Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Friday, March 31, 2006

Ouch. That was smart.

So at some point last night gnomes sodomized my ears with jackhammers and bludgeoned me with very small baseball bats, while pouring sand into my eye sockets and convincing my cat it was a good idea to shit in my mouth.

Either that, or Daddy was in town and we went on a bender. One of those. So LA beats G-Vegas, as Joe answered while not only BadBlood but also the dueling Bobbsey Twins failed to pick up for a dial-a-shot. Alcanthang apparently couldn’t, since he missed the SoCo we were downing in his dishonor.

In a moment straight out of a John Grisham novel, we got BigPirate on the phone and he said “Man, I’m still at the office working on a filing. But I have a bottle of 18-year-old Glenlivet that somebody gave me as a fee. Lemme crack the seal on that bad boy.” This only happens with folks in NIT Title-town. In a moment of pure poetry, Daddy remarks “I like my scotch like I like my women. 18 years old and brown.” The wife then proceeded to crack up.

Never to be outdone, Maudie answered the siren call of our next dial-a-shot by taking a snort off a bottle of Cuervo she happens to keep by the computer for just those calls. No lime for hardcore gamboolers, Maudie likes ‘em stout. It all gets pretty fuzzy after that, but somewhere in there we did a dial-a-Sprite with Rini, I lost 5 consecutive games of pool to Daddy and my wife, we did another shot, this time with BG, I left numerous slurred voice mails for other bloggers, and sometime around shot #7 I decided it would be funny to call my niece, who’s in grad school getting her Master’s in Theology. She called me back, but couldn’t do a shot since she was on her way home from a bar. I knew I liked that kid. If we didn’t call, it’s because I don’t have your number. Hit me with it in email or if you’re really silly, in comments, and you’ll get included in the next round. If you have a missed call from a 704 area code this morning, that was us.

There was also some amazingly drunken typing on the girly chat thing, at which point I think I passed out, leaving myself open to gnome abuse. Little fuckers. Fortunately by that point I was too drunk to navigate the trackball, or poker could’ve ensued, which would have been bad. Then I woke up this morning and was sober about halfway through my drive to work. Mostly.

It all can be summed up by the one-word text message I got from the Donkeyfucker this morning. “Ugh.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I might not suck as much as I think

So, an interesting development has appeared on my poker horizon. No, it’s not some super-cool announcement about check-raising bunnies, or some concerning tale of decking another blogger. It’s not even anything as purely poetical as offering up a big blue vein to anyone.

I’ve been making a little money playing tournaments.

See, nothing earth-shattering. Just a slight shift in the axis of the earth, and a few decent nights playing multi-table tourneys and sit n go’s, and I’m slowly grinding away at some of my month’s losses. Now these aren’t big wins, mind you. I haven’t even final tabled any of the multis. I’m no CJ, or Alan, or Facty or Speaker. I haven’t brought the house down with any crushing wins. I’ve just cashed, very quietly, in 4 out of the last 5 multi-table tourneys I’ve entered. The exception being the blogger tourney, of course.

So what’s the cause? Is there a great strategy shift that I’ve been empoloying? Nope. Just playing my A-game for a change. Just because it’s only a $10 mtt, that doesn’t mean I am required to donk around like I don’t care about the money. Because let’s face it, I do. I may not miss the $11, but I would certainly welcome the $700 first place. So let’s take a look at what I’m doing, and what I’m NOT doing.

I am – choosing to play in smaller fields. The payouts are obviously smaller, but that’s okay. I’m dodging fewer bullets playing against 400 people than against 1400, so my path to profitability is clearer.

I am – paying attention. It’s pretty easy to get distracted and open up a couple more tables while I auto-fold for the first hour, but that results in me not picking up information on my opponents. And since I’m picking tourneys with smaller fields, I have more time to study these opponents.

I am – limping into uncontested pots with good position and middling hands. J9 sooted is crap UTG, but with 5 limpers it can turn into gold in the cutoff. This is something I picked up from April’s SXSW tourney report that Ryan picked up from his LAPC time, and it makes sense, yet also flies in the face of conventional wisdom. It also has been paying off decent dividends.

I am – shifting gears. Consciously making an effort to tighten up after 2-3 aggressive hands in a row, or making a decision to bet out on any non-scare turn if I’ve got position on a checked flop. I’m paying attention to what I think people think I’m playing like, and how I would respond in their shoes.

I am NOT – playing 3 tables at once AND downloading from iTunes AND talking on the girly chat thing.

I am NOT – starting a tourney past 9PM that isn’t a SNG.

I am NOT – forgetting the great posts I’ve read by CJ and Speaker on how they play multi-table tourneys.

I am – showing positive results. Like I said, these aren’t earth-shattering results. I’m talking about maybe $75 in 4 days. But that also isn’t bad for the limits I’m usually dredging around at, and is showing me a slight profit, which is a lovely change from the rest of my month. So I’m having fun playing poker again, I’m winning a little playing poker again, and I actually feel like I’m making progress on a part of my game again. It’s been a good week in that regard.

On a totally unrelated note, don’t you love telemarketers that call you at your office and pretend to know you? I just had a great conversation with a guy who wanted me to buy 1,000 shares of Starbucks because they’re expanding into Asia. Aside from the twitchy feeling I get from the concept of a billion chainsmoking, latte-swilling Chinamen all jacked up on caffeine and belting out disco karaoke at the top of their lungs, if I’m going to start out buying individual stocks for the first time ever, I think 1,000 shares at $30 a clip is a little more than I’m going to lay out there. And when I suggested that to Mr. Dipshizzle, he said “I’ve been doing this a long time, blah, blah, blah.” To which I responded with “And if in fact you did call me a couple months ago, I probably hung up on you then, too.” Click.

I loved that moment.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

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Monday, March 27, 2006

God, Monday again?

What’s that I see? Is that? Yes, it might be…I vaguely remember it…yes, that’s daylight! Saw a little of that this weekend as we come to the end of the tunnel for this dance concert that has been all-consuming. My pieces are looking very nice and the choreographers are very pleased with the work I’m doing, and the checks won’t bounce, so that pretty much sums up my level of give a shit. I just don’t have the energy to get all art-faggy about my “artistic vision” for the piece and piss and moan when the choreographer wants something changed. My job is to help them realize their vision of the piece, not create my own separate vision. Period. Keeping that firmly in mind helps me keep a cool head when I re-write all the cues for the first dance piece for the fourth time tonight before dress rehearsal. If I do this right tonight, then maybe I don’t have to go back tomorrow. But I’m not holding my breath. I figure I’m there tonight and tomorrow night, and then back Friday night for photos after the show, and back Sunday afternoon to tear it all down. Anybody wanna make a quick $150 Sunday afternoon? I need a couple other electricians (smart people with wrenches, little or no experience necessary).

I did also play a little poker this weekend, and I have to disagree with the folks that say the Turbo SNGs are the new Peep Sex. Those things flogged me for 0-2 this weekend, and I’m 2-1 in the regular token SNGs. Think I’m gonna stick to the regulars for a little while. I burned a token Saturday night in the 18K guaranteed and cashed in 46th for around $50. Not as great as a couple of my blogger buddies, but still a happy return on $6. My key hands were having Aces hold up twice and cracking a big pocket pair with a 4-flush.

My opponent’s key hand was flopping top & bottom pair to my bottom two pair and takinghalf my stack. He was a tight player immediately to my left in the BB. I hadn’t seen him show down anything but premium hands for the last 30-45 minutes, and very little early-hand aggression. He min-raised the blind, and I called with 8h9h. Slightly loose call, but it felt good. Flop comes A 8 9 rainbow. I think I’ll get all tricky, because my read of him puts him on Ace-and-a-face, so I check. He bets the pot and I push over the top (We’re already in the money, so my aggression is intended to gather enough chips to get me to the final table. I’m the chip leader and he is 4th in chips with half my stack. Plus, my read on him is tight, so if I can pick him off here, that’s a threat removed.). I absolutely wanted the call, since I was pretty sure he wouldn’t have raised preflop with anything lower than A-10, but seeing him turn over Ac8c made me throw up in my mouth a little. So I went through the thought processes, trusted my read, put all my chips in when I thought I was a serious favorite, and was absolutely totally wrong.

Probably a better move would have been to make a raise of 3-4x his raise, then garner information based on his response. If he pushed in that situation, I might have been able to put him on a set and get away from a hand. If he smooth called, I’d have just made the same move on the turn with the same results. I have a terrible time putting someone on a big hand when they just call me, so it probably would not have worked out any differently. Thoughts?

I was amazed at how soft that tourney was – we lost 500 of 800 before the first break. I need to get more tokens and play that tourney more often on weekends. I can’t play those reindeer games on weeknights, start time is just too late for this East Coast boy, but weekends have more drunken donkeys any way.

Went on to play the WPBT tourney last night, and continued my streak of 2 POY tourneys, 0 POY points. I built a nice stack really early, then went way card dead for half an hour or so, then made a bad move overplaying tens, and then went out when Jaxia rivered two pair to beat my top pair, middle kicker. Meh. Totally unthrilled with my play in the last couple of blogger events, I just can’t seem to get my groove going. Maybe less time on the girly chat thing while the tourney is going on would help my focus.

Decided instead of reading and going to sleep at a decent hour, that I’d scour the internets for the dregs, those little random dollars left over at sites you don’t like anymore after cashouts. Dropped in on and saw the $23 I had floating around, signed up for their $3 tourney and final tabled that for a $10 win. I think that sucks for two hours work, but damn the players there are dreadful, so I’ll probably throw that $30 around their multi-table tourneys until it’s big enough to care about or it’s gone.

Current musical recommendation – Ryan Schupe and the Rubber Band – “Even Superman”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tower project Update

The stories are starting to come in from people sharing their memories of 9/11. The common thread is shock, and every story brings back those memories. I do think this is going to result in an important (hubris? Maybe) piece of theatre. If you have a story to share, email me. And spread the word, I’d like to hear the stories of folks on the left coast, east coast, even Europe. That morning was a defining moment for a lot of people, but the stories that haven’t been told are ours, how everyday people had their lives and perspectives shifted over the course of a morning. That’s what I want to explore with this piece, how one event can elicit such strong emotional response from people even almost 5 years later. More than one writer has told me they cried while writing their story, and I’ve wept reading almost all of them. Not because they are stories of loss, or of heroism, or patriotism. We read all of them in 2001. Because these are stories from every perspective, and no story is unimportant.

I think this will end up being called the Tower Project, taking a page from The Names Project, which created the AIDS quilt. What we (I’ve enlisted my buddy Chris as a collaborator) are trying to do is create a tapestry of experiences, highlighting the similar and disparate responses to this event. So if you’re interested, tell us your story via email. Johnhartness at gmail dot com.

Completely meaningless update

So, sometimes it’s hard to believe that there isn’t a switch they throw the day of your first deposit to make all your draws come in and keep you coming back, but I guess the truth of the matter is that I’m so dramatically under-bankrolled to play $1/$2 that any variance in my Crazy Pineapple was gonna bring my rush to a quick end. And it did, life evened back out and I’m now even with the $100 I put into the site in the first place, after clearing $10 worth of bonus. That means, however, that in the 100 hands I logged at Paradise, I had a 10BB/100 win rate. Statistically meaningless, but nice for a little ego-stroking. The swings in that game are ridiculous, but I still recommend it for anyone with any knowledge of Pineapple and a bankroll to handle the swings. I’d probably switch a chunk of my play there if they spread a lower limit Crazy Pineapple game. Anybody know who else spreads it and at what limits? I’m happy to use your referral codes if you’ve got one.

Still hacking away at this dance concert – first tech rehearsal went ok last night. We went through three pieces, and I was happy with how two of them looked, and hated the third. That kinda average will get me into the hall of fame, so I’ll take it. We have a week before opening, so I’m good to get all my changes made by then. Looking forward to the next WPBT event this weekend – go see Biggestron for all the details. Not much time to play until then, maybe a little Saturday morning before I jet off to sling chips with nubile Playmates in the evening. No wait, now I’m awake. I’m not going to play cards at the Playboy Mansion like some of my friends who I’m refusing to link out of pure jealousy. I’ll instead be celebrating my parents 50+ wedding anniversary at a fish camp in glorious Rock Hill, SC. For the non-southern heathens, a fish camp is what people in normal parts of the world would refer to as a “greasy-ass seafood restaurant.” Really, guys, I feel sorry for you missing out on my once-in-a-lifetime experience. More like once-in-a-quarter, but anyway. Have fun, and do a couple of body shots for your homies!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

WPBT Summertime!

April has more details up about the next blogger invasion of Vegas, scheduled for this summer. Looks like we won’t have to work very hard to storm the Castle, since that’s where we’re staying! Go by her blog to get all the details!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Uber like Monday Morning

So the midget Pocahontas set up this little tourney thing last night, and I played in it. I didn’t bust first, and outlasted some folks that are way better than me. Those are the only good things I have to say about my play. SOMEBODY, however, is going to the World Series on the backs of the poker bloggers, and it couldn’t have happened to a cooler chick. Way to go, Gracie! So after never getting my head anywhere right for the excellent structure Paradise and the Iggsta set up for us (20 min. levels, 2500 starting chips was great), I busted out to work on some stuff for this dance concert I’m designing.

That lasted all of 45 minutes, before the siren call of the trackball beckoned me back to Paradise. I’d never played there before (interface sucks), so I was curios to see what they offered in their “misc. games.” Lo and behold, they run the Holy Grail of Falstaff Donkey Poker, Crazy Pineapple! I love me some crazy pineapple, it’s kinda like Omaha, only for the retarded. You only have to be smart preflop and on one street, then you dumb it back down and play Hold ‘Em again. Perfect for the ADD action-junkie like myself! Not to mention that since No Limit Crazy Pineapple is a staple of our home game, I thought I’d have a slight edge on the “hmmmm…what’s crazy pineapple?” brand of interweb donkeys. Up 30BB in a little less than an hour says that not only was I somewhat correct, but also that the variance bitch was blowing sunshine right up my ass, too. That paid for my tournament entry twice, so I ended the day on a positive note, woke up in a sunny disposition, and ready to get all uber on ya’ll.

So here’s what absolutely none of you has been waiting for – Falstaff’s picks for Bloggers to money in the WSOP. This collection had a ton of time put into it (my whole drive into work, about 20 min. today), so take it for what it’s worth. There are a fuckton of other bloggers with the chops to money in a WSOP event, these are just the ones I’d happily buy a piece of based on experiences with them at the tables or the fact that they write strategy posts that I have to print and take into the crapper for further contemplation. You guess who is who. Lemme know who else you think is gonna cash this year, or if you think my picks are fulla shit. We oughta run a pool or something.

  1. Ryan – well, duh. You absolutely cannot discount his success at the LA Poker Classic and the experience he picked up there, not to mention that fucker can solid play.

  1. Continuing in the well, duh vein – DoubleAs. If you’ve never read his blog, please come play in my home game. If you read him regularly you are no longer welcome. Aside from his big-tourney experience and previous WSOP cash, dude is a seriously deep thinker about poker, and his stategery posts and hand analysis makes me read them once, go away, click back and read them again later. And if you’ve actually ever watched him play, his focus is like a laser, while mine is much more reminiscent of a disco ball on meth.

  1. WPBT 2005 seat winner BigPirate is my next pick. The big man from the little state can solid play some cards. I’ve played across from Wes a couple of times now and if he’s raising, I’m folding. Unless, of course, it’s at my home tourney and I’m in full on donkey mode, when if he’s raising, I’m losing. Pirate is a master of shifting gears and putting a good read on his opponents, and has the results to show for it. A quiet, solid, tight player while the cards are down, Pirate gets a ton of respect and is perfectly capable of making a move or three with his table image. Just don’t get caught when he’s not making a move or you’re going to be keelhauled.

  1. It takes luck to win a big tourney, and you can’t talk about luck without talking about CJ. We give him a big ration of shit for being such a luckbox, but the fact is that you make your own luck in this game, and coming into an uncontested pot in position for a tiny amount of money is gonna pay off big when it hits, and CJ puts himself in a position to be able to score off those orphan pots and that puts him in a strong enough chip position to keep picking off the little pots, and then he doesn’t have to fear the big pots. There’s some bald Danish guy that employs a similar strategy, and he does pretty well for himself, too. CJ will be the “buddy” at the table, joking around and laughing a lot, having a good time. BETWEEN HANDS. And then he turns it on to play solid poker. He rides the luckbox reputation and G-Robs you (convincing you verbally that he’s a terrible player while raking your chips into his stack) until you’re sitting around wondering “how did I just lose to a 10-4 off suit?” It ain’t the 10-4 that buried you, it was the 8 other pots that buried you.

  1. Aggression and stamina win championships, and our boy Gunz has that in spades. BadBlood is another deep thinker, he is constantly analyzing his game and the game of those around him, and people that pay attention worry me at the table. Okay, they worry me when I can use enough of my cocker-spaniel puppy attention span to notice that they’re paying attention. BadBlood spends a lot of time looking for leaks in his game and plugging them, and he’s running out of leaks to patch. He also has a strong table image going for him, his monster biceps and shaved head give him the look of someone who’ll bench-press you through the ceiling if you put a bad beat on him. That doesn’t work on those of us who know what a gentleman and teddy bear Blood really is, but don’t underestimate his ability to frighten a siding salesman from South Bend. Blood has a good table sense, and can feel the right moment to move over the top of you for the kill. This nose for weakness and his constant study of his game put him on my list if he goes to the big dance.

  1. She was on my list before I knew she won last night, and I don’t mean like Wil’s list. Although she was on that for a while, too. Gracie is the koala bear of poker bloggers, she’s cute, she’s cuddly, she’s sweet, you get between her and a chipstack and she’s gonna feed you your own liver. But she’ll smile so sweetly while she does it. Let’s face it, women are underestimated at the poker table, and our blogger sistren are willing to take huge advantage of this fact. Gracie is truly a wonderful, sweet loving person. And she will carve you up into little bitty pieces at the poker table. She also she works on her game A LOT, and has a good sense of her strengths and weaknesses, and plays to her strengths at the table. She’s way more fearless than she thinks she is, so don’t even bother trying to push her around. And she’ll do a double SoCo shot at 11:30 AM with me and BigMike, so she’s totally GracieCanHang.

The Dark Horses – there’s folks that I think would have a fantastic shot at cashing at the WSOP, but they’re gonna be stuck working most of the events, so it limits their shots. But NEVER discount Pauly’s experience in the environment to give him a strong chance to cash, it just depends on if he can actually find time to play. And Otis is pretty screwed by work commitments, too, or he’d be high on my list as well.

So there are my picks for cashes at this year’s WSOP. There are a ton of other great poker-playing bloggers out there like Felicia, Tanya, Drizz, Bobby Bracelet, Hdouble, Iggy, Byron and more that I can’t even name, but I actually have to try to get some work done today. Go read Drizz’s last post. He wins at life.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

New T-shirts and a winning session

If you're not CJ, you might be interested in some of the new T-shirts I have at my Zazzle store, in a more political vein. I'm totally not going to make this blog a political one, we have triclops for that (and if you don't know tri-clops, follow the blogroll, loser!), but I have added one that reads ITMFA, from Dan Savage's coumn (stands for impeach the motherfucker, already), and one that is simply, IMPEACH.

Not to mention the Neverbluff t-shirt, which I think is already on Drizz's Christmas list.

Tonight I didn't lose! Yippee! I won a $5 SNG, and placed 42 out of nearly 1600 in the Stars $5 MTT. For a whopping $19 payout, but it's so far ahead of what I had been doing, I'm frankly thrilled at finishing the night UP $30 for a change. And a late-night IM-a-Shot with the Drunken Master has me ready for sleep.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

What day is it?

I'm getting a little lost in what day it is around here. Work is nuts, one of my co-workers is out for a month rehabilitating a blown-out back, and I'm just getting rolling hot & heavy on the biggest project I've ever worked on, a lighting system for almost a million dollars for a church that opens in May. Yeah, don't get me started on the amount of money spent by churches on lighting and video equipment.

Not to mention I'm working tech for this dance concert that I'm theoretically co-designing with the chair of the department. I say theoretically because even after saying he's take care of it last week, and after me cutting loose the subcontractor I was hiring to draft the damn thing, I still haven't seen a light plot outta him! For the non-theatrical ones, a light plot is a graphical representation of the stage with all the lights and where they should go. Very useful in the work I've spent ALL WEEK TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH. So today I resigned myself to never seeing the documentation that I need to do the job, and just plowed ahead. I'm only really frustrated because if he'd bothered to tell me even as late as Monday that he didn't have time to make it happen, I could have done something about it. Now it's just making everything into a muddled mess and things are taking longer than they should to accomplish. Fuckers.

So, because of that, I don't know if I'll be able to play in the blogger WSOP tourney this weekend, and frankly, I probably shouldn't play, the way I'm running. My wife, however, remains on a win streak on the micro-tables at FTP. And it does wonders for my game to sit at the table with her, since I sure as hell hate losing to my wife!

Okay, rant over. Go read Joe's stuff if you're looking for writing, my muse is sleeping.


Now that’s love. Actually I think it’s unparalleled greed, but that’s okay, too. My wife has decided to take up online poker. Not because she wants to work on her game, spend more time together at the virtual tables or get to play with bloggers. She wants to win enough to cover a buy-in at the $1K WSOP event for herself, because that doubles our chances of winning, in her opinion. I’m not sure I think this is the finest of American logic, but hey, it got her online and thinking about her game, so that’s a huge first step.

So last night, I sat down and set her up with an account on the finest poker site on the intarweb. And we played donkey poker. $.05/$.10 NLHE is a perfect place to learn the mechanics of the game. Okay, I could have also set her up on the limit tables, but I wanted to play with her, and nickel/dime limit would make me stab my eyes out. So after she made her first successful Neteller deposit (using BONUS CODE FALSTAFF, of course), away she went. It took a little while to get the mechanics of things down, such as the little slider bar for raising, and crap like that, but by that time the table was full and we weren’t having to play three-handed with me on the laptop and her at the desk (facing opposite directions for the suspicious).

So I’m stuck a buy-in at the donkey tables, thinking this may be about the skill level I’m playing at in general right now, when the hand of the night occurs. I flop top two pair, Mrs Falstaff (yes, that is the name I set her up with on FTP) calls me flop bet. Hmmmm. She’s played fairly tight so far, what’s going on. 3rd club hits on the turn, and I’m nervous. Wifey likes to chase the draws. She bets, I call, thinking I might still have outs. And because I’m a donkey. River is a blank, she checks, I smell weakness and push. She instacalls me with her TURNED GUTSHOT STRAIGHT FUCKING FLUSH. Yes, indeed, my wife put me on tilt by trapping me on the river at the $10NL table at Full Tilt last night. Maybe she needs to be doing the blogging, since she’s actually up for the month.

So tonight we’ll be on Full Tilt hanging around the micro-limits, We’re Jhartness and Mrs Falstaff. Yes, we will probably be in the same room playing, but I promise not to collude, especially at the $10NL tables. BTW, Drizz, I’m thinking of you and yours as I lounge around in my short sleeves today. I love spring. It did get cold here yesterday, though. I think it got down to near 50 last night. Don’t worry, your revenge will come in August, when I hate the South.

Monday, March 13, 2006

That time again

Ahhh, springtime. The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful (I hear Drizzt sobbing in the background) and I have just purchased my tickets to the best friggin’ music festival east of the Mississippi. If you like bluegrass, Americana, or just generally good music, you owe it to yourself to make the trek to North Wilkesboro, NC at least once to the Merle Watson Memorial Music Festival, aka Merlefest. This year the lineup features John Prine, Bob Weir, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Doc Watson, the Duhks and more other killer musicians than I can name. My tickets are for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so if you’re gonna be around, lemme know. It’s less than an hour from Greensboro and only a couple from G-Vegas and Columbia, so get your tickets soon!

T-Shirt Stuff

I moved my shirts to Zazzle after seeing their text interface was much easier to deal with than Cafe Press. So buy a T-shirt and help me drink like a college kid! They're also a touch less expensive than Cafe Press, I think.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Quick One

“I would have scorched the earth and drained the sea for him. But he was careless with me and now he fears I won’t keep his secrets. Which is laughable, really, because all I want is to forget them.”

That made me tear up a little. We all seem to write best when we hurt the most. Hey author, you know who you are. We love you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Badblood's Question

BadBlood posed an interesting question the other day - What percentage of your working bankroll would you be willing to risk to play in one single freeze out NLHE tournament?
The responses ranged from 3-10% and most people advocating the lower ranges of that. Sounds like we’ve got a lot of smart bankroll management types out there, and they will likely be much more successful long term poker players than I will.   

Because I’m putting it all on the line.

Pardon the flair for the dramatic, but whattaya expect, it is PokerStage. I have committed to playing in the $1,000 WSOP event on July 10th. I’ve planned vacation time around it, and I’m really excited that the WPBT event falls on the same weekend. I cannot afford to play this event by any sane person’s bankroll management standards.

Now, before I get informed of the insanity of my decisions, I am not by any stretch playing with my mortgage money. When I decided in January that I wanted to play a WSOP event, and wanted to play the cheapest one available, I started working on the logistics. I had, until the unfortunate events of this month, a working bankroll of around $1,000. I have blown through about 40% of that since the beginning of March, so I will be trying to plug leaks and work on lower-variance games for a little while. Those 6-Max NLHE tables are hella fun, but high variance, at least if you’re my kinda donkey. So I started soliciting extra lighting design work.

For those unfamiliar with theatrical work, here’s a little insight into how plays get produced in a small to medium-sized city. Most of the actors are working either for free or for absolute peanuts, the kinda wages that keep grandmothers eating cat food. Directors are usually compensated anywhere in the $1-3,000 range, not a bad bump in the income if you have a “real” job, but not near enough to support yourself or a family if you consider that in the best of times you can direct one show every two months. If you’re a fucking machine. Real people tend to explode after about the third show in a calendar year.

By far the highest hourly wage on a small-market theatrical production is the lighting designer. We typically get the exact same salary as the costume designer and scenic designer, with far less commitment in time. My wife is a costumer, and she begins work long before the first rehearsal with research, digging through stock, etc. Then she is working non-stop through most of the rehearsal process with fittings, alterations, shopping, etc. I attend a couple of production meetings, look over the drawings and renderings from costumer and set designer, then watch at most two rehearsals. Then I go into the theatre, spend a couple of ridiculously long days and nights hanging, focusing and cueing, then spend a few late nights in tech rehearsals. Then I’m done, and I collect my check. I don’t even usually go to strike, that’s the job of the house electrician to pull color and do that crap. So for this work I collect an honorarium (did you know that honorarium is Latin for “I can’t pay you real money or anything approaching a union scale, but please, please, please do this project for me?) ranging from $500 - $1,500. That doesn’t suck as additional income.

So I starting actively soliciting design work to pay for my entry fee, and I found enough work to cover my entry fee, trip, and supplement the bankroll to pay for early qualifiers so that I might not have to throw my entire bankroll onto the table and light it on fire in a quest for a bracelet. So it’s not that I’m really putting my entire bankroll on the line, but I’m avoiding the traditional method of building a bankroll until I can afford the entry fees in favor of just losing my weekends for a couple months to pay for the entry fee. And, since my day job pays enough to cover all the other household bills, I can play this event with “found money.”

I guess if you look at it that way, I’m not really willing to put more than 10-20% of my working bankroll on the line at one time. Heh. And here I thought I was a gambooooler.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My brush with greatness

There aren’t many people that I really want to meet. I’ve worked in entertainment for a dozen years or so and seen the best and worst of some of the biggest “stars” in the biz, so my starfucking days are well behind me.

Anne Bogart is one of the people I very much wanted to meet. Her book A Director Prepares is a seminal work on directing for the stage, at least in my less-than-humble opinion. She crystallized thoughts for me that I had been working on for years, and finally made sense of them. It’s kinda like the first time through Harrington on Hold ‘Em, when you read about the M. You’ve always known that when your stack gets small relative to the blinds, there comes a point when it’s push and pray, but Harrington explained it in a lucid way that you could digest and apply. Bogart does the same thing with concepts for stage directing. I geeked out enough at the book that my tattoo actually comes from a chapter in her book on decisiveness and making strong choices. That chapter in particular put into words a lot of the way that I have tried to live my life ever since I watched Robin Williams climb onto a desk and recite Walt Whitman. Yes, Dead Poets Society was a huge influence on me.

So when I read that Anne Bogart was going to be a keynote speaker at SETC, I decided that I needed to actually attend the keynote address. I’ve been going to this conference for 13 years now and have never attended the keynote. I skipped Christopher Durang, skipped Ming Cho Lee, even skipped Edward Albee. But I made sure to be there for Anne Bogart. And, in typical fashion, I went one further. I emailed the Executive Director and said “Hey Betsey, any way I can crash a dinner party or something? I really want some face time with Anne Bogart.” Betsey replied that since her schedule was very tight, it was likely impossible but she’d see what she could do. So when I got buttonholed in a hotel hallway with the question “You still want to meet Anne?” my answer was “uh, yeah.”

So that’s how I ended up circling the pickup gates in my rental car at the Orlando airport while intern Angelique waited inside holding the printed placard “Anne Bogart – SETC.” Yup, I was chauffer-boy, hangover and all. But it got me face time, and a nice 20-minute conversation with one of my theatrical heroes about the state of theatre in the Southeastern US. And she signed my book, too. And she liked my tattoo and didn’t think I was too much of a psycho stalker. I hope.

Her talk was great, if compressed. She had prepared an hour of talk, then 30 minutes of questions, only to find out that she had an hour, total for her presentation and questions. But she was witty, candid, brutally honest, and incredibly inspiring. She talked about how important it is as an artist to do the work that gives you goosebumps, the work that really drives you. She also told a story, that I’ll probably butcher here a little.

She had a friend who was working as a writer’s agent in NYC, and beginning to have a bit of a crisis of faith in her career in theatre. So her friend, whose name I can’t recall but we’ll call Jane, heard that Mother Theresa was in Manhattan, and waited outside her hotel in the rain for Mother Theresa to come out to her car. Mother Theresa comes out, in the middle of this rainstorm (btw, we actually don’t know if it was raining or not, but it makes the story better), looks at Jane there on the sidewalk and say’s “What’s wrong?”
So Jane tells her about this crisis of faith, that she’s unsure of the value of her work, that she wants to come work with Mother Theresa in India, where she will know she is doing something worthwhile. Mother Theresa looks at her and says “In my country, we have a famine of the body. In your country, there is a famine of the spirit. You must continue your work.”

It was like she was talking right to me. Since we lost our building I’ve been very down on theatre in my community, down on theatre people, down on the artform in general. But now I see a little more clearly. I must do my work. I must do the work that gives me goosebumps. I must produce and create and direct the shows that can change my world, one seat at a time. I left that ballroom feeling better about theatre than I have in years. What I do is important, it matters.

So on the way home from the airport I rolled down the windows, cranked up some OG Ice-T on the iPod, and took more inspiration from the New Jack.

I’m back motherfuckers. You shoulda killed me last year.

I owe the Rooster a dollar for this post

I sat there, vision blurred, not by tears, but by a feeling of shock. My amazement at the excellent play of my opponent paled in comparison to the numbness seeping through my extremities as I watched my hard-earned chips slide across the virtual felt. I couldn’t feel my hands, I was a little queasy, all those feelings you get right after a Clydesdale steps on your exposed testicles. Don’t ask me how I know this.

It wasn’t even a bad beat, that was the worst part of it. I was behind at every. single. point. JJ v TT is never a good match, but when a pair of Jacks came on the flop, I never in a million years expected quads. With the cold-call of my preflop raise, I did expect AJ or something that I was losing to, but since the guy we put the squeeze play on was all in, we checked the flop and turn. Then my miracle card, my third 10 came on the river, giving me a boat the likes of none since QEII set sail on her maiden voyage. Tens full of Jacks, the absolute Love Boat.

Fucking Titanic is more like it. Variance bent me over like a queer cowboy tonight, and she rode me like a two-dollar mule. Yes I know I’m mixing metaphors, bugger off. So now my junk hurts so bad I have to blog standing up, and I don’t even have a REAL bad beat story to tell. That’s the worst part of it, being behind all along and knowing that the mother absolutely played you. I’d rather have a donkey catch runner-runner to a 6-high straight than just get outplayed.

Oh well, I ain’t broke, and there’s more pokah tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

T-shirts & stuff

Inspired by the great Bill, I made up a few T-shirts of my own and opened a Cafe Press store. Buy one if you think they're cool, and help me drink my weight in beer this month! I'll probably be adding shirts & shit as I come up with stuff that I think is witty. I'll usually only be half-right.

On another note - I've got a new theatre project that I want to begin work on. My generation has never had an event as defining to us as the attacks on the US on 9/11/2001. I want to look at our country and our world from five years after those events and see how we have changed as people since then. I'll be spending the next several months in my offline world working on a series of monologues and ensemble dialogue pieces a la Laramie Project or The Exonerated to take a look at these ideas. So I'd like your help.

Here's the deal - if you're interested in being part of this project, email me your answers to the following questions, and let me know if you'd be willing to converse further via email about 9/11 and the events that have followed (the war on terror, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, the 2004 election, etc.). I am not interested in making some big political statement in either the pro or anti-Bush camp with this piece, I want to look at how we as people are different now as a result of these events.

1. Where were you when you heard about the attacks? Tell me the story.

2. What did you think was going to happen as a result of this? What has or hasn't happened that you expected?

3. How are you different now? Are you afraid to fly, do you look at people a little differently, anything?

4. What is your strongest memory of that day or the days shortly thereafter?

This is all to be put into a play, so by emailing me answers to these questions you give me the right to edit and dramatize your memories without any compensation other than a "thank you." Just to cover my ass :). Email me stuff at johnhartness at gmail dot com.

Oh yeah, there might be poker played this evening. I got some FTP bonus to clear. Bonus code Falstaff at the best poker site out there!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Brilliant idea & Boobies

I just had a brilliant idea – we need to have a blogger gathering to coincide with SETC. The Southeastern Theatre Conference is the largest gathering of theatre geeks in the country each year, with over 1,000 young actors and dancers casting their shows out of the pool of available college students and professional actors.

Read the last half of that sentence again. Now imagine joining the fun to cast the first ever season of The Al Can’t Hang Experience Naked Shakespeare Festival.

College girls. SoCo. Bloggers. It could get ugly. We gotta make sure Marty is there to get us outta jail.

Anybody with me?

Seminole Hard Suck Casino Tampa

So I cruise up in my rented Malibu, some classic rock thing with lots of guitars blaring through the factory stereo, thinking “this isn’t too bad a way to pull up to a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino” and I valet the car, thinking it’s complimentary, like so many things in casinos are, just inducements to lose more money gambooooling. But that was not my plan, no sir. I was going to sit tight and wait for my premium hands and make the agro-monkeys pay me off. Yes sir, that’s the plan right there. So which way to the poker room?

“Turn left, straight ahead, look for the line.”

Line? That doesn’t sound good. Okay, let’s see what’s up. Sweet Baby Jebus he wasn’t kidding, there’s a serious line! Oh, there’s a line that says Tournament Sign Ups, maybe this BS is for some big tournament.

Nope. That is indeed the wait for cash games. There are 20 people on the list for $1-$2 Hold ‘Em. My name is far enough down on the list to not even be on the screen yet. I’m less than impressed. The whole setup is silly, with one small woman with heavily accented English calling out names on the list as seats come open, names that can in no way be heard over the din of the slot machines that are only 4’ away from the line. Not helping is the fact that the list is only displayed on one plasma screen that flashes to the list, then 2 seconds later flashes to the announcement of their high hand spade jackpot ($34K for a royal). So I got back in line and signed up for Omaha Hi/Lo with immediate seating in the $2-$2 game.

Apparently Florida law prohibits wagers over $2, so limit is all you get and the big game is $2. This is as bad as you think it might be.

So I get into the room itself, and it’s BIG. Not quite the size of MGM’s room, but about the size of the Excalibur room. About 100 tables, with room for probably 90. So it’s cramped. And it’s a smoking room. And it’s $2 limit. I think this might be about to suck. I was right, it sucked. I sat at the O8 for a few minutes until my name was called for the $2 Hold ‘Em and the Omaha was fine, if crazy loose. I didn’t catch anything, so I didn’t lose much. It was all about to change at Hold ‘Em, though.

I got the seat next to the chatty drunk Tammy, obviously a regular since she knew all the dealers, and since nobody who doesn’t bleed through a pile of money every week would be allowed to be that friggin’ annoying at the table. Her only benefit was that she always wanted to tell me when she had a good hand, so her nudging me under the table saved me a couple of bets. Don’t know why she decided my meager stack needed saving, probably because I was one of the few people not bitching about her antics. I saw pots raked by such stellar hands as 8 4, 10 2, Q 8 (actually one of the better hands I watched people play) and A 7 (my only winning hand rivered a 7 for 2nd pair and it was g00t). Not that I was card dead, but in four hours I won one hand, and never really saw any premium hands. But that wasn’t what made the game bad.

What made the game bad was the players, these guys are awful, and mostly too stupid to fold. It was donkey poker at its finest, and the dealers weren’t helping. Frequently too interested in chatting with drunken Tammy to deal the cards, or too interested in making neat card tricks to deal low enough that folks couldn’t see under the cards, the capper for me was when I was told I couldn’t ask for a new setup “because it was a shufflemaster table.” I had a card that was obviously bent, and I wanted the deck replaced, because there had been several face cards marked with fingernail marks along the back, and now the corner of a deuce was heavily bent. So when I asked for a new setup, and was told that was against the house rules, instead of acceding to my request to call the floor, the dealer took my bent card, shuffled it with two other cards and asked a player at the other end of the table to pick the deuce. He missed, the cards went back into the shufflemaster.

It’s not so much that I think anyone was seriously marking cards at a $2 table, but when I think a card is marked, I want a new setup, and the dealer was able to look at the card and see the mark, but didn’t think it was “bent enough” to do anything about it. So I didn’t care for the way my concerns were handled, but the deck got bounced a few hands later when a guy at the other end of the table found his 8h torn almost completely in half.

So in summary, if you’re looking for a huge but still cramped, smoky poker room with a 10% rake ($5 max + $1 drop for high hand jackpot), massive donkey poker, unhelpful staff and drinks that are not only NOT COMPED but are strip-club expensive to boot, the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa is for you. If you’re looking for a fine gambling experience, look elsewhere.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Home again

Back from the SETC Conference in Orlando, safe and sound(ish).

Quick recap, more details to follow -

Lots of great young actors, singers, dancers and technicians brimming with enthusiasm about the future. Fuck I'm old.

Blew $185 at the Hard Rock Seminole in Tampa - Worst.Poker Room. Ever. Full report to follow.

Sat next to friends on plane ride back, preventing having to share armrest with 400-lb. sweaty man or woman. Talk about priceless.

There is a serious difference in attitude in children going to Orlando and children returning from Orlando.

Chevy Malibu rental car was cool. Orlando Wyndham resort was cool. Pillows sucked. $4 for domestic beer without seeing boobies sucked. Rest of resort was cool, even restaurants weren't bad.

Again, Worst. Poker Room. Ever. More to come.