same thing, pushing the wrong hands and folding the wrong hands. I just get fatigued and my brain starts fucking up.

I sort of think of making the final table as getting a free-roll into a $1000 single table. Suddenly the game starts over in this high-blinds single table match. The vast majority of the money in the tournament goes to the final table. Just making it there is not really great, you want to place high in that last single table.


11-5-05

Living in California is great. We get automated calls from The Governator reminding us to vote on his crazy propositions to reform those fat-cats in the legislature!


11-5-05 [poker]

Any rebuys or addons you can do in a rebuy tournament are good buys. This is assuming you think you're better than the average player - if you don't think that you shouldn't be in at all. With that assumption, any chips you buy are worth more in EV than their cash value, eg. buying $10 of chips might be worth $15 in expected return.

Currently in PartyPoker there's a bug in the rebuy tournaments, where anytime you're allin in a pot you can rebuy because your stack shows zero, even though the chips are just in the middle. This lets you pump up your stack with more buys. These buys are absolutely +EV as noted above, though of course you shouldn't go allin just to do them, you should only do them when going allin would be a good move.

PartyPoker has another rotten bug in their tournaments. When players go out in the blinds, they use the wrong system - they keep the button moving as usual and set the small and big blind off the button. The correct system is to always move the big blind one step, and perhaps have no small blind or a dead button. The result is that lucky players get to skip their big blind if someone goes out just before them, which can be pretty crucial near the end of tournaments when the blinds are big.


11-5-05

"cynical" has become intentionally mis-used to mean "evil", as in "the cynicism of the Bush whitehouse is unprecedent", or "these guys [Republicans] are unbelievably cynical", etc.


11-5-05

"NOW" and "Frontline" used to be two of the best news shows on television, doing hard-hitting in depth investigations into hot topics, not just repeating the administration information, but doing real deep digging with multiple sources. They went off the air for a while thanks to the heavy hand of our fearless leader, but are now back. The new versions are candy, doing human-interest soft stories, into whether puppies or kittens are cuter.


11-5-05

The riots in the Paris suburbs should not be surprising. I've been to those areas, unintentionally, and they're quite scary. @@


11-5-05

I'm back on FireFox as it seems a nice way to make Danielle's web browsing safer on my machine. I don't run virus checkers because I've never found one that itsn't horrifically annoying. I never open unsafe apps or execute anything in emails, etc. so my machine is quite safe under my use, but I have had my machine torched in the past by well-meaning guests. Is all this FireFox speed tweak nonsense for real ?


11-4-05

T-Shirt to go in the "Kiss the Cock" clothing line : "Sluts Suck".


11-4-05

I've found the only real use for FireFox is browsing porn and warez sites.


11-3-05

James Squire Amber is awesome beer. Too bad TJ's doesn't carry it any more. In Hawaii we went to the Kona Brewery and sampled beers. If you've had Kona here, or anywhere from bottles, it's not the same beer, that stuff is made in Oregon and a Kona label is stuck on it. The beer at the real Kona brewery is unfiltered (they use the centrifuge method) and very fresh and delicious. They have some nasty shit (silly brewmasters always get too creative) like Lilikoi (passion fruit) beer, but if you just stick to the normal things like the Porter and the IPA, they have rich complex flavor.


11-3-05 [games]

Search google news for "Xbox 360" and you get a whole list of articles about "game X delayed for 2006, will not be available at launch". In the immortal words of Nelson Muntz - Ha ha! I suppose all of you crunching for Christmas must already be done now, either you made Christmas or it's too late now and you're doomed for the sales cess-pit of spring. What will be available is Tony Hawk's Crapfest #700 (American Wasteland), which will use the awesome power of the Xbox 360 by devoting an entire processor to sucking.

Seriously though, Kameo looks pretty cool, but it looks too kiddy-kiddy to sell in the modern era. Perfect Dark will probably sell a lot better, but can't you get a game exactly like that on the PS2 already?


11-3-05 [politics]

Come on people, I've written so many times about the US choice to go to war in Iraq, and yet you commentators keep going over it again and again and keep getting it wrong. Let's clarify a few points.

First of all, we have to agree that there are three seperate questions to address - 1) Have the results of the war in Iraq been beneficial to the world (or, 1B to the US). 2) Was the war justified at the time we chose to go to war. 3) Did the Bush administration make a valid, legal, case for war, and would the US have gone to war if only the truth were presented. Let's tackle them in reverse order.

#3 is the easiest to answer, and we can clearly say no. The case for war intentionally used false intelligence and conflated Saddam with Osama and Iraq with 9/11. Now, for some reason a lot of revisionist historians, even on the left are trying to cover this up. This is not a point over which there is any uncertainty. Bush and Cheney themselves said things like "in the war on terror, you can't distinguish between Saddam and Osama", etc. and repeatedly suggested Saddam was helping Al Qaeda, which of course is nonsense. In terms of the WMD's, again many revisionists suggest there was no way to know whether or not Saddam had WMD's until we invaded. Again that's clearly nonsense. The inspectors had thoroughly checked the country. Yes, it was possible that Saddam had WMD's, but in fact we had no evidence of it whatsoever, and of course many countries around the world DO have nuclear or other weapons which are probably more likely to be in the hands of terrorists (AQ Khan, anyone?). It seems extremely unlikely to me that there would have been support for the war without the dishonest conflation with 9/11 and the lies about WMD's.

#2 we can debate a bit. Let's pretend that the Bushies didn't say any of the nonsense about Al Qaeda or WMD's. Instead, the case for war was presented as - Saddam is a bad guy who rules his country with an iron fist, he *might* in the future try to make WMD's which might be used against the US (but much more likely they'd be used against Israel), he's done bad things to his people, and he's in a region which is unstable, where terrorism foments, and where our important oil comes from. The silly James Traub compares this to Hitler in 1938 - he hadn't yet done anything terrible, but a preemtive war was justified. First of all, let us eliminate all ridiculous analogies with Hitler, Stalin, Darth Vader and the Easter Bunny. So, was it reasonable to intervene? I think the answer is clearly no. The problem is that there was no specific bad act going on that called for intervention or invasion. Saddam was not wiping out his citizens (which he did several times before, and which we ignored because he was our friend at the time), he had not shut off the oil spigots, he was not agitating his neighbors. I think intervention in Serbia was called for. I think we should be in Sudan, we should have been in Rwanda, etc. but that's during horrific acts, not because of the potential for horrific acts. It's incredibly strange to me that so many people who were opposed to intervention in Serbia, where genocide was in progress, are now in favor of a "humanitarian" invasion of Iraq just because Saddam was a "bad guy". That can't possibly be honest, it must just be revisionist history given that their claimed case for war was nonsense. Now let's go back to this ridiculous analogy to Hitler. James Traub accuses the pacificist countries in Europe of basically standing by the way the world did when Hitler started his war. That's a broken analogy. Hitler did not start the Holocaust or his major war until well after he showed his hand by taking the Sudetenland. Furthermore, before war he was obviously amassing a major army - he was not merely suspected of perhaps having an army hidden somewhere. The case for war when Hitler started his activies was very clear, this is not a comparable situation at all.

#1 is the most difficult - now that we agree that case for war was illegal lies, and there was no valid justification in going to war, what can we say about the results of the actual war? Was the war beneficial anyway? This is harder to answer, and we may not know for some years to come. At the present, I would suggest that Iraq is not much better off than it was. Yes, Saddam was bad and he's gone, but no Iraqi citizens are terrorized by insurgents, they have to fear civil war, and basic human services have been worse than before. Roughly 100,000 Iraqis are dead, and they continue to die at a high rate because of insurgent attacks and also because of the woeful state of hospitals, etc. The war has created a terrorist breeding ground, a training round, and an unstable spot in an unstable region. It has solidified the opposition in Iran and Pakistan and has perhaps helped Al Qaeda's recruitment. Terrorist attacks are way up after the war. Despite all that, perhaps if Iraq does indeed become a stable democracy, the net result of the war will be positive.

However, the value of the war becomes clearly negative when you consider the opportunity cost. We've spent nearly our entire armed forces and a massive amount of money on this war, and the benefit is certainly small if not zero. In the same amount of time we could have used our military, money, and power to do something else which would have been clearly beneficial. For example, what if we put a ton of troops on the ground in Afghanistan and made a sweep through the lawless region of Waziristan in Pakistan to really round up the last of Al Qaeda's bases. What if we focused on peace in Kashmir and Israel? What if we put troops in Sudan to stop the genocide there? What if we put troops on all the ex-Soviet nuclear and biological weapons faccilities? Or the nuclear labs in Pakistan? Even if we didn't do anything military, and just used all the massive cost of the war for humanitarian programs around the world, we could have saved lives in Africa, what about spending on non-religious education centers in the Middle East? etc. etc.

There are other interesting questions that are even harder to answer. Why exactly did Rove and the Neocons want this war? Presumably they knew the truth and had their own reasons. Frank Rich suggests it was all just a Wag-the-Dog farce to keep the president popular. While I agree much of this administrations actions are designed for PR, I can't believe an entire war was waged on that basis, and certainly the Neocons have different motivations. Why do so many liberals continue to support the war? Were they really fooled by the ridiculous evidence at the time, or were they just scared of going against a steamroller of popular support? Why do people like Hitchens continue to suggest that it was a good war just based on the idea of removing a bad dictator, when such an argument is so unsupportable?


11-2-05

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is a really rotten movie; it's supposed to be one the classics of the 70's, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, directed by George Hill. In reality it's a classic of hillariously bad direction - about half of the movie is musical montage, with really silly 70s lounge music to boot. What few lines of dialog there are are often repeated, like "who are those guys?". There's absolutely zero character development of the marshalls hunting the heros, and not much development of the heros themselves. The story is so repetetive the director & editor seem to be bored (hence the montages).

What's the relationship between Robert Redford, the town of Sundance Utah, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Sundance Kid ?


11-2-05

Foolish people think that because poker has a large random factor, it's a silly game. In fact, games without randomness are the exception - chess is one, but the majority of games have a lot of randomness, even so-called games of skill like baseball and football have huge random components. That's why they play 500 baseball games in a season, because the result of any one at-bat is very random.

I want a 1st place in a big tournament. It's not at all about the money, I just want that moment, that feeling. It's as close as I'll ever come to the ecstasy of winning the super bowl or something like that. Today I played very well and lost five tournaments in a row. I've had a streak of taking a 1st place every day for the last 5 days, looks like that streak is over.


11-1-05

2000 US soldiers have died - that's nothing. 100,000 Iraqis have died, but no one cares !? I heard this terrifying sound bite on NPR the other day of a guardsman in Iraq basically saying "while I'm here I want to kill as many terrorists as possible; you can't tell who's a terrorist, so you have to target everyone".

The recent news on our WMD dumping is nothing new - the greatest danger to US citizens from WMD's has always been our own military. The only competition for poisoners of Americans are US corporations.


11-1-05

Poker Superstars is actually getting pretty interesting now that it's near the end. The semifinals and finals promise to be good, with heads up matches between some of the best players in the field. The total donkeys like Sklansky and Seed are gone and everyone left is pretty solid. I pick Todd Brunsen and Johny Chan for the final. The commentary is still moronic and the blinds get too big too fast, but heads up is still cool.

I'd love to play a heads-up tournament. I've never heard of such a thing online. They exist in the real world but they're pretty rare in the US, much more common in Europe. I think I'd be pretty good; you get to play every hand so it eliminates the flame-out boredom factor which kills me in typical big tourneys. Ooo, actually I just saw PokerStars does have heads up tournaments, I'll have to try one soon...


11-1-05

As gas prices begin to stifle the economy in the US and drive up inflation to almost 4%, the oil companies rake in record profits. Refineries were out of commision in the gulf of mexico region, oil shipping ports were closed, offshore platforms shut down, Iraq is still not at full production, China is buying more and more of the world's oil, Venezuela has reduced delivery to US oil companies, and yet their profits continue to grow. Something is amiss. Indeed crude oil prices are higher, but there's not such a shortage that above-market prices are reasonable. In fact, in a working smooth capitalist system, the prices should rise roughly inversely with the reduce supply, so that total profit is about the same. If one oil company raised prices above that amount, the others should be able to lower prices and get more customers.

Part of why this isn't happening is because of the service station franchise model. The stations are separate companies which receive franchises from the parent oil company. As part of the franchise deal they are not allowed to set their own prices. Part of the reason is that the parent company doesn't want competition between service stations in the same town - eg. the Shell in one part of town trying to undercut another Shell, which could lead to a price war which would cut gas prices down to the minimal profitable level. They also don't want price wars going on across intersections, say if the Chevron across the street sells gas at 2.99 , I could just set my Shell to 2.98 and get more customers, but then the Chevron would go to 2.97 and we'd get in a war and wind up at the lowest profitable price again. In fact, some stations might sell gas at no profit, or even at a loss, in order to make their profit in the convenience quicky marts.

This doesn't happen also because the franchises are required to buy their gas only from the one supplier. They can't look at different suppliers and choose the one with the cheapest gas, so there's no price competition. There's no motivation really for the major oil companies to compete on price, because the service stations won't switch to their gas if it's lower price - they're locked in to a certain supplier.

http://www.thememoryhole.org/corp/gas-prices.htm http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=28449 http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/energy/pr/?postId=5110


11-1-05

"Children of Heaven" is a trite, amateurish morality tale, which is only interesting because of the glimpses of ordinary life in Iran. Real poverty and deprivation is always humbling and surprising to me, it reminds me how trivial all my problems are.


10-31-05

I like eating candy on halloween, but these days I can't stand any of that corporate candy crap, not even the better stuff that I used to like such as snickers or kit-kat. So, I'm buying myself good chocolates, and of course my favorite candy - alcohol ! Happy Drunkard Gourmet's Halloween!


10-31-05

Made another 1st place at a two-table tourney. I've always thought these things weren't really profitable at the $20 and $30 level because it takes so long to play and your average return is pretty low. I thought you'd have to play $100 buy-in events to be profitable, which is a bit rich for my bankroll. If I keep making 1st place all the time, they are indeed profitable.

I keep doing well in the small tourneys, but pretty consistently wash out in the big ones. I just can't play well for 2+ hours, I get worn out and start making mistakes, getting impatient. I need something to help me - maybe just stop playing and rest for 5 minutes and let my chips get blinded away? If I could recover and really play well again, it would be worth it. Maybe go take a quick shower?


10-31-05

More playing with FireFox (finally). The tabs are nice and the popup blocking is nice. Other than that, it just seems horribly inferior to IE. Lots of pages don't format right or don't work. It does feel significantly slower, but I can't say for sure if that's true. I think part of that may be that FireFox seems to do less incremental layout, it seems to be waiting for more of the image data to load before it shows me anything, or something like that. IE certainly does this thing where the page loads & displays and then it fixes the formatting. FireFox seems to not do that, when the page displays, it's solid and the formatting doesn't change. That seems to tell me FireFox is waiting for the image headers to get image sizes and such.

OutFoxed seems to not actually provide anything useful.


10-30-05

Went to Santa Barbara last night to go out on the town in Halloween costume. Dan was a sexy cowgirl and I was her horse (or hung like one anyway). I'll try to put up some pictures, it was pretty fun. I like the James Joyce pub, they give free peanuts which are the superior drinking condiment, but the bartender was a real ass there last night.

Two more 1st places in two-table tourneys.


10-29-05

Dave sent me this link to out foxed - it's basically a rough implementation of my NoT idea, and it's fully working as a FireFox plugin. Of course it's very rough, it doesn't actually do the whole trust network thing, it just shares reviews of pages basically, but it's still a nice beginning. Of course the most important things in the NoT are network-aware searches, which outfoxed can't do, and network-aware markups of existing pages (eg. comments on a given hotel on Orbitz, not just comments on Orbitz as a whole).

I also noticed epinions has this web of trust thing which is very similar to the NoT. The big problem there is just that it's limited to stuff on epinions, and you have to manually decide who you trust and make a simple binary yes/no decision on trusting them. (a better system is for you to mark which reviews you trust and have that correlate to trusting the people who wrote those reviews, that way you can have partial trust and also context-sensitive trust; eg. trust person X only on subject Y, etc.)

Anyhoo, I've been trying out FireFox to try the OutFoxed plugin, and it seems all okay, but it's noticably slower than IE. Even clicking links within the same page is slow. Now maybe this is OutFoxed doing something stupid, but it seems pretty unacceptable/ridiculous.


10-29-05

It's cool that Tivo has created an SDK at Sourceforge , but they haven't unlocked any scheduling or recording features, so I can't replace their godawful GUI yet.


10-29-05

One thing that we depressed liberals can take heart in during this administration : the career beaurocrats in Washington are showing that they're good people still trying to do their jobs. In fact, almost all of the incompetence and corruption has been in high level people from outside the department who don't know what they're doing. In recent years, starting roughly around the time of Nixon, there has been a great distrust of "Washington Insiders" who are accused of perpetuating "business as usual". The result is that most cabinet secretaries and other high posts are appointed from the outside world, not from within the organization they are to be in charge of. This has reached its most insane pitch in the GWB administration, where these people are typically cronies or friends or donors, and often (like John Bolton and others) people who distrust or dislike the very organization they are appointed to chair. While these people have over and over again demonstrated their incompetence to head organizations they know little about (see, for example, Rummy and Wolfy), the people inside the beaurocracy have demonstrated their competence (for example, the generals at DoD, Richard Clarke, many inside Treasury & Justice). Most recently I've been very impressed with Mr. Fitzgerald, who has shown great restraint and impartiality and respect for the rule of law and the limits of his job.


10-29-05

"Lilya 4-Ever" is a very good, touching, realistic movie with fun surreal/dream bits. It's also extremely disturbing, with painful scenes of prostitution and rape. I think things like that should be clearly indicated in the movie synopsis so you know what you're getting into. Personally I appreciate seeing the horrible things in the world, but many people don't.


10-28-05

Ok, this is going to sound crazy, but bear with me. What if Osama bin Laden is a hero? Pretend for a second that we live in an alternative reality, sort of like 1984, where the United States is an evil super-power. The US controls the world media and power structures. We hate muslims and populism and we control it at home and abroad. We send Israelis the weapons and training to kill muslims in Palestine and in wars with neighbors; they regularly assasinate innocent people; we've also given the Israelis nuclear capabilities, and we support corrupt regimes in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq, etc. which oppress the freedom of the people there, regularly jailing and torturing dissidents. The evil US also controls the media, so that all of this is spun to make it look good, and the media control is so strong the its own citizens are semi-brainwashed into believing they are in the right (just like the fascism crazes of WW2 - patriotism is the greatest virtue!). What if you were a rich man in the Middle East who saw this injustice, this oppression, and realized there was nothing you could do about it other than violence. Is it not brave to take the greatest risk to try to change the world? Most of us who think the political system is so fucked up that we can't really do anything about it, we do nothing. Is it not a hero who tries to fight perceived injustice?

Now, I certainly don't believe that this alternative reality is the same as the real world, but I can see how it would be possible to believe it, and if you really did believe it, it could be possible to support that cause.


10-28-05

In recent weeks, the mafia-like intimidation into silence of this administration seems to have broken down. Lawrence B. Wilkerson (was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell) and Col. Janis Karpinski (was commander of prisons in Iraq) have both spoken out somewhat effectively. In the past when someone tried to raise the alarm, they were viciously personally attacked and smeared, partly to destroy their credibility, but mainly to distract from the main story and put media attention on the smear charges. This happened to Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke, Joe Wilson, Yee (the chaplain in Guantanamo), the generals who disagreed with Rummy - Shinseki and Zinni, etc. etc. Perhaps the recent walks these people are getting is because of Rove's distraction or overall administration distraction due to Katrina, and the supremes, etc. Hopefully the whistle blowing will continue and the truth will get out.


10-28-05

"A History of Violence" was really disappointing. It was actually pretty decent, but you have to go in just expecting a grizzly action movie. It was made out to be this intellectual movie about the effects of casual violence on families in America, etc. and it's certainly not that. It does wrap its violence in the veneer of social examination, but that's only the onion in the hamburger.

Have you noticed that all the semi-unknown stars of Lord of the Rings now have major movies? Hollywood is certainly a bunch of bandwagon-jumping morons. Fortunately these guys all seem to be legitimately pretty good. Even Gimli has an awesome movie , and he's going to be in the Dungeon Siege movie!


10-27-05

What's the real difference between John Roberts and Harriet Miers? Why did Roberts get a "walk" into his seat, with little questioning or protest from the Senate or the media, while Miers is being widely disparaged and ridiculed from all sides? I can't really see much difference in their qualifications. Both have very little background in constitutional law, and both have not revealed their opinions on anything, nor released the records from their most important jobs as lawyers for the executive. Perhaps Roberts is more intelligent, but that's a questionable value judgement in any case which is not a very reasonable way to pick a supreme court justice (real evidence of intelligence would be a valid decision criterion). Some feminists have suggested Miers is being discriminated against because she's a woman, but I think that's pure nonsense. In this case with Sandra Day O'Connor retiring, choosing a woman is almost required to fill a quota, so a female nominee is perhaps subject to less thorough examination than a male.

The real difference seems to me to be that Roberts is a good politician and Miers is not. That is, Roberts is handsome, well spoken, a family man with cute kids, he smiles, dresses well, looks good on camera. Miers on the other hand is a hideous old spinster who looks creepy when she smiles and professes an inexplicable strange love for the president. As usual, America is judging people on the most valid of criteria.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think Miers is a joke of a nominee, I just don't see how Roberts was any more deserving of his quick unchallenged pass into one of the most powerful positions in the country.


10-27-05

We wandered into two really rotten movies last week - "Domino" and "Elizabethtown". I don't usually go see movies without some idea of whether they'll be good or not, and I got punished. It sucks that if you're just spontaneous and trusting, 99% of the time you get shit.

"Domino" (Tony Scott) was by the far the worse of the two. It's done in this trying-to-be-modern-edgy-MTV style which is pure bollocks. It's all fluff and no content, with these stupid gimicks like replaying fragments of dialog which is just annoying and gives it all a plastic music video feel. The story is so ridiculous and Domino's character is so over the top, I was just grimacing in pain the whole time. They keep trying to force it to be exciting with shots of helicopters and quick cuts and jumpy cameras. The sad thing is that a good version of the real life of Domino Harvey could be really interesting. You could make this movie about a spoiled rich girl who gets into drugs and partying, doesn't get enough thrills there so gets into lots of odd jobs, she hates the proper world of her parents, and she's quite androgenous, not a really pretty sexpot, more a tomboy, as a bounty hunter, her boys have to bail her out of trouble often, and of course bounty hunting is not really glamorous, but she gets to steal drugs from the perps; in the end she can never get the thrills she needs and she commits suicide overdosing on drugs. The only saving grace of the whole movie are two really hillarious moments - the Jerry Springer bit and the nymphomaniac lecture. Both of those are just grafted-on comedy bits, but they add much needed value.

"Elizabethtown" (Cameron Crowe) is not so revoltingly bad, it's just sort of a mildly stinky turd, which has a few moments of light. Orlando Bloom actually does a pretty decent job, but his character is such an inactive pussy it's impossible to like him. There are lots of moments that are just ridiculous and unbelievable; Susan Sarandon is just horrendous, so over the top playing herself, her huge speech scene made me wretch. Kirsten Dunst was also okay, but her character is just so inconsistent and unreal she seems like a ghost, and the things she does are impossible. The road trip sequence is very short and insignficant in the movie; I love road trips, but this was just too stupid, that she's mapped it out so exactly and he can see all these things in such a short time.

Capitalism doesnt work when the product choices are so limited. Movies are so expensive to make and so few are made, that the desired movie is not usually available. It leads movie producers to make the wrong decisions too, because they'll see that A did well and B did not, so they'll make more movies like A. But what about all the movies that didn't get made - C,D,E, F,G,... maybe those would have done better. In particular, we're almost always restricted to choose between cheezy, predictable, stupid, over the top big Hollywood movies, or low-budget indie movies without stars or excitement. What about the smart, action-packed, realistic, uncondescending big-budget movies? We almost never get that choice, so any capitalist selection of movies made can't function.

Many of you know Rockstar is making the video game remake of the old movie "The Warriors" , but did you also know that Tony Scott is making a remake of the movie? That sounds like some very well timed synergy if they actually pull it off.


10-27-05

A new way to set speed limits : measure the average speed actually travelled on a road, and set the legal limit 10% higher. The speed limit here then just prevents outliers. Perhaps you could also set a minimum speed, at 25% lower than the average. The goal is to keep people's speeds reasonably close. The idea is that over time, the average speed will determine how fast is actually reasonable to go on this road. Of course there are various cases where this doesn't work (eg. near schools), but these sort of "democratic" laws based on actual behavior are very interesting to me.


10-27-05

We brought back some estate-grown fresh roasted Kona coffee; it was ridiculously expensive, about $30/lb compared to the $5/lb you pay for good coffee at Trader Joe's. It was hard to do a taste test while there, because they make the coffee so shittilly. In fact, I never had one good cup of coffee in Hawaii. Most people don't understand preparation is 90% of coffee's flavor, the beans are only a very small factor. Now back at home in a controlled prep environment I can really compare the beans. The Kona beans produce a rich nutty brew with almost no bitterness, which is very good.


10-27-05

Last Sunday the NYT had a ridiculous sophomoric article about how "darts could be the next poker". This partly included quotes from ESPN people who'd worked on poker and were clearly morons (as you can tell from the ESPN coverage). This is one of those cases where they got lucky and don't even understand why poker TV is so popular. It reminded me that I wrote this article a while ago, but decided it was so rotten I didn't want to publish it, anyhoo I'll link it here - The Texas Hold'em Craze .

Anyhoo, the real key factor to poker being so popular is that anyone can play poker and feel like they're close to the level of the pros. Of course they're not anywhere near that, and they probably never will be (just like they will never golf against Tiger Woods), but unlike any other major game, they can really believe it, even if it's just for a minute. It's a unique aspect of poker that in any given hand, an amateur can make a pro look really really bad, and that makes them feel great. Because of this, amateurs can win major tournaments, as they have in the last few years, and win big money, which makes everyone at home feel like they could do it, which is very exciting. There are plenty of other factors, probably the biggest being that it's a game where people just sit and chat, so there's lots of great made for TV dialog.

Now, I actually quite enjoy watching darts, because it has plenty of entertainment, but it's lacking several key aspects of poker. For one thing, the guys don't chit-chat very much. For another, not many people play darts recreationally. But crucially - an amateur can never ever beat a pro. Darts is much more a traditional game of skill, and guys like "The Power" are just unbelievable skilled "athletes". The great things about darts are the crazy Brittish announcers (Brit announcers are the best!!) and the drunk audience.


10-26-05

Dan and I have been playing a lot of gin lately. I now see gin as a lot like poker. Yes, there's a lot of randomness, but with correct play you can improve your chance of winning. Many of the decisions in gin are "no brainers", but in a typical match you encounter a few very difficult decisions (assuming that you find the basic decisions not difficult). I've never read about proper gin strategy, I'm sure it's an exactly solved game and you could learn to play perfectly, but I'm having fun trying to figure it out myself.

The most basic ideas are these : 1) you want to use your 10 cards in a 3-3-4 split if possible, because this is far more likely than any other way of using them up. 2) you want to at all times maximize your outs of improving. 3) for a set of 3 to become a set of 4, it's far better to have runs in sequence (2 outs) than sets of the same value (1 out).

The more general strategy is to maximize your outs (the number of cards that help you), and to try to maximize the benefit of each action. Picking up a random card has some average benefit to your hand (which partly depends on what you have in your hand and what's been discarded). Think of it this way - every 10-card hand we give some value based on how good it is (fully matched up is maximum value). Your goal is to take the biggest value step with each move. The value of picking from the deck is simply the average of the value delta over all the unknown cards. What you do is compare this to the value of picking up the face up card in the discard pile.

The cases where this become difficult are in marginal cases. For example, I'll never pick up from the face up pile just to make a 2-set. That is, if you have 7c and the discard pile shows 7s, there's no need to pick that, picking from the deck will have a better average value. But, what if the discard pile shows 7s and you have the 7c and also 8s. Now picking that card would give you a 778, which is one of those nice things to have because it has 4 outs to become a triple. That's a tough decision that I'm not sure about and is partly dependent on the situation.

Obviously you must be aware of trivial things like avoiding straights with the ace because you lose an out that way, you have to watch what your opponent is collecting and try to guess what cards they have. You need to avoid having cards that take each others outs. For example if you have a TTT and a JQK , you only have 2 outs to quad those trips, rather than the 3 outs you would have with 777JQK or something like that where they don't run into each other.

Another thing people often get wrong is to think about their trips and quads as being "locked up", and also to think that all "junk" cards are equal. Any set can be broken up if it makes sense. For example, I'll usually have things like the 778. Now when you get a 7, you have a 7778, and you think "that 8 is junk" and you should drop it. Not so. If you have some other card which is even less useful, you should drop it instead. The 8 is not very useful, but what if you get the 9? Now you have a 77789 and you might discard a 7, because the 789 is better than the 777 (more outs to quad up). Even then if you have some other card which is even more useless, you might just keep that 77789 going, because it gives you 2 outs to make two trips (the last 7 or a T). Another interesting situation occurs if you get something like the 8c when you have the 7s7c7d8d9d. If you could keep that 8 you would have 6 outs to make two trips, which is mighty nice.

On some poker show once I heard that Stu Ungar was considered by many the best gin player alive (in his day, when not too high or hung over). At the time I wasn't thinking about gin, so I thought "what the fuck, gin is just luck, how can you be the best? it's like being the best War player". Now I know different; in addition to strategy, you have the aspect of trying to disguise your hand with your discards, reading your opponent's hand, and also remembering every card in the discard pile so you know the dead outs.


10-26-05

In the end, the only really big advantage of real estate investing is that you can get these great loans (mortgages) which you can use to put into investments. This allows you to get an asset which is appreciating faster than the interest rate, and the difference is pure profit. What's more, the asset can be very large compared to the capital needed to get in. If you could take out a big loan and put it in the stock market you could do similarly well, assuming you could find an investment that's as good.

Specifically, imagine you get a $100,000 interest only loan at 7% interest. Your monthly payment is $525. Now say the real estate market is going up by 10% each year. In 5 years you sell and pay off the load and get $61,051 . You invested $525*60 = $31,500, so your profit was $29,551 . Assuming you had to put up maybe $10,000 to get in, that's a very big profit - 300% - even though the market was doing 10%, because you were so heavily leveraged.

What if you just put your $525 monthly investment into stocks that return 10%? After 5 years you would have $40,354.91 , for a profit of $8,854.91 - much less. If you invest that $10,000 capital you had to start too it would return $6,105.1 profit, for a total of $14960, about 150%, half as much as the house.

In the real world, a lot of the reason why real estate investing is so good is because it forces people to save a much bigger percent of their savings than they otherwise would. If you have a big mortgage, you pay it and live frugally. If you don't, you could put the same amount in stocks, but instead you buy fancy things.


10-26-05

In "MMA" (aka pankration or ultimate fighting), you get all this bull shit Jiu-Jitsu in "the guard" (that's the position where one guy is on his back, the other between his legs, the lower guy wraps his legs around and also holds the upper guy's head close, the upper guy's hips are below the lower guy's). Almost every fight spends a lot of time in the guard or similar position. Jiu-Jitsu guys love to be on the bottom here and make a lot of moves from this position. I say it's a bullshit position because in a real fight with no rules, this position would never exist for more than a second. You have clear shots to gouge eyes, crush testicles and crush wind pipes. This is why striking arts consider grappling to be a semi-bullshit art. There are good things about it and it's a good technique in a mixed arsenal, but in real life or death street fighting there are very few grappling moves that can or should ever be used. If you get close enough to grapple, you're close enough to apply fight-ending moves to the soft spots of your opponent.

In fact, Jiu Jitsu was developed by and for Samurai in Japan during the feudal wars there. It was primarily intended as a technique for subduing enemies that the Samurai didn't wish to kill or severly injure, such as an unarmed enemy (it would be dishonorable to use your sword against an unarmed enemy).

Muay Thai ("Thai Boxing") bouts are kind of weird. They wear full size boxing gloves, so the ordinary punches are not very nasty, but they can elbow and knee and kick with bare shins, all of which are much more vicious than punches even without gloves. (of course the big gloves are useful for blocking, which is what they do with them primarily, but it's still weird).


10-26-05

The statutory rape laws are ridiculous. It's illegal for a 19 year old to fuck a 17 year old, but not for a 30 year old and 18 year old. A better rule would be something that scales more smoothly. Something like : hooking up with anyone 2/3 your age or less is illegal. So a 30 year old needs to get with a 20 year old or older. This would also make it illegal for a 60 year old to be with a 40 year old, which you might protest saying that 40 year old can make their own decisions. Clearly not. Most 40 year olds are still out of their minds, and seeing those couples is just gross.


10-25-05

I want to be an Ultimate Fighter. I want to play Rugby. I want to base jump. That would be crazy, people tell me, you have so much to lose, why risk it. But what exactly do I have to lose? Intelligence or success or whatever I might have don't help you have a happy good life. I could do those things and be happy, and maybe be injured and maybe die, or I could live safely and get what exactly from all the shit I have?


10-25-05

I'm back in reality and sickened by it again already. Bill Kristol says G.W. Bush has been "a good president", and as an example he cites his "democratization" of the Middle East. I'm not even really going to get into the issue of whether or not the war in Iraq was a good idea or not, or how much (or little) GW can claim any success in the Middle East. Certainly that whole arena is full of dirty questionable actions and if it is a success it's a very marginal conditional hedged success which at this point could still easily turn into a massive failure, and in either case, the lead-up to war was so illegal and dishonest that it overshadows any success that resulted (not to mention the benefits lost from having so much money and manpower tied up in a red herring). Anyone with any sanity must agree that we are less safe than ever, terrorism is rampant around the world, and the US preparations (the Department of Homeland Security) is a facade and a shambles. So, what has this administration really accomplished? Well, it's passed massive pork and protection for its favorite industries - energy has received tax subsidies and contracts which haven't helped our energy problems at all, US lumber, coal, the gun industry, we've shut down worldwide programs against AIDs etc. in order to pander to the Christian right, we've severly cut taxes on the very rich (effectively raising taxes for the majority of Americans), and are building a huge budget and trade deficit, we've alienated most of the world, and I just can't go on. I can't think of anything you could possibly list as a great accomplishment to say this has been a successful presidency?

Who in the world thinks the Prescription Drug benefit was a good thing to do? Drugs are already plenty cheap under medicare and any decent insurance. If you truly can't afford to pay the already lost cost, there could be coverage for that under Medicaid, but the real problem with prescription drugs is the cost being charged to the insurance, the lack of incentive for doctors to use less and cheaper alternatives, and the lack of proportional cost to the user.


10-25-05

Well, I'm back from Hawaii, and my web site is down. Anyhoo, I put some photos on my yahoo photos site , as usual. This trip, to the big island, was one of my best vacations ever. It had it all - hiking, adventure, crazy sights, rainforests, markets, relaxing on the beach, drinking tropical drinks, eating great food. All my life I've been kind of a snob about going to Hawaii - it just seemed like a waste of a vacation to stay in the States, not exotic enough. I sort of looked down on people who loved Hawaii, I classified them with the people who went to Paris and ate at McDonalds. Now I'm a convert. It's exotic enough - the Big Island is anyway, I think the developed islands are too touristy and civilized for my vacation taste. The weather and the attitude there really do give it enough of a feel of being another land, and the conveniences of being in the good old USA really are nice (eg. reliable services, good roads & safe driving, etc.)

The most striking thing in the end about the Big Island is the incredible variety of landscapes. The rainfall goes from 140 inches a year around Hilo (the lush rainforest) to 10 inches a year around Kohala (a barren landscape of lava where the best sandy beaches are hidden). Literally if you're bored of where you are or don't like the weather, you can drive half an hour and been in a radically different climate.

We spent our first four days in Hilo, the very wet rainforest side of the Island, where we hiked and swam in waterfalls, explored, etc., then drove over to the Kona side for four days where we lay on the beach and snorkelled and did all that.

I've heard that the Big Island is much friendlier than other Hawaiian islands, that it still has the "Aloha" spirit. In fact there were a lot of friendly people (more so in Hilo than the Kona side, which is more touristy), but there were also a lot of pissy rude people in the service industry. That's fucking lame. If you're in the service industry, you should be thankful that the tourists are providing you sustenance. If you don't like it, quit your job and live in poverty. There are plenty of times when it's perfectly reasonable for the locals to hate tourists. When you're trying to swim at your favorite beach and a bus full of tourists pulls up and they all pile out and start trashing the place - now you can be pissy and hate the tourists. When you are serving them a Mai Tai and they're being perfectly friendly, you have no right or reason to be pissy, so fuck you and you just cost yourself a generous tip.


10-16-05

Sit back children, and let me tell you the tales of two acts of corporate malfeasance, in which executives get stinking rich, workers suffer, and the taxpayer inadvertently pays for the corporate profits.

A story from the past : In 1999 GM spun off Delphi, its auto parts manufacturing division, as you are surely aware. At that time, the GM executives must surely have known that Delphi was bound for bankruptcy. In the spin-off they put most of the health care and pension and wage liability of its large work force. As usual, the SEC and the government and large financial institutions were silent in this questionable shunting of responsibility. Basically GM was allowed to drop a multi- billion dollar poison pill off their balance sheet. (Imagine if I could take out a billion dollar loan from the bank, keep the billion dollars for myself and spin off a seperate company which owned the loan obligation). Now that Delphi has gone bankrupt as it inevitably had to, GM is only responsible for a part of their large liabilities, and the government pension insurance will pick up most, as well as federal unemployment and health care, etc. which GM would have been required to cover. The billions of dollars the Delphi owes will be written off to the taxpayers in the bankruptcy. Now, off course Delphi and ridiculous Republicans will scream that it's the union's fault. That's of course nonsense. High union pay and benefits may have in fact hastened the fall of Delphi, but they did not cause it - doing manufacturing like that in the U.S. is simply not a profitable business, and unprofitable business will fail. You can't compete with 3rd world wages; in order to come even close you'd have to pay your workers well below poverty levels, and skilled labor will simply not accept that wage, they'll find other jobs. ( more )

A story for the future : Countrywide is the nation's most profitable mortgage company, and they've done fantastically well with the recent housing boom. Their outsize success, at its core, is through giving very large mortgages on expensive houses to people who can barely afford them, largely at very low interest rates, often with interest-only and other dangerous loans (if you only made safe loans to good risks, you wouldn't have nearly so much growth). These loans are very profitable, but are risky and could lead to major losses if the market goes down in the next few years. Fortunately for Countrywide, they don't carry that risk. Instead, they sell their mortgages to Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. The two FMs now carry the risk of these mortgages, and the FMs are semi-government organizations which would surely be bailed out by the taxpayers if anything bad happens. Basically Countrywide is able to make very risky financial investments with the government (taxpayers) covering the loss if/when it goes bad (very similar to the S&L scandal in the 80's). (Note that I'm not even counting the direct subsidy of taxpayers to the FMs, which is indirectly then transferred to people like Countrywide, more )


10-15-05

"Head On" is a very good movie. The cinematography is beautiful and energetic; it really captures the frustration and restlessness of the characters. I love Turkish music!

I want to see "Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul" , but it's not on Netflix, curse their tiny selection!


10-15-05

There's much hubbub (repeated again today in the NYT) about why academia skews liberal. The conservatives are quick to attack the liberal bias of academia. Many reasons have been suggested why academics tend to be liberal, but the most obvious is usually ignored - academics tend to be smart, reasonable people, and no thinking person can associate themselves with the Republican party these days. Many of the so-called Democrats out there are in fact ultra-conservative, they're just not insane.


10-15-05

The Party Poker Side Bet thing is kind of interesting - you're betting whether the flop will be all red or all black, so you'll be right 11.29% of the time (that's less than 1/8 because after one red card comes, it's more likely the next will be black; eg. (16/32)*(15/31)*(14/30) = 0.01129). It doesn't give details about the payouts, but it suggests they might pay 8:1, which is 0.125, so you're losing money on every bet. Now imagine that you get on a 6-max table and collude with some friends so all the seats are your buddies. Before the flop you can see 12 cards and you get a huge edge. This is like card counting in Black Jack but it's super easy and you get a much bigger margin. It looks like they're limiting the bet amount pretty low ($2 or $4 ?), but even so it should be pretty easy to make money, especially if you had a bot playing it.

Say for example you see 8 cards red and 4 cards black. There are 18 red left and 22 black. That means the chance of one black is 55% instead of 50%. The chance of all black is (22/40)*(21/39)*(20/38) = 15.587% , and they're paying at 12.5% , so you get a 3% edge on every bet. The number of ways to deal red/black for 12 cards is 2^12. The number of 8/4 splits is 2* (12!)/(8!*4!) (the 2* is because I don't care if it's red/black or black/red), so the chance of an 8/4 split is 24.16 % The chance of any split 8/4 or better (9/3, etc.) is 38.7 % (if you want less variance 9/3 or better happens 14% of the time). So, you certainly get enough hands to bet on. You can bet on about 25% of hands and get a 4% edge when you do, so each hand you get a 1% return. If you're all at a 6-way table and you all just limp the SB and fold the flop every hand, you'll break even on the poker (they don't rake the pot when the blinds just chop). You could play a hand every 15 seconds or so, 4 a minute, or about 200 an hour. So you get a 200% return per hour. If the bet size is capped at $4 that means you make $8/hour. Not very good. If the bet size could go bigger, you could make money.

Note that if you're just playing regular poker and see two red, the chance of all black is (26/50)*(25/49)*(24/48) = 13.265 % , so you get a tiny return by betting there at 8:1 (tiny = 0.7 %).

Stu fills me in : Side Bets are only available on 10-way tables. That means you'd have to actually play poker profitably because you couldn't easily fill up the table and just fold the flops (also, the flops would come a lot less often). The Side Bet amount scales with the table. On a 10/20 table you can bet a max of $10. That's not really a high enough max to make any money.


10-15-05

I want a hybrid apple that has the crunch of a Braeburn or Fuji, but the tartness of Granny Smith. Genetic engineering should give us a nice wide variety of new apple types.


10-15-05

Google maps only cover the US and the UK at the moment, it makes it impossible to look at the rest of the world! Taiwan is funny


10-15-05

Maximilian's Schell (in LA) looks super cool, I want to go. Apparently they have rotating architecture installations at this place, just open to the street so that random passersby will walk in and experience the space.

Also, the ecstasy exhibit at MOCA in LA looks worth checking out.

While you're in LA on your art tour, better go by the Getty before they're forced to give back the stolen artwork that they've illegally purchased through middle men.


10-14-05

People who protest elections that they believe are corrupt by boycotting them are fools; it allows the opposition to win more thoroughly, and no one really notices or cares about the boycott. Similary people who resign their post in protest when they believe their office is being forced into positions they hate - it simply lets the opposition win much more easily.

I'm trying to decide whether to buy a nice "dry bag" (a waterproof backpack) ($100), or just take a garbage bag ($0.1).

SLO was on fire yesterday ( Tribune ). The little fire was on the hill in the middle of town, behind the Crossroads strip mall. I saw it burn, the fire helicopters swooping in and dropping water. Dry brush fires burn in this really cool way; the center is just flat black earth, and the fire burns all around the edges in a ring, only a few feet high, moving slowly into the dry grass around. It makes this perfect black circle in the middle with a flaming ring all around, the fire ring just one foot wide.


10-14-05

I like to type nude. I place the keyboard on my lap, with my cock dangling onto the space bar. Sometimes when my hands leave the keys to touch the mouse or grab a piece of paper, my cock will sneak in a few words, the head reaching out and pressing keys. The words are usually gibberish because the head is too big to press the keys it wants, it mashes several.


10-14-05

Anybody played the new Ico (Shadow of the Colossus) ? I hate video games and I hated Ico, but this game looks pretty sweet and the reviews are very good. Looks like Sly 3 got great reviews too, and I loved the first one.


10-14-05

So, I was thinking that I'd like to fly, and I thought maybe it would be easy with Helium balloons. You can get a Helium tank cheap enough, less than $100 for a standard "244" tank, which is 244 cubic feet of Helium. So, I did a little math. The lift from Helium is simply from buoyancy and gravity. A volume of helium weighs less than the air it's in, so it experiences a lift force equal to the gravity force on the mass difference. On its own, it would keep rising until the air becomes so thin that the density inside and outside is the same. A very rough approximation is that air weighs around 1 kg per cubic meter (it's about 1.2). To that approximation Helium is weightless (it's actually 0.017), so 1 cubic meter of Helium can lift 1 kg of weight. A 244 tank is about 7 cubic meters, so all the Helium in the tank can lift 7 kg, about 15 pounds. So, either I need to lose a lot of weight, or this is actually not so easy.

I weigh about 80 kg, and with gear it would be more like 100 kg. To get 100 cubic meters of volume, you need a sphere with a radius of about 2.88 meters, which doesn't sound huge, but it's a diameter of 18.9 feet. Grantend, that's a lot smaller than a typical hot air balloon, but still mighty large. The whole project seems feasible, but it's not a cheap little lark, it's more like $5000 for serious weather balloons and industrial size Helium tanks.

So, that's a no-go for the moment. Maybe I'll just jump off a cliff with something like a Kitewing .

Hmmm... maybe some kind of rocket jetpack is more feasible... A quick estimate - Gravity actin on me is about 800 Newtons of down-force. A big F model rocket produces maybe 40 Newtons, so I would need about 20 rocket engines to lift me. There are really big rockets available which would easily do the trick with one rocket - Aerotech PDF - but you need an explosives license from the ATF.


10-13-05

I have zero sympathy for the democrats who complain about the Republicans breach of process in the House of Representatives. Yeah, it's a breach of ethics, yeah it's a manipulation of the system, but the truth is it's small potatos in the scheme of immoral acts by the Republicans, and it's nothing compared to the dirty tricks and arm bending of Democratic heros like FDR and LBJ. The democrats are just appalled because the Republicans are getting their way - and their way is indeed rotten, just about everything this congress has done is just unbelievable. All post-Katrina actions are appaling.


10-13-05 [poker]

I'm going to post a poker hand once in a while and see if anyone complains. Here's one from my big tournament yesterday which I think I made an error on :

Table Multi-Table(486234) Table 10 (Real Money) -- Seat 1 is the button
Total number of players : 9
Seat 1: regan8 (7045)
Seat 2: TomSki (1370)
Seat 3: garlicring (5346)
Seat 4: Lordfarkwod (6731)
Seat 5: garcia922 (4945)
Seat 6: merlin185 (3989)
Seat 7: AIRD7 (5295)
Seat 8: Pedigree5 (8392)
Seat 9: chukb (9548)
TomSki  posts small blind (150)
garlicring  posts big blind (300)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 9d, 9c ] 
Lordfarkwod folds.
garcia922 folds.
merlin185 folds.
AIRD7 raises (900) to 900
Pedigree5 folds.
chukb calls (900)
regan8 folds.
TomSki calls (750)
garlicring folds.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 4h, 6d, 2d ] 
TomSki bets (470)
TomSki is all-In.
AIRD7 raises (4395) to 4395
AIRD7 is all-In.
chukb folds.

So, what did AIRD7 have? And should I have folded? I'll tell you what I was thinking, why I folded. When AIRD7 raises 3x preflop in early position, he either has a pocket pair or two good high cards. The 900 is a lot of his stack, he's probably not messing around. On the flop when he goes allin, he's saying he has a pair, he knows the short stack can't fold, so he's not bluffing, so we can rule out the two high cards, he must have a pocket pair. Now, if you look at all the pocket pairs from 22 to AA, there are very few I can beat - only 33,55,77, and 88 - all the other ones beat me, so I fold. (btw it's also possible he has a hand like AKd, but that's only one hand so the chance of it is very slim; there are six hands that make AA, so it's 6:1 more likely he has AA than AKd and we can just ignore it). I'm also thinking if I just fold here I still have the big stack at the table, while if I call and I'm wrong my stack is around average.

Answer below
By raising allin on the flop over the short stack, he's trying to isolate, he wants me out of the hand. This tells me he doesn't have a real monster, which might just smooth call and try to entice me into the hand. So, he thinks he can beat the short stack, but is scared of me. Maybe he thinks I'm on high cards and he doesn't want me to draw and hit one. We can rule out all the sets - 22,44,66, and also the very high pairs, AA, KK, QQ. Now the most likely hands for him are 33,55,77,88,TT,JJ. In fact, with this consideration it's possible he does just have high cards, like AK,AQ,AJ, and he thinks they're good against the desperate short stack and wants to get heads-up with him. Just looking at the pairs he could hold, I beat four of them and am beat by two - I should call!

He actually had 88, and I would have won to get a huge stack and be in a powerful position in the tournament. (TomSki had KQ - he was making a desperate move on a short stack; this was actually a poor move, he should have just folded preflop since there was a raiser and a caller - against just one raiser he should have moved allin preflop).

(we run a fancy web page around here at BloomCo)


10-13-05 [finance]

Real Estate and Oil have both done fantastically recently, but what's been even better over the past few years is Gold and more generally precious metals & mining. Why is gold doing so well? Basically it's because major people in financial institutions think our economy is about to tank. When you're scared of the economy in general, metals are a good hedge because their value is inherent, it doesn't go up & down with the stock market or currencies. Buying a lot of gold is a sign that financial institutions think our market (and our dollar) are risky or headed for the shitter.

Financial institutions on average skim 20% of the profits that their customers make. That's huge, and basically risk free!!! Clearly being an investor is for suckers - it's just like gambling, being a player is small potatoes and very risky - all the big money is in the House, and it's much safer. With the real estate boom, the most recent big players in this field are the mortgage industry. They've done fantastically well on the housing craze, and their exposure to housing price fluctuations is minimal (especially with the new bankruptcy laws, which means that even when they fuck up and make reckless bad loans, they still make money).


10-12-05

The White Sox win tonight was a travesty. A fucking travesty. I hope some crazed Angels fan kills that umpire.

Why is Joe Pesci considered a good actor? I think the Academy voters got confused between "most annoying" and "best actor" , they must have just checked the wrong box.

Bike shorts designers must all be women (eg. not have cocks). There's a big seam on the inside right down the middle of the front which rubs right on my pee hole when I ride.


10-12-05

American TV needs more hot chicks. I know there are hot chicks on the soaps, and on E, and the rotten sitcoms - but those shows are so rotten I can't stand to watch them. I'm talking more like the gratuitous hot chicks you get in the rest of the world - particularly in South America, Italy & Russia. Things like the news with hot chicks, comedy shows, variety shows, eg. take a basic good show, like maybe Conan O'Brien or something, and just add lots of smoking hot chicks in skimpy outfits. It's like putting salt on an egg! It's the frosting on the cake!


10-12-05 [bicycling]

I've been riding the same route over and over recently. It's the only good ride I can do straight out of my house, all the other good rides here I have to load up my bike & drive a bit, then ride (I could do them straight from my house, but then they'd be too long for me). This ride is out the Edna Valley and back, a beautiful area between the hills, full of vineyards, wineries, and farm land. On the one hand, it's boring doing the same ride all the time, but on the other hand, it leads to a whole new experience : I've become very familiar with this land, and I can see all the little changes in it over time. I can watch the seasons pass - the wild flowers in the spring, the green hills turning grown, the grape vines exploding with leaves and then turning brown and losing their leaves, the grapes slowly growing and ripening and then suddenly all disappearing after harvest day, the different crops in the fields growing from seedlings into tomatos, zucchinis, peppers, and then disappearing, the left overs getting tilled back into the soil. Even the smells change all the time and speak to me of the seasons. The area is full of wild Salvias (relatives of Sage) which seem to almost bake on hot days and release their fragrant oils, there's a type of wild fennel which grows abundantly along the roads and gives off its anise/liquorice/fennel smell, and of course the smell of the ripe grapes in the vineyards, almost fermenting on the vine in the last few days before they're picked.


10-12-05 [poker]

Played a 600-player multi and made 41st place. I had a very nice stack, about 1.5X average, and lost it all in two consecutive hands at the end. It seems like in these things I always manage to run into some crazy monster hands at the very end. In this case it was a guy in the Big Blind with AK. It should be ILLEGAL to get good hands in the big blind, it's just not fair. Then it was my blind and this guy tried to steal with Q6 and made two pair on the flop when I made one pair. Again, no fair, especially because the guy was a douche; the software shouldn't let douches flop lucky hands. That's poker.


10-12-05 [poker]

An all-in decision near the end of a poker tournament is incredibly complicated. When you have some kind of mediocre hand and suddenly someone puts you allin, you have to run through a ton of things.

1. What are the pot odds?

2. What are the possible hands he can be playing; this requires going over the previous action and thinking about how he considers the situation - what's your stack, what's his stack, what are the blinds, are there other really short stacks - these things affect what hands he might have.

3. What are my odds of winning against the hands he could have? (weighted sum by probability) How does that compare to the pot odds?

4. If I fold, what will my chip stack be? If I call and lose, what will my stack be? How will my stack compare to others and the blinds if I fold? How well do I play a big stack or short stack? Are the other players better or worse than me?

5. What are the other stacks? Is anyone close to going out?

6. Are we in the money yet? How does the payout change for the next few places?

7. How will folding or calling affect others' view of me? (eg. if I call with a weak hand, will they lose respect? if I fold will they start attacking me every hand?).

8. What are the blinds? How do they compare to my stack if I fold or call and lose? Are the blinds going up soon? How close am I to having to pay the next big blind?

This is just the quick sampler, and that's assuming there's no one else in the hand.


10-12-05

I've always preferred playing female avatars in video games. You might think this is because I'm a nancy-boy who wants to be a girl, but it's quite the opposite. With typical 3rd person avatar control, you're staring at your avatar's ass the whole time you play; I'd much rather stare at a female ass for hours than some dude. (this was the genius of Tomb Raider - who cares about the rest of the character design and the art, don't you realize the star of the show is the ASS?).


10-12-05

I despise the Yankees, but I don't understand why A-Rod is taking so much of the blame. A-Rod is a phenomenal player, a big slugger who's also a versatile and skilled fielder - his adaptation from short to 3rd was fantastic. Among the Yankee's cast of Stooges on defense, A-Rod was one of the few bright spots. Yes, A-Rod was in a slump for the postseason series with the Angels. Guess what, that's what happens with power hitters - they're streaky. That in fact is the reason why it's dangerous to build your offense on power hitters; it may work to win enough games in the regular season, but it doesn't give you the consistency you need in the postseason. The real people deserving blame here are the morons Steinbrenner and Cashman who have spent massive fortunes building crappy teams loaded with too many sluggers and not enough good baseball players. Even while A-Rod is being dissed, Cashman is being lauded as this great GM. In what way is he great? At spending a fortune to get any player he wants in the league, and picking absolute turkeys? At letting go his best starting pitchers and consistently hiring people who peaked the year before at inflated salaries? Good job, Cashman.


10-11-05

What the hell is a "person to person call" ? Isn't every call a person to person call? Hello, operator, I'd like to make a toaster to toe-jam call, please. ( Dave answers - the old operator days seem pretty cool)


10-11-05

"Clap your hands say yeah" would be pretty fucking cool if the fucking singer would just enunciate a little bit !!

Just heard the "democracy now" thing about Columbus Day - various indigenous people who think Columbus was a slave trader and genocidaire who want the holiday changed to "Indigenous People's Day" or some such nonsense. This is a horrible piece of PC revisionist history. Yes, by today's standards Columbus is an absolute bastard, but his behavior was completely within the moral norms of his time period, and to hold him to today's code is preposterous. Columbus was a brave explorer; I'm not sure he deserves to be honored with a national holiday (where's the Leif Erikson Day?), but neither does he deserve to be dragged through the mud. Don't you native peoples have more important things to do? Like running casinos, selling cigarettes, and getting drunk? (don't worry, they won't be offended by this, most of them are illiterate and certainly don't have computers).

Poker update : Took a 1st place, then a quick out, then another bubble, then a bubble+1 (just in the money), playing two & three table sit & go multis. After losing $200 yesterday I've almost made it back today. The bubble+1 really sucked - I was the big stack at bubble+1 and then ran into AK and QQ in consecutive hands, with huge blinds.


10-11-05

Go Angels! I'm quite sure the Angles will get destroyed by the White Sox in the ALCS, since the fact is their starting pitching is just too weak and they have no pop on offense. Still, I love the Angels. They're the ultimate old-school scrappy team. They play solid defense, they move runners, they're a lot of fun to watch, putting on a lot of good plays, bunting, stealing, all that.


10-11-05

Democracy - is it actually a good way to govern? Certainly it works well at times, but it also has horrific failures, particularly when the populace is split into strongly unified voting blocs. One of the classic failures of democracy is when a unified majority forms which can then pass laws which terrorize the minority. This was of course done in the U.S. to terrorize the slaves, women, etc. It's even now being done in the U.S. to terrorize convicts and immigrants. It was famously done in Nazi Germany, of course in Yugoslavia, etc. Most of these really bad cases are splits along ethnic lines, where the majority ethnic group persecutes the minority ethnic groups. And of course these type of problems are threatening to destroy Iraq.

Taken a bit further, democracy is a powerful system for the strong to extort from the weak. In practice you don't need to actually be a majority of the population to get a majority of the vote. Tools like propaganda are ways for smaller groups with more power to increase their share of the vote, and thereby pass laws which are bad for many and good for the few.

Now, you may say that the solution is a strong constitution with a strong guarantee of basic rights. That's worked pretty well in practice here in the U.S. - but isn't that really saying that democracy doesn't work? Basically we have this constitution which is handed to us by demigods - a select group of people smarter than the populace at large - and it binds the democracy so that it can't fuck up too bad. Left to its own, the democracy would pass laws which violate these basic rights, and the constitution is a constraint on that. Certainly a good constitution is a good way to start your government off, but isn't that just saying that un-elected conventions of smart men are better at governing than a democracy is?

Another interesting ideal is the fiction that larger groups make better decisions. This is sort of like a fluid mixing hypothesis. Let's pretend it's true and see what it says. Imagine all the different ethnic groups of the world all just have their own best interest in mind. If you draw up states or countries where one is a majority, they'll make laws which favor them and persecute others. But, the world populace as a whole could agree on basic rights which would make those things illegal. Now you don't actually want a whole-world democracy, because it would be impractical to acheive consensus on all the little things important to local government, but a heirarchical system would be ideal. You have a world body which makes the overall laws which everyone can agree on, protecting basic rights and such - setting rules for the lower levels of government. Then you have a heirarchy of smaller and smaller regions (what we call Nations, Provinces, Cities, etc.), each level setting rules for the lower levels. This is very similar to what we have in the US, with the Constitution taking the role of the world-wide body.

Why does this fail in practice? Basically because large groups are still jerks. Hmm.. I've lost my energy and train of thought for this rant.

I guess my points are these - 1) the demonstrated fact that a good constitution is crucial for democracy is in fact proof that democracy does not work well. If democracy worked, the laws enacted and the behavior of the government would not need to be constrained by a carefully architected constitution. 2) even with a strong constitution, democracies will fuck up anything they can. 3) the idea that majority votes lead to the overall best course for the population is preposterous (just like the contention that capitalism optimizes the market, which is ridiculous in the real world).


10-10-05 [poker]

It continues to shock me how bad the pros are on Poker Superstars. Sklansky is just stupid tight - he folds AQ in the blind to a raise from the button !? WTF !? Huck Seed is just stupid aggressive (actually Huck Seed is a bit just stupid).

One thing that blows my mind a little bit is how I struggle to be just slightly proftable at poker. I'm a decent player and I work hard at it, and moreover 90% of the people I face online are just really really bad, and yet I only barely manage to eke out a long term profit, though there are big short term up & down swings.


10-10-05

I'm going to Hawaii next week. It's going to be rainy, it's not like a lying on the beach drinking fruity cocktails kind of trip. I do that every day. It's more like a hiking rainforest adventure kind of trip. We're going to the big island so we'll see lava and waterfalls and things like that. I'm looking forward to clambering around in rivers and shit like that. Hopefully I'll get to go cliff diving.

Another $30 three-table , I make it right near the money and go out. Fuck, these things are killing me. I was the big stack with 10 to go, and then just got raped by a series of hands where I was outplayed, wound up short stacked and got pot committed when I was beat. I just want to smash my head in with a hammer!

When we went camping I was splitting wood with a hammer and a wood splitting wedge. Portola doesn't let you collect twigs for kindling, which I'm used to doing, so splitting wood is a pretty rare activity for me, and I suck at it. Anyhoo, aside from smacking the hell out of my hands with the hammer, I BROKE the hammer. Granted it was a regular claw-hammer type of thing not a nice mallet like I should have used, but I was still quite shocked when the solid hammer head cracked and the big hunk of metal split in two. Must have been some of that super low grade Chinese steel that I always hear about. Don't build bridges out of that shit!


10-10-05

Three P's to rant on this morning : Prisons, Pensions & Pockets.

Prisons - after the French Revolution, one of the reforms that was instituted was that the prison guards were not allowed to torture prisoners quite as much (beatings and long solitary confinement were still fine, though). The guards quickly got around this. They'd find the dumbest, toughest prisoners, and give them various perks (more time outside, cigarettes, etc.) in exchange for doing the things they couldn't do to other prisoners. Then this was just prisoners fighting each other (as they are wont to do) and no one got in trouble, and the horrible mistreatment of inmates could continue. In the United States, something similar to this practice continues to this day. Most of our prisoners are very dangerous places to go, mainly because of violence among inmates. This is not simply a fact of prison life, rather it is intentionally allowed by prison guards who create an atmosphere of danger and rape and beatings in order to make prison a more unpleasant place, which they believe the inmates deserve. The horrible prison conditions which they aren't allowed to create themselves, they allow the inmates to create for each other. This should be stopped now. There are a few reasons why there's no action on this. 1) We keep convicts from voting (a huge violation of their constitutional rights), 2) most Americans really want to stick it to convicts, we figure they must be rotten and deserve to be stabbed and raped, it sort of makes us feel good to imagine it. (I'm not even going to talk about the way the Bush administration endorses torture, that's just preposterous, not even worth discussing, it's like "Intelligent Design" - you can't have a debate about it, it's too ludicrous) Though I will say something - you remember the Newsweek scandal about flushing the Koran down the toilet? then there were riots and the Bushies said "oh that's nonsense, shame on you, it's all the media's fault for stirring up this trouble" and Newsweek apologized? Well, of course the report was basically true. The exact details may not have been right, but interrogators at Guantanamo have infact used the Koran often as a tool to break the captives, desecrating it in various ways. This is not only a clear violation of the Geneva convention, it's just really fucking stupid - the way to soothe religious terrorism is not to embody the worst of what they say you do.

Pensions - the impending bankruptcy of Delphi reminds me of the nationwide pension scam that corporations have been exploiting for the past twenty years. Basically, most major US corporations have promised these great pensions and have underfunded their pension funds, which means they are all headed for short-falls. The federal government backs those pension funds, so that all of us taxpayers are picking up the difference. This is a way to artificially inflate corporate profit and to pump money from taxpayers to corporate directors. It's a completely corrupt practice. Also related in this case is the clever way big companies like GM can spin off subsidiaries that are in trouble and let them go bankrupt, so again the fed will pick up the tab of supporting the bankrupt mess. This leads me to the next one...

Pockets - in that corporate directors should have to pay their companies bills out of their own pockets. Imagine the most ridiculous example : I make a company and take out a loan for a billion dollars; I pay myself a salary of a billion dollars; my company declares bankruptcy. That debt should be paid by me, not taxpayers. Now, I know there already are laws on this which apply when directors tie their own funds to their companies, but they don't apply if you're just taking salary and dividends and stock profits and such from your company. Also, exactly codifying this principle into a good law is tricky, but that shouldn't stop us. It's absurd that with crooked companies like the old S&L scams, or Enron & WorldCom & etc. most of the people at the top get to keep their fortunes (unless they are sued and successfully made to pay something reasonable in damages). Instead they should be directly tied by law to the bankruptcy settlement of their company - eg. all salary over $500k/year counts as "corporate money" which must be repaid if the corporation goes bankrupt, or something. Also note that of course it's the job of the Board of Directors to make sure that this kind of nonsense doesn't happen. The board is supposed to act in the best interest of the stock-holders and keep the management from profiteering and raping the company, but of course that's a naive fantasy. In practice the directors are buddies of the management and they're all profiteering together.


10-9-05 [poker]

I've been playing the $30 sit and go multis today. Twice I finished on the bubble, which is the most painful way to finish. Both times I may have been playing too aggressive. I was playing my basic attacking game, which I like. The caveat is the bubble - maybe I should have tightened up to make sure I made the bubble, then opened up again. On the other hand, I like attacking on the bubble because people tighten up to creep into the money, so it's a great time to steal. In both cases I ran into absolutely huge hands for short-handed end-games, AK in one case and QQ in the other.


10-9-05

Went camping in Portola Redwooks State Park over the weekend (near San Francisco). The long hike to Peter's Creek loop is well worth it. Near the end you come upon folds in the hills covered in clover and ferns, shaded by old redwoods, with colurful mushrooms sprouting from decaying fallen trees. The raccoons at Portola have learned how to open coolers. As soon as we pulled up to the camp site, a raccoon ran over and started climbing in my car. We had the cooler out on the picnic table already, and after shooing it away from the car it looped around to the table, climped up and lifted the lid off the cooler (!). Again a vigorous shooing ran it off.

The drive on Skyline (35) and Highway 9 is so fun and beautiful. It's a regular haunt for motorcycle enthusiasts, especially on the weekend when all the portly software developers put on their leather and play dress up, pretending to be real men on their Harleys. I almost went off the road on Alpine Drive. The road is too messed up to really be a fun speeding road, but I was just sort of cruising on it, having a little fun in the corners. In one of the really tight left-hand turns, I went into a slide and my rear wheels skidded out behind me. If I was a bad-ass I would have accelerated and it would have been no problem. Instead, like the pussy I am I braked and came to a stop with my right wheel off the road starting to go down the steep cliff. Luckily it was one of the spots with a bit of a dirt shoulder before the cliff plummeted down hundreds of feet to the valley below.


10-9-05

Health care in America is fucked up for many reasons.

1. Health care must be universal. Not providing health care to all is a very foolish way of "punishing" the poor. It only increases the total cost in the long run. If you don't provide preventive care to people who need it, you wind up paying much more for catastrophic care when their problems require treatment. Clearly we don't want to just let people die horrible deaths by not providing care - we're going to keep them alive, so it just makes sense to provide good care their whole life. Now, that doesn't mean they need optional care or unnecessarilly expensive care, but neither does anyone (unless they pay it 100% out of their pocket), which leads us to -

2. Health care purchasers and providers must be motivated to be efficient (aka effective and cheap). Currently this motivation doesn't exist at all, in fact the opposite motivation usually exists - doctors and hospitals make more money when they provide more expensive care, and patients usually pay a fixed cost which is not proportional to their care. We get situations where doctors prescribe very expensive drugs which are no more effective than the cheap generics that have long been available. We also get a lot of very expensive unnecessary surgery, partly because of a lack of preventive and lifestyle care, but also because of these improper motivations. You also have the problem that doctors are anti-motivated to transfer patients. If you wind up in the care of surgeon, you're likely to get surgery whether or not you should - he's antimotivated to transfer you to a physical therapist, or anyone else, he's motivated to keep you so he can do the work.

Making the patients pay proportional to cost is very simple. The percentage could also be scaled according to the patients wealth. A simple linear percent could work : you pay (your wealth/ $1 million) * 100% of the cost. Note that this is real wealth, not income. To go along with that, the health care providers would have to declare all costs up front. Furthermore, mistakes by the health care providers would have to be fixed at their expense, just as it is at any normal business. Making the providers incentivized to keep costs low is trickier. The first step is to make their base pay not proportional to costs. Then they need to be paid bonuses from the insurance company based on some estimate of the real benefit done, reduced by cost. eg. the more benefit they do for lower cost, the bigger bonus they get.

3. Doctors and hospitals (and all health care companies) should be held publicly accountable. Part of making this all work better must be information and accountability. Currently this hardly exists, partly because of doctor's fear of malpractice suits. Some sort of public database of doctors and hospitals records and patient reviews must exist for patients to be able to make decent free market health care decisions - without it the capitalist system is broken. Sort record of their costs and price scale must exist as well.

Capitalism is a very nice system, but one of the big classic problems with it is that it's very easy to push the real costs of your actions onto other people. In our system, that usually winds up being taxpayers somewhere down the road. If you make a car that's dangerous to others, you may save some money and make a bigger profit, but when it hurts others, a huge cost errupts for their health care and damages which is covered by others. When you make unsafe products, like asbestos, or vaccines laced with mercury, or foods full of all kinds of poisons, that can turn your company a nice profit; it may lead to massive health care costs down the road which are mostly covered by tax payers. (the only way to correct this incorrect charge is through our heros, the class-action lawyers, though even their huge suits rarely come close to matching the damages).


10-6-05

"Junebug" was a nice movie. The acting's all good and it's pretty realistic and sweet and powerful. The soundtrack is by Yo La Tengo which got me excited but is very disappointing. The cameo by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy was a funny surprise. The outsider artist guy is just awesome.

I just found "Amalgamated Sons of Rest" , which is a collaboration between Jason Molina and Will Oldham, aka my two favorite artists in the whole world - Songs Ohia and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.


10-5-05

What exactly defines the Republican Party these days? Certainly not small government or balanced budgets. They get a lot of play from being the more "military" party - but only a few years ago they were the ones accusing democrats of fighting unnecessary preemptive wars and humanitarian missions abroad, and in reality both parties are roughly equally war-like. They are indeed the party of low taxes, which seems to get them excellent play even from people who suffer badly from those tax cuts (aka most Americans). But what really gets the Republican vote in? Family Values. And what, pray tell, are these Family Values? Basically it goes like this - anything that we're not allowed to do because of church and whatnot, we don't want anyone else to be allowed to do that either, even when it doesn't hurt us at all. People have abortions - doesn't affect us at all - my god, make it illegal. Men have sex in the privacy of their own homes - ban it!


10-5-05

We found a black widow right next to my computer last night. It was a big black female with the perfect red hourglass on her belly. She was back in a dark corner between the computer and the wall, right next to where I put my feet when I write this bullshit. I killed her and then sprayed a whole can of spider poison over here in case there were black widow babies. The poison cloud made my eyes burn and water - SPIDER POISON IS PEOPLE POISON ??!!

I won another 1st place in a two table tourney, then played another and was on good track to win it. I was playing my usual style - aggressive, stealing, but then tight if the pot gets big. I had one of the guys with a big stack set up perfectly. He had seen me play T6 and J6 in big pots - what he hadn't seen was the situation, and he thought I was always playing junk. Getting someone set up like this is one of my big goals in poker - it gives me the best possible chance to double up through this guy. So, I changed gears and started playing tight when he was in the blinds. Then I made my move - I got AK in the cutoff and made my usual steal raise. He went all-in from the SB, just like I wanted. Most likely he has a weak ace here, and I'm golden. Then - fuck fuck fuck - the BB goes all in. Now, I know the BB has a hand here, but it's probably a pair below K's. I hate my hand now, I know the first douche probably has an ace, and this guy has something like JJ. Against those hands I'm about 33% to win, and I'm getting about 4:1 to call, so I have to call. Unfortunately the BB had KK and I lost almost all my stack and went out soon after. Very unlucky, I knew I was in prefect position to take 1st place again because everyone was playing so badly short handed.


10-4-05

"Last Life in the Universe" is a brilliant movie; slow but engaging, sweet, tense; the music is so lush and wet and perfect, the look is so colorful and rich.

The cinematographer is Christopher Doyle, who does a ton of asian movies in between his black-out benders and his affairs with 15-year-old asian girls. Apparently the constant drinking and sex does not detract from his talents.


10-4-05

Republicans regularly roll out the cliche that American free markets and competition and entreprenuership are what make this country great, and the social safety net and high taxes are killing Europe. That sounds all well and good, but is there any real evidence of it? Perhaps the only time in history that America has succeeded beyond other nations was the Internet boom. That of course can be traced back to very good government funding for research which was our wise policy in the 50's and 60's. American success before that seems quite unrelated to a better capitalist system. We profited hugely from slave labor when most of the world wasn't using it. We benefited from massive amounts of fertile land, which could be easily taken from the weak Indians. Later we profited from great natural resources - including oil - in the 19th century when Europe was running dry and becoming crowded. Finally in the 20th century we had the great fortune to be away when the Europeans smashed each other up, making us rich by destroying each other. So far as I can tell, the only time our system has ever been "better" is in the very recent past, and as I said I attribute that primarily to the good education and research funding that was mainly going on in the 50s and 60s (and came to fruition with applications in the 70s and 80s and finally became massively productized in the 90s). And yet, we tout our system as this wonder that provides opportunity and success. And of course both the public and private sector have cut funding to research and education in order to pursue short term profit.


10-4-05

First place in a two table tourney feels so good. I made some brilliant moves and they all worked. My favorite was one hand where I made a flush, and just called his small bets the whole way; on the river I went all-in, a huge overbet on the pot, and he called me with middle pair. The idea is to look like you're a goofball trying to bluff by overbetting the pot and it worked to perfection.

"PRIDE" fighting is so much better than the UFC. The fighters are better (the Russian & Ukranian guys just kick unbelievable ass), the rules are better, and the ring is better. They use a regular boxing ring instead of the stupid fucking cage, so you don't get the stupid UFC-style fights with people just pinned up against the cage the whole time. The skills of the PRIDE guys are unbelievable - striking, kicking, knees, grappling. I don't just want to see people wailing on each other, that's boring and revolting, I like to see artists and masters at work.


10-4-05

Katrina is perhaps the worst natural disaster in American history, and it is turning into the biggest handout of taxpayer money to private corporations in our history.


10-4-05

I got cut on the razor wire yesterday and it's infected. Normally this wouldn't be anything unusual, but after my recent month-long battle with bacteria, I'm terrified.

Read a funny little stat today - 30% of paternity DNA tests find that the purported father is not the genetic father. Now, presumably people getting paternity tests are in a sub-group of the population which is more likely to have cheated, so this 30% would not apply to the general public, but of course paternity tests also exclude the poor and mothers who can't find the fathers at all. We could say something like - among upper/middle class people who are suspicious of child-origin impropriety, 30% of the time they're right! In other words, you girls are a bunch of hos and I'm not paying any damn child support.

Good ways to waste your time : kontraband , thatsfucked , mensix & skoopy


10-3-05 [life]

Trekked out to the secret cave at Montana de Oro. To get there you have to walk along the fence that borders the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, then climb down the cliff (past the fence covered in razor wire). I sort of rapelled down the steef crumbly cliff, Dan climbed under the fence. The cave is only accessible at low tide; I've been watching the tides for a few days and this is the first time a good low tide was at a nice daytime hour. Today the sea was battered by wind, choppy and angry; the cave was full of sea weed that had been washed in and deposited there. The cave is illuminated by a shaft of light reflected from the sea, giving it an eeire glow; the walls are painted red and green by some mineral colors. Some photos at - Yahoo .


10-3-05 [politics]

This president just continues to be an absurd corrupt lying nepotist. Roberts was bad enough, but this new supreme court judge is just unbelievable. Here we have a nominee to a crucial position which will affect our country for decades to come, and the nominee is a crony insider of the Bush political machine who has ZERO experience as a judge. It's just reprehensible. This is in the long line of appointments like Brownie, Hughes, Bolton, etc. people who are insiders that will toe the Bush line and have no qualifications for the job.


10-3-05 [life]

I got the bill for my hospital visit for my infected spider bites. For a one minute visit to get a prescription of antibiotics (which I knew I needed), I'm being charged $290 (the insurance was billed a few thousand). That's on top of the charges for the actual antibiotics. Health care in this country is clearly fucked up. I need to go to Mexico and stock up on antibiotics so I can cut out the fuckers with the Rxes.


10-3-05 [life]

Went to LA & San Diego for the weekend. The water in San Diego is so much nicer than up here, it's clear and warm. We went swimming at La Jolla Shores, which has amazing sea life right now. There's a pod of Leopard Sharks swimming around right along the beach, you can go out and swim among them, there are just a ton of them, and they're quite beautiful. The sharks are harmless, but the ocean floor there is just covered with Thornback Rays which bury in the sand and wait to sting you - I literally saw ten of them nearly on top of each other in one spot. They run into each other and get all flustered and come out of the sand, swim around a bit and then settle in again and bury themselves. Supposedly there are Bat Rays in the area as well, though I didn't see one, thank god, rays terrify me. To get out of the ocean I'd swim on the surface until I beached myself in the shallows, I didn't want to stand up.

San Diego has a surprisingly cool and active nightlife downtown in the "gaslamp" district. There are lots of really posh clubs and bars (alongside the horrible chains like Moose McGillicuty's and all the requisite fake "Irish" pubs). Blue Ginger (I think that's it) has this amazing wall of water. Some Italian place has barbacks than rappel up and down the multi-story wall of liquor. There were lots of places with velvet ropes and ten bouncers standing outside that we walked past; I used to want to get in those places ("I'm good enough, they can't keep me out") but now I just hate the fucking game, and I hate the snobby people that tend to be inside. I'd rather hit the open-access bar next door where the pregnant drunk young woman is being hit on by the fifty-year-old nerdy guy who just got divorced.

LA's Union Station is beautiful at night.

Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena's crappy touristy "old town" is a legitimate British pub, complete with warm beer (cellar temperature, when appropriate) and the stick of piss, puke and beer which all Brits love. Why is it that an "Irish" pub is usually fake (decorated from the Irish Pub aisle at Wal Mart), which British pubs are usually full of real gap-toothed rugby-playing Queen-loving hyphenated-word-typing ex-pats ? Seems like a great place to watch soccer.

A little offensive joke for ya : when someone is acting really Jewy (ala Larry David or Richard Lewis or Mel Brooks with the "Hoyven Mayven, Oy" shtick), you say - "Hey buddy, this is the U.S.A. not the Jew-S.A. !" ; then when they get indignant in response you say "What are you gonna do, Jew-do?"

The political talk show "Left/Right/Center" on KCRW is decent. Even the representative of the "right" is semi-articulate (because he's British).


10-3-05 [sports]

Well, all 3 of my bets went ridiculously wrong. Seattle lost in overtime after missing an easy field goal at the end of the game that would have won it. The Ravens had zero offense, as predicted, but the fucking Jets threw way more than they passed, cripling themselves by not using Curtis Martin, and lost 13-3, letting the Ravens cover the ridiculous spread. Dallas played badly and Oakland got some big plays, but the Cowboys had the ball on the 5 yard line at the end of the game with 4 downs and couldn't put in the end zone, losing the game. So, I'm out of NFL betting for the season. I feel like all of my bets this year have been solid, and yet I've been pissed on by god and anally raped by misfortune.


9-30-05 [sports]

NFL bets for this weekend : Seahawks to win over Redskins , Cowboys to win over Raiders. Both are bets on slight underdogs to beat the odds and win. I think both games are about 50/50, so getting some odds on the underdogs gives me a nice overlay. Bet the Jets to beat the spread against the Ravens. The Ravens should win, but the spread is over 7, so even if the Ravens win by 7 I win the bet. I just have to hope the Ravens don't get a lot of defensive touchdowns. The QB situation on both teams is a disaster, I just hope the Jets just take a knee every play on offense instead of throwing picks.


9-30-05 [poker]

Harrington gives some really wild conflicting advice. He wants you to play a solid conservative game, make good decisions based on pot odds. But then he also tell you to call down a big reraise just to show that you'll defend your raises. Similarly he suggests making an all-in bluff from your big blind when someone tries a button steal, to show your big blind can't be messed with. Which is it Dan? Solid or wild?

Another rough loss in the local game here. (actually I got 3rd, but I should have won so it feels like a loss). I never got any cards, but I still managed to have the big stack with 3 players left. Then I proceeded to lose 5 races in a row, where I was either a 60/40 favorite or a 60/40 dog, and I was out in 3rd place. Racing in that scenario is exactly what I want to do - I'm raising more than my share, and sometimes people will come allin over the top, and I want to call them in hopefully a 50/50 situation. Then I just have to win a few.

I'm on a long losing streak, and it's hard to tell if it's my bad play or bad luck. I really think I'm playing well and just having a bad down spell, but of course that's what bad players think.


9-30-05 [life]

Recently Dan and I saw a couple of tarantulas out in Pozo. This area is one of the top tarantula habitats in the U.S. (and in fact has the highest overall density of spiders anywhere in the U.S.).

Last night I found a scorpion in my house. I was sitting on the floor watching TV (as I am wont to do), when I looked over and saw this thing walking towards me; I did a total double take - what the fuck is that? Now I new that I had to worry about spiders, mosquitos, bees, wasps, snakes, etc. but I had no idea that scorpions were out to get me. That wasn't even on my fucking radar!


9-29-05 [cycling]

I did the Islay-Edna ITT in 52 minutes, that's a lot slower even than last time. Cursed out of shaped-ness.


9-28-05 [life]

Occasional over-reactions are a legitimate balance to a long string of over reactions. In my life, people are mild ass-holes to me over and over every day. Usually I'm just polite in return. Once in a rare while they catch me at a bad time and I go off on them. This may seem uncalled for or unfair, but it's sort of like a rare-probability EV thing. Each time you are a small asshole to me, you get 1 point. Do that 1000 times and I need to be a 1000X asshole to even out.

On a related note, we should rape and murder rich people every so often. Sure, they probably don't deserve it individually, but it balances out a huge sheet of small evils they commit every day.


9-28-05 [computers]

The Nintendo Revolution looks like a joy to develop for. Nothing very strange about it, just a nice fast capable machine. Compared to the beasts from Sony and MS, it should be much easier to make & port games for. The controller is also pretty cool, though it seems like more of a novelty than a useful general purpose device, I wonder if that will backfire. (it does finally take advantage of the classic tendency of Mario players to jump their avatar by actually moving the controller).

This generation of consoles might be the first ever to actually be faster than high end PC's when it comes out. The Xbox was pretty close in terms of the GPU, but the CPU was way behind high end PC's when it came out. Of course, because of the dev difficulty, high end PC's will be in fact more capable even though they are theoretically less powerful. By the time developers master the quirky consoles, PC's will have moved ahead and taken the lead again. Of course it's not fair to compare a $200 console and a $4000 PC, which is why it's quite impressive how capable these consoles are when they come out.


9-28-05 [life]

The "Red Rock" swimming hole near Santa Barbara is unbelievable, wonderful. I put a photo on my Yahoo page. Underwater it's clear and green with a garden of strange rocks and caves. There's a bit too much traffic for relaxed nude bathing, but we did it anyway. My low-riding Honda had no trouble making it there now, in dry season, but it looked like in wet season it would be very hard to reach (there are 4 deep river crossings), you'd need better clearance.


9-27-05 [sports]

Shanahan is the best ever at coaching the offensive line and cut-back running. If only they didn't have such a rotten QB, I could like Denver. Most people don't remember Shanahan was the 9er's offensive coordinator back in the day, and the offense he runs in Denver is roughly the same one that gave the 9er's their glory years - it's a running offense, you pound the defense, bet them to play in the box, and then you pull a lot of play action, boot legs, and burn em with the pass. Jake is one of those guys who can have a great day and make you love the team, and then the next game he'll personally throw the game away.


9-27-05 [life]

I want a big barbecue apron that says "Kiss the Cock".


9-27-05 [poker]

Consider some near-nut hands. On a board like AAQ , if you hold QQ, you have the 2nd nuts. Now, there are actually two hands that beat you, AQ and AA, but both are not possible - if one is out there, the other cannot be, so in either case you have the 2nd best possible hand. More precisely, there are 3 hands that could be out there that beat you (one AA, two AQ's) so in the full hand-counting, you have the 4th best hand.

Now consider the case with a 4-flush on the board. You have the king of that suit. Again in common parlance you have the 2nd nuts, the ace-high flush being the nuts. But now, in the full hand counting there are many possible ace-high flush hands he could have. There are 44 unknown cards that could go with his ace, so you actually have the 45th best hand. You see that in both cases you have the "2nd nuts" but in the second case, you're far more likely to be beat.

I've said before that "Poker Superstars" just has a horrible structure; the blinds are too big too fast and it just becomes an all-in battle. (beside that, the coverage is terrible, we hardly see any hands). Anyhoo, it's interesting to see the top pros in it, and so many of them adjust really badly. Many of them are just playing way too tight (Giang, all the old guys). The people that are doing well are the ones who are hyper aggressive, like Seed, Mortensen, Forrest. It's also interesting to see Sklansky doing so well. He's generally a poor No Limit player, but Superstars is just a mathematical all-in battle, which he's good at. I expect him to fall apart in the heads up matches though, unless the blinds are so big that all play is removed. And what's up with the horrendous play of some of them (like Mimi Tran)?

It must be some sort of common delusion for me to think I'm better than some of the world's top pros, and yet I have trouble beating low limit games.


9-26-05 [computers]

This is sweet : [gamecritics] . I'm particularly glad that people noticed the large levels streaming and instant loading (nice work Dave); I'm also glad someone noticed that we did the Halo-style controls and did a pretty good job of it (props Aaron). On the other hand, his contention that the game is near flawless and could be easily sold is debatable.


9-26-05 [computers]

Another rough cut at a NoT-like browsing experience is StumbleUpon . It seems like a pretty rough gimmick at the moment, sort of like GNOD or something, good as a toy but not really useful.

In the ideal NoT world I could just search something like "realtime 3d shadows" and I would find the pages that are actually most relevant to that topic and well rated by people that I trust in that field. (and see their comments scribbled on the page). Also, much of this can be automatic. People wouldn't have to manually mark pages as good, there are two primary automatic ways of approving of pages : 1) Links from pages I trust, (in this case a link from "realtimerendering" would pump up the rank, or 2) Visits from people I trust; the visit and usage amount by people that I trust indicate that the page is good; if some clicks through to a page and immediately leaves, it means it's not interesting.


9-26-05 [finance]

A wise investor would move their money in and out of housing as the market looked good or not. This is just like moving between different stocks as they look good or bad, but it's a much bigger move. Let's say your housing investment is around 500k, and the return on housing fluctuates from 0-20% , while other investments can always do around 10% , then getting in and out of housing at the right times returns 50k the first year, and compounded $800k over ten years - on top of the amount you would make just by being in one or the other. (that's all very rough, but you get the idea).


9-26-05 [politics]

All international arms sales should be illegal (including nuclear equipment, etc. etc.). At the moment international arms sales are not regulated by any body, though they're supposed to be illegal in certain war zones, in fact they are not since the major nations of the world do whatever they want. (Russian ex-military planes run black market arms sales for France, etc.). It's easy for us to point the finger at places like Russia, China, and France which have long supplied arms to tyrants, genocidaires, murderers - but of course we have done equal rotten things, pumping weapons to evil people to advance our goals or simply for profit.

Currently it requires a unanimous vote on the security council to do anything meaningful to stop arms sales. In practice that makes it impossible, since someone on the council is always profiting and won't vote to stop the sales. That should be reversed. All arms sales should be illegal by default, and it should require a unanimous vote to let them through. Of course the U.S. would never agree to that (or ignore it if we did) since we spit in the face of international law. It might have effects that we would consider untenable, like the sale of arms to Israel might get banned, or limited.


9-25-05 [computers]

I wrote a little article on the Network of Trust ; it's super rough, it's sort of just to make sure I have something concrete out there about it.

Ignacio sent me this link to - last.fm ; it's sort of like the beginnings of what I dream about with the NoT driving everything I do with data. Check it out for sure, it's cool.

Drew provided a nice quick phrase about how NoT affects typical browsing - There needs to be a way for my to tap into the same network of trust when I'm shopping on amazon.com, iTunes, movietickets.com, google, etc. What I mean is that it needs to be implemented without being tied to a particular service. I have no idea how, but I know I would use the fuck out of it. So basically we are talking about a giant database where users say what they like and don't like, and then you create associations within that database.


9-24-05 [sports]

Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper are chronically over-rated. You can tell over-rated players because people are always talking about them like they're better than their performance. Every week - they didn't get it done, but they're better than that, they weren't up to their ability. What exactly is their ability then? How do you know they're so good when every week they underperform?


9-23-05 [life]

I love my new pay-as-i-go phone. Never a bill, ever! I despise bills, sudden charges appearing which I didn't agree to or expect, the monthly obligation to pay for a service. Let me pay cash and give me what I pay for right away. Hallelujah!


9-23-05 [poker]

A common mistake in poker is to adjust your game too much based on short term results. People will often be caught bluffing, and then stop bluffing, or they'll get bluffed, and then start trying to call down every bet to catch bluffers. This is based on the reaction that you "did something wrong" and need to correct for it. It's critical to stay on your game and not adjust based on what's working well from hand to hand. Of course you want to adjust to the play of the table, but you want to adjust your style rationally based on peoples' tendencies - not the results of the hands! You might have played perfectly when a hand when horribly wrong for you, or you might have played terribly on a hand that went well.

Today I lost a bunch of money because I successfully caught a few bluffers and made a good profit, and then proceeded to keep trying to catch bluffers, and blew off my stack.


9-23-05 [finance]

Fluor


9-22-05 [fuck]

Rita might be worse than Katrina, and everyone in Texas is panicky because of the previous disaster. I have lots of family in Houston, but they'll be okay. My mom owns a beach house on the Texas coast which is surely going to be completely obliterated. Another scary issue is oil. Near Houston/Galveston (Texas City, etc.) is one of the main areas for oil tankers and refineries. If those get wiped out, on top of the problems from Katrina, we could get into serious gas shortages.


9-21-05 [poker]

I just played the $20 multi-table tourney and made 60th place out of 670. It took like three hours and I cashed for $46 - not a very good hourly wage. I had a big stack near the end and was headed for a much higher cash, but I had one hand where I melted down and played badly. Three hours of play, playing hard, focused, and then one hand where I lose concentration and mess around and it fucks me. God damn poker is tough.


9-21-05 [politics]

Foreign ministers who quote international law against the U.S. are funny. Do they really think anyone in our government cares if we're in violation of international treaties?


9-21-05 [computers]

Using something like my "Network of Trust" idea, you should be able to do "taste extrapolation". eg. based on my movie ratings at Netflix, find people who have similar tastes, see what music they like, or clothes, or whatever, and give me recommendations in that category. When you actually find people with tastes in common it's a very powerful correlation; on the other hand, one-item correlation is very poor. eg. I like the movie "Sin City", but if you just look at things that other people who liked "Sin City" like, that's a very poor correlation to my taste.


9-21-05 [poker]

I have a new favorite move preflop. It's very simple - with your medium good hands (TT,JJ,AK), raise really big, like 10xBB. Good players will recognize that you're doing this and stay out of your way. Good players will also see the 10x odds and know it's not worth calling you unless they have a monster. On the other hand, bad players will not recognize your pattern, and will call the 10x with marginal hands even though it's a huge call preflop. The result is that you'll get isolated in the hand with bad players, which is a huge benefit. With the very best hands (QQ,KK,AA) you want more action, so you should mix a variety of plays (you don't want to scare away the good players).


9-20-05 [computers]

Who know how to disable all web audio? I hate fucking embedded web audio (though Barry's page is quite amusing). I need the damn embedded quicktime dealy to work for video, so I don't want to kill it completely, I just don't want it to play unless I click play. "MIDI" should be destroyed. (yeah, yeah, I know MIDI is a standard for high quality audio blah blah blah - but when played back on normal computers it is just a generator of great ass).


9-20-05 [poker]

Barry Greenstein's web site is hillarious. The music is awesome. The main page says over and over "you probably suck, I am a god, buy my poker book but quit playing poker, you will never be a pro". The player reviews rule.

"Action" Dan Harrington named himself "Action" because he knows it fucks with people's heads. First they go "he must be wild", then they see his play and think "wait, he's not action, he's a rock", the adjective sticks in your head and you have to fight it to try to just play him straight up.


9-19-05 [film]

"Broken Flowers" is a piece of shit. Yes, yes, Bill Murray does have a nice talent for minimalist acting - emoting without doing anything - but that alone can't carry a movie. This movie has nothing else, except a self-conscious artsiness that feels like a college student's early work. This movie is a great litmus test for bad critics - anyone who lauds this movie is the type of critic that just praises what they think they should praise, that goes along with the cool kids.


9-19-05 [politics]

FEMA has long been the easiest way for politicians to spend federal money to win votes. Declare a disaster area and start handing out the pork - contracts to your supporters, money to voters in tough districts. The budgets are huge and the oversight is minimal, tax payers dollars get spent en masse. This has always been the case, but as with most things, W. is more aggressive and more transparent about his politicking. Florida in 2003/2004 was pumped full of pork to reward the governor and supporters that would help Bush win that state. Now in New Orleans, we have Karl Rove running the show, and the top men remaining at FEMA are all specialists in P.R. who worked on previous Republican campaigns. The priorities are clear.


9-17-05 [poker]

God damn poker kicks my ass again and again. I know what to do so well, but in the heat of battle I just don't do it. I suppose it's like anything in life, knowing what to do and actually doing it are very different things. It's my white whale. I'm drawn back to poker over and over again because of it, I want to beat it - it's not about beating the other players (which would be nice) but more about beating my nature to fuck myself.

Today I took some horrendous beats as usual and played one hand collosally wrong. I limped QTs and wound up in the hand against this crazy loose fish guy. The flop was 68J, so I have a gutshot. He checked and I bet. Already this is a gross mistake. Against a tight player maybe it's an okay stab, but against a loose player it's ridiculous. Turn was a blank. He leads out with a tiny bet. Now I'm certain the guy is on a draw, because I've seen him do this before, he's trying to buy a cheap card by betting a tiny amount and hopes I just call. I raise, almost enough to put him all-in. This is a really questionable play. I know the guy is crazy loose so even though I know he's on a draw, he'll probably call anyway. Even if the bet is good, it should have just been an all-in all the way. River is an Ace. I check and he bets the rest of his chips. I have just a queen high, so I fold. That's another mistake. His bet was tiny and he would do that if he missed his draw and my queen high could well be good, and certainly I have the pot odds to call it. He turns over - QT. He was in fact on a draw, calling huge bets with a gut shot. His play was exactly what I pegged him for - a ridiculous loose fish that calls way too much with draws, and I played right into it, betting at him with nothing, and then giving up a big pot that should have been split. This was an insane donkey hand.

Maybe I should take some of the good stuff Paul Phillips takes (Modafinil). (Provigil is so similar to the Simpson's mock Focusin).


9-17-05 [poker]

Some thoughts on volume two of Harrington - some of his advice in "Inflection Points" has been bothering me, and I think I've figured out why. First is that he's sort of assuming that his opponents are a mix of loose and tight, as described by his rank of what hand they'll call allin with. Under those assumptions, his advice is reasonable, but where I play just about everyone is as loose as his "loosest" profile, and many are looser. That means you'll win a pot to everyone folding far less than he assumes. I think another part of the reason for this is that he probably has a solid/tight/scary image at his tables, so gets more respect than I do. Another problem is that his analysis mostly involves hands with antes, which really changes the picture a lot. Antes give you a lot more motivation to play the pot because they give you a nice overlay, even if you wind up racing.

One thing that I do think he just gets wrong is that he really discounts position in his short stack moves. He acknowledges that late position gives you better fold equity, but he says that's offset by the blinds moving towards you in early position, making you want to make a move. That's just not right, as demostrated pretty thoroughly by Sklansky in "Tournament Poker". The blind is a pressure, but it really only applies when you're under the gun or perhaps a bit when you're one seat in front of the gun. Before that, you just look at the value of your hand and your position and not worry about the blind advancing. Of course with antes you have to worry about every hand you play, the antes chip away at your stack so you're under pressure to move quickly. In particular, with the players I'm used to, being "loosest" or even looser, if you make a move from early position with a short stack, the chance of folds all the way around is very low. Your all-fold equity is much much better from late position. Just as a quick example, let's say everyone will play 15% of hands (the blinds will play 20% of hands). From the button (two players in blinds) your chance of all fold is about 64%. From under the gun, the chance of all fold is 20%.

Another thing that's tripped me up is that I think Dan is still worrying about things like domination even though he doesn't mention it much. When he suggests moving all-in with KQ under the gun, part of the reason must be that when you do get called, you're usually racing. Only a few hands that would call dominate you, most of the time you're just a 60-40 dog or better, so with the extra quity from the blind and antes, you don't even mind racing that much. The chance of being called by a dominating hand is offset by the all-fold vigorish.


9-16-05 [poker]

A few months after starting to play poker, I thought I was so great, so clever. All the "pros" in our home game did. We would make crafty moves like just calling on the flop & turn in order to bluff on the river, drawing to "bluff outs", ridiculous things like that. Now that I'm a little better, I almost never make a fancy "move". I try to play good value poker. I try to bet when it's profitable, either because someone will lay down a better hand or call with a weaker hand.

Volume 2 of Harrington's Opus contains some pretty wacky stuff about short-stack and short-handed play. Some of his reasoning seems really off to me and it's messed up my game. It got in my head, but I don't really understand it or like it, and it messed up my play in the tournament today. I need to just get back on my game until I can grok his seemingly wild & reckless advice.


9-16-05 [life]

I've been horribly injured almost the whole time since I became jobless. Right now the worst thing affecting me is this nagging shoulder injury I got almost a month ago, playing catch on the beach with Dan. I tore something in my right shoulder and now I can't do any kind of pec-fly type of motion (such as you do when throwing). It's so annoying, I'm trying to go easy on it, but I just can't stand to be totally innactive for more than a day or two. I haven't been able to really work out hard in months because of the injuries, and I'm definitely losing muscle and gaining fat.


9-16-05 [film]

Have a look at the synopsis of the movie Crash (the same text appears on the official website , but it's a fucking Flash monstrosity so I can't link into it). Now, personally, as a post-9/11 web ranter, I don't appreciate irrelevant references to the post-9/11 timeframe in this post 9/11 movie-watching era. I didn't realize when "everything changed" after 9/11 that included morons sticking post-9/11 references in every synposis they can.


9-14-05 [politics]

A lot of the senators questioning John Roberts remind me of the really annoying girl in high school or college. The professor or speaker would be saying something really interesting, and she'd raise her hand "oh, oh". Then she'd launch into some long-winded personal story about how she was raised Christian with good values and she didn't believe homosexuality was in-born, and her boyfriend was going to join the army; the prof is being so patient because he can't tell anyone to shut up. And you're sitting there thinking "my god, this is fucking math class, can we get back to our hyperbolic proofs and whatnot".

I've written this before, but I think it should be required of all people seeking high public office that they answer all questions, and reveal everything about their past. Politicians plead for respect for their private lives (not when positive things are being said, only when embarassing things are found) - they should have none, if you seek a high office you surrender the privacy of your past. Everything about your views and your past should be revealed. This should go for justices, the president, senators, etc.. The idea that it would keep good people out of office is nonsense. It would keep liars and thiefs out of office, and people who aren't willing to sacrifice to serve their country. The idea that politicians are mostly elected based on their good looks and their charm and their "good resume" is ridiculous - they should be elected based on their views and their answers to questions.

I don't want a justice with good family life and good values and all that. I want a justice who can do their job and separate their personal life from their work. Someone whose work is NOT influenced by their upbringing, their paper route, their wife.


9-13-05 [politics/computing]

Ignacio sent me this cool movie about "Trusted Computed". There's more information here . I don't really know how true the scare-mongering is, and some of the things they mention are just clearly nonsense scare tactics, but the reality of it is it will take away some of the user's control of their machine. I already despise the movement to license agreements where you just "lease" software or media, not own it, and the application or media creator retains the right to your copy of the application or data. I have a very intimate attachment to my computer, and feel that my control of the bits on my computer is part of my right to privacy. The computer is an electronic extension of my self, and the bits on my machine are an electronic part of my brain. No one else should be able to examine them or prevent me from doing whatever I want to them. The only place where security belong is in the interface between the computer and data which I trust and love ("me") and the rest of the universe, be it the internet or applications which I don't trust ("them").


9-13-05 [politics]

Good article in the New York Times magazine last weekend assessing the results of 9/11 up to now. Mainly it was on things I've mentioned in this blog, but it's well summarized and put together. A few good points that he makes which I haven't stressed :

The futility of going after Al Qaeda and its leaders. It looks good on CNN when you capture or kill some honcho, but it does very little to reduce terrorism. The actual terrorists come from the grass roots; maybe you can take out a bit of organization and expertise, but those people will be replaced anyway.

The way Bush et.al. have cast this as a moral war, that the terrorists are irrational, evil, that they hate us and our lifestyle. This dehumanizes them, makes it apolitical. It rules out compromise or political solutions - it turns the equation into simply a war of us against them. This is far from the truth and a huge mistake. To fight well you must be able to put yourself in your enemy's shoes and think what they might do in various situations. If we think of terrorists as these ridiculous charicatures ("freedom haters"), we think of them incorrectly. The truth is that this lie from Bush et.al. serves two purposes. One is to drum up support at home for war. The other is to take away any discussion of the United States' political activities which are creating terrorists all over the world. It pushes the lie that the terrorists will hate us no matter what we do. That may be true for a few of the die-hards who are already filled with hatred for us, but the far more important question is - what is helping them recruit new terrorists all the time? For that, we must look at our own actions - putting armies in the middle east, supporting Israel, Egypt, the Saudi royals, supporting Saddam, etc. etc. These crucial issues have been completely cut out of our political discourse.


9-12-05 [sports]

Fucking Eagles blew it, losing me a ton of cash. I stand by the pick - I think the Eagles win that game well over 50% of the time (maybe 60% or 70%). The bad luck started with the ridiculous shit before the game where the Eagles lost one of their most important defensive players, Trotter, the MLB which is the quarterback of the defense and key to stopping the run (Atlanta's offense is all rushing). Then the game was just a bunch of bad plays by both sides, but with one big pass play for Atlanta, and lots of key plays missed for Philly. Vick played crappy as ever, as predicted, but so did fucking over-rated Owens who dropped a ton of key passes, and McNabb who fumbled and missed open receivers and was generally crappy. Fuck.

The expulsion before the game was really fucked up. Aside from being an unforseeable random act, it's a bad policy. It means that a team can take out players from their opponent. Just send one of your crappy backup guys to get in a fight with one of their stars. Officials always penalize both guys in a fight because they don't want to get into the situation of judging fault, so you both get expelled.

Let me be clear that I think the Eagles are severely over-rated as well, and they're a key target to bet against in the future. Atlanta against a team with good run defense is a good bet. The Eagles have some of the worst offensive play calling I've ever seen, and they lost key players in the off season; some of their losses that noone talks about are the 2nd and 3rd wide receivers. With Owens as a very over-rated star wideout, they need those good 2nd and 3rd wideouts. The Eagles defense can look good when the blitz is working, but it's very risky and against someone who handles the blitz well, they are very porous.

So, I won one and lost one for the weekend, and I'm down 7% because of the house vig.


9-12-05 [sports]

I've got a freeroll bet on "First Touchdown Scorer". I don't usually make those kind of bets, so it's weird to think about who to bet. Ideally you bet a team that doesn't have a lot of options to spread the ball around, that usually scores with one guy (like maybe the Chargers with L.T.), and of course you want to bet when they play against someone really bad so that you know your picked team will have the first score.


9-12-05 [sports]

Well, my Colts bet has worked out exactly as I thought. The Colts offense struggled a bit against the Ravens tough D, but the Ravens offense was so bad the spread was huge. The stupid commentators were praising the new Colts defense, but if you actually watched the game with a brain you saw that was nonsense. The Colts D was terrible - there were huge holes in the pass coverage, the run defense couldn't make a simple tackle to save their lives. The only good thing on the Colts D is the front four. The Colts D only looked good because of the pathetic Ravens offense.

The Steelers proved once again that running yardage comes from your offensive line, not your back. Take a good running team and swap out the back and you'll still have a good running team. The Broncos have been showing this for years (thanks to their unethical chop-blocking schemes).


9-12-05 [poker]

Common poker wisdom says that when you have a good hand preflop out of position, you must push it preflop because you will be in bad position after the flop. Similarly, a good hand in position, you can just call if you want because you'll have position after the flop so you can make your value then (you should still be raising for value in position with good hands, but with things like medium pairs you don't need to chase people out so much, you can wait and see the flop and what they do).

I think almost the opposite is the right play in the NL game I've been playing. Position is so important that I want to play big pots when I'm in position and small pots when I'm not (unless I flop a monster). For example, with a hand like AK, that's a powerful hand, but if I raise preflop from out of position and get callers, I hate it. Sure if I flop a nice hand that's great, but most of the time I won't flop anything, and I'll still have the best hand and not be able to do anything because of my position. Conversely, AK in position is great


9-12-05 [life]

I really appreciate it when the last direction of food preparation is "and enjoy". Without it, sometimes I forget to enjoy, I just eat in morose silence.


9-11-05 [poker]

I'm playing really badly in the later betting rounds. I think my preflop & flop play is pretty solid now, but my turn & river play is ass. There are just so many situations where I suddenly feel lost, or get the "what the fuck is happening here?" feeling. I'm usually playing pretty aggressive preflop & on the flop, so if someone calls me through that, when I get to the turn if I don't have a monster hand I'm scared. Of course many times I am still leading - they might be on a draw, or calling with some junk that would pay me off. I'm becoming a real tight/weak loser on the turn & river - I'll often check here and then if someone bets big or raises big, I'm folding.


9-11-05 [poker/finance/life]

Dan says I need to go with my instincts more, to be bold. I can always come up with a million reasons why the opposite side of the argument has value (in a Bill Clinton kind of way, I can see the merits of both sides of every issue). I've passed on great investments over and over because I see the risks and downsides. In Harrington's book he describes a "tight/weak" player as someone who's just looking for a reason to fold. A tight/weak player thinks every Bull market is a bubble waiting to burst. Hmm.. sounds like me. Hecker tells me I'm a severe pessimist. I've never thought of myself that way, but when I look at the behavior profile of a pessimist, it fits.


9-10-05 [poker]

Lost a bunch of money today. I got unlucky in the $100 tournament (AA beat by QT), and then blew cash in the cash game. I paid off in the same way that I make money. It's crucial to know how you make money in poker - what mistake of my opposition allows me to profit? - and then don't make that same mistake. In particular, one of the crucial mistakes is valuing weak hands too much and paying off big hands. For example, if you have just a pair (even if it's an overpair, or top pair top kicker), that's a mediocre hand, but donkeys will pay off huge pots when they have just a pair and you have some nice big monster hand. Today I paid off a set when two pair. Now, two pair is better than one, but it's still not a huge hand and I shouldn't have paid off with it.

Experience in poker doesn't really help you play better (if you're a smart player who can figure out the play from reading books). What it does do are two valuable things. 1) it removes some of the emotional reaction, which is good, it keeps you off tilt; once you've received bad beats from bad players for huge money, it doesn't make you feel so bad each time it happens. 2) it helps you act without thinking too much, which is good because in the pressure of the moment with the timer ticking down, your brain can get all loopy and it's hard to think through the hand right.


9-10-05 [sports]

Oddsmakers put way too much credence in stats and correlations. For example, they'll cite "teams that lose the superbowl tend to lose their opening game the next year". Okay, maybe that's true, but logically if you think for a second you can see there's zero direct correlation between those things. There may be an indirect correlation, because teams that lose the superbowl tend to get shaken up a bit, lose some key players or staff, and that leads to losing games. It's better to look at those direct logical correlations - if they didn't happen, then this statistical pattern doesn't matter.


9-9-05 [sports]

My picks for NFL Week 1 : You could bet the Jets (over KC) and Seattle (over Jacksonville) to Win. Both are picked as underdogs by the oddsmakers, and I think they're wrong, but I have low confidence in both of these since all the teams involved are so inconsistent.

The two bets I like this are actually bets on favorites against the spread (or you could bet them to Win at slightly worse odds). I don't usually like to bet favorites, but I think the spread on both of these is way off. I still would never bet a favorite for a spread over 3 (because even when the better team is dominating, sometimes they'll take a rest in the second half and wind up just barely winning), but these spreads are low enough you could just bet the spread.

1. Indianapolis at Baltimore, spread -3 ; I take Indy on this spread any day; I expect the margin to be more like 14. Indy's only weakness is their defense, and Baltimore is not going to exploit that. Baltimore's offense might even put up negative points (turnovers for Indy scores), they have to hope their defense will score a few.

2. Philadelphia at Atlanta, spread -1.5 ; this one is an absolute lock. Atlanta is one of the most over-rated teams in the NFL, I'd bet against them almost every week. Michael Vick absolutely sucks donkey balls, but gay football idiots get all moist in their panties when they see him scramble around and throw an interception. Yeah, there's lots of bad blood in Philly right now which I don't like, but against Atlanta I expect this margin to be more like 14.


9-9-05 [life]

I went to New Orleans for the first time this summer, as a three-day stop on my drive across country seeing the states. I went to college at the University of Texas, where students would often go to New Orleans for the lower drinking age and the wild partying, but I missed out on that, like I missed out on a lot of college fun, much to my dismay. When I went, I found a large American city, with the same fast food and strip malls and megamarts, but within that was a kernel of something else. The old city was full of history and unique culture, ethnic and class groups that stayed unhomogenized with the great American mix. Yes, Bourbon street was invaded by tourists and chain stores and generic entertainment like you might see in Vegas or Branson, but between two stores would be a unique eatery; a restaurant with a back entrance for the help (black) and a back food counter that sold food from the same kitchen (the front restaurant has a velvet rope keeping out the riffraff); the romance of the place. On my trip I was disappointed and sadenned by the horrible sameness of most of America - here was a place that kept its character, and I rejoiced! Of course, part of what made New Orleans unique is what has made this tragedy so sad - New Orleans clung to old cultural divides, class and racial, counting the number of generations you'd been in the city, the amount of each type of blood in your veins, your neighborhood, your ranking in the Mardi Gras Krews, the Creoles and the Cajuns (like Shiites and Sunnis, those on the outside hardly know the difference, but on the inside they consider themselves vastly different).


9-8-05 [finance]

How do we make money on Katrina? (I know this is incredibly cynical, but just because we feel sorry for the victims doesn't mean we can't profit; now I'm not advocating going in there and charging people to be rescued, or jacking up the price of water in the South, etc). Obviously the US oil market is hit very hard, more so by the loss of some refineries than anything else. But who profits from this? The major oil companies that lost refineries and production in the gulf don't profit. Oil companies that have nothing to do with that region perhaps do profit, since prices go higher and their production & supply is unaffected. So, why isn't my baby BPT going up? Partly the problem is the price of crude hasn't gone up very much, just the price of gas. I'm not sure how to profit from that, maybe there are independent refining companies that just buy crude & refine it and sell the gas? That would be a company like Valero (VLO) , which did indeed shoot up with Katrina. Looks like it's too late to get in. I'm not really sure what the price of crude will do. Currently the US can't process crude fast enough to meet demand, so that seems to indicate the price of crude won't shoot up, even as the price of gas stays high. Refineries need to be built and repaired, so maybe a buy in refinery production/maintenance companies is good. Engineering/construction companies like Schlumberger or Halliburton could do well, but they're so big they won't be affected strongly; maybe a good buy are these little offshore and engineering specialists - Stolt Offshore and Willbros Group .


9-7-05 [poker]

Oh happy day! I just took 7th place in a $41,700 tourney (100+9 entry, 417 players), for $1251. 1st place was about $10,000. I played my solid style the whole time. I didn't get into a single race or big pot until near the end; I just made bets & steals and my stack stayed around average. My first race was also my big luck. I got in with JJ against KK and I won by hitting a jack. There's no way to place so high without being lucky in some way or other; one way to be lucky is to get premium hole cards more than you should (lots of AA). Another way is to hit your junk cards on the flop (eg. when you play T6 and hit a house). Another is when you draw out on someone. I went out in the end with AJs against KK, lucky fucker. Moving up one place at the end was a huge amount of money for each place, would've been nice to move up, but I had to play AJs (from the small blind, the dang big blind had the KK). I probably could have just folded every hand for the next few rounds and made it up another spot or two (worth about a thousand dollars) since everyone was playing very fast and wild.

One very interesting situation came up - the kind of drama over many hands that you never see on TV. This guy, doss19, was on my immediate left, so we had a lot of confrontations since he's one of the blinds I'm attacking. I made several blind steals, mostly with good hands, but never got called, and I know he was getting pissed. Then I made a raise with like K9 and he comes over the top all-in. I fold it, even though I'm thinking I might be good, I know he's attacking me. I also have been watching doss19 show his cards a lot with good hands. He shows JJ, AQ, AQ, QQ. Now, doss19 is an okay player, so he must be showing for a reason. He's showing to make people think he raises with good cards, so that he can steal with junk raises. So I know he's trying to set himself up for steals and he wants to play back at me - he's seen that I can raise and then fold to a reraise. Now the trap is set and I'm waiting for the situation to spring it. I want it to fold around to me when I have good cards, and I'll give him a little raise that looks afraid, and he'll go all-in and I'll call it. So, I start waiting. The next few rounds I get junky cards which I would often steal with, like T8s, and I just fold them because I know doss19 is likely to come if I raise. Then the situation comes. I get AKs and it folds to me in the small blind. The blinds now are 1000/2000 , so I raise to 5000 - a raise that looks like a steal and small enough for me to fold if he comes ott. Indeed, he goes all-in and I know I've got him. I call and he shows A3 - the trap worked perfectly, I'm a 70% favorite to double up. And then the board comes JJ355. The 3 is irrelevant - we split the pot with JJ55A for both of us. Damn, it burns, because my trap is now sprung and I missed the mouse.

The other big hand that didn't go well for me was near the end. I had 33,000 chips and the blinds were 2000/4000. I'm in the cutoff with T7. In this phase lots of people with big stacks have been going allin to steal the blinds. I haven't had good cards in a long time, so I figure I need to steal some blinds from position with mediocre hands. I raise to 10,000. The player on the button, BreeP, sits and thinks for a long time, running the timer and the time bank all the way down. Then she goes all-in. Both blinds fold and it's back to me. Now, I'm pretty sure BreeP is on a weak hand here, maybe ace-junk. For one thing, the long thinking means a weak hand - the timer was so low she was close to being auto-folded, which noone with a monster hand would risk. For another thing, I've seen her go all in with 78 and T3 and hands like that. So, it's possible my T7 is even good, and if not, probably just a 60/40 dog. It's 23,000 more to me, and if I call the pot would be 72,000 , so I only need a 32% chance of winning to call. I certainly have that, so mathematically it's a clear call. My problem is that if I can fold and just make it up one more spot, it's worth $400 in real money, which seems pretty likely to me with how wild everyone is playing. In the game I decided to fold, but I'm pretty sure now that was a mistake. Certainly if I was going to fold there I should have not raised in the first place, I should have just kept folding to creep up a few spots and only played big hands.

Note that this hand presents an interesting lesson - you get much better EV from making a moderate raise and calling an all-in than if you just go all-in. This is because when you raise and call, you're facing much weaker hands on average than when you just go all-in. If I just went all-in there, then my opponents are never bluffing when they call - they always have something good. By making a moderate raise, when they go all-in sometimes they're bluffing, so when I call I have a much better chance of winning the showdown. However, going all-in is much lower variance, since the bluff hands will just fold and you won't have to race against them.

So, should I have called? If I fold there, my EV is about +$200 , because I survive with 23,000 chips which I guess is enough to make it up one spot in the money about 50% of the time. If I call, I have a 60% chance of getting knocked out, but 40% of the time I wind up with 72,000 chips. That gives me a roughly 100% chance of moving up one spot, for +$400 , plus some equity for the higher places. I would have 17% of the chips at that point, but I suck so I'll just say a 10% shot of winning the remaining $15,000 in prizes, for +$1500. So I can either get +$200 by folding, or .4*(1900) = $760 from calling. This is very approximate but clearly the call is right.

In the end, perhaps I played a bit too tight. The blinds were huge, so the only move was all-in, and I just hate making an all-in bluff, or going all-in with a marginal hand not knowing if you're good. It's ironic because I used to be a specialist at those moves (I'm famous for going all-in with K7 several times in our home game). I found myself unable to go back to that crazy mode. I folded A5 in the small blind against an all-in from the button. Probably I should have called that; an all-in from the button almost means random cards at that point, so my ace high is almost certainly good even though I hate my kicker, but I just can't stand to make that call and see him turn over good cards - it's a weakness in my endgame for sure.

I was chatting with Drew throughout the tourney which helped me a lot. It just keeps me focused and keeps from making any donkey moves. Sometimes I'll get "creative" when I play on my own (creative is a synonym for stupid), but by knowing that someone is watching it makes you stay on track. It also keeps my mind from wandering too much; when I play on my own I get too bored and start doing other things, which is bad.


9-5-05 [politics]

Clearly flood insurance and such should be private. Home-owners should be required to have comprehensive disaster insurance; appartment owners would cover it for renters and pass on the cost in the price of rent. Before you start shouting nonsense about how this would be a horrible cost that would drive up prices, stop, that's completely wrong. It would drive down the total cost of flood/disaster spending, it would simply be paid a different way; rather than the populace paying for it through federal taxes that go to FEMA, it would be paid semi-directly through insurance and local taxes. Yes, some money would be skimmed in profit, but that's probably less than the federal beaurocracy overhead, and would benefit from competition and consumer choice. It's necessary to require people to carry it, because making it optional (like flood insurance is now) is untenable - people would simply opt out, knowing that the feds would pick up the slack in major disasters. With this system the costs would be properly borne by the areas that are at risk, rather than subsidized by the nation. Furthermore, it would provide more motivation for prevention and safety measures, since they would drive down costs. It would also simply discourage people to live in risky places. The same forces should be at work with cabins in fire-prone mountains, etc.


8-30-05 [poker]

Preflop strategies. I think that complex information hiding strategies like Abdul's are foolish. They're only necessary if you're playing the same style all the time, and playing against the same people so that the can build up a read on you. Instead, I like to play a few different strategies, and change between them. Each one is pretty deterministic, but you can't tell what I'm doing because you don't know what strategy I'm playing with any particular hand. The strategies are, roughly :

1. Basic solid play. Like Harrington or Sklansky, etc. but without bothering to hide information. eg. raise with high pairs, limp with suited connectors or low pairs, etc. This is how I usually play when I first sit down before I get a read on the table.

2. Always raising. If the table is very tight/weak I'll play an always-raising strategy. In this strategy I never limp, even with the speculative hands like suited connectors. I play this only when people are folding so much preflop or postflop that I always want to be in the lead. Usually I'll only play this for a little while, because people will start playing back, and then I have to go into a trapping mode.

3. Trapping. Against people who are frequently raising my limps, aggressive players, etc. I go into a trapping strategy. In this mode I'll limp with a lot of good hands hoping for a raise so I can come over the top. I'll stop playing speculative hands and go into a high-card mode. I'm expecting I could play a big pot any time I come into the pot. This mode is very tight except when there are good opportunites to steal or limp cheaply.


8-30-05 [poker]

One detail I disagree with Harrington about - he advocates varying your bet sizes to "disguise your hands". He's right if you want to be raising slightly different amounts with different hands. For example, with AA your ideal raise is 3XBB preflop, while with TT your ideal raise is 4XBB (it wants less action). If you actually did that, it would give away too much information. So, Harrington says raise between 2X and 4X with AA, raise between 3X and 5X with TT, for example. I disagree. I think you get better value and better disguise by always raising the same amount. I usually settle on 3.5XBB , and I raise that exact amount any time I open a pot for a raise. That provides maximum information hiding, the only thing you're giving up is that you're not raising the exact amount that you want to, but you're not getting that when you vary your raise sizes either.


8-30-05 [poker]

I had a horrific day of poker yesterday, playing the $200 No Limit tables. First I had some really bad luck and lost about $400. That happens, that's variance. The bad thing is it put me on tilt. I wanted to make back my loss quickly and started playing badly. That let to about another $400 in losses from donkey plays. The result is I almost wiped out my profit from the last few days. That's a scary thing about those No Limit tables - you can lose money really fast when you're playing badly. When you're playing well, it mostly comes slowly. Even when someone else at the table is giving money away, you only have a 1/5 chance of getting that money (at a 6-way table there are 5 other players who are roughly equally likely to receive the fruits of the donkey's benefaction). That's one nice thing about tournaments - there's a good upside when you play well and get lucky, but if you play badly or get unlucky the downside isn't that bad. One horrible play in a tournament and you lose your entry fee, not a huge deal. One horrible play at a cash table and you can lose your whole stack, rather a big deal.

Playing No Limit is really different than Limit. I've mainly played low limit online and it's given me some bad habits. In low limit, you draw at a lot more hands, because the implied odds are generally very good (everyone is very loose), and you don't have to worry too much about drawing to second best hands. For example, you can draw to low flushes (eg. if you have the 76s, you can draw to the flush). You can draw to flushes when the board is paired (eg. a house is possible), you can draw to straights when a flush is possible. In limit hold'em, in the rare cases where you make your draw and it's second best (eg. someone has the higher flush, someone has the house when you make your straight), you just pay them off, it's no big deal, it's just a few bets, you make up for it in all the cases where they don't have a better hand. In No Limit, it's different. When you get to the river, you might have to play for your whole stack. Suddenly the flush you made with the 76 doesn't look so good. The straight you made with the board paired doesn't look so good. The implied odds aren't so good because you have to be afraid to bet or raise here since you might get reraised for your whole stack.

Basically in No Limit you want to be drawing at the nuts, or very nearly the nuts. Really you almost never want to be drawing. You want to have the best hand and play it aggressively. Reading Harrington is very interesting.


8-30-05 [life]

I'm leaving for Burning Man tomorrow. I'm feeling like crap still presumably because of the antibiotics I'm still on, but hopefully I'll be recovered just in time to thoroughly fuck myself up.

Some days in life when I'm feeling good I'll try to connect to the rest of humanity. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Ask for help when I need help, offer help to others. It pretty much always results in despair - disgust at their rudeness and uncharitability and foolishness. For example, when you are visiting someplace you've never been, it's just about pointless to ask a local for advice about where to eat or stay or have fun - they either don't want to tell you or are too stupid to have useful advice. Anyhoo, one of the great things about Burning Man is you feel like you're in this big community of people who are happy to help each other and be nice to each other. You can reach out to people and be rewarded. (there are exceptions of course, mainly in the single male-female interactions which are pretty much as horrible as anywhere else). Anyway, it occurred to me last night that this is just like the hippy days of yore - little communities of people in semi-utopian interaction. The foolish ones get these ideas like "why can't the whole world be like this all the time?". Well, the truth is that these semi-utopian communities only exist when A) the people aren't really doing anything productive, they're subsidized by their parents or their outside lives, and B) everyone's on a bunch of drugs to make them all euphoric and nice to each other. Oh well, it's still nice as a vacation from the real world.


8-29-05 [poker]

I've been doing great playing the No Limit cash tables, which Drew turned me on to. Today I made a huge mistake which I'll tell you about.

I get AA preflop and raise to 3.5X the BB ($7 with 1/2 blinds). The small blind calls and the big blind folds. The flop comes Jack-high with 3 clubs. The guy checks, I bet 15 (pot size). The guy raises to 30. I figure he could be raising a flush draw or a jack here, so I reraise to 70. He goes all-in, for 221 chips, so it's 151 more to me to call. I think a while and fold.

I think it's a mistake to fold here. Yes, he could have a set, or he could have flopped the flush. In a higher limit game, maybe the fold here is okay, but at this limit, he'll push like that with the top pair jacks. His most likely holding is probably the flush draw. He could also have top pair - he could also have a lower pocket pair, KK, QQ. If he has the flush or the set, it's just bad luck, it happens. I think if you consider the good odds the pot is giving me it's a definite call.

The weakness I have here is that I just can't stand to put big chips in the pot when I might be behind, especially when I'm calling. Sometimes you have to gamble, not in the sense of the draw of cards, but gamble on the range of hands your opponent might have. I also have trouble making good decisions with the damn Party Poker timer beeping away. It gets me all panicked about the time limit and my brain freezes up. Part of the cure for that is experience, so you can make decisions based on memory instead of having to think it through carefully.

Another problem I had with this hand is that the guy just sat down at the table, so I had no read on him. If I knew he was a super-aggressive player, I would have instantly called. I really hate playing hands against people that I haven't built my read on yet.

After more thought, this is an absolute mistake. If I just had the top pair Jacks, I think it's a good solid fold. With AA, it's a clear call, since some of his likely holdings are KK, QQ, and the top pair. I probably lost $300 on this hand, since it's a $400 pot and I win 3/4 of the time or so.


8-29-05 [poker]

I just got "Harrington on Hold'em" , both volumes, and am devouring it. It's by far the best book on No Limit Hold'em that I've ever read. Nothing really new of course, but it provides great clarity and focus and gives concrete examples of how an expert plays various situations and why. It's not a good starting book, it gets into advanced play pretty quick, you really need to have read many other books first and played for a while.

If you're an arrogant fuck of a poker player like I am, you assume you're playing better than your opponents. Because of that, there are only hands that you "should have won" and "bad beats". When I play worse cards than my opponents and beat them, it's because of my skill. When they do it, it's because they're lucky piece of shits.


8-29-05 [rant]

The software moguls of Atherton, California (on the wild hill near Palo Alto and Woodside) are troubled by a mountain lion that has perhaps been seen on someone's massive property once or twice. They angrily call for the authorities to shoot it. They say "it doesn't belong here. There's only one solution - to take it out". I'll tell you the fucking solution - YOU don't belong there, YOU should be shot and taken out. It's the mountain lion's land, and he'll appreciate it and use it far more than you, with your tennis courts and private golf courses. The Humane Society should go in and put all the humans to sleep and tear down the homes so the mountain lion can live in peace.


8-27-05 [politics]

I just watched Jon Stewart get humiliated by the smart Christopher Hitchens about the righteousness of the Iraq war and whether it's creating terrorists, etc. A reasonable position is very simple.

First, fighting abroad to stop terrorists is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Our fight in Afghanistan was called for, though we are failing horribly at the followup. Taliban-sponsored guerillas still control large portions of the countries, and the warlords have taken up their old roles running the Opium poppy trade which has resurged.

Second, regime change to depose evil states is perfectly reasonable. We should have been in Rwanda for the genocide, we should now be in Sudan, and I'm sure there's a lot of other African crap we should get into. North Korea is a horrible nation that starves millions of its people every year and should be dealt with. Regime change in Iraq is debatable but perhaps was warranted.

What was absolutely rotten and what the President should be impeached for is lying about the case for war, lying to Congress, the UN, and the American people. Suggesting that Iraq had WMD's (and was trying to buy uranium), suggesting any connection to 9/11, suggesting that attacking Iraq would make us safer from terrorism - those are crimes.

Furthermore, the conduct of the war has been reprehensible. Ignoring the army commanders requests for more troups and a better plan to secure the peace, and then firing or silencing any who speak out. Rumsfeld encouraging torture, the policy of extradition of captives to questionable states, the memos about the Geneva convention not applying, etc. And allowing the nation to be divided into the three ethnic factions. Even if you support the war you must be ashamed of these things.

And, the truth is that the Iraq war has created many more terrorists. Yes, it is islamic extremism and poverty and powerlessness which create the brew for terrorism, and those ingredients were already there. But it is violence and occupation which stirs the stew and motivates people en masse to give their lives for terrorism. We have supplied that catalyst in Iraq, as well as creating a massive lawless zone where fighters and materiel from many terrorist states can come together.

As much as Saddam was a bad guy, he controlled his country with an iron fist. Now, stability in Iraq seems far away, and when the Shiites and Sunnis are killing each other over control of the oil in Iraq, the families of the dead will blame the U.S. This is the very reason why the U.S. installed Saddam and dictators like him across the globe - for stability. That was Kissinger's realpolitik - would you rather have a democratic nation that might vote communist, or a ruthless dictator that keeps the restless populace under heel - he'd choose the latter. Of course the new news on this topic is that the Shiites & Kurds might pass a cons

In the mean time of course, we are largely ignoring Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan which are the greatest terrorism fomenters in the world.


8-26-05 [poker]

Out 8th and 9th in more 2-table $20 tourneys. Mostly playing well and get some bad luck. One hand I think I played wrong :

Agressive guy limps from the cutoff, I limp on the button with A8, small blind folds, BB checks. Flop comes AK9. BB checks, aggro checks, I bet close to pot size, aggressive guy calls, BB folds. Aggro could have an A or a K, maybe a 9? Probably not a very good Ace or he would have raised. Turn bring another K. Aggro guy bets the min into a large pot. This is weird. I think a while and just call. River is a blank (6). Aggro guy goes all-in. His all-in here is roughly pot size. I think a while and fold, figuring him for the K.

I'm not sure what he would just call with, but the betting action suggests to me that he made a feeler bet on the turn, and then sensing weakness, he made a bluff at the river. I think I probably should have called. If he actually had the K, he probably wouldn't have made that min bet on the turn, he would have just checked it into me since I had bet the flop. In any case I probably should have raised the turn to see what that min bet was. Sometimes people will put out a min bet just to get you to raise them so they can go over the top.

Just made a 4th place in one of those tourneys. I got down to the last 4 with the 2nd biggest stack and then just had a long series of bad luck. I was in almost every time with the worst hand, but it's still very bad luck, though donkeys don't see it. I was stealing more than my share of blinds as usual. The blinds were at 150/300 and I was coming in for 700 to steal. The two short stacks had between 1500 and 3000 in chips the whole time. I was getting lots of good steal, but every so often a short stack would come ott allin. Now, in that case it's something like 800 more to me to call and there's already 1550 in the pot, so I have to call with almost any two cards. I made a bunch of those calls and was a 55/45 underdog each time and lost them all (races like A5 against KT, KT against Q8, etc.). I try to avoid domination when I make those plays, I'm more likely to call with Q8 than with K2, but with those odds I have to call almost any time. I lost about 4 of these in a row and suddenly found myself a short stack. The last 4 places in these things is very random, the blinds are so big you have to play fast and hit some cards.


8-25-05 [computer rant]

Windows should know the native resolution and physical dimensions of my monitors. It should then take my font preferences in physical size, not in pixels. My 19" external monitor is 1280x1024 , my 14" laptop is 1400x1050 , the result is that an 11-pixel font is okay on my main screen but tiny on my laptop screen. Fuck, even the Internet Explorer "text size" preference is totally fucked - 1. it doesn't stick, 2. it's too granular, it should be a floating point. I should be able to drag a window across my two rather different displays and have it look pretty close to seamless (except of course the discrete pixel rounding issues, that's fine).


8-25-05 [poker]

Yesterday I twice took 5th place in 2-table tournaments, which is on the bubble just out of the money. I think I played well in both, I had a solid stack with about 8 players left in both cases and had some mild bad luck where hands didnt go my way, wound up on a short stack, and then lost the races I was forced into because of my short stack. There was one key hand in one of them that I may have played badly, but I can't quite figure it out.

Blinds were 75/150 , rather big. I had about 2500 in chips. It folds around to a guy with about 1200 in chips in the cutoff (one off the button), who limps. Button folds and I just call from the small blind with A9. Big blind checks. Now, maybe this is a mistake, I should have just raised right away preflop with the A9. The flop comes T93, I have a pretty solid middle pair. The pot is now 450 chips. I think it's quite possible this guy has QJ so I want to charge the draw and find out where I'm at. I lead out 350 chips. Big blind folds and the limper just calls. Turn brings a blank. Now the pot is 1150 and this guy only has 700 chips left, I have 2000. I figure he could have two over cards, a lower pocket pair, a lot of hands he might call with. He also could have a worse nine. I put him all-in for 700, he quickly calls with KT and I'm beat. I wind up with 1300 chips and suddenly I'm on a low stack.

I really hate this hand. I've always thought people who blow off their chips with middle pair are donkeys, but it's hard to think of playing it any other way. Maybe on the flop I should have thought he's calling an awful lot, he probably has top pair, and just given up on the hand right then. I just hate leading out on the flop and then checking the turn, because it just begs your opponent to take the pot from you with a worse hand. Actually a check-call on the turn might have been a better play, because it's likely to get worse hands to bluff. Even a check-call on the flop might have been in order. Certainly I failed at one of the principles of poker here, which is to show down marginal hands cheaply.

I think the flop play is correct, most of the time he's limped and missed the flop, I want him to fold the flop. He's not a super aggressive player where a check-raise would be appropriate. The turn bet is just wrong. He's not going to fold a hand that beats me, and he wouldn't call with much that I can beat. I have to check the turn, and if he bets I probably have to fold.


8-24-05 [life]

I put up some photos on my yahoo photos page from my rather unusual month of August.

My bites are almost done healing, but I have to stay on the antibiotics a while and hence avoid alcohol and sunshine. (in Homer voice) : "but I love alcohol and sunlight! oawww!"

Last week before I went camping I played some basketball with some local guys. I made the mistake of wearing sunglasses at first in the game, and quickly found out why that's a very bad idea. Some guy smashed his hand into my face accidentally which jammed the glasses into my nose flesh; I was instantly bleeding out of the side of my nose down my shirt. It wasn't like a gusher, just a nice stream of blood. A bunch of the guys were nurses so they quickly had a look and prounced it no big deal. After swearing I had never had sex with Pam Anderson, the game resumed. Now I take off my sunglasses to play. After the game I realized I'm much too soft to play basketball (and was too soft for rugby). I'm just really not trying to hurt anyone, and I don't seek contact. I know that some of the people I've played sports with may disagree because I do play hard, but by the standards of your typical street game of basketball, I'm a softy. When you go to the hoop, you have to go hard, and if someone puts their face in the way of your elbow, that's their fault. Especially on defense, there's almost no penalty for fouling in street ball, but I just can't do it. The result is I'm easy to score on (like your sister). My shot continues to just suck ass in games. I've gotten decent in practice, I can hit long series of swish after swish sometimes in practice (and then go cold), but in games I choke from the pressure and toss up lame shots every time.


8-24-05 [hiking math]

The gradient path is twist-free (I think it's called "roll" in flight-sim terms). The gradient path is perpendicular to the contour lines. The gradient takes you up the steepest path. If there were any twist, it would mean there would be a steeper path you could take by yawing in the direction of the twist incline.


8-24-05 [computer rant]

I hate the fucking touchpad on my laptop. As a pointing device, it's sort of okay, but the fucking click feature is moronic. Half the time that I lift my finger and set it down again it sends a click message. The big problem with that is even ONE click that I didn't intend is a HUGE FUCKING DISASTER. There's zero tolerance for miss-clicks in computers. What if my cursor happens to be over the "Delete" button when it mis-clicks? On the "send" when I've just accidentally composed a porno email to my grandmother? On the "call" button in poker when the guy just went allin and I have junk? The thing would be okay if I could just disable it ever ever sending a click.

Well, thanks Thatch. Guess what, this thing can be disabled! Control Panel->Mouse , there should be a tab on there for the touchpad. Usually you can disable "tapping" , and I also discovered a bazillion other fancy features that my touchpad has, like virtual scrolling and tap zones and button remapping, etc. all disabled now!


8-24-05 [life]

It occurs to me that I'm the Ricky Williams of game development. A talented star in the prime of his career - walks away from success and glory to be a bum. Everyone in their right mind thought Ricky was an idiot (including me) - how could you waste such talent and give up so much money? you can be a bum after you're old and injured and burned out. It remains to be seen if I'll be Ricky Phase 2, which is the coming back with your tail between your legs, a mere shadow of your former abilities.

There are two maintenance guys who the landlord sends to work on my house, usually against my wishes. One is a pot smoking ex-hippy landscaper who hot-boxes in his 82 Datsun pickup between each stroke of his rusted rake. The other is an ex-alcoholic, ex-race-car-driver, ex-child-molester, soon to be inheritor fix-it guy who tightens one screw and beams about his good work.


8-24-05 [gambling]

I'm going to try my hand at some NFL betting again this year. I did it semi pro once long ago, maybe 7 years ago now, when I had a few months of joblessness in Austin. It was a lovely summer, sitting on my porch in Travis Heights, going to the local public pool (old Austin has the greatest network of public parks and pools anywhere), drinking beer and new-found foods from Butt's Central Market.

The great thing about sports betting is that you're not just betting against pros, or the oddsmakers. Rather, you're betting against Vinny in Jersey who thinks the Giants are gonna win it all this year. I wrote about this in great detail long ago, so if you want to learn more you can look there. My strategy for this season : 1) Only bet on win/loss , not on spreads. I hate betting spreads because teams when they're ahead will often slack and let the loser get close, even when the winning team is far better. (betting a spread for an underdog is okay if the win/loss odds are not very favorable). 2) Only bet underdogs or even odds. It's just foolish to risk your money if you're not getting at least 100% pay when you're right, there's too much randomness to bet favorites. The ideal bet is a bet to win on a big underdog. 3) Bet at the last minute possible so you have the latest injury reports, etc. Any advantage to locking in a spread or odds earlier is not nearly as great as the danger of some late news totally ruining your theorizing. 4) Try to only bet teams that I have personally watched play. This is going to be hard because the damned TV coverage is so bad here, I mostly get 9ers games which fucking sucks, but I really don't trust anyone else's measure of a team outside of my own eyes.

Which reminds me - it's such a fucking travesty that I'm getting 100 channels of SHITE pumped into my home every day, when there are thousands of things I'd love to watch that I don't get to see. If this is really what all you dumbed damn Americans want to watch, then fuck you, but if not, then the TV companies are really fucking up by showing things that aren't optimimum for attracting viewers.


8-24-05 [humor]

DVD rental places should put on a sticker that "be kind rewind". I want to see how many people sit there with their DVD player after they watch the movie, rewinding to the beginning.

Ok, I know this is a little late, like 15 years too late or so, but there should totally be a spoof video for "Baby Got Back" that actually is about girls backs. Like arching their backs, closeups on bony girls with their spines and vertebrae all wiggling, doing the yoga cat-back moves. Oh yeah, I love me some back.


8-24-05 [book]

Salman Rushdy's "Fury" is an old man's attempt to write about a time that has passed him by; he writes about hip urban culture like someone who has seen it on TV, never in real life; he writes about the internet revolution like someone who can barely use a computer; most of the book is taken up with long descriptions of the character's own fictional work, which is profoundly uninteresting and a sad tired trick, or with long repetetive tirades on a single topic, like a bad poet tossing out one descriptor after another to describe America.


8-24-05 [life]

Last night my fever broke. Before I went to bed my fever was nearly up to 102, worse than ever, and I was worried; I thought I'd try to sleep it off, and if it was worse in the morning I'd go back to the damned hospital again. The night was stormy, clammy, the sheets like straight jacket. Suddenly I broke into a drenching sweat, water gushing from every bit of my skin, and I found myself lying in a pool, the sheets and bed all soaked and cold. My fever was gone, down to 98.7 I'd never experienced such a dramatically sudden fever breakage; it was like being a sea captain strapped to the mast in a mighty storm, and then it suddenly clears and the sky is blue. Yarr.


8-24-05 [corporate]

I long ago tired of rants about how managers suck and the bosses are so out of touch with the product and they keep telling me to do stupid things, blah blah blah. Yes, that's all true, now what are you going to do about it? Each person in the company should be doing the best they can to make the situation as good as possible. Everyone has different abilities to do that and different ways of accomplishing it. When the people at the top do something foolish, it's the job of the recipient to tell their superior, and for them to do what they can about it, etc.

It should come as no surprise that management is not into the product. Generally the executives are people who are good at starting & running a company. They're good at talking to VC's , or the press, or the lawyers. That's what you want. In fact, if the executives are people who know a lot about the product, that's generally very bad unless it's a very small or young company. Now, delegation is crucial, obviously you want people who are good at each thing in charge of that thing - you don't want your executives who are good with the money doing the redesign of your product line, but at the same time it's only natural that the people at the top will have input, since in the end it's their show to run.

I've been thinking more generally about why corporate culture sucks. By "sucking" I'm talking about the manipulation, the back-stabbing, the lying, the awkwardness, etc. In the end it just comes down to the fact that people suck. Try getting a group of people together and get them to work together cooperatively on anything. For god's sakes, the Oddworld group could never even get from the office to lunch together in any semi-functional way. The bigger the group and the harder the task, the more disfunctional it gets. Why are managers generally cocks? Well, partly it's because of their own social problems, they want more credit than they deserve for the successes and less for the failures, they want to do less work than they should, and also they see those same problems in their subordinates. What if managers were generally nice guys who trusted the employees to tell the truth - to ask for help when it was needed, to give accurate time estimates, to work as hard as possible, etc. - the employees would exploit it and rip the managers off. The average human acts like a cock, so they get treated like a cock. Part of the difficulty for a manager who's trying to be a nice guy is that some people really are great and could be treated well, while others will exploit every bit of slack you give them, but you can't really treat people too differently because it looks like you're playing favorites, etc.

When a corproate group works well, it's generally not because the structure is so good, because they're using "scrums" or "extreme keywords" or whatever, it's because the human interaction is working for whatever reason - the people are just good trustworthy people, or they are friends, or they just get along well, or they're just good workers. It's much easier for a small group to work well, but once you get into a large group it becomes extremely unlikely that the whole group is functioning well. In that case the best you can do is isolate the good portion together and minimize the negative impact of the remainder, but that doesn't work very well because it means some part of the your operation is smooth, and some other key part suffers, and as I've often pointed out, the quality of your product is usually set by your weakest link.


8-24-05 [fiction]

I'd like to write a hypertext short story like a Borges Labrynth. A story where the prose itself is Labrynth, where you have to navigate to find your way in and out.


8-23-05 [poker]

There's all this glorification in poker of crafty moves, bluffs and steals, reading people, tells, etc. Really the most amazing thing to me, and the most difficult, is when people can just play straight up poker and do it right in hard situations - that is, bet, call, fold when you're ahead/beat. Being able to fold a big hand when you're beat, being able to call down a hand when your King-high is good - that's just straight up value poker, and it's amazing.

I just took a 1st place then a 2nd place in $20 two-table tournaments. I feel like I played super-fantastic in both, though the key remaining weakness in my game was brought painfully to my attention. I've become afraid of getting all-in with anything but very big hands. I just can't stand the idea of getting knocked out when I'm all-in on a bluff, or trying to catch a bluff with a weak pair or something like that. This makes me soft, it means I can be exploited by smart players, and I'm missing value in taking pots with the big bluff. Early in my career I used to get allin on bluffs and calls a lot, partly because we played a rebuy structure so if I blew out early (as I often did) I could get back in and often enough win it on the rebuy. I play much better now, but I need to lose that fear, without getting reckless - it should be a smart, calculated allin.

The thing is, getting allin on a bluff is just like getting allin on a good hand. I would certainly get allin with AA , in which case I'm probably 80% to win. So why not get allin on a bluff when you estimate you win 80% of the time? The percentage plays out differently - with AA the randomness comes in the draw of cards, on the bluff it comes in the hole cards your opponent already has, eg. you've estimated he has cards that he will fold 80% of the time. Of course there are differences and actually you want to be more sure than that with the bluff.


8-23-05 [film]

"In The Soup" is a rare movie from 1992 starring Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Beals. Steve is annoying and whiny like always, but fortunately we have the real heart of the movie to prop it up - Seymour Cassel in a wonderful performance as the bon-vivant movie financier (slash mobster with a heart of gold). This movie's quite funny and rarely insulting. Stanley Tucci turns in a very funny bit part doing a hillariously bad French accent. The jokes about how bad art movies are get tiresome after the first one, making fun of the "artiste" and all that.

"Step into Liquid" was really disappointing. I just love watching surfers and waves, and the variety of surfing that's shown in the movie is so cool, I love that it's not just the same old pro-style carving the waves in Hawaii or whatever. Unfortunately, the actual surfing is only like 10% of the movie, and even when they're showing surfing, there's this constant insipid voice over about how all that matters is having fun, and how the surfers all have so much in common, and the respect for the ocean, and the surf lifestyle, and how surfing is pure entertainment and its the pinnacle of civilization, oh my god you fucking new age cunt, I'd rather have some ridiculous kid narrating who's all like "yo" and "totally" and "radical" and such.


8-23-05 [tv]

Stuart Scott must be destroyed. He's a chocolate-milk spoiled uncle tom from the suburbs, and now his TV persona is this "ghetto" "urban" bullshit, but it's like when your parents try to get "with it" to relate, Stuart is as stiff as Al Gore and he's always trying to do street hand shakes with athletes. Look dope, these athletes actually is from the streets, they're still selling coke and shooting hookers in alleys, a little bad grammar and badly used slang doesn't make you relate. Oh, and get a better glass eye, that thing is fucking ridiculous.


8-23-05 [finance]

There are some major things go on in the world markets and I continue to puzzle over how to exploit them to make a big profit.

First of all, oil. There're lots of funny short term things going on with oil supplies - Ecuador's riots, Iraq's instability, refinery outages, etc. Those will go away and take off some of the pressure. Certainly there's no doubt that long term the supply/demand equation for oil will continue to drive prices up, so oil stocks will probably outperform the market overall for quite a while. I've ready many analysts that speak of a potential worldwide depression if oil prices get much higher (say, $80) similar to the recession of the 70's, and that depression would lead to a crash in oil prices. That sounds like nonsense to me. More likely, high prices in oil would lead to a wide-scale slowing in growth as the world adjusts to a less oil-dependent economy. Prices for oil wouldn't crash, demand would level out and go down gradually. Basically if we could come up with an alternative power source that cost X dollars for an equivalent amount of energy to a barrel of oil, that would set the price of oil to be X with only slight variation. Unfortunately, that's all still rather long term, and in the short term there could be a little dip. One possible investment here is in the new energy technology sector. Fuel cell companies' stocks have already skyrocketed, and will probably keep going up (certainly if anything actually ever goes into production they'll go up, but I'm pesimistic). I have more faith in new technologies like better refineries, tar oil extraction, propane/methane conversion, etc.

Second, real estate. In general, real estate is a good investment, not because it outperforms stocks in general (it doesn't) but because the tax breaks in US Law make it ridiculously favorable as an equity investment. We are currently in a big spike. Whether it's a bubble or not, or when exactly it will pop, is unclear. It will correct at some point, markets always do, and home values will come down. The particularly scary thing about this is how much of the US economy is in real estate, and how much of consumer spending is coming from home refinances, etc. A banker friend of mine recently told me about the rise of "NegAm" loans; I was like wtf is negam? "neg am" is short for "negative amortization" which means you have a mortgage where each month you pay off less than the interest, so that some amount of the interest accrues onto the principle each month. That's okay as long as the value of the property is going up faster than the principle accrues, but if the market crashes, it's an absolute disaster. It allows people to buy very expensive property and pay low monthly rates, but if you have to sell, you can take a huge loss. I can't really think of a good way to make money on the market crash, the best I've come up with is just to wait with cash and buy when it's cheap.

Together the oil & real estate markets make me very afraid of the US economy, not in a gloom and doom sense, but just in a maximize my returns over the next 5 years sense. I think offshore investments look good, though places like China will also be very badly hurt if oil gets expensive and the US consumers stop buying.


8-22-05 [poker]

Televised poker is so fucking rotten, it's infuriating. It's not because poker is uninteresting, the drama of poker is very interesting, and the stories that evolve are great. Televised poker shows none of this. Poker is about people's patterns over time. The drama comes from the thief who's constantly raising with junk and stealing pots; the guy who keeps calling to chase a big hand. Each of these hands may not be that interesting on their own, but it builds up a tension - will the chaser catch his big hand? will the thief get caught stealing? Then it starts evolving, someone starts restealing against the thief, etc.. The TV coverage shows none of this. Most of them just show the big pots, which are not very interesting because they are the hands that play themselves. Furthermore, you don't have the context. Someone might raise and someone might go over the top with A5 - a pretty bad hand, but it makes sense if you knew the raiser was raising every hand for the last 10 hands. The slow rollouts they show for the allins are so infuriating. I now just skip them with TiVo and I can tell who won by whether the short stack is leaving or not. The interview commentary is moronic too. The guy who knocked out almost always says "I didn't get much to play with all night, and then I was short stacked, so I moved in with the KT, and he just happened to have a better hand." Wow, thanks for recapping what we saw; how about some real commentary on your thinking and play, like "I was playing too tight and my stack bled down because they were playing very loose & aggressive".


8-22-05 [sports]

I despise fantasy football. It's huge now, there's a massive industry of information and software to help fantasy players. Lots of them track stats and news all day long. They spend hours updating their drafts. The problem is - it has nothing to do with what teams are best, or even who wins a game, and it's completely against everything that's great about football. Great football is a long slog, dominated by defense, teamwork, linemen, and all that. Fantasy football is about the individual offensive performers, primarily touchdown scorers.


8-22-05 [poker]

I've been playing a lot of poker since I've been bed-ridden the last few days. I'm playing the 2-table sit & go tournaments. One thing I've noticed is that everyone in general has gotten a lot more aggressive over the last year or so. I blame this partly on TV, people watching Phil Ivey and such, the glory of moving all-in, and partly it's because everyone is getting better. The annoying thing for me is that it means I need to play a lot looser and faster in calling. It also means I usually can't be the aggressive table captain, I have to play a trapping game. When everyone is pretty tight, I like to be the frequent raiser, but most of these tourneys have guys who are going allin with things like A6 preflop and things like Ace-high on the flop. Those are very extreme examples, but even the pretty good players will do things like go allin with middle pair on the flop, or a pocket pair below top pair, or just a draw (flush or straight). My game then is to try to hit a big hand, trap them into going allin, and just call and beat them. The problem is the blinds get big so fast that I can't be very selective. With how aggressive they play, I have to call with almost any top pair. In fact, the tournament I took 1st place in recently, a big part of how I won was calling down a super-aggressive player with *bottom* pair several times when he went allin with no pair. Now, that's all well and good, but the problem is the variance on these plays is just horrible. It's very easy for the super-agressive player to just happen to have a hand when you call, or even to hit something on the turn & river after you get allin; when you call with bottom pair it's likely he has over cards, and maybe he had a flush or straight draw as well.

One thing I'm trying to do now is avoid playing hands early in the tournament. I just can't play well until I get a read on the opposition. Frequently I'll lose big pots early where I'm doing something like betting top pair, then the guy moves in on me. I don't have a read, so I have to fold. Playing the same pot later I should have a read if the guy's tight, bluffing, etc. and have a better idea of whether a fold is warranted or not. I like to just watch for a while. This sets you up with a very tight image initially, so once you start playing more it's good to kick into high agressive gear and steal a bunch of pots. Unfortunately, I'm giving up a lot of value doing this. The first few hands of tournaments online are usually where the absolute donkey gives away his whole stack with some nonsense hand, and it's great if you can be the one who takes those chips, but it might involve calling with AT when he was A5 or something, which is hard for me to risk that early without a solid read. Most often it seems the early part of the tournament is when the really bad donkeys give away their stacks to the moderate donkeys. Then comes the slow grind phase where the better players take the chips off the big stack moderate donkeys (who are usually loose/aggresive).


8-22-05 [life]

So, the spider bites turned out to be infected. I actually went to a doctor and I'm on antibiotics now. I have a fever around 101, and the wound is big and purple and oozing puss and blood all the time. I'm a tad worried about it, there are lots of nasty complications possible, like the infection spreading into the interior of my knee, or tissue death (gangrene) at the center of the wound, etc. The tissue right around the open sore seems to be dying and peeling off, but I don't have any other symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis, so that seems like hypochondria. Anyhoo, if I suddenly die from toxic shock (bacterimia) you'll know why.

In other news, my cell phone is out of commission, so if you're trying to reach me, you have to use my home line. In any case I probably won't get up to answer it since walking is very painful and contra-indicated for treatment.


8-19-05 [life]

Update on the adventures of Unemployed Game Developer. I just got back from camping in Big Sur (really more in the Ventana Wilderness, which is on the east side of the ridge behind Big Sur) with Dan. It was beautiful. I now have some sort of insane spider bites on my legs; there's a small point of necrosis at the bite (black dead skin) and about a 2 inch radius ring of swollen red inflamed tissue. I lanced one of them out in the wild with my pocket knife and squeezed out a ton of puss and blood (it was a bite right on my knee and it was so swollen I could hardly bend my knee). We went and did a 10 mile hike after that.

We camped at Botcher's Gap which is up the lovely Palo Colorado road, right in a saddle between two peaks, on the edge of a steep cliff. We hiked down to Pico Blanco trail camp, and you pass through the Pico Blanco boy scout camp, which is just amazing, right on the Little Sur River and with incredible faccilities, lots of nice wood bridges over the river, etc.

A little while ago a baby black bear came to my house. I live on the side of a hill next to wild land, but I had no idea there were black bears on this hill. This area used to be plein d'ours back before white men settled it, but now the habit is mostly gone (hence the town of Los Osos, btw). The little bear wandered over while I was potting some basil plants. He came right up to me. I tried to scare him to get him to go back up the hill, but he was very relazed. He sniffed around the house and pawed at the windows a bit. He then wandered down my driveway and I was worried he was going to wander into town, so I called animal control. They came out but couldn't find him. They said if they found him they'd tranquilize him and take him somewhere more wild to roam. He was filthy dirty and very cute, kind of like a cat. I could have easily touched him, but I was worried about messing him up, I don't know if his mother wouldn't take him back if he smell of human on him or anything like that.

Played some poker with Drew on Party using the great Yahoo Messenger - a free voice chat service on the net that's super easy to install and use, especially if you're already registered on Yahoo.


8-16-05 [sports]

I can't wait for football season to start. Ah, the lazy days of drinking beer, eating barbecue, and yelling at the TV. Preseason football is disgusting, it's a sham, a mockery, I spit on it. Football is the perfect sport because it's full of excitement and drama, but gives you time to get to the fridge and back between plays. All sports have moments of action and down times, the nice thing about football is you know exactly when to watch and when to look away. Sports like soccer you just have to sort of stare at all the time, you don't know when to pay attention.

The hold-outs in football have become ridiculous. It would be very easy to fix. First of all, when someone enters the draft, they agree to play for whatever team drafts them (none of this Eli Manning nonsense). Also, players who enter the draft must report to camp & play. If the player cannot reach an agreement with the team, they must play for a preset pay scale on a year one contract. That pay scale would be set based on average NFL pay and would be scaled by the position in the draft, so eg. 1st pick might be 1 million a year, 2nd pick $900k, etc. Veterans that are signed normally must honor their contracts, eg. they must play and report to camp if they are able. If a player refuses to honor their contract, they receive no pay for that year AND cannot sign with another team unless the team they are signed with releases them or trades them. This is not "slavery" or any such nonsense that the players union would claim, it's simple reasonable business - when you sign an employment contract to deliver a service, you have to honor it, it should be the rule of the league.


8-16-05 [link]

Steve "Chase the Dream" Desilets has a blog now. Steve's an ex-oddworlder with some game design wisdom.


8-9-05 [poker]

In cash games, when I first sit down, I like to come in for a raise with every hand that I play. I really only like to play hands when I can open from late position, and so when I come in it's for a raise every time, with AA, with 9Ts, etc. I'm not playing junk, it's just instead of limping sometimes with things like 9Ts , I raise. There are many great things about this strategy. For one thing, when you first sit down, people won't know you're always raising, so they'll respect the raise and fold a lot. Secondly, it disguises your holdings perfectly, people don't know if you have a good hand or not since you raise with every hand; this has many advantages; for one thing, if you have 9Ts and the flop comes with an A, you can often take it down; for another thing, people will pay you off more when you do have something like AA since they can't know what you raised with; finally, when something like 9Ts does hit, you can win a big pot because people will put you on high cards (even though they should know better). The only problem with this strategy is you're playing your speculative hands for more chips than you'd like. It's okay as long as you're getting the added value from folds, but if people get onto you and stop folding, you have to change gears. THAT is when this strategy really pays off. Once people pick up you, you change gears and start only raising good hands and limping or even folding speculative ones. Now people don't respect your raise, so they pay off your good hands. That's how you really make money in (cash game, limit) poker - getting your best hands paid off (like AA,KK). Also, you've now set up a situation where you can play very straight up simple poker : raise & bet good hands, limp & fold bad hands. You always always want to play straightforward poker, it gives you the best value, the only problem with it is if people can read it too easily, that's bad. By starting out always raising, you set an image, and when you change gears most people won't pick up on it for quite a while. Once they do, you can just change gears again back to always raising, or just go find another table online.


8-9-05 [poker]

Ode to the "minimum bet bluff" : Doyle calls it a "Post Oak Bluff" and says he never does it. Of course, that old coot hates Ace-Queen, which is a mighty good hand. There are many great things about bluffing with the minimum bet on the river, into a presumably large pot where you're heavily under-betting it. First, you're risking very few chips to win a big pot, so it only has to work once in a blue moon to be profitable. Second, it lets you steal a lot of pots from bad players that don't understand bet sizes and how often they should call. Third, against experienced players you can often steal pots when they have quite good hands, because they won't believe you're bluffing with such a small bet, they'll think you're trying to milk a big hand with a value bet and think they're ever so clever for folding and saving a few chips. Even better is when a player thinks he's sniffed you out for the bluff and he gives you a re-pop with a bluff of his own, you can go over the top all-in and take a nice big pot (this is obviously a more risky move and you should not try it at home).


8-9-05 [politics]

It's a sort of wonderful illustration of the political climate these days that the white house would nominate John Roberts for the supreme court, and then refuse to release (or at least delay and fight) any documents about him. They say "here's the guy we want", but you don't get to know anything about him. In the modern era, a record has become a liability in politics. If you have any public position on issues, it just sets a target for attack. It's far better to be a "public figure" with hardly any record (like G.W. Bush himself was). On the matter of the supreme court, I harken back to an earlier post - is Mr. Roberts really the most qualified constitutional judge our country has to offer? Perhaps we need new laws governing these appointments, since the whole checks & balances system seems to have gone off the rails. Ambassadors should be required to support the institution they are representing us to (that means you, Bolton). Supreme court judge nominees have to have served on a state supreme court for 5 years so they have some experience and a public record.


8-9-05 [finance]

AOL-Time-Warner is paying back investors $3 billion dollars in losses caused by the AOL takeover of then Time Warner. Certainly, that was a poor decision by Time Warner's board to allow that takeover, but what exactly should their apology sound like?

From the Board of Time Warner to all investors who lost money in the AOL takeover,
Yes, we're so sorry this happened. We're sorry that you investors grossly over-valued AOL, pushing up their stock and giving them a large enough market cap to buy us out. We're sorry that you thought all those internet companies were going to be grossly profitable, when in fact you were horribly wrong. We're sorry you got on the internet stock band-wagon without having any clue what the "internet" even was. We're sorry you made a fortune on the stock bubble and now you're crying because you want stocks to just always go up. We're sorry you institutional investors spread lies and propaganda to falsely inflate the internet stocks so you could make more profit on IPO's and trades. Yes, we're so sorry this happened.


8-8-05 [life]

Well, I've tried like 100 mattresses and am not much closer to buying one. The ones I really like are combo latex and visco foam. For example, a company called "My Big Sleep" makes a mattress with 6" of Latex with 3.5" of visco-foam on top of it. It's a little firmer and restores faster than pure foam, which I like, and doesn't have any of that nasty feel of springs. It shouldn't clump up over time like pillow-tops. My problem now is I just can't find any information online about this manufacturer or these type of beds in general. What the fuck? I don't want to spend $2000 on something I know nothing about, really. The Consumer Reports information on mattresses is really pathetic, it basically says "everyone is different, go try one". Okay, that's true, but what I need to know is how it's going to hold up and how people like sleeping with it over time!


8-8-05 [poker]

Another interesting situation in poker. The case where someone is going all-in overbetting the pot frequently. Your counterplay is to just fold with bad hands and call with good ones to hopefully bust him. However, exactly how often should you call? I'm going to first consider a very simple toy situation, and just in a cash game. I'm going to assume you both start with the same amount of chips each hand, and when he steals from you when you fold your big blind, that profit just goes into a bank and your chip count is reset. When you win a hand, that profit goes into your bank and the chips are reset. In a tournament, you'd have to worry about your stack getting whittled down because the chips dont reset. I'll try to address that later.

So, here's the toy situation I'll analyze : you are in the big blind for 1 chip every hand. You both have stacks S (really what matters here is the stack to big blind ratio; I make the BB just be 1 chip here so that the stack to big blind ratio is S). He's going all-in with the best F fraction of hands and folding the rest. You can either call or fold. How much should you call to maximize your EV ?

If you fold, your ev is -1. If you call, your chance of winning is P(C) where C is the fraction of hands you're calling with. In that case your ev is 2*S*P(C) - S . Overall, your EV is :


EV = C * [ 2*S*P(C) - S ] + (1-C) * (-1)
EV = C*2*S*P(C) - S*C - 1 + C

The problem is to choose C to maximize this. The tricky thing is that P(C) is complex and nonlinear. We do know C is less than F, you'll be calling with better hands than him.

If we were on the river, it would be easy because the better hand just wins. In that case, P(C) is just


P(C) = (C/F) * .5 + ((F-C)/F) * 1 = (F - .5C) / F = 1 - C/2F

EV = C*2*S*(1 - C/2F) - CS - 1 + C
EV = 2CS - C^2*S/F - CS - 1 + C
	= C*(S+1) - C^2*S/F - 1

maximize : 

S+1 - 2CS/F = 0 
C = F*(S+1)/2S

So, you're calling with a fraction proportional to his, but reduced by (S+1)/2S. If S is large (eg. the stacks are much bigger than the blinds), you're calling with 50% of the hands he calls with. If the stacks are very small, eg. as S goes close to 1, you should call with roughly the same hands he's going all-in with.

But that's wrong because it's preflop and the winning hands aren't that simple. However, it is almost that simple. All we have to look at is the region where you have a hand in the best fraction C and he has a hand in the next best fraction (F-C). In this case, you're almost certainly around 65% to win on average; we'll just call it 2/3 and see what we get. For the cases where you're playing hands in the same region, you might be an 80% favorite or a 30% dog, but it all averages out to 50/50 since you're playing the same range of hands.


P(C) = (C/F) * .5 + ((F-C)/F) * (2/3) = (3C + 4F - 4C)/6F = (4F - C)/6F = 2/3 - C/6F

EV = 2CS*(2/3 - C/6F) - CS - 1 + C
EV = 4/3*CS - C^2*S/3F - CS - 1 + C
	= CS/3 + C - C^2*S/3F - 1
	= C*(S/3+1) - C^2*S/3F - 1

maximize : 

(S/3+1) - 2C*S/3F = 0 
(S/3+1) = 2C*S/3F
3F*(S/3+1)/2S = C
F*(S+3)/2S = C

Very similar to before, but you have to call with more hands. Note that this is wrong when S is very small because we assumed C <= F, which would break down as S gets close to 1.

Now, what are the hands like in practice here? Let's consider a typical scenario. Say S is 10, and F is 1/4 , he's going all-in with the best 1/4 of hands. What should you call with? C = F*13/20 = 16.25% of hands. What are these hands exactly? Well, the best 1/4 of hands is all the hands like K9s or KTo or QJ or better (all pairs, of course, and any ace). The best 16.25% of hands is A5s and A8o or better, and KJ or better.

Let's check our approximation; if you're playing a hand in the good region C and he's playing a hand in the region F-C , you're on something like A5s or better and he's on something like K9 or KT. If you actually had A5, you'd be a 60/40 favorite; if you have a low pair, it's almost 50/50 , but you could also be on KJ,KQ,AK, etc. that dominate him 80/20. So, the 2/3 guess looks good.

In a tournament you have to worry about your stack bleeding down each time you fold. In that case you can't just look at the EV of each hand, because if you wait too long your stack is smaller to double up with. However, Sklansky has shown that this is a very small factor unless you are just about to pay your blind and the blinds are very large compared to your stack. In that case we can look at - what if he's going all-in with 50% of hands, and S is a mere 4 big blinds. In that case C = 7/8 * .5 = 43.7 % of hands. What are these hands? The top 50% of hands starts around J5s, Qxs or Q4o or J8o. The top 43.7% is only a little better, J7s, Q4s, Q7o, J8o and better. Note that this is different than the famous "computer hand" Q7, which is 50/50 against a random hand. We're not talking about win percentage, we're talking about the fraction of hands when ranked in order of best to worst.


8-8-05 [misc]

I saw some guys in the park today riding a two wheeled skateboard . Really, it looks pretty gay, but it does seem to capture more of the snowboard-style pivotting motion. Looks like good exercise anyway.


8-7-05 [poker]

Let's consider some poker situations. First of all, a common situation I run into late in the tournament. Basically, you make a raise with junk to steal the blinds, then someone comes over the top all-in. Now, your raise has pot-committed you a bit, but should you call with junk?

Let's consider a very specific situation for concreteness. Suppose it's heads up. You have two low cards, and just imagine you know he has two high cards, so you win about 32% of the time (we'll just say 33.33% , 1/3 of the time). Before the hand started you had A chips and he had B chips. Let's say you had the big stack. Your chance of winning the tournament is roughly A/(A+B). Your goal is to win. Let's say you raised some amount R (R < A and B) and he went over the top. If you call and lose, you'll have (A-B) chips and your chance of winning is now (A-B)/(A+B). So, overall if you call, your chance of winning is :

(1/3) * 1 + (2/3) * (A-B)/(A+B)
= 
((1/3) * (A+B) + (2/3) * (A-B))/(A+B)
= 
(A - B/3)/(A+B)
If you fold your chance of winning is (A-R)/(A+B)

So, we can easily see the correct thing to compare here is B/3 vs. R ; if B/3 is less than R , you have to call because it's worth the price to try to knock him out immediately. Note that this is rather different than a normal pot odds computation. Many people incorrectly think in terms of pot odds in tournaments, but it generally works out exactly the same way, since chance of winning is mostly related to your chip percentage, so winning chips (ala pot odds) give you chance of winning, which is what you really want.

Let's do an example for concreteness. Say the blind is 1000 so you raise to R = 3000 , 3X the BB as usual. He has 10,000 chips and goes all-in. You have 20,000 chips. Should you call? Well, it's actually very close. B/3 is 3,333 , so it's a bit too much, and you should fold.

More generally if you estimate a chance of winning the hand P, you should call if B*(1-2*P) < R . So, for example if you had a hand that was 60/40 (like a middle straddle hand, like JT when he has A3) , you'd compute B*(1-2*P) = B*(.2) = 2,000 and you should call.


8-7-05 [misc]

The Ton is a fucked up piece of crap word and measurement. Ironically, that very article which describes the ton has an example at the bottom of the "1/2 ton Jeep". What kind of ton is that? A 2000 lb ton ? Nicely, the English Ton is NOT a cubic yard of water (that would be 27 cubic feet), rather it's 35 cubic feet. Furthermore a "measurement ton" (a volumetric ton) is 40 cubic feet.


8-6-05 [cycling]

The SLO-Edna ITT : from Islay Hill park out Orcutt to Tiffany Ranch and back on Broad. I just did it in 49 minutes. It's 14 miles almost exactly with a couple of hills; that's 17 mph. Hopefully I'll beat that next time (a pro would do it almost twice as fast). Of course, a 1 hour ride isn't close to enough to build form, I should be doing 5 hour rides, but it's just too boring. I just can't seem to put in the time to get good at anything - basketball, guitar, poker - it's all too boring if you really do it enough to get good.

How much do you have to cycle to be a pro? Maybe 400 miles a week, 50 weeks a year = 20,000 miles a year , over 5 years = 100,000 miles. Putting miles into your legs is like ticking up a biological odometer towards being able to take the pain of being a pro.


8-6-05 [poker]

Thursday night, I played another home game with the group here. I'm now something like 0 and 7 with this group, so they're quite happy that I keep dumping money in the game. In the last game I was knocked out on two subsequent hands that were very similar hands, but I played them very differently, and I think it's interesting to compare. Both hands were against the big stack of the table, and I'm on a pretty short stack. I really want to double up, because it's all about winning first place.

The first hand I get in cheap from a blind with 78s. I hit bottom pair and the flush draw. This is a big hand, but somehow I have a feeling he hit one of the higher cards and I'm currently behind. It's possible I could just move in on the flop here and win the pot, and if not have a good draw. That's an okay move, but I still have a good amount of chips compared to the pot size, about 10X the pot size at this point, so moving in would be a major overbet. BTW against a higher pair I'm about 57% to win here. I check the flop and he bets the minimum. I'm pretty sure if I raise here he'll call, and I'm behind at the moment, so I just call. The turn misses me, I check and call again, a minimum bet. The river misses me. I check and he minimum bets again. Now, I'm pretty sure I'm beat, but the pot is so big compared to the bet size, I have to call in case he just had overcards the whole way. I call and my read was right, he had a top pair with bad kicker.

The next hand I again get in cheap with K6s against the big stack. I flop a flush draw. I check. If he checks, great, free card, if he bets I plan to move in. Indeed he does bet the minimum and I move in. He thinks a minute and calls with middle pair. I have a flush draw + overcard, I'm about 45% to win, I miss and I'm out of the tournament. The difference here was that because I'd lost the last pot, my stack was small compared to the pot; at the point where I moved in my remaining stack was only about equal to the pot size, so I'm getting good odds from the pot, and if I just call his bet and miss the flush, my stack is too short to have much chance of winning the tourney. It's possible I made a mistake here in that I should have just moved in right away on the flop, it may have made it easier for him to fold.


8-6-05 [politics]

I don't understand why we have such a desire to keep messed up countries in one piece. By "we" I mean the international community, and also the countries themselves. It's happened recently in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and now it's happening in Iraq. You have these countries where the borders were drawn up by old colonial powers. There are ethnic groups in these countries with ancient tensions, which are exploited by despots for personal power. Obviously, people have lived in their family homes for hundreds of years, and they want to stay, but why would you want to stay in the same town with people who killed your neighbors and family? Why do the Tutsis in Rwanda want the Hutus to come back and live peacefully together? Why don't we just let the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey have their own country? For years the Turks and Saddam have slaughtered Kurds seeking independence, and we have always supported the government.

For that matter, I don't understand our own Civil War at all. Why does the North care so much about the South breaking off? And how can you force someone to stay? I mean, after the Civil War was supposedly over, the Southern states could just still do whatever they wanted and not pay federal taxes; what are you going to do, occupy them like a conqueror? Lock up every civilian? And how is killing 300,000 people and burning down their cities a way of showing you want them in your country?


8-4-05 [finance]

Since I first started looking at BPT , it's done astronomically well, up 100% in the last year (not even counting the generous dividend). Now, once again confronted with the choice of buying in, I can't help wonder if it's too late? Damn!


8-4-05 [deal]

Amazon has a great deal on Calphalon for $199 . Note that like many bastard brands, Calphalon has introduced a line of crap low-grade products with the same brand name. These are nonstick pans that should be avoided like the plague. The good old solid aluminum pans are still available (and cheap at the link above). Calphalon is made by Newell/Rubbermaid Inc ; no dishwasher my ass!


8-3-05 [local]

I'd always heard that the old Ten Commandments movie set was still out here in the dunes, mostly buried under sand. I'd never seen a (modern) picture until now - QTVR


8-3-05 [racist rant]

Most of the differences between the races can be explained by evolutionary adaptations to the areas where they developed and differentiated. Skin tone is obvious, fat storage for those in the cold areas, athleticism for those who roamed and hunted more, etc. Some of them are more mysterious, for example the Asian slant eyes I can't really justify, maybe there is an evolutionary advantage to them, but I can't see it. Anyhoo, in the shower today, I was thinking about my penis, as I often do. It occured to me that the penis size differences in the races might have been caused by an evolutionary response to different cultures. Smaller penises save valuable body development energy for other purposes, so absent outside pressure penises would naturally be small. That seems to indicate that Asian and other small-penis groups developed more cultural maturity earlier, eg. where mates were chosen based on their ability to provide, and monagamy was practiced; it would indicate that African cultures had more open competition for mates in which women had multiple partners, perhaps subsequently (a large penis head is designed to scoop out the sperm of previous copulation with the pumping motion). Now, this is all very juvenile, but it's interesting to me in general to think of looking at the physical development of our bodies as a record of ancient cultural practices.


8-3-05 [food]

"Coastal" Cabernet at Trader Joe's is $3.99 and quite good. It's actually Castoro Cellars wine, which is a local Central Coast winery that TJ is selling on it's own label; Castoro bottles go for about $10, so you get a nice discount. It's not orgasmic, but a good balanced drinking wine, not box wine in disguise.

"Northwest" beers at TJ's are actually made by "Hale's Ales" in Seattle, a very good brewery. The Amber is lovely. Our local brewery SLO Brew also makes something for TJ on another label, but I haven't found it yet. SLO Brew recently sold out to some corporate brewery that's going to take the brewing operation national (don't get excited, it's nothing special).

Perugina dark chocolate with almonds has the perfect proportion of chocolate and nuts. Many brands have better chocolate, and Villar's (for example) has better chocolate & nuts, but the ratio is crucial. In the Perugina, the chocolate is the star, and the nuts are a nice highlight to keep you from getting bored.

St. Peter's beers are fantastic, rich, smooth, balanced. They are, however, too expensive, much of which I blame on the bottles, which while being very attractive and pleasantly heavy, are an awful waste of money.


8-3-05 [film]

"In the Mood for Love" by Kar Wai Wong (or Wong Kar Wai depending on whether you follow western or eastern name precedence ordering, which is a debacle comparable to the Endian mess) is an exquisitely beautiful meditation on the relationship of two people. It's understated and subtle, quiet and sublime. Maggie Cheung's character is ravishing, her clothing, her slowness, her propriety. I love the way the other couple in the movie is never even shown; we hear their voices a few times, but they aren't even characters really, just part of the back-story for the main relationship. I think the movie comes off its wheels at the end with some pretty random changes of locale and pointless bits of story far in the future; it would be stronger if the last 10 minutes was entirely cut. The music is beautiful except for an odd inclusion of some American guy singing in Spanish. [Addendum : Ian says the last 10 minutes make sense if you see the whole trilogy, which starts with "Days of Being Wild" ; we'll see...]


8-3-05 [politics]

The US Congress has been busy passing rotten legislation that's drawn very little attention. We've got :

An energy bill that does almost nothing to help our oil problems. One thing it does is open up valuable wilderness to exploitation for trivial amounts of oil & coal. Mainly it's full of subsidies for private business. Provides no significant money to realistic ways of reducing energy use (like getting rid of the exemptions for large trucks), but lots of money for pointless endeavors like the ridiculous fuel cells.

A highway bill that's just business as usual - lots of harmful pork projects. Highway money in general is part of a massive government project to destroy public transportation and cities in general.

An extension of the Patriot Act , passed in haste, eroding civil liberties and procedures that we've established over centuries to protect our citizens from the intrusions of government. Note that Patriot does little to address the actual problems that led to the failure to prevent 9/11 or likely terrorism in the future , it mainly establishes rules for harassing citizens and immigrants.

Passed CAFTA, which is a rotten disingenuous followup to NAFTA. Anyone who talks about "free trade" and opening markets is flat out lying. All of the nations in CAFTA were already in the free trade area of the Americas. CAFTA does nothing towards real free trade, such as balancing working conditions and environmental laws between the trading partners, or eliminating the immoral export subsidies for American agribusiness. What CAFTA really does is take down important industry protections in many other countries, and set up the rules, as in NAFTA, which favor business interests over the rights of human beings. CAFTA and NAFTA both establish a higher body wherein democratically enacted laws are trumped by the profits of private business.

Good job, boys.


8-3-05 [entertainment]

"Sewing your wild oats" is a nonsensical phrase. If you're sewing oats, they're not wild, you could say "sew your cultivated oats" or "reap your wild oats". Oats, by the way, seem to be a grass. The oat plant looks just like a wild green grass, with slightly larger seed thingies. The seed kernels are rolled to make "rolled oats" that we buy in the supermarket. Wild oats grow as weeds in wheat fields in terrorities where oats are wont to grow.

The new "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is very disappointing. I miss Gene Wilder and his loony mix of straight, creepy, and comical. Depp is far more of a one-tone performance, though he's one of the high points of the movie. The Buckets are wonderful; I love the Bucket's part of the movie : the set (physical objects!), the costumes, the actors. The Chocolate Factory is revolting. It's entirely composed of really rotten CG. Not only is it obvious fake CG, the shaders look like grade-school Renderman, the designs are uninspired, the animation is jerky and unphysical (the worst moment is Violet's tumbling routine; it's on the rotten par of the Incredible Hulk and Spider Man), and the machines are just ludicrous in a non-interesting way. Elfman generally writes great scores, but his Oompa-Loompa songs are way out of his area of expertise, very disappointing popcorn (I know the lyrics are Dahl's ; I'm talking about the music ; btw the lyrics stink too).

BTW it's a ridiculous failure of marketting/productizing that I can't buy a Wonka Bar right now. It's such an obvious tie-in, and it has lasting value as a brand. Hershey's or someone could sell a Wonka Bar for a premium price and get a lot of nostalgia/pop customers. Actually it seems Nestle is selling a "Wonka Bar" , introduced in 1998. There's a full Wonka Candy web site, complete with a bunch of god-awful branded web games like my compatriots produce.


8-2-05 [finance]

Unemployment shouldn't be proportional to income. It should be a flat amount, maybe 200 a month, with perhaps additional amounts for dependents. I understand the rationale for proportionality - 1) higher income people put more money into the system, so they should get more out, and 2) income is roughly proportional to expenses, since higher income people will have higher rents, etc. However, none of this accounts for the fact that higher income people tend to have more savings to cover problems, and also their higher expenses are largely voluntary, they could live for as little as the low income people.


8-2-05 [spam]

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!


8-2-05 [politics]

What if the British treated the I.R.A. the way we treat terrorists now? Certainly there would have been no peace and no disarmament, since we don't negotiate with terrorists. Every Catholic church would have been considered a dangerous fomenter of dissent; Catholic schools would have been shut down, school girls looked upon as future bombers. Cruise missiles would have precision-targetted homes in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic, raising outcries from the Republic, but we would have said they were sheltering terrorists. We would have rounded up suspects and taken them to semi-legal prisons and interrogated them. Perhaps we would have invaded, killing tens of thousands of civilians, sending the country into lawless chaos. But no, of course not, the world would never have tolerated that. Why not? Because Ireland is white, and it's in Europe, and Catholicism is respected. On the other hand, Americans and Europeans are still deeply prejudiced against Moslems and Arabs, and generally anyone with brown skin or different culture.

[addendum : Shawn of course correctly points out that the British actually did do many similar things in Ireland, things that should have been reported as attrocities but were glossed over because they're our allies. Don't you wish I had proper comment posting here? nya nya]


7-31-05 [life]

The beach is totally over-rated. You get all sandy and salty. The water's freezing cold and dirty and the waves hit you in the face. Here in CA it's usually cold and windy and foggy. It sucks.

Went to LA and hiked to the Bridge to Nowhere (also at localhikes.com ). It's blazing hot up in the mountains, but the stream here is lovely, great swimming holes. A bit too much foot traffic to get naked, but nice boulders to jump into the water from. There's a company that does Bungee jumping from the bridge.

Zephyr in Pasadena is a lovely cafe in an old bungalo-style house (as is common in Pas).

Fuller's London's Pride Pale Ale has a lot of flavor without beeing sickening like many upscale brews; it's similar to Bass or Full Sail, smooth, malty, a bit creamy.


7-30-05 [politics]

The New York Review of Books is great. The political articles are spot-on. This month I love the article about what a moron Friedman is, and the real problem in Iraq (not terrorism, of course).


7-30-05 [TV]

The PBS series "Guns, Germs & Steel" was mighty disappointing. The title is constantly repeated throughout the show as if this was a Republican brainwash session. The logical arguments are inconsistent and contradictory, and the vignettes don't correspond with the arguments. Jared comes off as a pseudo-scientific quack who reports common scientific knowledge as if he had just discovered it himself in the field. Much better is to read this article by Jared Diamond


7-30-05 [video games]

The Scratchware Manifesto is another artifact in the saga of tirades against the mainstream game industry. Now, I certainly agree with a lot that these guys have to say, but instead of whining all the time, why don't they just go make a good game? The biggest problem with these attacks on the industry is that the attacks on the industry are pointless. The people making games in the industry are for the most part doing their best to make good games within the realities of the market. You can't rant at them to get more talented. You can't expect them to do things the market & financing won't tolerate. If you want to rant at someone, rant at the consumers who keep buying the derivative crap, but that's not unique to games, consumers keep flocking to the next pop music wonder, the next explosion-fest movie, etc. Part of the problem with this is the continuing cycle of consumers - the young spend the most on new products, and the young have shitty immature taste.


7-27-05 [video games]

About the GTA / "Hot Coffee" thing : you knew this topic was so rant-worthy I had to get to it eventually, right? So, to recap, "Hot Coffee" is a mod for San Andreas that you can download . Hot Coffee supposedly unlocks the explicit sexual content that was already in the game, but locked by the developers. Apparently they put it in then had cold feet about the reactions so locked it, maybe hoping that someone would unlock it. Hot Coffee also has a bunch of other cheats. (unrelated, but even more disturbing is the Nude Sims2 patch ).

Now, this has revealed all sorts of insanity in our world. First of all, we are confronted yet at again with the mainstream public's complete lack of knowledge of even the most basic concepts of computers. Many pundits speak of their kids seeing the nudity on the PS2. Yeah, good luck with that. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding of even "programs" and "files". Hell, if you have to download and install Hot Coffee to see the nudity, you could just download porn. Computers + Internet = Porn ; let me tell you something Hillary, if your kids are able to run Hot Coffee, they've probably seen much worse, like videos of ass milk, tub girl, hot carls and so on.

The other insane thing is - this is fucking Grand Theft Auto. This is the game where you are encouraged to have sex with hookers then kill them and take your money back. You're worried about someone being exposed to sexual scenes in Grand Theft Auto? And the ratings board - GTA gets an M ? But add some sex and it's Adult only? Okay, beating up people and running them over and shooting them, that's fine for kids, but a little nudity, that might corrupt them. Silly puritan Americans, making the children all messed up sexually. This sort of parenting leads directly to things like Girls Gone Wild - it makes boys that want to watch GGW because the sight of boobies is so taboo, and girls that want to be in GGW.


7-26-05 [cycling]

I went cycling this morning and got completely humiliated. I thought I was riding along pretty well, when this guy comes up behind me. He's only going a little faster than me, so I kick it in and lead him for a while. He hangs in my slipstream for about half a mile, then says "I'll take my turn in front" and comes on by me and proceeds to put down the hammer. I try to stay with him, and am doing ok until the road takes a tilt upward, and he keeps speed and I drop off. That's when I notice that he's on a single speed bike. It's a slim elegant old racing bike, with none of that mess of wires and levers and derailleurs to muck it up. I've always thought of single speeds as sort of ridiculous - it's sort of like using DOS instead of Windows because it's "more efficient". Umm, yeah, hey caveman, get with the fucking times, we have better technology now. Single speeds are okay as long as the road is reasonably flat, but on a hill you get killed, and on a downhill or long true flat you can't get up to speed. On the other hand, this guy destroyed me, pedalling at a very fast cadence while I slowly turned my big gear.

Two sports tips. For those who are totally incompetent at sports, like I am.

1) On bicycle sprinting : when sprinting on a road bicycle, you want to be down in the drops, but remember that you are actually pulling yourself down into your bicycle, not holding yourself up; you should be almost lifting the front wheel off the ground. The key to fast bicycle sprinting is the up-turn portion of the pedal cycle; beginners try to just push down fast as each foot comes through the falling portion of the cycle. The key is to pull fast through the whole cycle, and the hardest part of that is the up-turns; each leg should be pulling as fast as possible up through that part of the cycle and down the front.

2) on basketball shooting : remember that accuracy is in the fingers. Of course most of the propulsion of the projectile (the ball) comes from your legs, shoulder and elbow, big muscled flexing. The problem is those muscles will never be very accurate, and they don't need to be. The fingers provide last second corrections that make up for errors in the big muscles. You can't do this consciously, it has to be learned as a muscle reflex, but you can make sure you set yourself up to learn it by making sure that you do use some finger push in the shot; that way the fingers have a chance to apply more or less power to correct the arm.


7-26-05 [entertainment]

So, I want to know why sheets get that smell when left in a drawer for a while. It's not picking up the smell of the wood, it's almost like a musty smell, all sheets get it, and very quickly. Maybe it's some kind of mold?

Anyhoo, the word is that a "dryer sheet" (like Bounce) is a great anti-funny-sheet smell agent. Just put it in the drawer with the sheets. Personally I hate all household perfumes and scents, so if I can use an unscented hypoallergenic dryer sheet for this, that would be dandy. Testimonials, for example, at snopes .

While browsing I found this awesome site on how to maintain your home to keep away old-person smell . Lots of funny bits here such as - "Remember, just because you're not active every day doesn't mean you don't need to shower".


7-26-05 [poker]

Played another 2-table tourney and made 3rd place. Mostly played great until the very last hand, where I read the chip leader for a weak hand and bluffed off all my chips at him (he had top pair). All night he had been leading out with his good hands and checking his weak hands; this time he pulled the string on me (or "walked the dog" if you prefer) and check-called down my chips. Well done sir, good change of gears.

One week of tournaments, playing a few hours a day, and I've made a lot of places in the money, but no 1st places, with lots of bad beats knocking me out on the bubble. Up $150 for the week. I'd be making a lot more playing cash games, limit games in particular, but I'm enjoying the tourneys because I feel like I've really had an epiphany and my tournament play has improved greatly.

Last tourney I had a sweet read on this guy "stanaseck" and never got to use it. Any time he was in the blinds and the board came low, he would bet pot-size if he had nothing, and check if he had something. Basically he was representing hitting some low junk from the blinds when other people who limped presumably had nothing. I watched him take down pots like this many times, and never got the chance to use it against him.

Almost everyone in these games has the wrong idea of what hands are good all-in hands, what hands are good raising hands, and what hands are good calling hands. Unfortunately, I almost never get to take advantage of it.

One thing I've been mulling in the back of my head is this : when I'm making late position raises, I'm raising with both good hands and mediocre hands. With mediocre hands, I really want folds. With very good hands, I'd really like them to play back at me. At the moment I'm basically making the same raise with all hands. Ideally, if I could, I'd like to bet in a way that encourages them to fold when I have weak hands, and play back when I have my best hands. The question is how exactly. One option might be to over-raise with the better hands that I want to get all-in with. Some bad players see an over-raise and think it's suspicious and decide to play back at it. Good players will see the over-raise as just over-committing and rightly fold all but their best hands. Sometimes under-raising with the best hands will make people think you're weak and they'll come over the top, but that also might temp them to just call, which is okay but it's a loss of value. Think for a second about what tempts you to come over the top and let me know.

Sometimes I start to think I have a weakness, which would be that I can be moved off a pot if someone puts me all-in, or bets most of my chips at me. Then I remember the principles of poker. Yes, I can be moved off those pots, but the guy is risking a lot of value to get that pot, and if I just have the hand to call once out of every few times, I get the most value in the end. The problem with this is that in tourneys with fast structures, you don't always get the time to pay back that balance. Especially in tourneys where people get moved around, you may not spend a lot of time together to learn that someone likes to move in without much. What that means is that a move in can be very effective early before people pick it up. By the time they recognize the pattern, it may be too late.


7-26-05 [poker]

One of the things that makes tournaments tricky is balancing your bet size against competing constraints. Basically on the low end, you need to bet enough so that you force worse hands to fold. On the high end, you don't want to bet so much that you get pot-stuck, eg. so you can fold if he comes over the top. In a cash game or any game where your stack is high compared to the blinds (early in tournaments), this isn't an issue, you can just size you bet based on the pot size (and that's hard enough to do right).

For example, consider a tournament with 100/200 blinds. You're on a good stack of around 6000. You open late for a raise of 500. The BB calls. The pot is now 1100 and your stack is 5500. The flop comes with you having top pair and draws possible. The BB checks. You need to bet to make draws wrong, but if you bet pot size, it's a huge piece of your stack. If he comes over the top, you're almost pot-stuck since he could make that move with just a draw. Because of this, late in tourneys, you have to bet less than you'd like, which makes draws a bit cheaper, which makes the outcome more random.


7-26-05 [poker]

PokerTips.org strategy pages are pretty good. Most of their stuff is pretty pedantic, but it's worth looking over. His analysis of various tournament structures is pretty good.


7-26-05 [poker]

Played a 3-table $30 tournament. I like these things the best because the blind structure is much slower than the single tables, and there's good money to win, but it's not as time consuming and hard to win as the big tourneys. I'm playing in the middle of the day, which is really a bad idea for profit, and there are lots of obvious pros in the game. One guy named "dkeller" is really good. I made 5th place for $90 ; I was knocked out in the end on a short stack when I went all-in with 22 (I had only 2X the BB which had gotten huge).

I spent most of the end of the tourney playing really weak, which I hate. The problem was the top 5 places paid, and I had around the 5th biggest stack. There were 3-4 other stacks, all very short. So, I couldn't really take any risks, if I just fold the short stacks go out, and I get into the money, then I can play. The problem was the short stacks kept not going out. For several rounds there were 3 short stacks with less than the big blind, but they kept doubling up and then bleeding down again, while in the mean time my chips were bleeding because the big stacks would attack my blinds, and I couldn't tangle with them because I needed to wait for the short stacks to go out. I never got a good hand in that time either that I would be willing to risk against a big stack or call a short stack to take them out. Eventually my strategy paid off and the short stacks were knocked out, but by that time I was down to a pretty short stack myself, just 2X the BB, and I had to risk my life with the 22.

There was one deciding hand for me that I don't like my play in. I was the big stack and tangled with the 2nd biggest stack. The BB was 400 ; he made the minimum raise from UTG to 800 on a pretty full table. Folds around to me in the BB. I had Q7s. I call the minimum raise, so the pot is now 1800. The board comes JT9 , so I have a straight draw. Now, what is he minimum raising with? I figure it's quite likely he hit a jack or ten, so I don't want to semi-bluff here. He might have two overs, or he might have a PP under the board, in which case he would fold. I check. He bets 700, which is less than half the pot. The small bet is a little suspicious. I decide to call. The turn is a 7. Now I have 7's with the straight draw. Assuming I'm against AJ or something like that, I'm about 30% to win. I check, he goes all-in. I fold. I'm not quite sure what I might have done differently here, maybe I should have raised him all-in on the flop after he bet, but maybe not. Anyway, it was a lot of my stack, 1500 chips from a 6000 chip stack, and put me on the defensive for the rest of the game.


7-26-05 [politics]

There's a lot of nonsense talk about the supreme court vacancies and Roe v. Wade. That's a trivial distraction, a hot-button that's used to stir up quacks; it has a pretty small affect on the world (even if it was overturned, it wouldn't really affect abortion that much). There are several issues that are bigger. One is the power of the federal government and the Commerce Clause. Some conservatives want to take away the government's ability to regulate many of the things that government is in; this could destroy the EPA, the endangered species protections, pollution controls, the USDA, etc. basically making it unconstitutional for government to interfere with business' practices. Another major issue facing the supreme court is checking the executive's and the congress' unconstitutional power grabs of late. Some examples - congress cutting funding to enforce judicial rulings, the execute refusing to provide information to congress as required by law, the executive jailing and trying people outside of the rule of law, etc.

If you stop and think for a second that the supreme court is one of the highest positions in the land, it should have the best & brightest people in the US, and then look at the justices we have - Souter? Thomas? Scalia? are these really the best constitutional legal minds out there? The most admirable people?


7-26-05 [poker]

I just realized that one of the moves I made yesterday was a mistake. It was another of the moves when I was on a big stack playing against a short stack. It's very similar to the one I described yesterday. I had 35s and made it 3X the BB. Now, I will often open with hands like 35s from the cutoff or the button. 35 sounds like a bad hand, but I get value in a lot of ways - 1) I'm always raising when I open from late position, so by playing some hands like 35, it disguises my good hands (this is sort of the opposite of Negreanu, who always limps to disguise his good hands, more on this later). 2) I have a good chance of stealing the blinds, since most players adjust very poorly to my constant stealing, 3) it sets me up to steal the flop if high cards come (or at least get a free card if I have a draw) 4) it disguises my holding so if I flop something good for the 35s, it can often get paid big. For me personally, it's also good because it gives me a rule to fold absolute junk, like 52, I only play actual good hands or hands that can flop something good, like suited connectors. Note that one-gap connectors are just as good as no-gaps, but two-gappers are worse and three-gappers are crap. Now, when you open-raise with 35s, you really want a fold, but a call is okay so you can see a flop. You really don't want to face a reraise. That's where I went wrong. Just like yesterday's case, I made it 300 to a 100 blind, and the big blind went all-in for 400 more. I have to call with almost any two cards here. The mistake is that making such a raise into the big blind, he's on such a short stack that he's got to go all-in with almost anything decent. In that case, I should be playing holes that I want to run all-in against him, things like KT, A8. It's still correct to play big-stack aggression against him, just on a different set of holes. If it was another big stack in the big blind, I would play the 35s, and I would hate hands like KT. Against another big stack, he's not going to go all-in preflop, he'll probably just call the raise, so I want to be playing flop-seeing hands (like 35s), not all-in-racing hands (like KT). The small stack that went all-in had AT, which is a mere 60/40 favorite against 35s, and an obvious call for me.

The promised followup on Negreanu's style - Daniel likes to limp with lots of hands, good and bad, to see cheap flops. I love this style, because it means you don't commit a lot of your stack until you see a flop and can really know where you're at (Hold'em is all about the flop). The reason I don't play this style in PartyPoker tournaments is that 1) people don't defend the blinds enough, so you just get so much value from steals you have to be raising, and 2) people play so badly preflop that you need to get chips in to take advantage. For example, people will call raises with hands like A5 and JT. Even though I'm raising with a lot of hands, calling with weak aces in full tables is just a ridiculous mistake - you can only win a small pot or lose a big pot. A suprising lot of people will call with hands like J5s.


7-25-05 [poker]

Is there a situation where you should fold AA preflop? Maybe. Imagine being in a big tourney on a short stack. You're on the bubble. A hand comes up where you get AA on the button. In front of you, people go crazy - someone limps, then there's a raise, then an all-in from a short stack, then an all-in from a medium stack, then an all-in from a big stack, now it's to you. If you play, you're probably the favorite, but may have less than a 50% chance of winning. With that action it also seems likely there could be another AA out there already, so you're drawing to a split. If you fold, you're almost gauranteed to get into the money, because one of those guys has to get knocked out. If you're playing for 1st place, which is the best move at most tourneys, then you probably have to call here, but if you're happy to get into the money (for example if you think your opponents are better than you) then folding is the right move. One case where folding is absolutely clear in this situation is if you're on such a short stack that even if you win, you still have almost zero chance of making any higher position - in that case, by folding you move into the money and just get some free cash.

I'm out of another tourney, with my AQ beat by A7. I was down to a pretty low stack at that point. In these party poker tourneys, the blinds rise so fast that even if your stack is around average, it becomes very small compared to the blinds very fast. I had the big stack briefly in the tournament, but then lost a bunch of races against short stacks. A typical example goes like this :

Raise from the cut-off with 22 to 3x the BB. I hate 22, but basically this is a pure steal, everyone behind me is a pretty short stack. The BB is 100, I made it 300. On the button, a short-stack goes all-in, he has 850 chips. The blinds fold and it's back to me. It's 550 to call, there's 1300 in the pot already, I'm getting more than 2:1. Again, I hate 22, and if it was a bigger raise I'd fold, but here I have to call, most likely I'm in a race getting great odds. He shows AK, a race as expected, and he wins the race. This is exactly the kind of way I want to play a big stack against short stacks - putting pressure on them to fold, and then if I get caught stealing, I don't have to always just fold, I can call when I have a decent hand getting a good price because their stacks are so short.


7-25-05 [poker]

I've been playing some live-game poker with a new group here in SLO. Many of them are programmers, and overall the play is much better than the OW group; a few of the guys are on my level. It's been very unprofitable for me so far, but it's fun to play live. I miss the OW game though, we had some fun characters and trash talk going and weekly recurring plot lines (will Mark Lee bluff us out of a big pot again? will Steve have a big blowout? will Dave get pissed off when his kings are cracked?). Anyway, the funny thing about the new game is that even though these guys are smart and good players, they're totally suspicious about the cards. Anyone who's rational/reasonable knows that each card drawn off the deck is random. It doesn't matter if that randomness is set by the shuffle or the deal or whatever. They want you to deal a certain way; if a card is exposed or something in the deal, they want you to keep dealing as if it didn't happen so that the later people get the card they would have gotten had it not happened (supposedly this is what casinos do). You have to burn before the flop, turn & river (burning makes some sense). Personally I like dealing to people randomly, one card here, one here, draw from the deck randomly, shuffle as you go, just to get it out of everyone's head that there's some concept of the deck having fate in it. Dealing like this sort of encourages people to think that certain cards "were coming". Like, gee, I shouldn't have folded my 85, since 555 "was coming" on the flop.


7-25-05 [politics]

The Gaza withdrawal smacks of "Escape from LA" ; Gaza has become so uncontrollable and filled with crime than the Israelis just evacuate all their people and seal it up. Inside, an Israeli Arab is wrongly sealed in (with an eye patch).

I find the recent London & Egyptian bombings terrifying. Much more so than 9/11. To me, 9/11 was sort of surreal, too extreme - unlikely to happen again. I've always thought all the increases in air security were foolish, obviously just for show to make people feel better, not any real help to our overall security. It's unlikely that attackers would use that same approach again. Furthermore, attacks like 9/11 are inherently easy to detect and thwart, because they require lots of preparation and communication which we can easily catch (as we had caught warning before 9/11). On the other hand, small-scale bombings like those in Iraq, London, Egypt - those are very hard to detect because they're localized operations, and they can be done anywhere anytime.


7-24-05 [entertainment]

Good article in the New Yorker about Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The original idea for "Seinfeld" sounds great, sort of like what Curb is.


7-24-05 [poker]

I'm knocked out of a tourney again with AA beat by QTs , all in preflop, he makes a flush. Unbelievable! The pain! This after playing for an hour, taking careful notes on all the players and their mistakes. For example, one guy I had identified as chronically overbetting good hands, but hands that can only be beat by callers. For example, he went all-in with 77 when the board was 898, and reraised with A5 on an AKT board. The last tourney was almost as bad. I got knocked out with QQ when the board was 68J , the guy called my all-in with a flush draw and made the flush. To give you an idea how I'm playing these days - with QQ I hardly want to get all-in preflop, I want to see the board come below the Q. I would never get all-in with a flush draw in hardly any situation. I have a hard enough time winning when I'm a 80-90% favorite, I'm not going to get all-in with just a 30-35% shot of staying.


7-24-05 [entertainment]

There are lots of complicated baseball batting statistics : OBP, Slugging Percentage, various people's fancy formulas. The only one that correctly measures a hitter's value is Average Run Production (ARP). The ARP is a best estimate of the number of runs a hitter contributes by batting, with a baseline of 0 if he was replaced by a brick which struck out every time. To compute ARP you combine various stats. First you count home runs; multiply home run percentage by the average number of runners on base plus one. Next you count the various hits, each one counts differently. Of course ARP is not counting just immediate runs created, but also runs that are set up. So, a double counts in the ARP as a chance of batting in a runner ahead, plus the chance of you turning into a scored run in the future. If you don't get a hit, the at bat might still contribute; obviously a walk contributes to potentially scoring a run, a fly out counts for possibly driving someone in. You can also count the number of pitches you make the pitcher make; each of those contirbutes very slightly to overall run production by tiring the pitcher. (Actually, to compute ARP right, you have to look at whether or not the plate appearance caused an Out and how that affects chance of runs). (There's also things to do for park adjustment ).

Now, there are three interesting ways to compute ARP. The first is the "experimental" way (I need a better word here). It's just (Runs + RBIs)/(Plate Appearances) . This is a useful number, but it's highly affected by the batters ahead of you and behind you; eg. if the guy ahead of you is great at getting on base and the guy behind you is great at knocking in runs, that can give you a very high ARP even though you're not a great player. The second is the purely statistical way. This model is less dependent on the exact team & batting order. The inputs to the equation are the home run percent, triple percent, walks, etc. and the rest of the figures (like chance of scoring a run if you're on second base) come from the league-wide averages. This gives you a more absolute ARP that doesn't change much if a player changes teams, etc. (it doesn't change any more than batting average does). The final way to compute ARP is situational. For example, to see how a player will do on your team, you use the figures for your team. To see how a player might work in each spot in the order, you use the figures for that spot in the order.

In fact, this is a nice way to optimize your batting order. Simply try all permutations of players and chose the one that maximizes the team's total ARP.


7-24-05

I played strong poker yesterday and made a bunch of places in small tournaments. I think my game was very good, except for one situation that I didn't handle well at all - playing against other big stacks when I had a big stack. In several of these tourneys I worked up to having the big stack or the 2nd stack. That's great, and I play a big stack pretty well against short stacks. Against other big stacks, I mainly try to avoid them - it's just not worth the risk - but you can't act afraid of them or they'll start picking on you. So, when it's their big blind and I have a good stealing hand, I'll still try to make steals against them, if I have a playable hand against them, I have to play against them, etc. The problem is I don't want to get all-in with them, and if they're good players they can pick this up and use it against me. (when the blinds are very small, it is easy to just avoid the other big stacks, but when the blinds pick up, you are forced to play with them).

The following hand came up : I had 88 , and another big stack was in the big blind. It folds to me, and I made it 500 to go (the big blind is 200). Folds to the big blind, who calls. Our stacks are both around 6000, so the blinds are big enough that 88 is a pretty good hand. Early in the tourney I would look at 88 as a hand drawing to a set, but here I have to play 88 pretty strong or I'm giving up too much value. The flop come 55J. That's a pretty good flop for me, since the most likely hand for him to call with is some kind of high cards, though in the Bayesian sense he has only a small skew towards better hands, since he'll call preflop with lots of hands, only folding the very worst hands like 72, etc. He bets out 500. That's a bit less than half the pot. If he has a 5 or J, I'm beat, if he has a higher PP, I'm beat. But, he could also have a lower PP, or just high cards, or almost any two cards, since he'll suspect me for a steal and not believe I have anything. Now, I could just call here, but I decide to see where I'm at, since I think it's likely I have the best hand. I raise to 1500. He quickly moves all-in. The all-in is a bit suspicious, since if he had a monster hand here, like a 5, I'd think he'd milk it a bit more. It's quite possible he has nothing or something like AK or AQ. I decide I can't call off all my chips here, so I fold, and my stack is down to 4000.

I just haven't quite found the balance of playing strong against the other big stacks, but not risking too much. If I was a pro, I'd be able to use their fear of tangling with me, instead I'm being exploited for my fear of tangling with them.

Another odd hand came up in a different tourney. Assume the same chip stacks as the previous story. I had some junk like T7o , but I was in the cutoff, so I made it 500 to go, as I often will to make a steal. The big blind calls. The flop came with some junk like 954, totally missing me. He bet out the minimum bet, 200. Now, that's an oddly small bet into an 1100 pot. This guy has been making the minimum bet often, and I have yet to see what he's doing it with, because people keep folding when he does it. On Party Poker, people who bet the minimum are usually either fish, people who don't know how to play No Limit, or pros who are exploiting the fact that morons will fold to the minimum bet. Now, I have nothing, but the minimum bet is fishy, I decide to try a bluff right here. I raise to 1200, making it 1000 more. He quickly calls. The turn comes some more junk, like a 2. He bets out the minimum again. Very fishy. Now, at this point I make a mistake; I should just call here, since I have a gut shot and he's giving me a good price to chase it. He must have some kind of hand that beats me. Still, I think he must have something weak that he can lay down, so I raised it to 1200 again. This time he moves all-in and I have to fold. I lost nearly half my stack on this hand. My play on the turn was surely a mistake, but the flop is trickier. If the blinds weren't so big and he wasn't a big stack, it would be much easier to make that bluff, but in this situation, it's so much of my stack to bluff that it makes me not want to risk it, which of course makes me weak.


7-24-05

A good page on hikes near here (SLO) (well, good pictures anyway). Lots of good info in the parent pages about CA in general.


7-23-05

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode : Larry and Cheryl start playing tennis (scenes of Larry ranting - "Tennis? isn't that a gentile-only sport? don't those clubs have a strict no Jew policy? Jews don't look good in little white shorts, we weren't meant to play tennis"). They take lessons and such. In one group lesson, they play together, then the teacher tells them to switch partners. Larry - "Switch? What do they mean switch, we're partners!" Cheryl - "I guess you're supposed to play with other people" - "I don't want to play with other people" ; Larry asks the teacher if they can just not switch, teacher says no, Larry goes back to Cheryl - "He says we have to switch; I mean, what kind of club is this, you come with a partner, you're supposed to stay with your partner, you don't just switch around". Larry isn't picking it up, but Cheryl is getting quite good; Larry says the club is weird, the teacher's bad, they should stop playing tennis, Cheryl - "Oh, I don't know, I think Troy's fine, and I'm having fun." One day Cheryl asks Larry to practice and he can't make it. Later he finds out when he said no, she practiced with another guy. He gets home - "So, you've been playing tennis with another man? Is he better than me?" "No, he's not better, just different, I like playing with some different people." "Oh, I'm not enough for you?" "It's not that, it's just I get bored playing with you all the time." "Just tell me something - is his racket bigger than mine?"


7-23-05

I frequently find myself cooking a sort of "Stone Soup" (good children's book). I have some stupid ingredient in the fridge that I feel I need to use, something like broccoli or some nonsense that costs like one dollar. But, I don't have any good things to go with it, so I buy some oyster sauce & chillis & garlic for the brocolli, then some shrimp and peanuts and coconut milk and curry for a nice followup, and I wind up building a meal and spending a fortune because I felt like I couldn't waste that thing in my fridge.


7-23-05

More in the continuing series on how I'm an incompetent human - I realized today one of the bad things about me is that I make people feel bad when they deserve to feel bad. In the old harsh justice-oriented Charles that would be perfectly reasonable, like if someone betrays me or lets me down, I'll make them feel bad, and fuck them they deserve it. Of course in the real world that's a horrible thing to do. When people do something bad, they know it, they feel bad, and they don't need you to rub it in, they need your support. That's all the background. The thing I don't get is this : sometimes people do something bad and they act like it's no big deal; this is sort of just an act, they're trying to get over it and get past it, but to me it looks like they're not remorseful and they will repeat their bad action, which I want to avoid. So, ideally I want a way to make them feel better, like it's not a big deal, but at the same time let them know they did a horrible thing and they better not do it again. Preferably without being a counseling-trained douche who spouts nonsense like "I hear what you're saying that you feel, but what I feel is ..."


7-23-05 [poker]

People talk a lot about playing a big stack and playing a short stack, both of which are clear situations where there are certain dynamics. The much harder thing is playing a medium stack. You have to worry about things like the short stacks moving in against you, which is a lot of your stack, you have to worry about tangling with the big stacks, you have to consider moving up in chip position or just waiting for people to get knocked out. In poker as in life, the truly hard situations are the ones that are ambiguous, unclear, not easily categorized and broken down into simple dynamics.

Playing at the higher limits in poker is a whole different ball game. Suddenly you're playing against people who will pick up your patterns and moves and play back at you. They're also willing to take risks that pay off in the long run, because they have big bank-rolls and they're used to the ups & downs of poker and they can make the risky move (like moving all-in with nothing when they detect weakness) that's +EV but could knock them out. You really do feel like a fish with sharks swimming all around, and they make you want to just hide and play very tight/weak and try to catch big hands, which of course means they'll just steal all your chips.


7-22-05 [music]

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's "Ease on Down the Road" has the best songs ever about playful, loving, honest sex. It's also full of songs about the day's cycle, in particular the morning. It's far more upbeat than "I See a Darkness" , but still in a thoughtful, introspective, mournful way.

Foreign Born's EP is totally radio-ready; it's like a mix of Interpol and U2. It's good head-bobbing driving music.

Innaway is eclectic and well executed, but lacking in impact or heart, I just find myself not drawn into it or wanting to listen to it.

"Superwolf" is still at the top of my rotation.


7-22-05 [poker]

Played another big tourney on PartyPoker. 1100 entrants. I get to 92nd place. My stack is slightly less than average as my steals haven't been working recently, I keep running into reraises. I get AA, we get all-in preflop, whack it's beat by KQ, now I'm short stacked. Next hand I get AQ, I get all-in again, another guy has KQ, again I'm beat. I'm an 86% favorite on the first and a 74% favorite on the second. Chance of losing both is 3.6% ; I was 12 spots away from the money, I almost surely could have folded into the money at that point. Oh my fucking god it hurts so bad. I played so well this time, never even got impatient.

Fast playing is great (in tournaments; in cash games you're playing more straightforwardly for EV). In doubt, always play fast. That doesn't mean overbetting, it means not slowplaying. If you read my book I outline the cases where slowplaying is actually called for (when it's likely he won't call a bet now, but he's drawing to a hand that will call a bet and still be worse than your hand) and it's actually very rare. Fast playing increases your chance of winning the pot, though it may decrease your EV. The other great thing about fast playing is many opponents think you're pulling a move and they make bad counter-plays and wind up giving you a big pot.


7-21-05 [movie]

The Sea ("Hafid" , D: Baltasar Kormakur) is a powerful, cold, beautiful icelandic movie. Personally, I don't really see it as a Lear retelling, literally the story isn't like Lear except for the powerful father figure and the issue of inheriting his kingdom, the moral and theme are completely different. It's an intense family drama, but cut with fast pacing, lots of humor and excitement which keeps it moving, so it doesn't get boring or tedious. The scenery of iceland is stark and beautiful and sets the external mirror of the internal drama.


7-21-05

Energy and Real Estate are the big money makers in the US these days, but are also very risky (though I still like BPT ). I'm not directly invested in either, but by investing in broad-market funds I have huge exposure to them. Energy and Real Estate and related businesses (like construction, utilities, etc.) are around 40% of the US economy today.


7-21-05

I think a lot of the way that kids make mistakes in decisions is in miscalculating EV's. Taking risks is not always a bad thing, but it should be compared to the reward. For example, sleeping with quarterback behind the bleachers is a large risk and a pretty small reward (unless you're going to use it to blackmail him or something).


7-21-05

Well, I fixed my bike this morning, and put on some new bar tape while I was at it. I've never done either of these repairs before, and it's always very satisfying to do something new and learn it. To fix my bike I consult the local bike shop, and 3 books (see post 5-15-05). Fixing my bike makes me feel like a real man, getting greasy, working with tools, it's like a proxy for working on a car, which is far too difficult and expensive these days.


7-21-05

Nina Gordon sings "Straight Outta Compton" (mp3) - this is like the funniest thing ever.


7-21-05

I'm thinking of buying a latex mattress, but I can't find decent information online. I've read bad reviews of Abed and Englander latex mattresses, but other positive reviews; some say they last forever, some say they get dents & lumps after a year or less.


7-20-05

Well, my hand is mostly back to normal (btw, the masturbation when it was swollen was great; it was as if some really fat chick was giving me a hand job) - so, I decided to go for a ride. Everything's going dandy, but I'm noting my rear derailleur isn't shifting very well. Oh well, I think, I'll replace the shifter cable when I get home and adjust it. Half way through the ride, suddenly I can't shift gears any more; I push the shifter and it just moves freely with no resistance. So I get off the bike and check it out - the cable has snapped in the shifter (the same thing happened to my front shifter a few months ago). Fuck! Now I can't shift, and without tension the rear derailleur is stuck in the hardest gear. I can still shift the front, so I'm now riding a two speed bike, but in the two hardest gears. Okay, fine, I ride home; on the flats, I'm blazing fast, being stuck in the hardest gear, I sprint past the local bike club (aptly named the "SLO" bike club; bunch of old farts) out for a morning ride; but on the hills I pay dearly - I'm stuck in a big gear and I have the stand the whole way, in a much harder gear than I would normally stand; it's like doing squats with heavy weights all the way up the hill. Damn biking bad beats!

Addendum : Kim points out an old bike messenger's trick : when the RD breaks like this, you can get home more easily by turning the limit screw (assuming you have a screwdriver or coin or something that can turn a flat-head screw) to put the chain in an easier gear, closer to the middle of the cassette.


7-20-05

Some of the things I've learned about playing big poker tournaments :

1. Save your chips. Really. Especially in a big tournament with a lot of donkeys, you will have opportunities to get your chips in as a huge favorite, so don't push them in as a small favorite. For example, say you have AQ, you raise, someone comes over the top of you. You guess that averaged over all his hands he'll do this with (ala Bayesian poker), you're a 60-40 favorite. You're clearly getting odds to call. FOLD. Similarly, you flop a straight flush draw. A guy pushes all in, and you're pretty sure he's on top pair. You're actually a small favorite here. If he out-stacks you, FOLD. You'll have better chances to use your chips. Normal hand EV calculations hardly come into play in tournaments; the correct thing is to consider your EV in terms of real money places in the tournament, which is much more complex.

2. Be patient; fold crap hands. This is very similar to #1. "Crap hands" are, for example - medium pairs preflop (you should limp with them and try to make a set, but you don't want to get all-in with hands like TT), flush draws on the flop (again, you'll gladly take a free or cheap card to make a flush, but getting all-in with a flush draw is a major donkey move). You never EVER want to get all-in with only a 40% chance (or less) of staying in the tournament. You really only want to get all-in with an 80% of chance of staying in. To make it concrete - if you get all-in FOUR TIMES with an 80% shot of winning, you'll win all four 40% of the time, so you can get all-in four times in a row and have the same shot of staying in as if you get in just once with a crap hand like a flush draw with an overcard.

3. The stacks you play against are crucial. Even if the big stack is a fish and you'd love to get his chips, be scared of him. You only want to play pots with people who have smaller stacks, so you can get all-in if necessary. It gives you the possibility of bluffing if you feel you can take the pot from them, and you're not risking too much. Against bigger stacks, you're going to have to have a winning hand, so you only want to play hands you're very sure of winning (80% or better). Against comparable stacks, you can play pots, but you have to be very careful; you prefer to play a small pot against them without showing down.

4. Use your chips for raising, not calling. This is standard advice, but think about it in terms of #1 - you're conserving your chips like a resource in an RTS for when you can use them best. Let's say you have a hand like 89s. If someone raises before you, you fold. It's not good value to use your chips raising here. Let's say you can open from late position with 89s - good, come in for a raise. This sets you up in the position of aggressor and gives you much more value for your chips.

5. You really want to win small pots without show-downs. That gives you a 100% chance of winning. Any time you have to get in a race and show down hands, there's a chance of them drawing out on you and ruining your tournament. Be patient, build your stack slowly with steals. With hands like AA, you can get greedy and think you should double up. Yeah, that would be nice, but if you get all-in there's a 20% chance of getting knocked out (against a bigger stack; you'd love to get all-in against a smaller stack).


7-19-05

The real lesson of "30 Days" is that most people are complete assholes. The situations are interesting, but the show just becomes a "Real World" camera confessional for unappreciative whining babies.


7-19-05

I went for a long ride today and had some wild adventures. There are lots of triathletes in town for the upcoming SLO Triathlon on July 24. I was in good form, riding hard, when suddenly I felt this pain in my hand, under my bike glove. I swatted at it and it didn't go away, so I pulled over and stopped and took the glove off - a fucking BEE was inside my skin-tight glove, with its stinger well in me. I pulled it out and tossed it away, but of course I'd already swatted it good so it had fully injected me. Now, a bee sting is annoying for everyone, but me, I'm allergic, bad. It was about 10 miles home still, and my hand was hurting and starting to swell. I got on the bike and rode hard - the pain in my legs was suddenly cleared from my mind and I nearly sprinted the whole way home. My hand was swelling up and filling my tight bike glove. Half way home I noticed that it was so swollen that my digits were turning purple coming out of the finger holes of the bike glove. I managed to get the glove off and rode the rest of the way one handed. The past three days it's been so swollen I couldn't type, I'm just now able to type and it's still big and painful. (I would have gone to the doctor, but they're such incompetent boobs; all they'd do is give me Benadryl and tell me to ice it, which is what I've been doing, and they'd charge me $100 bucks for the emergency room viti).

The principles of traffic keep like people apart. In theory, two vehicles going the same speed will never meet. In theoretical traffic analysis, we assume some density of vehicles, much like fluid or gas particles - a constant density over large scales, but randomly distributed on small scales, and we ignore the rare cases of two vehicles that start together. Two vehicles going 1 mph different (eg. one going 26 and one going 27) are 5 times less likely to meet than two vehicles going 5 mph different, (eg. 25 and 30 mph), becuse the relative flux is 5x less. What this means in practice is that you rarely see kindred spirits on the road - when biking I mainly pass old farts going real slow (the slower they go, the higher relative flux for me), and once in a rare while I'm passed by someone going blazing fast, but almost never do I pass or get passed by someone of comparable speed that I might tag along with.

As I bike down the road, I think of how all energy comes from the sun (except : the core, nuclear). My legs push my bike, burning energy from food, which came from animals which ate plants which used photosynthesis to get energy from the sun. The cars that pass me burn hydrocarbons that are the mass of old plants that got their energy from the sun. These are elaborate solar cells. Hydroelectric gets its energy from the sun when it evaporates water and lifts it up against gravity, which can then be tapped. The Earth's core is an exception; it can provide energy left over from the kinetic energy of the impacts and masses that formed the solar system. Nuclear energy (fission) is another exception; it's a way of tapping energy left over from the big bang, which formed those unstable high energy nuclear isotopes.


7-19-05

Lots of people talk about how efficient bicycles are, but what's the truth? Some quote the fact that the bicycle chain drive is 98% efficient. That's interesting, but it's not what I'm talking about; that's the energy transfer from the crank to the cassette, a simple machine; in that scheme you can't compete with the crow bar, which is 100% efficient. Let's look at the real efficiency of energy input converted to motion.

Let's consider going around 150 miles at 25 mph. You could do this with an efficient one or two cyclinder diesel on about 1 gallon of gas (it has to carry a human). That's 1.3*10^8 Joules, or 31071 kCals. To do the same on a bicycle, a human would have to consume around 3000 kCals of food energy (above normal resting food consumption) (a food "Calorie" is actually a kCal). So the human+bicycle is about 10X more efficient in terms of turning chemical energy into motion. Note that the gas is far more efficient in terms of volume of fuel and cost of fuel, but that's not the question. Also, I'm talking about semi-realistic vehicles and bikes here over slightly undulating terrain; ideal aero vehicles on flat ground could be more efficient in both cases, but the ratio would be same.

I heard that pro bicyclists riding hard produce a power of around 500 Watts, which is about 0.7 horsepower. That's around 500 kCals (food calories) an hour of output energy, so presumably you have to eat even more. good page on bike efficiency


7-19-05

"Me and You and Everyone We Know" is a nice pleasant, funny movie that doesn't condescend, though I find the jokes about modern art rather trite. Oh yes, modern art is so pretentious and vacuous, very funny. The lead actor is very good, endearing and genuine, but I find Miranda July to be forced and artificial.

))<>((

"All or Nothing" is another sad, difficult Mike Leigh movie, with great performances, realistic dialog and writing, and really no reason to watch it.


7-19-05

I feel like I'm playing the best poker of my life, and I keep washing out in these big tournaments outside of the money. Some of my recent bad beats - my AA got beat by a Q6 that hit running queens, my JJ got beat by a J9 that hit two nines. Let me give you some idea of how I feel when this happens - it's sort of like if Michael Jordan is playing one on one vs. a retarded cripple. The tard cripple keeps chucking the ball from mid-court, and it somehow bounces off a spectator, then bounces off the ref and goes in the hoop for a 3-pointer. Every time Michael shoots, a bird flies in the way, or a gust of wind comes out of nowhere, and he misses. The tard wins the match, and the crowd gathers around him as he talks about what a great player he is, and everyone in the crowd talks about how Michael sucks so bad. Not to be arrogant or anything, but that's what it feels like.


7-16-05

Poker is really about many things, and I hate those little catch phrases that say "high limit is a battle for the blinds", etc. but here are some catch phrases - to me no limit is about 1. stealing pots and 2. situations where you both have big hands, eg. avoiding having a second best big hand ; limit is about all those medium hands, and making the pot big when you win and small when you lose.


7-15-05

There couldn't be anything less fucking PUNK than the "punk" kids these days. Oh yeah, you're really sticking it to the establishment with your rampant consumerism.


7-15-05

How can you stop someone who wants to die from ending their lives? That's the ultimate intrusion into someone's self-determination - I choose whether I live or die, therefore I have a conscious will. This neo-Republican Christian pandering is yet another departure from the good old semi-libertarian Republican fiction. (in Oregon, you can season with a sprinkle of hippocracy about "state's rights" ; as we all know the real meaning is Republican State's Rights when the federal government is Democractic)


7-15-05

Boxers who fight dirty are rewarded for it. Elbow someone, head butt, rabbit punch, punch em while they're down - you might get a point deducted (usually after a few infractions), but you fuck up the opponent bad, perhaps leading to a knockout.

Children who lie are rewarded for it. Parents don't want to punish if there's doubt about who did it, so if you ever do anything bad, just lie; you can stab your brother, then just lie and say he was coming at you and stabbed himself. Children learn early that if they ever tell the truth and admit doing something wrong or bad they get much more punishment.


7-15-05

Hand analysis from the FullTiltPoker.net Championship, shown live on Fox Sports Net. For reference : the results , the announcement and the hand in question : at the full tilt forums

I'm just going to talk about the river bet here. The river involves Ted Forrest and Daniel Negreanu. The board is ((664)A)6. Ted has AA for the AAA66 house, Daniel has AQ for the 666AA. The nuts is 6x for four of a kind. We're going to look at what Ted should do, so obviously Ted doesn't know Daniel's hand, but Daniel has shown a lot of strength both preflop and on the turn. Daniel checks the river and the action is on Ted. In real life, Ted checked to show it down and take the pot.

The first interesting thing to me here is that I believe Howard made the wrong analysis in this case. I love Howard and he's very smart, but he says that Ted makes a good check here, roughly because in Ted's view there's one 6 out there, which Daniel might have and would beat him, and there's just one Ace out there, which Daniel might have to give Ted a call. Howard says since there's one of each, they're equally likely, so the check is a good move.

The reason that's entirely wrong is because Daniel's not on random cards. Daniel called a raise preflop, so he's skewed the likelihood of what cards are in his hands. According to the principles of Bayesian Poker we need to look at the chance of Daniel calling preflop with the hands he might have. Now, his bet on the turn has already narrowed him down to very few hands : Ax, 6x, A6, or 44. What's the chance he'd call with each of these preflop? Well, with Ax, it's almost 100% chance he'd call (maybe he'd fold some lower aces, but we'll ignore that). With 44, we'll also assume he'll call preflop. With 6x, he'll fold many, if not all of them. Perhaps he'd call with Q6, K6 and A6. So, on the river, how many are there of each of these?

6x (including A6) = 9 hands
Ax (not including A6) = 43 hands
44 = 3 hands
total = 55 hands

So, Daniel only has 6x on the river 16.3% of the time. He has Ax 78.2% of the time. He has 44 just 5.5% of the time. Now, to do a proper analysis of what Ted should do here, we need to know the pot size and the chip stacks, which I don't recall exactly. Also, Ted has various bet size options and we'd have to make estimates of Daniel's behavior in each case. I'm just going to simplify and consider a simple case. Let's say Ted can either check or go all-in. If Ted goes all-in, Daniel will call with the 6x and the Ax and fold the 44. It's possible someone could fold with Ax here, but based on Ted's aggression and Daniel's looseness it seems likely Daniel will call with Ax. If Ted just checks, he wins the pot P 83.7% of the time and loses 16.3% of the time, so his EV is 0.837 * P . If he goes all-in for the amount A, the cases are : 0.163 * ( - A) + 0.782 * ( A + P ) + 0.055 * P = 0.619 * A + 0.837 * P . This is strictly greater than checking, and in fact it's quite a bit greater. Clearly the EV is much better to bet here. Now, it's possible you could say that Ted was being cautious and trying not to risk going out, which he would do 16.3% of the time. That, however, is an entirely ridiculous position to take, because it's equivalent to saying that you'd fold AA over 22 because you don't want that 20% chance of losing.

Now that I've made that strong conclusion, let me illustrate the complexity of poker and how you could down that result. In reality perhaps it's less clear cut, because Daniel is a little wild/loose , and maybe you can put him on more of the 6x hands preflop, but I don't think it changes the result very much. The only reason I can see Ted making this play is based on his history in Stud and other such games, where you have to put people on a slightly more random spread of starting hands. Personally, I would understand the check more if the opponent were someone like Gus with a Backgammon/probability background. We're getting into the fine details of the preflop play so I have to mention that John D'Agostino was all-in here. Now, someone who knows preflop odds well and thinks there's a good chance that he and Ted will check it down might actually call with hands like 56, 67, etc. and might also fold hands like Ace-low which are more likely to be dominated. That changes the whole spectrum of probabilities and makes Ted's check more reasonable. However, then you also need to get into the river check - how often is someone with 6x going to check that river after betting the turn?


7-15-05

I like the way Nair (the chemical hair remover) is now advertising itself as "exfoliating" ; that's a nice way to spin the fact that it's a horribly caustic toxic chemical which is so harsh it takes your skin off in addition to killing the hair follicles. That's sort of like advertising Agent Orange as having effective enemy population reproduction reduction capabilities in addition to the defoliation.


7-15-05

MC Paul Barman has some funny clever lyrics and original flow. Get the old Housemate Troubles html ; links should be colored differently depending on the type of thing they take you to.


7-13-05

cardplayer's updates on the WSOP are pretty good, the commentary and payout tabs are nice. The payout structure is really strange and uneven. From 10th to 9th is a jump from 600k to 1000k , then from 9th to 8th you only go to 1150k ; when there's a jump in the money like that you really have to be aware and it changes the play a lot.

So, John Juanda blew himself out, but Phil Ivey is now the chip leader, so he's in an awesome spot unless he blows it. The bet on a "Nguyen" to finish well has lost, but the bet on a "Phil" is in good shape.

Another little find on the net that shows just how pros can do so much better in tournaments than we shmucks :

Card Player has noticed that no one wants to play a pot with Phil Ivey. If you take a look at Phil's chip stack, he's got more small denomination chips than any player in the field. This might possibly come as a result of him picking up a large number of blinds and antes, due to Phil's consistent raising from late position, and not getting any callers. He's got nearly $700,000 in $1,000 chips.

The countdown is on for Matusow to blow his chip lead. I'll put money on him not even making the final table and making a big speech about how he's such a great player its ridiculous he didnt make it.


7-12-05

Too bad - [133] Howard Lederer - taken out by John Juanda. Howard raised, John went over the top and Howard went all-in with an AJ, John called with AK. I can only surmise that Howard was playing the AJ here becase Juanda is known to be a very aggressive preflop all-in specialist; Juanda steals lots of pots by raising preflop with marginal hands. It seems to be paying off well for Juanda this year, but it's a very risky style, so he could still easily get knocked out with one his steals.


7-12-05

To live on 50k a year for 20 years, you need about 600k in investiments paying 5% after inflation and taxes. If it was just matching inflation after tax, you'd need 1000k obviously. This is the formula :

float alpha = log( 1.f + apy );

float cash = (burn / alpha) * (1.f - exp( - alpha * years ) );

where "burn" is burn rate per year and "apy" is the annual return percent after inflation and taxes.

Generally the thing about these figures is that going to more years doesn't require much more cash. 30 years needs 780k , 40 years needs 880k, 50 years needs 930k.

A funny thing is that a huge amount of America has enough money to retire in most of the world (eg. Mexico, but plenty of other places). If you have any real estate in America, you can probably get out for 100k or more, and go retire in a village somewhere. I guess the quality of life there isn't that great, but you don't have to work at all.


7-12-05

The buy-in for the WSOP is 10k. If you were of exactly average skill compared to the rest of the field, your EV would be 10k. That EV comes from an average of almost always losing and getting zero, but rarely getting lucky and winning much more than 10k. Varkonyi was just a horrible pathetic unskilled player, his EV was perhaps less than 1k. Moneymaker was a decent player, worse than the pros but better than a lot of the dead money, his EV was somewhere in 9-11k perhaps. Raymer is a good player, not great, not a top pro, but reasonable; his EV was maybe 10k-12k. The pros have an EV of maybe 15k-20k. That means for their 8 days of hard work, their profit is on average 5-10k.

You can see Moneymaker and Varkonyi's preponderance of appearances in the poker top 10 bad beats , though you can't really trust a top 10 that's so wrong it doesn't even have 10 entries !! That's one of the basic things about a top ten, it's in the freaking name, there are only two aspects you have to have - they should be the top things and there should be ten of them!


7-12-05

Lance's performance today was awesome. I like watching cycling, because you can read the paper, make breakfast, and if you hear something exciting happening, you can run to the TV and catch it. Baseball is similarly boring, but the exciting moments are over in a second, so if you run in you've already missed it. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are some of the best announcers I've ever heard in sports. They're smart, knowledgeable, actually were pros, charismatic, clever, always talking, and they have a great way of correcting each other. Sportscasters always make little mistakes, just saying the wrong name now and then; the two of them quickly correct each other without stepping on each other's toes. Even great casts like Al Michaels haven't mastered this technique, when insane old guys like Madden say nonsense things, Al needs to fix it smoothly without making the old coach feel dumb. Brittish sportscasters are always better - they can fill the air, get you excited, without spouting too much nonsense, and they get rightly passionate when the moment calls for it. It seems to correlate with the way Brittish politicians are such better speakers, especially impromptu and off the script.

I went out and tried to ride Old Creek today. It was hot, and I was on the rail, struggling just to make the minimum time; in the end I had to drop out of the Tour de Old Creek in order to live to fight another day.


7-11-05

King-Queen is a shit all-in hand, but it's better to call all-in with KQ than with something like Ace-Low. That's true even though A2 is a favorite over KQ ; when you're calling you need to worry about domination, and KQ is only dominated by AK and AQ, while A2 is dominated by all the higher aces.

I wish I had someone to tag-team with to play poker online. I can't play the big tournaments long enough to make the money; I can play well for 3-4 hours, and then I always get impatient and start to play badly, or get mildly unlucky. Today I played a tourney of 1200 players; I made it down to around #250 after hours of play. The blinds are getting big now, I have AJs and make a standard raise to 650 (BB is 200), a solid player comes over the top of me, enough to put me all in. The blinds fold, back to me, I called about 1500 more and he showed AQ, and it held up - I'm out. Probably I should have raised a bit less initially so I dont pot-committ myself, probably I should have folded to the reraise, because he's solid, the best I'll be is 50/50.

This article is a pretty good description of how a pro like Phil Ivey plays so well in tournaments.


7-09-05

T-Shirts :

"Thor Bless America" ; shows Thor with big hammer draped in American flag.

"Dont Tread on Shit" , shows 50's business guy in wing-tip shoe about to step in dog turd.

"Capitalist Pork" - pink piggy bank on green shirt.


7-09-05

PokerWire seems to have the best coverage of the currently ongoing 2005 WSOP. It sickens me that Raymer is doing well again, it will make foolish people incorrectly believe that his win was from skill.


7-09-05

Now, oversized rims and low profile tires is very cool and appropriate on your Porsche 911, but is absolutely hillarious on your Ford truck.


7-09-05

If you believe that the words of the bible are literally true, you've probably never read the bible. Now, the New Testament is more believable, it's pretty straightforward, just the story of Jesus, but the Old Testament is absolutely chock-full of bizarre laughable nonsense. Those who hold up the 10 commandments should actually read the passage where God delivers his law to Moses. There's a lot more than the 10 commandments, and it's mostly funny. One of my favorites - "if thou seest a witch, thou shalt surely smite her".


7-09-05

The idea that other countries can become wealthy without hurting the U.S. is preposterous. Yes, yes, economics is not a zero-sum game, but it is sort of like an average between an unlimited resource game and a zero-sum game. Many important factors are zero-sum, like the share of natural resources, and the share of power at the bargaining table. If you're the medieval lord and everyone else is a peasant, you have much more real wealth & power than if there's another lord in a comparable position to you - suddenly you have a rival of near equal power and you have to split the spoils.

Right now, the U.S. is the thousand pound gorilla - we set the terms of all the world trade agreements to our liking. Almost no one has any real power to fight us. In fact, whenever anyone does fight us even in tiny ways, it's big news because it's so rare (for example, recently at the meeting of the Association of American States, a coalition of South American states rejected some of the free trade rules we were pushing, and it made big news). If power equalizes - not even close to completely, but even just somewhat, so that a coalition of other states comes close to US power - we will be forced to play by the rules of the rest of the world. How would we like it if the world free trade agreements made us drop our agriculture subsidies? or our import tarrifs? or made us balance our budget? or revalue our dollar? or raise federal interest rates? Most Republicans and neocons would consider those sort of requirements from foreign nations to be ridiculous and insulting, and yet those are the kinds of things we impose on other countries all the time.

Many people have latched onto China as something to be afraid of. China is not the problem - India, Russia, Brazil, etc. will follow. The future is about the large multinational corporations. Already they are leaving the US for tax purposes and to avoid annoying laws about corruption and usury and such. Imagine when they are based overseas, most employees are overseas, and most of their sales are overseas. The world power centers will be Walmart, Citigroup, Exxon/Mobil, etc. not governments; government-based power will be diffused among the many nations of the world, while corporate power will be concentrated. The G8 will be the group of 8 multinational corporations, while the U.N. will become an even more ineffectual body of 200+ nations that are closer in power and unable to agree on anything.

The neocons recognized all this long ago; their policies are based on the idea of using current US dominance to secure long term prosperity. That in itself is not a horrible idea, but I don't agree with the idea that prosperity for the US is worth any cost - such as the lives of human beings - and I also don't agree with their methods, or their unspoken true agenda, which is prosperity for the rich & powerful, not for the average American.


7-08-05

Evidence is out now that Karl Rove was the one who leaked Valerie Plame's identity (undercover CIA operative), as revenge for Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson telling the truth (which the bushies despise). Of course anyone with sense knew it was a bush insider that did it and why, but if it could be really proved, that would be a rare slip by that clever corrupt cadre of criminals. Lots of info at Wikipedia . The similarities and connections between this administration and Nixon's are sickening.


7-07-05

Casey's presentation on IMGUI at MollyRocket forums


7-07-05

Beer ads are way too far off the nose these days; Pete Coors talking about the hops and the frost brewing and such nonsense - that doesn't sell beer, it's a load of bullshit and noone cares. The Miller High Life adds of late were great (Erol Morris works, btw). I propose a series of beer ads that are more about why people by beer - the tag line is "Oh well, have a beer" and the ads each depict something horrible; like a guy is in his apartment, his girlfriend is telling him what a lazy piece of shit he is; she throws things and breaks them then storms out; cue tag line - "Oh well, have a beer", he goes to his fridge and you hear the sound of a bottle opening and you see him sit down in his recliner, turn on the TV with beer in one hand. Similar spots showing guy in cubicle with boss yelling at him, guy in traffic jam, etc.


7-07-05

Is there any greater form of mental masturbation than the deep contemplation of fictional characters - especially minor ones? So many literature lovers spends years in study of Polonius or Pangloss, wondering at their motivation or their character, their importance. Good lord, people, they have no motivation, and if their actions don't make sense, it's because the author fucked up, not because it corresponds to some great truth about human fallibility. On the other hand, most of my favorite authors have engaged in this foolish self-indulgent sport - Nabokov, Joyce, Borges, etc.


7-07-05

Plain Schnapps (like this one ) is a lovely beer chaser; it's very different from that aweful fruit crap that most people in America think of as Schnapps.


7-07-05

My NetFlix Queue is full. FULL. Nothing on a computer should ever be full. I'm so sick of the very simple software that I use in my daily life - email, netflix, tivo, mp3 players, etc. - all sucking so very badly. And it's not like it sucks in complicated difficult ways, it sucks in moronic lazy ways.

I finally discovered "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for myself. It's a fantastic smart show; it's helping me get through life these days - it reminds of how humorous all the horrible stupidities of the world can be. After watching it, I find it very easy to walk around doing a Larry David impersonation all the time, which makes this ridiculous life easier.


7-07-05

More propaganda for the NoT : the Google search is sort of an algorithm for rating information based on what the entire internet thinks of it. The problem is the "entire internet" are a bunch of morons, they like Britney Spears and War of the Worlds. The search should be customized for what I trust, for information I want. The most extreme example is to just go to the search and enter "music". With a crap search you get things you don't want. A good search would give you results customized based on your taste, trust, and history, so you actually could just search on simple things like that and get good results.


7-07-05

London, where my brother is now living, was attacked by Al Qaeda. One can hope that this will motivate the world governments to finally do something serious about terrorism (instead of spending all our energy making new terrorists in Iraq). Everyone knows Bin Laden is in Pakistan. It's high time we 1. Stabilize Afghanistan, 2. Make peace in Palestine, 3. Support democracy and openness in Iran, 4. do something serious about Pakistan, where wide areas (Waziristan) are under the control of Pashtun warlords (this is the hardest one).

One can also only hope that our ridiculous government won't find this to be new fuel for pushing all sorts of unrelated anti-libertarian agendas. This could make a nice smoke screen for them to install a super-conservative judge on the supreme court.

I had a silly thought the other day about why there seems to be a propensity for terrorism in Islamic cultures (the real answer is complex; for one thing, terrorism is common in other cultures, it's more associated with a poor populace that's oppressed and feels they have no alternative). Anyway - it's because they forbid alcohol. The disillusioned islamic youth who's angry about his brother's murder and dreams of the fifty virgins - if he could just get drunk every night, he wouldn't be motivated to blow things up. I've spoken with many half-crazy guys here in America that are furious about our government and talk of revolt, but then they drink some beers and get lazy and settle down again.


7-06-05

Human beings are totally out of control. UN Peacekeepers in Congo are reported to frequently pay for sex with civilians, including children. (that's the difference between the peacekeepers and the guerillas - the guerillas just rape, the peacekeepers pay, in the spirit of good democratic/capitalist slavery (* see note)). Locally, here near San Luis Obispo we have the Atascadero State Hospital (ASH; it's a penal mental hospital) where the state's criminally insane and kept; it's primarily populated by sex offenders. Recently there have been reports of frequent sex between workers and inmates at the hospital - that's female workers and sex offenders. What the fuck is wrong with all you people? It makes me think of Dune and the idea of true humans. You all seem like a different species; you grunt and walk around in a crouch, knuckles dragging, throwing feces at each other.

democratic/capitalist slavery - 1. the condition is which people are supposedly presented with a "choice", but are not offered viable alternatives, or are given alternatives so ghastly that they are forced into the decision which those in power want; 2. when people are given jobs, but at wages so low they can only afford the essentials of life and must continue to work constantly just to survive.


7-05-05

Many have written about my rants about America going into the shitter. First of all, a general reply. I do not believe that this is entirely inevitable, and you should also understand what I mean by "shitter". You may or may not be aware that America is currently a nation of kings - the poorest in America are lords of amazing wealth by the standards of most of the world. That's less so know, but 10 or 20 years ago, the inequality from the average American to the average Somalian (for example), was just staggering. That is certainly going away. Second of all, I don't mean to imply that I think this is a bad thing. I'm bleeding heart liberal and I think equality for the world is great. I am trying to point out something I think is an important neglected truth, and also a hypocracy in the neocons who claim to act in America's best interest. What do they mean by "America" ? Third, a key issue to be aware of is the success of "America" as a whole vs. the success of the average American. The GDP and wealth of the US en toto will continue to rise astronomically for some time, but the average American is already seeing a drop in real wealth and spending power. That will continue. How do we reconcile this? Because the gap between the rich and everyone else in America will continue to get even wider in the future.

Many have pointed out that America has responded to competition before and come out on top. We simply have moved out of those industries and into more profitable ones. (aside : that's not really true, because we stay in totally unprofitable industries like agriculture, steel, sugar, etc. thanks to government subsidies). When we lost raw material jobs we moved into manufacturing. When we lost manufacturing we moved into IT. Now we're losing low-level IT and moving into management. That's all true, but you fail to recognize that this is a drastically different time. In those cases we were able to move up for a few reasons - 1) there was room at the top, 2) we had more expertise and education, 3) we had research pushing new industries, 4) we moved into fields that no one else could really compete in. All of those things are gone - American education is in the shitter, we're neglecting research while other countries have booming long term research, and most of all we have no more exclusive skills or monopolies on important businesses. In the short term we will be able to move into management and entertainment, but that's only the short term. There's nothing keeping those industries here, we have no special strength in them, and they will eventually move overseas. (probably Entertainment will stay an industry that we are strong in for longer than almost any other).

What should we do about it? One crucial thing is to invest in the long-term intellectual power of Americans. The good jobs of the future are all mental jobs; we need education, research, infrastructure - all of which should be the best in the world; we are still the richest country by far, and we should be using that current wealth to develop long term brains. A crucial thing here is that we have to do it for all Americans, not just the very rich. We need to reverse our shift to tax policy which is cutting services to the poor which putting money in the pockets of those that don't need it. Finally, we need to be smartly protectionist. We want a country where our workers live better than those in the 3rd world; to compensate that there should be import tarrifs and export subsidies that match. (before you cry democrat scum, the current Republican administration is part of a long line of governments that have applied massive tarrifs and subsidies; I would like to cut most of those which are politically driven, and try to see some sort of formula-based system based on the difference in cost of labor).


7-05-05

In Iraq, the US and the provisional government is engaging in a black-list of ex-Baath party Sunnis. This is ill-advised. Certainly the Baathists in Iraq were a bad group, but not every member did evil. It was simply an organization of power, like the Nazis in Germany in the 20's and 30's, the KKK in the South in the early 1900's, etc. If you were a man of power in politics in those areas, you had to be in that organization. After the organization becomes unfashionable, you can't simply black-list all the members. The US government wisely made use of ex-Nazis (including, immorally and illegaly many known horrific criminals), and of course ex-KKK members made up much of our government. The same should happen in Iraq.


7-04-05

Lisa Lampanelli's a pretty decent female comedian. I like the way she breaks the stupid rule that you can only make fun of groups you're in, which is scene as being more PC, but of course it's actually very group-ist, it's far more PC to make fun of everyone.


7-04-05

I don't understand the role of "closer" in baseball. It makes perfect sense to have your ace that comes in for the 9th inning to lock up games, but why only bring him in when you're ahead? Certainly you don't need to bring him in if the game is a blow out, but what if the game is tied, or you're behind by a run? If you're often ahead, it makes sense to save him for that, but if you're often behind, you may as well use him, it doesn't make sense to let him sit for 10 games, if he's your best guy, you're just giving up quality by bringing in someone else when he's able to go.


7-04-05

"Three Billion New Capitalists - The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East" by Clyde Prestowitz, seems to be about what I was saying a few days ago, roughly that America is headed for the shitter (reviewed in the NYT Book Review). Many, many more data points keep coming in. In the last 5 years, productivity in the U.S. is up 3.8% , but hourly income is down -0.9 % (more typically, productivity and income roughly track). Many companies profits' are up, but are laying off employees. This is the economy of the future - corporate profit, no employees, no trickle down.


7-03-05

Hey, you, with the red and white dive sticker on your car - thanks, thanks for letting us know you're a diver. Now, if I have some sort of under water emergency on the side of the road, I can flag you down and get help. You know, if there's some sort of emergency that requires a diver. Thanks.


7-03-05

It's a little odd to me that we encourage imagination in children, who have a loose grip on reality and can easily be fooled into believing in things like Santa Claus, Angels, the Boogeyman, and God. For children, imagination and reality are fuzzy and blend together, and parents think it's great when a kid sits around in a cardboard box and pretends it's a yacht. On the other hand, as we get older and are more capable of wild imagination (face it, most kids' imagination is pretty stupid and boring - cowboys and indians? come on), and also more capable of understanding what's real and what's not, we stop doing it, and are discouraged from it. When we're older is when we really need imagination to save us from the horrible boredom of reality. Kids don't really need imagination, they have the whole real world to learn about, and fun secure lives.


7-03-05

Justice Sandra O'Connor was a half-sane testy old woman, but she will be sorely missed. She was one of the few people left in a position of great power in American government who took her job and her duty to the American people seriously - to decide arguments based on their merits, on the Constitution, and the rule of law, not based on politics or partisan agendas.


7-03-05

The Poker Show is a wierd amateur fake TV show about poker being shot in a basement in Las Vegas. Jesse May is the announcer for Late Night Poker, but the highlight is Padraig ("Parg") Parkinson, the often-coked-up Irish poker pro.


7-02-05

Well, Lance is in amazing form, and his rivals look weak. He's got this Tour easily in the bag unless something unfortunate happens, like a crash.


7-02-05

Salman Rushdie writes :

[...] In these days when the age of pulse was giving way to the age of tone. When the epoch of analog (which was to say also of the richness of language, of analogy) was giving way to the digital era, the final victory of the numerate over the literate. [...]

This little passage tweaked a nerve in my compound brain. I've been thinking for a while about the way people who know a little can write things that are beautiful, despite their horrible wrongness. Salman's analogy of the analog/digital change to the literate/numerate change is nice, but silly. A better analogy would be that analog is gradual, personal, soft, nuanced; digital is extreme - off or on, black and white like partisan politics, precise. Analog is full of lovely natural errors - just like humans, all different, all slightly flawed - digital has an unnatural perfection, every digital copy exactly the same. Now, Salman might know all this and not care; I find that knowing a lot, and never wanting to say anything that's just wrong, it makes it harder to write beautiful poetic things. There are a lot of lovely things you can say or write if you don't care about being right; most people who right about science + life are in this category. The thing that frustrates me most is that the person who's wrong is generally more interesting and more understandable by the general public, because of course his thought patterns are closer to their own.


7-01-05

I remember reading that "Spanglish" mirrored real events in the life of James L Brooks - he got divorced from his caucasian wife partly because he was having an affair with his latina house keeper. Now I can't find any material on it in Google, just a lot of vapid reviews of the movie. Help? p.s. the movie is absolute garbage; if it wasn't for the stunning beauty of Paz it would be completely unwatchable self-righteous straight-forward shmaltz. It's actually more interesting if it really is Brooks' justification to the world that his own philandering is okay (sort of like if Hitler made a movie showing Jews doing horrible things to the hapless sweet Aryans) (I can't help it, Hitler comparisons are all the rage these days).


7-01-05

(film) "Bartlesby" is a very disappointing movie. It has beautiful set design - such trashy cool office decor - and good acting, creepy chacracters. But then it goes nowhere. I'd prefer not to watch it.

(music) Did I mention "Superwolf" is the fucking bomb? It's a collaboration by the brilliant Bonnie Prince Billy (aka Will Oldham) and some other douche. Band names for individuals is the new hip thing (eg. Songs Ohia, Smog, etc.)


6-30-05

It seems everything that I resolve to not do, I wind up doing - drink booze, watch TV, play poker, eat sweets - maybe I should resolve not to make a million dollars!


6-30-05

Every time I go out lately I see older, single guys, all alone - at bars, at music shows. Sitting there drinking a beer. I feel sorry for them, but then I feel bad about that, maybe they're happy? But of course they're not. I've done it myself, going out alone. You try to tell yourself it's okay, you're having fun, but of course it's horrible and it's not fun. At least I'm still young and handsome, so when I go out alone I can often meet girls and flirt and that's sort of fun. To be old and ugly and going out alone to shows... life is sad.


6-30-05

Okay, now I think it's sort of sensible that there are girls & guys divisions of athletic sports, because men have a natural strength advantage due to higher testosterone levels and different skeletal structure. You don't expect men & women football players to compete, for example. However, if you think about that a little more, male & female divisions don't really make any more sense than having divisions for people with different body makeups; why not white & black divisions of basketball, since Africans have genetically longer Achilles tendonds which gives them a jump height advantage? How about football leagues just for short, weak guys? Anyway, the thing that bothers me more is the male & female leagues in sports and competitions where it really shouldn't matter at all - like 9 ball pool, or diving, or archery. And furthermore, why do the women suck at almost all of these? I don't mean to be sexist, but the fact is even when you look at disciplines where brute strength is not a big advantage, the women for the most part cannot compete with men. Where are the female chess champions? The race car drivers? The jockeys? Darts throwers? Pool players? (a notable counterpoint at the moment is golf, where it seems Anika would beat all the men if only she had the strength to drive farther off the tee). (BTW I'm convinced many women's sports are popular only because the girls are cute; for example - tennis, volleyball, pool).

Anyway, what got me going on this very un-PC rant was Drew sending me this link - Tilly wins WSOP event . First of all, it's fucked up that they even have a women's event. It's comparable to having a "minorities only" event - this is an intellectual competition and excluding any people from any event is ridiculous. The thing that's even more ridiculous is how bad the women obviously suck. Anyone who knows poker knows that even the top female pros are not very good. There are a few that are decent, like Jennifer Harmon, but I suspect that a lot of their success comes because they are women, and the men who play with them are jackasses that either under-estimate them, or try to be sweet to them, etc. (don't get me wrong, I don't blame the women for that, it's the fault of the stupid men who play with them and don't treat them like an abstract opponent). Also for the record, it seems some of the top females didn't play in this event, partly because they agree with me and would rather play in the main field, and because it's a rather low buy-in event. In a way, even though I respect that, it's stupid, because this is a very soft tournament and it's easy money. Drew suggests we should do a modern version of "Soul Man" and dress up like girls and register for the tournament.

On a more general note, I've been thinking about this lately in the context of steroids and Lance Armstrong and sports. So, people say it's not fair to use additives to enhance your performance, blah blah blah. But is it fair for Lance to have way over average heart size, higher red blood cell counts? If he's born with those advantages, how am I supposed to compete? Isn't it more fair if I can take some additives to acheive the same blood-ox level as him? With things like testosterone and growth hormone, some people have naturally high levels, and that gives them a huge advantage - why can't I take suplements to match them? Why is it morally better for them to have these chemicals produced by their body, rather than injected? What if I can east foods or something which triggers my body to produce more testosterone, is that cheating? I think it's a mushy topic, and I suppose you have to draw the line somewhere, but I think it's sort of a strange line. For one thing, if we ban unnatural supplements, what exactly are we celebrating in our athletes? Why is a great athlete a hero? Sure, they worked hard, but many lesser athletes worked harder and couldn't reach that pinnacle. Basically they were born with lucky genes, they're a physical freak with a great functioning body.

I've been thinking how easy it would be to be Lance. Yeah, yeah, he trains hard, but that's so easy. When you know you can win - when all you have to do is put in the work and you know you'll be successful, that's cake! The hard thing is what all of us suckers have to suffer through every day - putting in work, for what? Probably it will lead to no success of any kind. If someone told me - if you practice basketball 8 hours a day every day, you can be in the NBA next year, I'd say "awesome!" and get right to it.

There are some fictions we know to be untrue, which however we live by anyway, because we are better for it. One of them is the idea that all humans are "equal" - by any definition of equal, this is clearly not true, and yet going down the path of defining some people as less valuable is so unacceptable that it is wise to live by this fiction.

I once heard a stem cell scientist give an example of a nice thought experiment. The hard-core political Christian right says that an embryo is a life just like a human being. The scientist said that he disproved this to himself very simply - imagine his research lab is on fire, you only have a few seconds before the building collapses. There's a woman inside trapped under a beam. There's also a freezer with 100 embryos in it. Do you save the woman, or the freezer? There's only time to save one or the other, and the other one will burn or whatever. If your answer is the woman, clearly you've decided a living human is different, more valuable, than an embryo. In fact, it's 100 times more valuable than an embryo.

How many embryos would have to be in the freezer before you save the freezer instead? 1000? A million? For me personally it doesn't matter how many embryos - I always would save the living woman instead. That means that I rate a living human an infinite ratio over embryos. In fact, it's a whole different scale. Human lives I rate at a value of near infinite dollar value. Embryos I put more on an earthly value. For example, if there was a billion dollars in cash in the same room, no woman, just the embryos and the cash, I would probably take the billion dollars cash. On the other hand, if it's cash & woman, I save the woman - near infinite value. Another funny thing comes out of this thought experiment. We average humans are incredibly judgemental of people that we know. If the woman is a total stranger, we know nothing about her - she has near infinite value. What if we know her? Maybe she cheated on her husband, neglected her children, stole from us. Okay, now we're considering maybe saving the billion dollars instead of her. Suddenly she's gone from infinite value to finite value - that's a huge change. What if she's a convicted child molestor; it's a man who's a rapist - now many people would let him die, certainly would save the embryos or cash instead.

It's also interesting that in this thought experiment, if you try to think of the cash value you would save instead of a life, it's a very very high value. On the other hand, faced every day with the choice of spending $1 to save a human life, just about everyone prefers to keep their one dollar. We're all sort of disgusting weak immoral criminal cowards. We say we value human life, but our every day actions kill for no good reason. For the pleasure of driving our car, we'll melt the glaciers on Kilimanjaro, which ruins the farm land on the mountain side, which leads to the deaths of thousands. We want to eat beef, but we don't want to face slaughtering the cow. I think I've gone on "tilt" now, I'm off my thread and my rocker.


6-29-05

Dan didn't clean the wooden cutting board after using it. Should I just do it myself? That risks making her feel like I'm always following her like a busy body, correcting everything she does, which is horrible. Should I tell her to do it? That makes me annoying, always correcting, pointing out minor flaws. Do I just let it go, ignore it? That risks ruining the cutting board, or worse but less likely, it risks getting disease from it. Should I just drink some more booze, so that I get stupid and don't have to constantly think about things like this? That's okay, but sadly temporary. Perhaps a lobotomy...


6-29-05

I've been playing some online poker again. I'm playing 3/6 limit on party poker, and I've been making about $100/day, just playing 2-3 hours a day. I've had this going for almost 2 weeks now, so I don't think it's just a good run. I've had my aces cracked every time I've had them; some of the best pots I've won are just bizarre shocking pots of two types - (1) I have the nuts or nearly the nuts; some guy keeps reraising me! I wonder what the fuck does he have, is it possible I'm beat? I reraise him nonetheless (this is 3/6 after all, I might slow down in 30/60). We get a showdown and he's got something like just a pair, sometimes not even top pair. (2) I have some crappy hand like a flush draw on the flop, so I'm calling down, there's lot of action, people betting and raising, I get stuck and wind up hanging around to the river; the river checks down and I win the pot with high card or a crappy pair or something like that (!!).

It's these occasional ridiculously bad plays that provide the overlay. Anyone who's played poker knows that you don't make money by playing against people who are almost as good as you. If nothing else, the rake would kill your profit margin. You make your big profit from the really really bad players, the drunks, the tilters.

The depressing thing to me is that $100/day isn't even enough to live on.


6-28-05

Places like India and China are still just barely on the rise; the vast majority of their people are still horribly impoverished and uneducated, but even the beginning of them moving from 3rd world to 1st world is causing major ripples in America. Eventually it seems that more and more of the world will rise and the playing field will level. What is the long term result of this? America's monopoly on education and skills and industrialization will disappear. The world economy will work to equalize pay and costs across the globe. Currently a decent blue collar job in America pays around $40k a year. A similar job in China pays $400 a year. There are far far more people in the 3rd world than in the 1st world. What happens when those numbers equalize? The average will be around perhaps $4000 a year (it might be even lower, but costs will also drop). Basically the result is the complete impoverishment of everyone but the super elite. The "middle class" will be way below current poverty conditions. The only way to prevent this is with A) severe protectionism or B) heavy taxes on the rich & redistribution to the poor.

Kim rightly points out that it's perhaps not so bad as I imply. As the whole world moves into the information age, the total product of the world economy will greatly increase, which will raise the the average standard of living far above the current level. The point remains that it will equalize. Also point (B) relies on the fact that the super-rich in America will retain an advantage over the rest of the world. Basically economic advantage is obtained by controlling things which the world needs which are not available to all. Historically everyone in America has benefitted from this - simply living in America, with good education, infrastructure, etc. gave everyone an advantage which gave us good quality of life. In the future only the super-rich will have this control - control of natural resources, markets, networks, cash, entertainment.


6-28-05

Programmer has become a blue collar job. A "line programmer" (I use line like "line chef" - the guy who just does a task that's assigned, he doesn't make the menu, he chops the onions) is roughly equivalent to something like an auto worker from 50 years ago. It's a good, hard job, it takes some skill, the pay is decent, you can be in the middle class. Programmers now perhaps make more in salary than auto workers, but they had much better benefits. It's a job you go train for at school, become one of the workers in the cube farm, clock in & clock out, code up your components.


6-27-05

I don't understand bike messenger bags. Aren't back-packs just better? They're more stable, more balanced, the only advantage I can see for messenger bags is their looks. (Kim points out the answer - messenger bags allow air between your back and the bag, so you don't get the letters all sweaty)

These have been circulating for a while - Lucas Brunelle's videos - bike messengers doing crazy shit racing through cities. Some pretty cool bike videos here too, mainly from Austin.


6-27-05

This guy has some funny predictions for the 2005 WSOP : Poker Words including who will be at the final table - "Someone named Nguyen. No final table is complete without one." It seems everyone from Vietnam is named Nguyen; in fact, it's around 44% of the population, and there are many villages where everyone has the same last name ( ref ). One thing that always shocks me is that Men "The Master" Nguyen is a well known cheater, using teams (teams of Nguyens no doubt) and chip dumping in tournaments, and yet he's still allowed to play almost everywhere.


6-27-05

From the LA Times :

Where is the Wikitorial?

Unfortunately, we have had to remove this feature, at least temporarily, because a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material.

Thanks and apologies to the thousands of people who logged on in the right spirit.

To quote Nelson - "Ha ha!"


6-27-05

Watched the "Legends of Poker" episode of ESPN's "Beyond the Glory". Basically the same old crap, very poorly told, oddly out of order with major anachronisms (eg. pairing video and voice-over that don't match). The one bit that stuck with me was a quote from Barry Greenstein. I've always thought of Barry as sort of a weirdo prick, and only a mediocre player; he designed the Poker Superstars tournament structure, and did a horrible shit job of it, that tournament is a ridiculous all-in fest that provides neither a contest of skill nor any viewing entertainment. Anyway, it turns out Barry was a legitimate computer programmer, who made his starting poker bankroll by working in Silicon Valley (unlike the poker brats like Phil Gordon who got lucky on an internet company in the bubble and took the profits to play poker). It's well known that Barry donates a lot of his winnings to charity. That's certainly admirable, but it's not what put me in his fan club. Barry said (explaining why he donates to charity) something like : "If you're an intelligent person playing poker, at some point you think to yourself - 'I'm wasting my life, sitting all day in a dark card room' - you feel like you should be doing something productive with your life, at least contributing somehow".


6-27-05

Once again, the federal government is putting the profit of big business over the wishes of the free market and small business, and even the lives of its citizens. The issue is beef. The issue of beef safety itself is not very significant, I don't mean to overblow it, but the actions of the fed are so ridiculous, it's a good example of negligence and profiteering. Yes, federal testing for Mad Cow is poor and not up to the standards of any other 1st world nation, which has led to most of them banning beef from the US. That's actually not nearly as big of an issue as E. Coli and more generally the condition of inspections and slaughterhouses. The USDA is woefully under-funded to be able to conduct inspections, and their hands are tied if they do find problems; unsanitary plants receive no action, the only thing the USDA ever does is to issue recalls after the fact (they have to have concrete proof of an actual E. Coli contamination, otherwise the business can sue them for lost profit). The recalls require consumers to identify and return the beef, the grocery stores don't do it, which in practice is never done, so basically the contaminated meat goes into peoples' stomaches. Consumers in America have been falsely taught that E. Coli is just a fact of life, and you should cook the hell out of your food. That's not true, and countries with proper inspections and rules have a near zero rate of E. Coli incidents.

That's just background. The ridiculous bit is this - meat packing companies and meat processors and ranchers are forbidden by law from improving the situation. It is illegal to do more testing of your beef than the USDA standard, even if you want your beef to be safer, it's illegal. It's certainly illegal to label your beef as being at any kind of higher safety standard. It is illegal to mark packages of beef with their places of origin and processing. You can mark it with a brand name which might imply a location, but in fact that "Harris Ranch" beef you buy could be grown in Mexico and processed at a major ConAgra plant. The point of all this is to prevent consumers from being able to make their own choice for safer beef. The reason that the government gives is that these labels could create a false fear that lower grade beef is not safe. Of course the real reason for these laws is to protect the profits of major agribusiness. The losers are the smaller agribusinesses and of course the American people. Many small ranches have gone out of business or totally changed their business, because they made super-premium beef primarily for export to other countries, and now they are not allowed to do the extra testing those countries demand, and are not allowed to label their product as having been tested to those higher standards.

E Coli in the US
Inspectors do nothing about unsanitary processing
USDA lets E Coli into the market
Brittish report on E Coli

BTW Tom rightly points out there are all sorts of other horrible things we do with beef - rbST (growth hormone), antibiotics, use of downers, feeding animals to animals, etc. etc. but that's not even so much the point. Personally I'd like to see most of that stuff banned, but if you want to be a Laissez Faire free market guy, you could say that it's okay if some producers use that stuff, but at least let me choose to buy beef that doesn't use that shit.


6-26-05

The Simpsons that was re-run tonight starts with a parental advisory - "Parental Advisory, this episode contains discussions of same sex marriage". That's revolting right-wing Foxism, there's no requirement to put that up, it's shocking! The really important advisory should have been "Parental Advisory - this episode is not funny and may cause your brain to ooze out of your ears".


6-26-05

TiVo has no category for cycling. It has canoeing and kayaking, bobsledding and luge AND "skeleton" , biathlon, handball, squash and racquetball, but not cycling.


6-26-05

Anyone know a good design magazine or web zine? I can't find one. I used to read "Wallpaper" which was a cool, smug, hip, smart design rag with a mix of architecture, furniture, fashion, and lifestyle. Unfortunately, it changed management in early 2003 (?) and became more of a "lad's magazine" featuring churlishness and commercialism.


6-26-05

"HoosierDaddy" is a good e-nick for a father from Indiana.


6-26-05

Being able to use your legs in a fight is a huge advantage. There's an old chinese martial arts pearl that poorly translates to "legs are long but arms are short". Aside from being long, legs are far stronger than arms; in athletes legs have roughly twice the power of arms, and in unfit people it's an even bigger ratio. Another factor is that kicking is less prone to injury; a bare knuckled punch hard enough to knock someone out is very likely to break your hand, which is a major inconvenience; on the other hand, a kick with the shin bone can do a lot of damage with just a bruise to show for it.


6-26-05

The media drives itself to extremes. You have these talk shows on radio & TV, and media types interview each other. Now, if you're doing a show on some topic, it's far more interesting to interview people with really extreme views on that topic. You want someone with a controversial stance, they get noticed, they make waves. Someone who's just being reasonable, saying the right thing, doing good analysis - this is not good for ratings, it doesn't get tempers flaring, it doesn't sound good in a ten second spot. So, the media experts go to the wings on every topic to try to say something that gets attention, gets them fame, gets them money. Jon Stewart has of course railed about this in the context of partisan talking heads, but it applies to everything - sports commentators, business pundits, etc.. You can see it in the interviews now, when an interviewer talks to a sports figure (or anyone), they're constantly trying to bait them into saying something extreme, like they hate their opponent, or gauranteeing a victory; if they just provide a sane reasonable interview, it's not interesting enough, the interviewer is disappointed, their story surely won't lead.


6-25-05

Can we stop having this debate about classical music being dead, what to do about it, all the fuss about this conductor or that opera season - yes, classical music is as dead as a fucking doorknob, and has been for a century. If it weren't for rich people trying to pretend to be cultured and wanting to be exclusive and pretentious, it would have disappeared completely. Jazz is very nearly dead, and it's falling into a similar vein of being loved only because it's a badge of intellectual superiority.


6-25-05

Recipes for a lazy Saturday morning, sitting on the patio in the sun, listening to bird song and NPR's Morning Edition, reading the New York Times.

Frittata : I make a lot of frittatas these days because they're one of those great flexible things that you can do with whatever you have on hand, and they're quick and you only need one pan. Heat an oven-safe skillet with a little oil. Add chopped onion and raw chicken sausage; brown, scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the tasty brown bits up; add some very finely chopped potatos and cook until soft; add some chopped tomato and cook until softened; add some microwaved frozen spinach (microwave in a covered bowl until thawed and warm). Prepare eggs : roughly 6 eggs in a bowl, whisked well. Make sure you salt & pepper; I added fresh oregano from my yard. Sprinkle the mix with goat cheese (which will become soft gooey nuggets in the frittata), and pour the eggs over it all. Keep cooking on medium/low until it starts to set up (don't stir after you add the eggs). Place under the broiler a few inches down and cook until nicely brown on top, usually a few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. Slip a spatchula under it to loosen. Put a plate upside down on top of the pan and flip the pan over to get the whole frittata out. Cut in wedges like a pie. Sprinkle the top with fresh herbs (parsely and green onions are nice) and grated parmesan.

French Toast : The key to great french toast is to start with great bread. Many books tell you to use stale bread, though that's not really necessary. Do not use those horrible grocery store sliced breads, get a real loaf of bread. The best breads I've used are brioche and challah, though today I used a ciabatta and it was great. Cut some nice thick slices, about an inch thick. Prepare the custard : eggs & milk, with not too much milk, and more egg yolks than whole eggs; if you want to make it really rich, use half and half instead of milk. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and whisk. Soak the bread, spooning the custard over as appropriate. Use a small pan to soak them so the custard is deep. Soak at least 5 minutes on each side. Heat a pan with a little vegetable oil. Now here's the trick bit : take the slices out of the custard and sprinkle the side you're going to put down in the oil with granulated sugar. Fry at a low temperature so the middle will cook by the time it gets golden grown. Sprinkle the top with sugar before flipping. The sugar sprinkles will add a slight caramelized crust to the french toast. Remove to paper towels and pat dry to remove excess oil. Top with powdered sugar and caramelized apples (saute thinly sliced apples in hot butter and sugar until the butter and sugar start to brown). Tastes like a french apple tart or a Pain au Raisins with the sweet eggy custard gathered in the folds of the escargot of pastry. Chez Zee in Austin, TX has the best French Toast I've had at a restuarant. Brian says Greens in SF is good too.


6-23-05

A lot of people know things now like "K7 is favored against random hands". The problem is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; (I've made this mistake in the past myself). The situation where this usually comes up goes like this - you're on the button, no one has come in the pot, and the big blind is on a pretty short stack. Now, you want to put him all-in here with quite a lot of hands; the question is what hands exactly? A similar question arises when you are the guy in the big blind and the button has just put you all-in. What hands exactly do you call with? Now, the details depend exactly on your opponents are playing, but let's talk in general. First of all, let's toss out this idea of "random hands". The only time these random-hand statistics actually come in is if the big blind guy is forced to be all-in with any two cards, eg. if his stack is less than or only slightly more (eg. <= double the big blind). If his stack is more reasonble where he could fold, (eg. >= triple the big blind), then he's not playing random cards. He'll fold his very weakest hands, and call with better hands. So, now your EV is not based on how your cards do against random hands, rather if he folds some fraction F, your EV is F* his big blind , plus (1-F) * his chip if he calls * P , where P is your chance of winning against hands with which he calls. Note that F and P are linked, if he folds all but very good hands, P will be very low, but F will be very high, so your EV is good. He can compute his optimal F to fold, but we don't really need to get into that. Basically we know he's going to keep high cards and fold low cards. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, hands like K2 don't look so good any more. K2 is a 50/50 hand against random cards, but against someone who will fold some hands, that greatly increases your chance of being dominated by Kx. Basically in all-in scenarios, all you care about is domination. If you go in with AK and he has 56, you're only a 60/40 favorite - not a very good overlay at all. If you go in with K2 and he calls with 56, you're only a 55/45 favorite!! On the other hand, if you go in with K2 and he calls with K7, you're a 35/65 dog. So, roughly, you want hands that dominate, not hands that are dominated. In fact, it's better to have hands like 56s where both cards are likely live.

Let's consider one other case - say you're in the big blind, very nearly all in (perhaps you have two big blinds left to call with; if you only had 1 big blind left, you have to call with any two cards), at a full table. Someone in early position makes a solid raise, and all else fold. It was a full table, so he probably has a pretty good hand, even though you are nearly all-in. What should you call with? Well, we see the answer above. Hands like K2 are bad calls, because it's likely you're dominated. Obviously you can call with any pair or very high cards; depending on his exact tightness, very high cards might by A9,KT,QJ or better - eg. hands that have a good chance of dominating, not too much fear of domination. The other hands you can call with are hands that are likely to have two live cards - especially low suited connectors, like 56s,67s,etc. (though suited is not a big factor, it's just a nice little bonus). Oddly this is a situation where you might lay down K9, but call with 89 or 79.

One more case - let's say you're playing No Limit against someone who's just way too tight preflop. If they come into a hand, you fold, because they're only playing super-premium hands. Now, they're making a mistake, so you can make money on that; their mistake is they fold their blind too often, so you need to be stealing it. So, in any good steal position, you want to bet at them. They will only call with very premium hands (pairs, A9 or better, etc), and raise with super-premium hands (JJ or AK or better). So, what hands should you raise with? Well, you can almost raise with any two cards, they're just folding way too much. You should fold some hands, and this is a very extreme case where *if they call* they're likely to have dominating hands, so you should fold hands like A2, K2. Hands like 56s are better. If they raise, you throw almost any hand away, so the only question is what do you want to have on the flop if they call. With weak high card hands you're too likely to be dominated, your best cards to steal with are low suited connectors. Note that this is a bit different because we're not talking about all-ins, but actually seeing the flop with chips to spare.


6-22-05

For the discerning mysogenist : "Venus Beauty Institute" is a pretty mediocre movie, but Audrey Tatou in it has this brief scene where she's just breathtakingly beautiful. "Sex and Lucia" is a beautiful movie, though in the end I find it doesn't really leave an impact (sort of like a clever argument without a point); Paz Vega in it is frequently nude and gorgeous.


6-22-05

The town of Santa Maria is a primarily hispanic, agriculture based town. Usually it stinks horribly of vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, which fill the air with a putrid reek. Right now the whole town smells powerfully of strawberries - a lush perfume that floods your senses and intoxicates you.


6-22-05

The world seems to be becoming grey, everyone is far away and dull. The masses in the bar lifts their pints in unison, like factory workers pulling levers. The cheerful young woman at the grocery store, who provided a friendly word in my lonely day, now looks old and wrinkled, she only scowls and goes about her business. Drivers seem to not care if they have an accident, on the road I'm madly avoiding them as they pull out in my path.


6-22-05

Okay, so I'm considering switching this blog to some ghetto RSS. From what I can tell, the simplest option is for me to manually edit a ghetto RSS file. The next problem is that I'd still like to show the entries in a simple HTML page like this. Now, either I could use some sort of RSS-to-HTML on my machine and still upload an html , or I could try to get a bit fancier and have this page run one of the JavaScript viewers and point it straight at my RSS file. You can try it here . Hmm.. it seems I can't use the "P" html tag in an xml file. Okay, RSS experiment over.


6-21-05

The TV coverage is in some sort of collusion with the NBA. It's sort of like all media and our government these days - there's some sort of tacit agreement that the TV coverage will do what the NBA wants. The TV guys never disagree with the refs, never point out ridiculous bullshit, and in fact these days they don't even show replays of the fouls. When there's some crucial controversial foul, the NBA coverage almost never shows a replay, instead they go to commercial and show a replay of the last successful play. This is obviously an attempt to keep the audience pacified and thinking it's a legitimate sport.

p.s. I think this Finals is the best in many years, perhaps the best since Jordan was in a finals. The Pistons and Spurs are my two favorite teams in the NBA, because they're balanced, they play team ball, not super star one on one, they play tough, they play defense, etc. it makes it fun to watch.


6-21-05

Often you can know things to be true without being able to defend them or really know why. I've written about this before in the context of poker - poker intrigues me because of the way it reflects the human thought process; there are these great poker pros, like TJ Cloutier, who really do not understand poker theory and couldn't tell you why they play exactly as they do, but they know how to play. This is a very human way of thinking, cobbling together circumstancial truths and creating a knowledge base that they can extrapolate from. I was made to think of this by an old PBS Frontline "Rumsfeld's War" , which is a great episode. One of the things it talks about is Rumsfeld's argumentative style of managing. Whenever someone in the Pentagon would present a point, Rumsfeld would say "prove it". He would challenge the assumptions, require them to be justified, attack the bases of rationale. (this is extremely reminiscent of McNamara, btw). This sounds great in principle, I've often done that in my own experience as a manager. The problem is that you can easily tear down things that are in fact correct. In Rumsfeld's case, his subordinates and advisors were telling him that roughly 400,000 troops would be needed in Iraq to properly secure the peace after the war. Rumsfeld attacked this and wound up with a much lower number. Of course the originals advisors were roughly correct, but that was based on experience, and Rummy was able to dig it down through argument.

Another factor at play there was finding subordinated willing to screw themselves. This is common practice in management, and I was often subject to it in the video game industry. Basically, the manager has an answer they want to hear, but they want to make the subordinate suggest it so that they can then blame you and say you asked for it to be that way. In games this happens with schedules. There are many ways to do this, but in large teams, such as the Pentagon, one of the tricks is to find someone willing to accept your number and promote them, which also demotes the person who refused it. For example, a manager wants the primary team to add some feature; the lead says it'll take 10 days; the manager says, oh, I was thinking more like 5 days. If the lead stands firm at 10, the manager puts his feelers out under the table and finds a guy on the team who says he can do it in 5. If the lead still objects, the manager goes around him and gives the task straight to the guy who said 5. Very quickly, the lead learns that if he wants to keep power, he needs to agree with the manager or he'll be short-circuited. The same thing happens all the time in government - when an adviser is giving answers that the boss doesn't like, they're simply cut out of the picture, and someone saying the right thing is brought in. Then the boss can say "it's not my fault, it's what the advisers told me", though of course the boss created that truth.


6-21-05

It seems impossible to remember actual feelings or senses. That is, I can remember that I enjoyed breakfast, or that I like scones and coffee, but I can't actually remember what it's like to experience that; I can't recreate the sensations and feelings that filled my head at the time. The memory is of the facts, which maybe seems sensical because that's how we record history in writing and such, but actually it's quite odd to me. The experience of the human mind is full of many aspects and processes and a whole inexplicable cloud of tangents; the conscious rational observant part is only a tiny piece of the machine - why doesn't our memory record all of that? Instead it seems our memory is not recording our mind at all, but rather watching the scene like a 3rd party and writing down the facts like a court reporter, unable to see inside our real, complex mind. This, I suppose, is what drives us to recreate the things that make us happy, because we can't remember the pleasant sensation, we have to experience it again to stimulate the full brain again.

This is sort of a sad reality about sex. I love all the rich sensations and pleasure of sex, but sadly, as soon as it's over, you can't really remember how it felt. You can remember what you did, you can remember if it was especially good or not, but you can't actually remember how it felt. Looking back on my sexual past, I can't really say when I had the best sex - I don't remember that at all. I remember exceptional events, physiological exceptional cases, unusual locations, things like that, but those were generally not the actual best times, and I can't remember at all how it felt.

More and more I'm learning to live my life for the memories. Filling your life in the present tense is a constant struggle - the "now" is constantly changing into the past, and you have to do yet another thing to fill the new "now". Soon you get tired and can't keep up the struggle of constantly finding something exciting and pleasant and new to fill each moment. On the other hand, if you do something that leaves you with a rich memory, it can fill many moments of your life for years to come.


The older rants are semi-regularly moved off this page. You can always read the old rants here if you're a masochist.


Charles Blooom [cb][at][cbloom][dot][com]
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